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Object Title

Centrefire automatic machine gun - Experimental Maxim

Centrefire automatic machine gun - Experimental Maxim



Object Number



Manufactured 1884. Taken on loan by the Pattern Room from the National Army Museum. Permanently acquired by the Pattern Room in September 1994. Loaned to the Royal Armouries (AL.100) Gifted to the Royal Armouries in August 2005.

Physical Description

Black painted riveted sheet steel receiver with brass barrel jacket, mechanism housings, spade grip, revolving feed tray, and tripod with folding steel arrow shield (also black painted). There appears to be a trigger mechanism fitted to the backplate; a brass lever shaped at one end for a thumb and pivoted in the centre, presumably pulling backwards on a rod that runs into the body of the gun and acts upon the tip of the sear. The black cylindrical projection on the backplate may be analogous to the hydraulic buffer/regulator appearing in patent No. 3493 of July 16 1883, described by Goldsmith in 'The Devil's Paintbrush' as a ‘Plunger assist’ and ‘a hydraulic device which connected with a piston on the back of the plunger. The passage of liquid from one compartment to another could be adjusted by a regulating screw on a connecting valve, and so vary the speed of the recoil movement of the gun. More of a buffer than a true rate adjuster…’ This is akin to the gas regulator on a later gas-operated MG. On the basis of the added complexity of the lever-adjustable system found on AL.154 1 (and the USMC Museum piece at Quantico), and taking into account Maxim's patents No. 3493 of July 16 1883 (hydraulically buffered/regulated) and No. 1307 of Nov 7 1885 (regulated by means of the fusee mechanism), as well as Maxim's description in 'Engineering' Volume 38, November 7, 1884, pages 430 - 432, PR.10510 appears to have been constructed before AL.154 1. If so, PR.10510 represents the earliest surviving Maxim gun and therefore the earliest known automatic machine gun in existence. On the other hand if this weapon does feature a manually operated trigger, it may be later. In any case both guns are securely dated to 1884. Ultimately both hydraulically buffered designs fell to the superior fusee system found in the 1885 patent and subsequent production guns.


Rivetting, Filing, Forging



OverallHeight1100 mm
OverallLength1550 mm
BarrelLength600 mm
GunWidth200 mm
TripodWidth900 mm


Serial Number None visible


.45 in


Bibliographic References

Dolf L. Goldsmith, The Devil's Paintbrush, Collector Grade Publications, Toronto, 1989: p.135

Image of Centrefire automatic machine gun - Experimental Maxim Very early prototype of the Maxim machine gun with rotary feed.