Book Review: Honour Bound – The Chauchat Machine Rifle

I’ve discussed the much-maligned CSRG machine rifle (the Chauchat) previously – it was not the utter disaster that common knowledge would lead you to believe. You won’t find much literature on the Chauchat, but fortunately what has been written is of top-notch quality: Gerard Demaison’s and Yves Buffetaut’s Honour Bound: The Chauchat Machine Rifle. Published by Collector Grade, this is an insightful and detailed account of the history, development, and field usage of the CSRG.

Honour Bound includes a significant amount of material from declassified French military archives, including firsthand assessments of Chauchats in the field from official French troop surveys, as well as citations for soldiers armed with the guns. Even if you aren’t particularly interested in French weapons or early machine guns, this is an excellent example of how the truth can be much different from what “everyone knows,” and it’s worth reading just as a cautionary tale about repeating common beliefs.

Best of all, it’s about the cheapest book put out by Collector Grade, at least until it’s sold out. I’m sure this volume will never be reprinted, so it behooves anyone to get a copy while they are still cheap and readily available.


  1. Thank you for the review! Looks like a great resource for WWI aficionados and folks interested in the history of portable firepower. Personally, what fascinates me about the CRSG is that the Gladiator factory also produced bicycles–of interest to me–and my sense is that most folks who look at “primitiv-waffen” or rough-made, cheaply produced weapons focus on the Sten SMG and the Soviet SMG developments of *WWII as something of the epitome of such design, while the CRSG was perhaps the *first* such design, no?

    That small workshops would be utilized to churn out weapons that had not previously been made in the age of mass, technified warfare perhaps originated in the Napoleonic wars, but the CRSG automatic rifle/LMG seems to be worthy of closer consideration.

    As far as Collector Grade Publications, I am greatly enjoying W. Darrin Weaver’s _Desperate Measures: The Last-Ditch Weapons of the Nazi Volkssturm_, which makes an excellent addition to David K. Yelton’s _Hitler’s Volkssturm: The Nazi Militia and the Fall of Germany, 1944-1945 in that part of my library! Excellent book. I’d like to see other historical cases, e.g. the British Home Guard, the Soviet opolcheniye, the Japanese anti-invasion mobilization, etc. subject of similar treatment.

    Again, thanks for the review!

    • Bicycle guys got around. It was the high-tech of the early 20th Century (a couple of bike-factory owners in Dayton made kind of a mark in another field, too). Lots of militaries used bicycles, mostly in Europe, and some kept it up long after WWII.

      To make machines with interchangeable parts, you needed production machine tools which took a lot of the 18th and 19th Centuries to develop. Guns were a big driver of machine-tool development and a lot of the great machine tool companies (Bridgeport, P&W, Heald) grew up close to their gun-making customers.

      The Darne MG (forget whether it’s a WWI gun or an early interwar gun) was also built from tubing, pressings and screw-machine output. It was used a lot as a flexible gun in aerial applications. Ahead of its time. The company Darne is better remember for beautiful hand-made sporting shotguns!

  2. My big gripe with CGP books is that they keep the printings artificially low to make sure the run is immediately bought up by resellers. This inflates the prices for the collector by a lot. My favorite from them is Richard Law’s “Backbone of the Wehrmacht” about the 98 k. All you ever wanted to know on that subject, and more.

  3. And a case in point relevant to Mu’s comment–Amazon doesn’t actually have any copies and the resellers are letting it go for $44.

  4. Yes, I got it on sale for around $30 a while ago. It really is very good, and at the price I got it a great value for the information it contains.

  5. I Fired this gun, both in 30.06 and 8 mm Lebel. the 8 mm worked poorly and the 30.06 broke my cheek bone. The US soldiers in 1ww experinced the sameI will anytime prefere the first handheld machingun in the world, the Madsen, that were interdused in 1896, later adopted by 56 states in the world ansome are still in use. Spare parts are still in produktion.
    This mashinguns secret, was thebolt, that was without reces for the cartridge head, it could be orderd for any military kaliber. the factory, had 10.00 actions in stock, 10.000 barels in etcg bore and 10.000 magasines in eatch bend. the factory could then have 10.000 mashinguns in the orderd caliber on bord a ship on rute the buyer. The factory, was located in Copenhagen Freeport, so no costons could make truble. It worked alway well. I belive that I fired iver 100.00 shots with one with lesthan 5 stopegedes.

    • Madsen is one of those guns they taught us in weapons school in the 1980s, and we all wondered why we were wasting time on these “obsolete pieces of $#!+”. The guys who went to South and Central America in those days saw a lot of them.

      I recall hearing Chaco War stories — legends, really, as they are part of the lore of regiments, and human survivors of that war were already rare — stories of Madsens in action.

      A lot of the Madsens were sitting in arms rooms, chambered for obsolete calibers. (7mm and 7.65mm Mauser spring to mind). Thanks for your insight on their commercial success.

      Small arms have gotten more boring and most of the vintage stuff is no longer taught in 18B school. If you know AR, AK, and HK and their MG cousins you pretty well have the world’s armies covered these days.

  6. Sorry boys,
    but i love the CRSG or ShOShO or υποδ.15 (in Greek). It was the first cheaply produced weapon made from parts from independent subcontractors that had neither the exact dimensions. Just think about a weapon made ​​partially from locksmiths, carpenters, blacksmiths, bicycle manufacturers etc.Rumors say that the German Supreme Headquarters honored at a special ceremony the french designers of the weapon for outstanding services to the German army….he..he..he..I have a deactivated in my collection,but even now, when i disassemble it for maintenance, then I need a hammer to reassemble it.Barked for the Greek army from the First World War to 1940 but I never heard or read complaints about its performance.I have also this amazing book.

    • Dronne,

      Chauchat bashing has always been fashionable. I’ve always liked it. It was for me the first “assault rifle” even though it did not use an “intermediate” cartridge. It pre dates the Federov ( often considered the first AR ) which also used a full service round, albeit the Japanese one.

      The CSRG 15 was designed for the “assault” and the concept of “walking fire”. Despite it’s problems (mainly centered on the magazine) it was used bravely and often to great effect by both French and US soldiers in the attack, especially by machine gun nest killer teams.
      Any weapon issued 250,000 times can’t have been all that bad.

  7. I just bought a copy of Honour Bound from Jeremey Tenniswood of Colchester, England . The price was £35.95 ($60) including next day courier delivery in UK. He had other copies available a couple of days ago.

    This looks like an excellent book.

    I handled an 8mm CSRG 15 some years ago in the Pattern Rooms Nottingham. I got quite a fright when I drew back the action and a round popped into the feedway ( now how do you drop the mag whilst holding the bolt back on this thing !!! ). Fortunately it turned out to be a drill (de-activated)round !

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