EM-2 assault rifle, officially adopted in Britain as Rifle, Automatic, No.9 Mk.1 but never put into service. Note that the backup sights are in raised position.
The history of the British EM-2 (Experimental Model-2) assault rifle is interesting and somewhat pitiful story. The EM-2 was born as a result of the experience with small arms, gained during the Second World War. It was obvious that the modern warfare will require the infantry to be armed with light, selective fire weapon with effective range of fire much longer than of submachine gun, but shorter than of conventional semi-automatic or bolt action rifles. This requirement effectively led to the development of the various "intermediate" cartridges. The first power to adopt this concept was the Germany, which issued in limited numbers the selective-fire weapons with intermediate cartridge (7.92x33mm Kurz) since 1942. The Soviet Union was the second to this case, developing its own intermediate cartridge in 1943 and began issuing weapons for it on limited basis since 1944 and on large scale since 1949. The Great Britain also felt the need to replace both Sten submachine guns and SMLE No.4 bolt-action rifles with more modern equipment. The research and experience clearly showed that it is entirely possible to replace both of these weapons with single new weapon, with effective range of fire of no more than 1000 yards and with selective-fire capability. This weapon, of cause, required a new cartridge, which was developed after extensive research and development. This cartridge, an "ideal" from British point of view, was of .280 caliber (7mm) and had a bottlenecked case 43 mm long. The pointed bullet weighted 9.08 g (140 grains) and had muzzle velocity of about 745 m/s (2445 fps). The rough comparison of this round against other most common modern cartridges can be found in the table below. Basically, this cartridge offered significant advantage in effective range and penetration against not only 9x19mm Luger pistol cartridge, but also against 7.92x33mm Kurz German and 7.62x39mm Soviet intermediate cartridges, producing slightly more recoil, which was still significantly less than of .303 British rifle cartridge or latter 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. This cartridge immediately attracted the attention of the Belgian company Fabrique Nationale, which at the same time worked on the advanced version of their SAFN-49 rifle. Canada also showed significant interest in this cartridge.
|EM-1 prototype assault rifle.|
|From let to right: British experimental .280 (7x43mm) cartridge for EM-2; Soviet 7.62x39mm M43; US/NATO 5.56x45mm (.223 Rem); US/NATO 7.62x51mm (.308 Win).|
|EM-2 disassembled into major components.|
Caliber: 7x43 mm (.280 British)
Action: Gas operated
Overall length: 889 mm
Barrel length: 623 mm
Weight: 3.41 kg with empty magazine
Rate of fire: 450 - 600 rounds per minute (depends on source)
Magazine capacity: 20 rounds