The Hotchkiss Heavy: Shooting the Great War’s Modele 1914

This Hotchkiss machine gun and its tripod are lot #2027 in the upcoming April 2019 Morphy auction.

The Hotchkiss was the primary heavy machine gun for the French and American forces in World War One, and this 1918-production example was just begging to be given a workout. So we took it out to the range to run a few strips of ammunition through it. Compared to my previous shooting experience with Vickers and Maxim guns, it was rather nice to not have water or seals to deal with…and the tripod made for almost boringly easy shooting. These guns were absolute workhorses, and while they don’t get the recognition or respect of the Maxim and its derivatives today, they are fantastic pieces of engineering.

11 Comments

  1. “it was rather nice to not have water or seals to deal with…”
    It also worth noting that this tray-feed might be fired by 1 person. Maxim machine gun could be also used in such manner, however at least in Soviet Union it was customary to have assistant as belt master. Supposedly applying tension to belt in correct direction lowered chance of malfunction. Thus on numerous photographs, see for example:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX468Egdhow
    or
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JbnG1OdOr4
    assistant is lying next to gunner, on right side. As feed direction of Soviet Maxim was from right to left.

    • Anyone up for a French Foreign Legion image of the last guy manning the fortress’s Hotchkiss gun? That’s what this sounds like…

  2. Wow, what a feast… and what a beast! It could be as well called gun-machine and it would fit. I can see piston running completely out of gas tube. I suppose it was meant to vent it completely every shot. As for A. Odkolek did not live to see product of his creation in action; he passed away in 1917.

  3. Not only is it nice to have the PPU ammo available, but it is also boxer primed reloadable brass!! reloading it makes it much more affordable.

  4. I noticed in the slow motion that the piston comes completely clear of the gas tube by a fair amount, there was a visible air gap in there. It makes me wonder what the chances were that over time with wear on that piston, or whilst the gun is being fired through an arc, if it ever failed to re-engage into the gas tube and got jammed up somehow.

  5. So far, the bidding is pretty slow. I’d bid on it but I would have to store it at your place. No machine guns in Washington.

    • Time to mention the very extensive C&Rsenal video on this weapon. Answers many questions asked here and yesterday. I have seen film of US troops in France shooting these indirectly; when the loader is efficient there is quite some rate of fire.

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