Madsen Lightweight Military Rifle

Madsen M47 Lightweight Military Rifle

The M47 Madsen “Lightweight Military Rifle” was the last military bolt action rifle designed to be a primary infantry rifle, and it is a bit hard to see just who Madsen thought they could sell it to. The rifle was designed in the late 1940s and was available for sale in 1951, evidently marketed to countries in South America and Asia without the financial resources to afford any of the semiauto rifles that were clearly the new standard for effective military forces. The Madsen was obsolete when it first hit the drawing board, and there were loads of surplussed bolt action rifles available from the post-WWII drawdown to compete with it on price.

Not surprisingly, the gun was a commercial flop. The only country that decided to purchase them was Colombia, which bought a few thousand (in .30-06 caliber, with 5-round magazines) and ended up never even issuing them. They went into storage until being sold to the US civilian surplus market, although some may have been used for ceremonial purposes. As a result, they tend to be in very good condition when you can find them, and are quite good shooters.

Madsen was willing to make the rifles in any full-size cartridge (they specifically included 7.62mm NATO as an option), and in your choice of a couple barrel lengths, 5- or 10-round magazines, with or without optics, and would likely have accommodated any other special request from someone willing to place a substantial order. Mechanically, the rifle is a two-lug bolt action with the lugs on the rear half of the bolt, locking into the back half of the split-bridge receiver. The bolt handle acts as a third safety locking lug. The safety is a tab on the back of the bolt much like a Mauser, but the “safe” position is vertical, where the tab blocks view of the sights as a reminder that the gun cannot be fired. The rear sight is a leaf with a large aperture and is click-adjustable for windage, while the front sight is a typical hooded post.

Madsen M47 rifle components
Madsen M47 rifle component parts

The rifle is pretty comfortable to shoot standing despite its potent cartridge, thanks to an integral muzzle brake (in the form of three row of small holes on either side of the muzzle) and a rubber recoil pad installed at the factory. It’s a pretty easy rifle to hit with for a competent marksman, and is a very effective rifle for a bolt action. Unfortunately for Madsen, the good work by the Engineering Department was let down by Marketing, as there was very little demand for this type of rifle when Madsen decided to build it.

We have a copy of an original Madsen flyer/manual for the rifle, which you can download here:

Madsen Lightweight Military Rifle manual (English)
Madsen Lightweight Military Rifle manual (English)