Manuel Mondragón

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Born in Ixtlahuaca, State of Mexico in 1859 Manuel invented The Mexican Mondragón rifle which is believed to be the world’s first self-loading rifle. Having first appeared in 1887. He was father of artist and poet Carmen Mondragón, better known as Nahui Ollin.

Mondragón entered the Military Academy of Chapultepec, where he specialized in gun artillery . In concluding his studies, he worked in the establishments of war materials. Changed the 75 mm cannon., (French), which achieved a high technical reputation in the Porfirist military circles. He perfected a repeating rifle and a 75 mm cannon., ( Saint-Mondragón Chaumond ), both from France that to this day still bear his name.

In 1887 he patented the M-1908 Rifle Mondragón, which would be the first semi-automatic rifle in the world. It was gas-operated with a cylinder and piston arrangement, now very familiar but unusual at the time, and rotating bolt, locked by lugs in helical grooves in the receiver; it was also possible to operate it as a simple straight-pull bolt action. The caliber was 7 mm (.284 in) Mauser with an 8-round box magazine; a trial LMG version had a 20-round box and provision for a bipod, like the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR); the Army also used a 100-round drum magazine for a light machine gun variant produced in 1910. The Mondragón was known for its stopping power but suffered from high recoil and poor accuracy when fired on fully automatic setting. This is the reason why, the Mexican army used an improved light machine gun variant of the Mondragón up until 1943, when it was replaced with the Mendoza M-1943. But it was the Germans that would truly give use to the Mondragon. The Mondragon worked well when mounted in airplanes because of its accuracy but it did have some issues with jamming when used in the trenches because of moisture & mud.  This meant the Mondragón did not have a problem with dirt trapped inside, instead having more of a problem with moisture, but would still work well with dry sand and dust in its mechanism, although the Mexican manufactured 1908 model fixed his problem with slight improvements to the firing mechanism and the barrel.

In 1904 he wrote the manual Mondragón Description and use of instruments for the preparation and execution of the shot , and in 1910 Description of the material in rapid-fire 75 mm . In 1907 he was appointed Director of the Ordnance Department. Formulated a draft organic law of the Army, on the basis of compulsory military service as the Military College professor wrote in 1910 a book called “ coastal defense “ . He was responsible for the artillery of the ports of Salina Cruz on the Pacific Ocean and Puerto Mexico on the Gulf .

As a soldier in the regime of Porfirio Diaz Mondragon fought the Madero movement . In September 1911 , he obtained a license from the Federal Army, but in 1913 and was again among its members rejoined the army participated Gregorio Ruiz in the anti-Madero revolt of the Ten Tragic . He is suspected of having assassinated the President of Mexico, Francisco I. Madero and Vice President José María Pino Suárez .

Despite the ingenuity of Mondragon, Diaz could not contain the large pressure cooker that was Mexico at the beginning of last century, and in 1910 the Mexican Revolution broke out. Mondragon was-obviously-side dictator who supported him on his way to fame. However, Madero triumphed in 1913 and established a brief democratic regime, only to be overthrown and murdered at the hands of his fellow revolutionary: Victoriano Huerta.

Huerta established a new dictatorship and became a Mexican Army General Mondragon, only to be exiled after defeat at the hands of counter-revolutionaries and counter-rumors that he wanted to establish a coup. He went into Spain, where he died in 1922, but not before having been granted the Legion of Honor by the French government.


Mondragon rifle, a National Firearms Museum Treasure Gun.




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