Griffiths & Woodgate rifle
Country of origin

Great Britain


William Griffiths & Herbert Ferdinand Woodgate

Year(s) designed

1892 - 1894

Weapon type

Automatic rifle


.303 British



Magazine/Cylinder capacity

10 rounds

The Griffiths & Woodgate rifle was the world's first automatic rifle, designed in 1892 by William Griffiths and Herbert Ferdinand Woodgate.


Griffiths and Woodgate took out their first automatic rifle patent in 1892, and two year later designed a physical prototype of their design. The British Army showed some interest and it was trialed in 1894. The rifle exhibited heavy recoil and mediocre accuracy. The general consensus among the army officials was that the Griffiths & Woodgate rifle was unsuitable for service and it was rejected without recommendations for improvements.

Herbert Woodgate continued to expand on the design without the assistance of William Griffths and later developed the unsuccessful Woodgate rifle.


The barrel and bolt reciprocated upon firing, until they were stopped by a spring collar. The bolt was then turned by a handle in the cam slot and ejected the empty casing. The hammer was forced down by the bolt and was held in place by the sear. The spring returned the bolt to its original position and a new round was chambered.

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