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The Vault

Kynoch Machine Gun

The Kynoch company is best known for its ammunition – to this day the brand remains a mainstay of large African hunting rounds like the Nitro Express series of cartridges. George Kynoch started the company in 1862 with the establishment of a percussion cap factory in Birmingham. Despite a number of deadly explosions, the company is very successful, and by the 1880s and 1890s it is diversifying into other types of manufacturing, including candles and bicycle parts.

In 1898, the company began producing machine guns as well. I’m not sure of the exact series of events, as the timeline seems a bit muddled. Kynoch released a catalog in 1898 advertising the gun (I have access to a copy, but haven’t gone through it yet), and also printed a manual in 1907 (see below to download it). The 1907 manual specifically references the Schwarzlose patent, which was submitted in 1900 and granted in 1902. So what was Kynoch building in 1898? I don’t know – yet.

Kynoch Machine Gun, 1907

Kynoch Machine Gun, 1907

What I do know is that the Kynoch machine gun of 1907 is definitely a copy of the Schwarzlose. This was a rather unusual gun, as it used a toggle-delayed blowback system instead of the recoil and gas operated mechanisms that dominated the machine gun market at the time. The breech began to open at the moment of firing, but a lever/toggle mechanism gave the bolt enough mechanical advantage to delay full opening until after the bullet had left the barrel and pressure had dropped. The design required the a small oil pump to lubricate the cartridges to ensure smooth extraction.

The Kynoch sale brochure from 1907 included this charming anachronism:

The rate of firing is from 350 to 400 shots per minute, and may be kept at this speed for any length of time without liability of jamming. (The gun will fire at 600 shots per minute, but it is generally agreed that such a high rate of firing is useless in warfare.)

The brochure has a number of photos of the gun and mount, as well as a picture of all the component parts disassembled. You can download it in full here:

Kynoch Machine Gun sales brochure, 1907

Kynoch Machine Gun sales brochure, 1907

Further detailed information will be given when required on application to the manufacturers, Kynoch Limited, Witton, Birmingham, and a practical trial at the shooting range may be witnessed by appointment.

I wonder if that offer is still good? I wouldn’t mind seeing a test firing myself…

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