It wasn’t just chance that we got up to date on the KE-7 earlier this week – I wanted to have that in your mind before posting this interesting piece. We found it in the NFC “Pattern Room” collection in the UK, and it was something I hadn’t heard of before. There are wisps of information floating around the net that Pal Kiraly continued work on the KE-7 type LMG after it was released. That was in the late 1920s. This light machine gun we took a look at is labelled as dating from circa 1935 (the gun itself is wholly devoid of markings), and bears a striking resemblance to the KE-7. It’s not the same, though, as this design is gas operated instead of recoil operated.
What I found particularly interesting, though, is that this was one of the most complex internal mechanisms I’ve ever seen in a gun. Normally I’m totally gung-ho to dive in and disassemble something I’ve not seen before, but this thing had so many fiddly bits inside that I pretty much set it down and backed away slowly (we’ll take another crack at it next time we visit the NFC). Really, it took some time just to figure out how to close the action after I opened it.
The KE-7 seems to have been pretty reasonably built, and it seems odd that Kiraly would follow a pretty decent design with this nightmarish thing, instead of development working the other way around.
We do know that this piece is made for 8mm Mauser, and uses a 4-lug rotating bolt. If I recall correctly it used the underside gas piston to push the whole barrel assembly backwards for operation. Presumably the inertia from that short initial movement would have been used to fully cycle the action, but I don’t know the details on how. You can just see the bolt head on the right side of the above photo. The rest of the photos we took here (and you can download them all as a high-res zip archive here):