Huot Automatic Rifle

It seems that armies are always short of weaponry when major conflicts light up, and creative solutions are often the result. Canada during the First World War is a good example. They had a serious shortage of light machine guns, and a Quebecois engineer named Joseph Huot devised a way to modify existing Ross straight-pull rifles into drum-fed light machine guns.

Huot automatic rifle

He added a gas piston to operate the bolt (similar to the later Enfield conversions like the Howell, but simpler because of the straight-pull nature of the Ross), changed the box magazine to a 25-round drum, added a cooling shroud like the Lewis, and a guard at the back to protect the shooter from the cycling bolt.

The Huot automatic rifle was tested against other available light machine guns like the Lewis and Farquhar-Hill, and proved surprisingly successful. It was very reliable, even in poor conditions, and was popular with soldiers who used it.  Best of all from the government’s view, it was far cheaper to manufacture than the Lewis. An order for several thousand was requested, but the war ended before it could be filled, and the idea was dropped.

If I can get my hands of a set of Huot drawings or an original rifle to disassemble and photograph, I think this would be a terrific project to build, starting with a relatively cheap sporterized Ross rifle. Not something with much mass appeal, but it sure would be neat to be able to shoot one.


  1. I’m curious what made this any more reliable than the Ross in poor conditions. Perhaps it was very reliable in testing, but would have faired poorly in actual trench combat.

    And I agree that you should build one, if only to see it in action.

  2. The Huot Rifle
    May 2011 there was a short info on this rifle.
    It has intrigued me or years, as I would like to build one.
    I contacted several descendants in the Ottawa/Quebec area. I do not speak french & there seems to be some descention in the Family tree. A family member said he would help me with my quest for drawings said to be with-in the family. I received no response. Has anyone else been more successful than I?
    Hank Holm
    Calgary, Ab.,

  3. Hi,

    as my name tells I’m one of the numerous Huot in Quebec and I’ll have a talk with family members if they ever heard of this in our branch of the Huot. Never know what might come up. It was a nice find to see this. Thank you for the history peak at what some Huot’s did long ago, always interresting.

  4. Provided below is the URL to Canadian Patent #CA 193725, titled simply ‘RAPID FIRE GUN’. Included within the page is imbedded links to claims, description, and drawings. Fortunately for the non-French speaking among us, the documents were completed in English, which at the time was the sole language of the Federal government. Official recognition of our second language didn’t come until much later.

    I certainly hope this proves to be useful, as I’m very interested to see what the Hout would be like in action!

  5. I am interested if they experimented with creating purpose built machine gun based on ROSS action.
    Since conversions proved to be surprisingly successful that should have nudged them in that direction.

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