While early light machine guns were finicky, the French Chauchat machine rifle, especially in U.S. Army service, has a special place in gun lore.
Designed by Louis Chauchat and Charles Sutter, more than 250,000 of these 20-pound high-volume weapons were cranked out– mostly in 8x50mmR Lebel as it was French.
Although the excellent Lewis machine gun, as well as the earlier M1895 Colt “Potato Digger,” were created in the U.S., the rapidly expanding American Expeditionary Force was outfitted with first the 8mm Chauchat (dubbed the M1915) and later augmented with the Gladiator-made 30.06-chambered version (the M1918). Besides their odd layout and funky long-recoil action, the M1918 had lots of mechanical defects that didn’t bubble to the surface until they were beta tested on the front lines with, let’s say, poor feedback.
In the above, Ian McCollum takes a vintage M1918 with downloaded mags and tests out the century-old LMG in some rapid fire with some decent results– until it warms up at least.
And if you want to see what one looks like on the inside, check out Mark with C&Rsenal as he tries to get one of these much-maligned and now increasingly collectible guns working again.