We have looked at a couple different Madsen light machine guns previously, but until today I have not had the chance to do any shooting with a fully automatic example of one. So I am taking this 1924 Bulgarian contract example out to the range wth some ammo!
The Madsen is a really interesting gun for several reasons, both historically and mechanically. It was the first light machine gun actually put into real combat use, seeing service in the Russo-Japanese War. It would go on to be used in World War One, World War Two, and too many smaller conflicts to count, right through to staying in service with Brazilian police units into the 1990s if not 2000s. A service life that long would be impressive for any machine gun, but particularly so for such an early an unusual design.
Mechanically, the Madsen is best described as a short recoil falling block action. It uses a top-mounted magazine which is offset to the left, and which has no feed lips (they are machined into the receiver instead). Cartridges are pushed laterally into the action by a rotary block below the magazine, and then rammed into the chamber by a long swinging arm (definitely take a look at my previous video on the Madsen disassembly to see how this works in detail). The breechblock pivots at the rear and drops down to lock behind the cartridge when firing. It does fire from an open bolt, although the semiautomatic conversions available in th eUS are converted to closed-bolt operation.
Firing the Madsen, it is clear that one is working with an early design. The grip is not nearly as comfortable and intuitive as later guns, and the trigger pull is rather heavy. It remains a durable and effective weapon, however, with its unique eccentricities standing in for the polish that would come with later guns like the ZB-26.