Ugly Ducking

Basically, the Johnson is a short-recoil operated semi-auto with a weight of 9.5 lbs. and a 22" barrel. It feeds from a 10-round rotary magazine loading via side port from 5-round ’03 stripper clips or in single cartridge mode. The rifle’s weight and overall length of just under 46" puts it in a near-identical class size-wise with an M1. However, the Johnson’s bulbous receiver gives it a pregnant look accentuated by its naked, recoiling barrel protruding from a pretty serious looking vented sleeve above the wood forend. Besides the usual .30-06 chambering, the Johnson also was chambered in 7x57 Mauser for export sales.

Although the Johnson may look clumsy — fat middle, skinny barrel — it actually balances pretty well as we found out in offhand shooting berm-bound clay birds at 50 and 100 yards. Although the Johnson does sport a bayonet lug, its recoiling barrel makes the use of a serious M1-style bayonet problematic. The initial solution was a 5" triangular lightweight spike-type bayonet. They were kind of silly and relatively few survived — and now command “tall dollars.”