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Five machine-guns you probably never heard of

A week ago was 30th Anniversary of FOPA; today we felt it might be a good idea to showcase five lesser known machineguns. They’re weapons many people have never heard of. The history buffs, NFA collectors and knowledgeable gun nerds may know them and if you do: that’s fantastic!

We can’t forget the new people, though. So here are a few relatively obscure curios and relics that are great for wasting lead.

(All photos are courtesy of Creative Commons.)

Five machine-guns you probably never heard of

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Maschinengewehr Schwarzlose MG

The Schwarzlose was a machine-gun used by the Austro-Hungarian Army throughout World War I and later by the Dutch, Greek and Hungarian armies of World War II. It operated via a toggle-delayed blowback system, fed from 250-round canvas belts and was water-cooled with a cartridge cases oiler said to ease extraction.

In 1917 the Austro-Hungarian air service used a modified version mounted on aircraft.

Andreas Schwarzlose also designed pistols for the Austro-Hungarian Army, but we have always liked the retro look of this old MG.

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Fiat Revelli Modello 1914

Externally this Italian-made water-cooled machine gun resembled the famous Maxim gun. It tipped the scales at 37 pounds, which was ten pounds less than its tripod and it fired 6.5 Carcano rounds at a rate of 500 rounds per minute.

The 50-round internal magazine was divided into ten sections that were loaded via a rifle stripper clip which caused nothing but malfunctions on a good day. Maybe that’s why it had a selector (unusual on most machine guns) to allow the shooter to fire in single shot mode.

It never really gained popularity due to its turd-like cartridge, although it was compatible with the Italian Service rifle and was a favorite of Lee Harvey Oswald. This is probably the only machine gun that Hughes, Rangel and their ilk would want Americans to possess.

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Maxim Tokarev

The Soviet Union’s first machine gun was a colab between Maxim and Tokarev, so to speak. Tokarev adopted the Maxim gun to fire the 7.62×54mmR round used to this day by the Soviet Union.

Tokarev kept the cloth belt feed system but canned the water jacket in favor of a much thinner perforated steel jacket. He went on to shorten the barrel and made it a quick change system for when things got hot.

Lastly he eliminated the thumb trigger and spade grips for a more conventional rifle stock and trigger. These modifications to the Maxim gun were later seen on the MG14 and Vickers gun.

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Chauchat

If you thought the Fiat was a doozy, we can top it. This WW1 era French-designed light machine gun was such a heap that most soldiers discarded it in favor of a bolt-action rifle — because at least those worked. For starters, parts would not interchange from one gun to another. Follow that up with some big holes in the side of the magazine to keep track of ammunition and save weight…well, clearly the Good Idea Fairy was alive and well over a century ago.

One might have assumed holes in your magazine are the last thing you need in trench warfare, where dirt and mud are a fact of life, but never underestimate the strength of a Good Idea Fairy’s purpose.

With poor ergonomics, a loose bipod and a magazine that was almost impossible to feed when fully loaded (they jammed on the first round if you loaded 20) it is perhaps not surprising this magazine never became famous or beloved.

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Lahti-Saloranta M/26

From Finland we get the Lahti-Saloranta M/26, a light machine gun designed by Aimo Lahti and Arvo Saloranta in 1926. Like the aforementioned Fiat, this MG was capable of select-fire.

A dream to shoot, according to the Finns, it was a bitch to maintain because it had over 150 parts. The Finn boys nicknamed it Kootut virheet; “assorted mistakes”.

They were, however, accurate and helped the Finns win improbable victories during the Winter War, at least when properly maintained for the cold. The Lahti-Saloranta M/26 was made as late as the 1940s. The major drawback with this weapon was the diminished capacity 20-round magazines.

What is your favorite historical machine gun?


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