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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.

7 comments to Huot Automatic Rifle

  • Melanie Zimmer

    Some of the patent drawings are in “The Ross Rifle Story”. The Canadian Patent No. 193725.

  • Steve F

    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.

  • Cyrus Freeman

    I don’t know where you dig this stuff up, but it is great! Keep up the good work!

  • [...] Hout automatic rifle was a new one on me. The picture makes it look completely insane, but then I read the history. [...]

  • Hank Holm

    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.,

  • Eric Huot


    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.

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