M1941 Johnson light machine gun
Country of origin

United States


Johnson Automatics, Inc.


Melvin Johnson

Year(s) designed


Production began


Production ended

1945, ended service 1961

Weapon type

Light machine gun


Short-recoil, rotating bolt

Overall length

42 inches (106.7 centimeters)

Barrel length

22 inches (55.9 centimeters)


13 pounds (5.9 kilograms)

Magazine/Cylinder capacity
  • M1941/M1944: 20-round detachable single-stack box magazine
  • T48: Belt
Cyclic rate

Adjustable; various sources say 200 - 600 RPM or 300 - 900 RPM

Muzzle velocity

2800 feet/second (853.6 meters/second)

Used by

United States

The Johnson light machine gun, more commonly known as the Johnny gun or the Johnson and nicknamed Emma by its creator, is an American light machine gun.


The weapon was developed in 1940 by Melvin Johnson of Johnson rifle fame. As the US Army requested a more portable, accurate weapon that provided the stopping power of the Browning Automatic Rifle, the Johnson was pitched to certain divisions of the US Army, in hopes of it getting used; it was successful in getting pitched and the weapon was an overwhelming favorite in battles behind Axis lines. Production was halted in 1945 after only about 9500 were made.

Design DetailsEdit

The weapon shared the same operating principle and many parts with the more famous Johnson rifle and the lesser known Johnson auto carbine. The Johnson was designed to have the recoil force of the weapon travel along the moving parts of the weapon. The weapon's recoiling barrel helped to reduce muzzle climb, but it required the sights of the weapon to be placed higher above the bore. The Johnson used a 20-round single stack detachable box magazine fed from the left side of the weapon, but could be loaded via stripper clip through the ejection port or using single rounds. It is often compared to the FG 42, in where both weapons are fed from the left side, fire from an open bolt while in full-auto, a closed bolt while in semi-auto, were awkward to carry (especially the Johnson due to its very lengthy magazine), attempted to solve similar problems and adopted similar solutions among other reasons.



Variant with a wooden stock and metal bipod.


Variant with a tubular steel butt and wooden monopod.


Belt-fed prototype manufactured after the M1944, chambered for the then-new 7.62x51mm NATO T65 bullet. The T48 was shelved after Johnson Automatics lost its footing and went bankrupt, and the M60 filled the role the Ordnance Department envisioned for the weapon.


Close Israeli copy of the Johnson.


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