Developed in 1923 in the United States, it was intended to replace the .30-06 Springfield in new semi-automatic rifles and machine guns. When first recommended for adoption, M1 Garand rifles were chambered for the .276 Pedersen, which held ten rounds in its unique en-bloc clips. The .276 Pedersen was a shorter, lighter and lower pressure round than the .30-06, which made the design of an autoloading rifle easier than the long, powerful .30-06. The United States Army Chief of Staff Gen. Douglas MacArthur rejected the .276 Pedersen Garand in 1932 after verifying that a .30-06 version was feasible.
Pedersen's round fired a true 7 mm (0.284 in) bullet. Comparable to the contemporary Italian 6.5 x 52 mm (0.264 in) Carcano or the Japanese 6.5 x 50 mm (0.264 in) Arisaka, it produced velocities of around 2400 feet per second (730 m/s) with 140 or 150 grain (9.1 or 9.7 g) projectiles. The case was two inches (51 mm) long with significant taper. Tapered cases require the use of highly curved magazines similar to that of the Kalashnikov although for the short magazines of the Pedersen and Garand rifles, this was immaterial. Both waxed and bare cartridges were made for the Pedersen and Garand rifle respectively.
At the time of its introduction, the .276 Pedersen was a solution to a significant problem. The United States Army wanted a general issue autoloading rifle that would fire the .30-06 cartridge, but such a rifle was prohibitively large with existing designs such as the Browning Automatic Rifle and French Chauchat. A weapon of the same weight as the M1903 needed to fire a smaller cartridge. Pedersen's cartridge was viewed as a compromise as it was underpowered compared to most military rifle cartridges. This decreased recoil energy made possible a reliable, lightweight semi-automatic rifle with existing technology. Despite these early problems with semi-automatic designs, Garand's design was eventually able to handle the .30-06 cartridge; the need for a lighter caliber dissolved. The Pedersen rifle was unsuitable for the .30-06 and it, too, was dropped.
Immediately after World War II, British designers introduced a series of intermediate-power 7 mm cartridges for a different reason than Pedersen. They sought an answer to the Germans' highly successful 7.92 x 33 mm Kurz and various studies on the matter. The U.S. stuck with .30 caliber mostly out of a desire to have a common cartridge between rifle and machine gun combined with the perceived necessity for effectiveness out to 2000 yards. Development of a shorter .30 caliber round specifically for use in an autoloading rifle began after the war, and resulted in the 7.62x51 mm NATO, a shorter and slightly lighter round that gave nearly identical ballistics to the .30-06. Interestingly, the British studies on various cartridges culminated in the .280 British cartridge, which shared ballistic similarities to the .276 Pedersen in caliber, bullet weight and velocity.
Despite the failure to adopt either the .276 Pedersen or later .280 British, the concept of an intermediate power military cartridge of a 6.5 to 7 mm diameter was far from dead. Shortly after the 7.62 mm NATO cartridge was adopted, Armalite submitted their AR-15 Rifle to for evaluation, the United States Army suggested they redesign the gun to fire a .256 caliber projectile. Although this suggestion was fruitless, the United States Army later engaged in many studies of a 6mm SAW cartridge. They, once again, sought to replace autoloading rifle and machine gun cartridges with one round. Current studies are focused on the 6.8 mm Remington SPC and 6.5 mm Grendel commercial cartridges although their purpose is to improve on the 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge, not to develop a replacement for the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO as well.