Watchmaker’s Perfect Miniature MG08 Maxim

Today at the Kessler auction house in Kreuzlingen Switzerland, we are looking at an exquisitely made miniature model of an MG08 Maxim machine gun. This was probably made by a watchmaker in military service, but there is not specific evidence to point to who they may have been. The piece is a completely faithful model of the real thing, right down to a rifled barrel. Truly an amazing piece of mechanical art!


  1. I’m just guessing, but, an 8mm sized down to 2mm would give you a round that has a maximum effective range of around 100 meters. (Really I’m just guessing I don’t have the real numbers to crunch on this!) In all, I would say that this Maxim, would perforate human skin out to about 30 or 40 feet, but, other than making the target mad, would do no other damage. It would be fun to fire, and a real treasure to have!!

  2. Fully-functional miniature firearms were popular, if expensive, collector’s items around the turn of the last century and up through the 1950s.

    They actually had their beginnings in the very serious business of artillery production. Back in the 17th through early 19th Centuries, ordnance departments used scale models of cannon as patterns for their craftsmen to work from instead of blueprints. Many of these artisans were not fully literate and often could not read a blueprint, but show hem a miniature of an item and tell them “build it just like that, only three times as big” and they could do it easily.

    Later, exquisitely-detailed miniatures were used to “sell” projects to the political paymasters, or later to instruct students at the service academies in the use of the equipment in classroom study.

    One that may fall into this latter category was a stainless steel model of the Japanese Taisho 14 (1925) 10.5cm AA gun, made at Nagoya arsenal in 1928. It had a 42 cm long, fully rifled barrel, was chambered for the 11 x 60mmR Murata rifle cartridge, and when purchased by collector Samuel Weill Jr. in the 1950s showed evidence of having been fired. It was fully operable, including the fuze setting box.

    Weill’s collection also included a 1/3 scale model of a Colt-made Model 1893 Police Gatling, on tripod, with Accles drum feed. Normally a .45-70 weapon, this “mini-gun” was a .22 rimfire, and yes, it actually could be loaded and fired.

    In fact, .22 rimfire Gatling guns are still being made today;

    If you have $15K to spare, here in the U.S. it’s just like buying a .22 rifle, since they are not considered “automatic” weapons due to being manually-operated.

    As for ammunition for the mini-MG08, at the time (WW1), the smallest caliber cartridge in actual use was the 2.7 x 9mm Kolibri;

    While called a “2mm”, it was in fact a 2.7mm bore (.106″). Ammunition for it was manufactured until the late 1930s in Germany; today, nobody makes a centerfire primer small enough for such a cartridge.

    I’m wondering if such a miniature could be made today, say chambered for .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire;

    Since it’s already a bottlenecked case, it would operate the same as an 0.303in cartridge, and give the same “visual effect” when used in a belt feed.

    Not to mention probably being a loud little monster.



    • Considering that it probably won’t fire modern ammunition, I would call it a “curio/relic” piece. No need to be terrified of a gun that CAN’T SHOOT A CURRENTLY-MADE CARTRIDGE, right?!

      • Right, but it can be a curio/relic and an NFA gun at the same time. So there might be extra paperwork/hoops to jump through to actually own it.

        • Firearms chambered for long obsolete (and out of production) ammunition tend to be exempted from that, on the grounds that nobody makes the gun’s proprietary ammunition anymore and that the gun in question cannot possibly be converted to fire anything else (without exploding and maiming some person foolhardy enough to try).

          I have yet to see anyone claiming the miniature machine gun could possibly accept any form of ammunition that would cause it to cycle without manual operation of the charging handle for every shot. Toggle locks usually don’t agree with weak powder loads.

  3. Where are the links to the auction? I have been wondering for quite a while on all of your posts, but finally had to ask. BTW, thanks for all the great information and all of your hard work. (I guess that with the new Iconography, now you outrank Saint[Gen.]Mattis)

    • It is just below the video for me. Click on the name of the particular gun that is the subject of the video.
      This auction happens to be in Switzerland so it is in Swiss/German.

  4. Ian, do you know if this is still for sale? I have tried emailing the auction house but have had no response.

  5. Your article is very useful, the content is great, I have read a lot of articles, but for your article, it left me a deep impression, thank you for sharing.

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