From Max Popenker, we have a set of photos of a very funky German submachine gun from the first world war (presumably 1918). The weapon is currently in possession of the weapon design department at Tula State University in Russia, and that’s where these photos were taken. Until now, the only photo available of this gun was this one (and it has some minor differences from Tula’s example, including the front grip and oil bottle in the stock):

Experimental German SMG based on Maxim 08/18

Well, it turns out that the gun in that picture is missing its feed box, which is a pretty important part, and tells us a lot about how it worked. The gun actually fed from a multi-column clip which held 8 rows of 10 cartridges each, somewhat like a cross between a 1914 Fiat-Revelli and a Japanese Type 11 LMG. When first loaded, the first column of cartridges is engaged by a sort of rack and pulled up to the chamber one by one. After the 10th round is chambered, the entire clip is stepped to the right so that the second column of cartridges is in position to be fed upwards. When all the rounds have been fired, the now-empty clip is pushed out through a slot (with its own spring-loaded dust cover) on the right side of the feed box.

The action of the gun itself is based on the Maxim MG08/18 air-cooled machine gun, using the same type of recoil-operated toggle lock, just scaled down to the 9mm Parabellum pistol cartridge. Instead of having the recoil (fusee) spring on the outside of the gun, in this case it is located inside the buttstock, like many other more modern designs.

Pretty much nothing else is known about this gun, including who made it, exactly when, whether it ever saw field use, how many were made, and whether or not it actually worked effectively. Heck, I don’t even know what the proper name of it is…but it certainly is interesting and unusual. Thanks, Max!



  1. Had the idea been thought of while using the MG 08/15 mechanism but scaled for the 9mm Parabellum, it would have struck fear to the Allies, and an innovation for what we know as submachine guns.

    Yeah, Battlefield 1 brought me here. It was really interesting they did the reloading of the belts well.

  2. Looks like we will get to play with a digital version in the next BF1 DLC. Hopefully it will spark some intrest in the community and new info will come out of the shadows!

  3. Wait, wait. You said ‘8 rows of 10 cartridges each.’, but the picture show ’10 rows of 8 cartridges each.’ You even said ‘after 10th round is chambered, entire clip move left to right.’, which cannot be possible if cartridges of each row is 8.

    Which is the correct thing?

  4. Hey Ian,
    Have been reading a pdf link by Leonard R Heinz you posted on your page to do with firearms of the Spanish Civil War. In it, he mentions the Poles “apparently” sent 167 of this Maxim SMG to the Republicans. Was very surprising to read. Have you read/heard anything about this?

  5. And we’re already going back to the nine millimeter belt fed idea! They’ve already came out with an upper for an AR that is nine millimeter and belt fed! Really interesting concept!

  6. Yep makes a decent choice in Battlefield. Although they usually source the audio and performance info from range testing in this case they probably got info from gun nerds more than anything. Thankfully so.

  7. With all of these Maxim gun variations I wouldn’t be surprised if ones found in 2mm kolibri as an anti mosquito weapon in the future

    • That’s lots of BS in this link. The SMG from Poland – yes, but these were just Erma EMPs, and not any of these “Maxim SMG” which in point of fact is a SCHWARZLOSE SMG (look up patent DE 332625 of 4 February 1921)

  8. this is a great and true piece of German engineering which become iconic because of BF1 (that’s why i’m here) it’s pretty interesting that they managed to modify and make an smg based lmg weapon which impressed me well but too bad thar this smg never saw action and was mass produced. But if it was a primary weapon of the German Stormtroopers,this could be deadly deadly at cqc and in trench raids.

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