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Chauchat Machine Rifle brilliant "walking fire" innovation or worst machine gun of all time? You have heard it's the greatest piece of junk ever foisted on an infantryman, but who do you know who's fired one, much less owns one? PGK provides the answers on this notorious piece of French ordnance.

While the exact date is unknown, it's generally agreed that the first "true" machine gun (that is, one harnessing the forces generated by the gun's recoil itself rather than a manually-operated crank or lever) was discharged during the summer of 1883 in a workshop in the East City of London by Hiram S. Maxim.


To quote Maxim and Vickers machine gun authority Dolf L. Goldsmith, "Maxim was the first to make a single-shot, locked firing mechanism move by the force of its own recoil and contact various other parts, thus enabling it to fire, unlock, extract, eject, cock, feed, chamber and lock again into battery; altogether the most remarkably innovative engineering accomplishment in the history of firearms." The French development, one year later, of smokeless powder combined with Maxim's invention to revolutionize land warfare.

By 1888 the first major order for the so-called "Perfected" Maxim machine gun came from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which purchased 131 of them. Within a decade, other machine guns were developed, some by means of delayed blowback, by Skoda, Browning, Hotchkiss, Schwarzlose and Madsen. By the fateful August of 1914, Germany had about 3,500 Maxim machine guns; the Austro-Hungarian army had 2,761 Schwarzlose machine guns; the French army had more than 5,000 St. Etienne and earlier Puteaux machine guns; the Russians had around 5,000 Maxims and the British army' had over 2,000 Maxims. The slaughter was about to begin.

World War I is generally considered to be the conflict during which the machine gun began to dominate land warfare. Prior to this, machine guns had been used most prominently against colonial peoples, armed principally with spears, and who massed and repeatedly charged forward with devastating results (for them).


However, in reality 60% of those killed or wounded in the Great War were done in by artillery. Machine guns never had the range or killing power of artillery, which was far more greatly feared by the average soldier than were machine guns.

World War I began with the belief that it would soon be over and that the final decision would be had at the point of an infantry bayonet. It was felt that offensive actions would be the key to victory and that both artillery and the infantry firing line were the principal sources of firepower that would be required to destroy the enemy's ability to resist the final assault. At the beginning, it was thought by almost all that machine guns would be no more than a supplement to cannons and rifles.

Everyone was wrong. As an early advocate of machine guns, Maj. N.R. McMahon, Chief Instructor at the School of Musketry at Hythe, England, said, the machine gun was, unlike the rifle in the hands of the average soldier, a "nerveless weapon." Once a machine gun mounted on a sturdy tripod was "laid" onto its target, its firepower potential could be utilized far more reliably than that of an equivalent number of riflemen.

As a British army manual on the use of the Vickers machine gun said, "The accuracy, of fire is increased by a reduction of the personal factor." Unlike a shoulder-mounted rife, there was no recoil that might cause the gunner to flinch.

Light Machine Guns, Machine Rifles and Squad Automatics

Prior to the First World War, the concept of a "Light Machine Gun," distinct from machine guns in general, simply did not exist. The first automatic weapon of this type to poke its barrel over the top of a trench was quite clearly the Lewis Gun. The first British interest in the Lewis Gun was for its possible application to aircraft. Air-cooled and gas-operated and fired from a bipod, Automatic Arms Company of Buffalo, N.Y. licensed Armes Automatiques Lewis in Belgium to produce the gun. The latter, in turn, licensed Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) Company to manufacture the Lewis, chambered for the .303 British cartridge, in Great Britain.

By March of 1916, BSA was producing 800 Lewis Guns a week and a 1,000 per week by the end of the year. The Lewis could not come close to providing the highly accurate, sustained fire of the water-cooled and tripod-mounted Vickers machine gun. And, it was not immediately popular with the troops, principally because when first fielded no specific doctrine had been developed for its tactical applications.

By the summer of 1916, British infantry battalions were deploying with eight to 16 Lewis Guns each. Sixteen guns permitted one Lewis to be issued with each platoon. By 1918 there, were enough Lewis Guns to issue two to each platoon. By 1917 the Lewis Gun had become the heart and center of every British infantry platoon. In theory (which so often has little application to the reality of the battlefield), when the platoon encountered resistance, the first task of the Lewis gunners was to cover the deployment of the platoon's other sections.

Then, it was supposed to work around the flank of the enemy to cut the line of retreat. Because of this, the platoon rather than the infantry company became the principal fighting formation of the infantry, with its most important element of firepower now provided by the Lewis Gun.

And it is thus that the "Light Machine Gun" (LMG) came into the reality of the battlefield. This tactical concept was by and large carried over, with new and better Light Machine Guns, into World War II. But even before then, the other contestants of the Great War picked it up.

The German response was the world's heaviest LMG, the water-cooled Maxim '08/15. The French, who initially thought they could repel the Huns with the bolt-action rifle and its bayonet, developed what was to become one of the most scorned machine guns of all time, the Chauchat Machine Rifle.


The Americans, as always ill-prepared for the war, were forced by expediency to field the Chauchat in substantial quantities, as their Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) did not see action until the Meuse-Argonne offensive toward the end of the war in September of 1918. The BAR, however, was destined to become the U.S. "Squad Automatic" of World War II.

France Adopts the CSRG Machine Rifle

By the spring offensives of 1915, it became apparent to the French high command that they needed more than rifles, whether bolt-action or self-loading, and the "cold steel" attached to their muzzles.

Between 1903 and 1908, Capt. Louis Chauchat and Charles Sutter, a master armorer originally from the state arsenal, Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Chatellerault (MAC) who was transferred to work on automatic rifle research at Puteaux Arsenal (APX), developed six prototypes of long-recoil-actuated, fully-automatic rifles (actually the same firearm in different stages of development)--called in French Fusils Mitrailleurs.

The important phrase is "long-recoil-actuated," which means that the bolt, barrel and barrel extension recoil rearward, still locked together, for a distance greater than the overall length of the cartridge. This concept, rarely used to operate firearms, is the key to understanding what became known as the Chauchat Machine Rifle.

The first recorded instance of a self-loading firearm operating a rotating bolt head by means of long-barrel-recoil is John M. Browning's patent application filed on 6 June 1900 in the United States and 21 August 1900 in Paris, France, and granted as U.S. patent No. 659,786 On 16 October 1900.

Manufacturing and sales rights for Browning's patent were granted to the Remington Arms Company for the United States and to Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre (FN) in Belgium. The first commercial rifle using Browning's long recoil principle was the Remington Model 8, which was also the first really successful self-loading high power rifle ever manufactured.


In 1911, Chauchat and Sutter developed a new model, which was designated as the Fusil--Mitrailleur C7 de Puteaux Systeme CS, 8mm. This new weapon was chambered for the 8x5OR Lebel cartridge. After unsuccessful testing in 1911 and 1912, the CS (Chauchat Sutter) C7 Machine Rifle was deemed partially successful during new tests conducted in 1913.

However, at that time it was viewed as a "fortress" or defensive weapon with no consideration as an offensive infantry assault weapon. It was during these latter tests in 1913 that feed ramp problems were identified. They never went away and plagued the Chauchat throughout its entire history.

In the spring of 1915, the French Commander-in-Chief, Gen. Joffre, insisted that 50,000 Chauchat-Sutter machine rifles must be manufactured, with deliveries to the front lines commencing in November of that year. The M1915 CSRG was officially adopted in July of 1915.


The acronym "CSRG" stands for Col. Chauchat, Charles Sutter, Paul Ribeyrolles (the production manager of the Gladiator bicycle and motorcycle factory), and Gladiator (Societe des Cycles Clement et Gladiator--the first manufacturer). By September of 1915, almost 26,000 had been manufactured and delivered to the French army.

I own a live, transferrable M1915 CSRG Machine Rifle. They are relatively rare in machine gun collections, not because the guns themselves are rare as over 250,000 were manufactured, making it the most numerous machine gun of World War I. No, it's rare because no one wants what are undoubtedly not only the most ugly, but also the worst machine guns ever fielded.

My specimen, serial number "12399", was one of only 20,000 manufactured by Forges et Acieries de la Marine it Homecourt, a major heavy armament and artillery plant located at Saint Chamond in southeastern France. These M1915 CSRG Machine Rifles did not appear on the frontlines until October of 1917 and are considered to be superior in quality to those manufactured by Gladiator. The left side of the receiver is rollmarked with the serial number, "SIDARME" and a six-pointed star logo containing a cannon, anchor and flaming ordnance bomb in the center.

The Fuji Mitrailleur Modele 1915 has an overall length of 43 inches (1092mm). The barrel, which is 17.1 inches (435mm) in length, has four grooves with a left-hand twist. The barrel's most distinctive feature: full-length, but quite shallow, radial cooling fins. These were relatively common at the time, although expensive to machine. In theory, increasing the barrel's surface area should improve the rate of heat loss to the surrounding atmosphere. In practice, it was found that unless there was airflow over the fins (as in the open cockpit of an aircraft of this era) the heat loss improvement was not even measurable.

So, the most expensive component on this machine gun has a worthless feature, as the M1915 CSRG was prone to severe overheating unless very short bursts were fired for short periods only. The barrel jacket has a conical flash hider threaded to its front end. The weight, empty but with a magazine, is 18 pounds (8.2kg).

Except for the bipod legs, which were painted with black enamel, the exterior finish is rust blue with the internal components left in the white. The buttstock, vertical foregrip (which because of the magazine's location is far too close to the pistol grip to provide proper stabilizing support when fired from the hip assault position) and the grip panels of the rectangular-shaped pistol grip are made of wood.

The pistol grip is extremely uncomfortable and exhibits an amazingly total absence of human engineering. This is, of course, in keeping with the entire beastly weapon.

The unprotected, but quite substantial; front sight is a forward tapering blade that is integral with its mount, which is wrapped around the front of the barrel jacket, immediately to the rear of the conical flash hider. The tangent rear sight has an open U-notch and is adjustable for elevation only in 200-meter increments from 200 to 2000 meters.



This is an air-cooled, locked-breech, long-recoil-operated, selective-fire weapon that, fires from the open-bolt position. The selector lever, located directly above the pistol grip on the left side, has three positions into which it can be rotated. Rotating the selector lever fully rearward into the position marked "C" will produce semiautomatic fire.

Rotating the lever back up in its 180[degrees] arc to "M" will result in fully automatic fire, with an extremely low cyclic rate of 350 to 400 rounds per minute (rpm). Rotating the selector lever fully forward to "S" is the safe position. The recoil impulse is severe and combined with the jarring resulting from the bolt group flying forward seriously degrades accuracy potential, which is poor.

The weapon's construction is of a very low grade. The ventilated, tubular sheet metal barrel jacket has 17 vent holes arranged in alternating rows of three and four at the jacket's rear. The tubular upper receiver, containing the barrel assembly, bolt group and recoil spring, was fabricated from fairly substantial tubular steel.

The lower receiver, containing the trigger assembly and sear, selector and retracting handle, and to which are attached the buttstock, pistol grip, vertical forearm and magazine, was constructed from two pieces of heavy-gauge sheet Metal pinned together. The rear end of the recoil spring housing extends well over the top of the buttstock, making it completely impossible for the operator to obtain any kind of cheek weld.


In sum, it would be difficult to find anything whatsoever to compliment on the M1915CSRG. Yet, a prominent British military historian, who has undoubtedly never so much as stood in an army pay line, asserted that the Chauchat "served the French Army well in. the most difficult of circumstances." Furthermore, this pompous fool, who undoubtedly, never pulled the trigger 'on a Chauchat and fired a burst through it, stated that the "disparaging attitude [toward the Chauchat] would appear to stem from a number of sources: the parochial attitude of Anglophone firearms experts; a tendency to judge it against more modern light machine guns, rather than in the context of early automatic rifle technology; and the rough and ready appearance of the CSRG itself " Incredible! All three of the major contemporaries; the Lewis Gun, Maxim '08/15 and Madsen and the somewhat later M1918 BAR were all vastly superior.

The half-moon-shaped (or crescent-shaped) magazine--the configuration required by the large, double-tapered, rimmed cartridge case--holds 20 rounds and is detachable. The follower spring is an accordion-shaped flat spring of the type used in BAR magazines. These types of springs quickly take a set and neither Chauchat nor BAR Magazines should be stored for anything other than very short periods of time fully loaded or the follower spring will lose its compression strength and failure-to-feed stoppages will occur.


The Chauchat magazine Proved to be a serious and major continual problem area in both calibers 8mm Lebel and .30-'06 (the latter used by the American Expeditionary Force [AEF]). The right side of the magazine is almost completely open, presumably to serve as a cartridge indicator, but in this case it also serves as a ready ingress for debris.

The Americans were if anything less prepared for World War I than the other nations. The Benet-Mercie Model 1909 Machine Rifle was a dreadful design with low reliability. The intense personal animosity between Col. Lewis and Gen. William Crozier precluded the US Army's adoption of the Lewis Gun.

Because of this, the first 12 U.S. Army divisions that deployed in France were equipped with Hotchkiss machine guns and 16,000 Chauchat Machine Rifles.

A version of the latter, designated as the Model 1918, was chambered for the U.S. .30-'06 cartridge. Gladiator manufactured 18,000 of them between January and May of 1918. They proved to be a bigger catastrophe than the 8mm M1915 CSRG. The 20-round, slightly curved, staggered-column, detachable box magazine designed for the .30-'06 version of the Chauchat Machine Rifle has a vertically ribbed body.

It was dimensioned incorrectly, and the rounds had to quite literally jump from the magazine's feed lips into the gun's magazine well, leading to constant failures to feed.

In addition, the barrel's chamber dimensions were also incorrect, causing extraction problems, especially when the barrel was heated from firing, that most usually took the form of the extractor shearing off the case's head and leaving the remainder of the case stuck in the chamber.

One slight improvement of the .30-'06 variant was that it enabled the relocation of the vertical foregrip to a position forward of the magazine.

The bipod is quite possibly the worst ever fielded on a rifle or LMG. Its legs, which have spiked toes, cannot be adjusted, and thus the command height (the distance from the ground to the bore's axis) is fixed at 15 inches. This is far too high and dangerously exposes the gunner to enemy fire (which is always seeking out automatic fire).

The ideal command height for a shoulder-mounted weapon's bipod is 6 to 9 inches. While the Chauchat's large, curved magazine would interfere with a height of only 6 inches, the bipod certainly could have been designed with a command height of 9 to 10 inches.




An equally bad feature is that nothing prevents the bipod legs from folding almost completely under the gun when it is deployed from the prone position. And finally, the gun rotates freely on the bipod through an arc of more than 200[degrees] around its longitudinal axis with no control stops. I cannot conceive of a more poorly designed, but very important, component to a weapon that when not being deploying in so-called "walking fire" should be fired from the prone position off the bipod.

When Cobbled together, all of the above operates as follows. After a loaded magazine has been inserted into the magazine well and snapped in place, pull the retracting handle on the right side fully rearward until the sear engages the notch in the feed piece and holds the action rearward.

Pulling the trigger (trigger pull weights average more than 12 pounds, while it's amusing to continue to "pile it on" with regard to the Chauchat and its endless deficiencies, this is actually about average for a machine gun firing from the open-bolt position), releases the operating group, permitting it to fly forward under the energy stored in the compressed recoil/driving spring.



The forward driving force of the cocking assembly pushes a cartridge from the magazine's feed lips, when the bolt group then picks it up and chambering commences. A cartridge guide that cams the tip of the bullet up and into the chamber's entrance assists this operation. A cam subsequently moves the cartridge guide away from the magazine's mouth.

As the bolt flies forward, the locking lugs are vertical. To guarantee they temporarily remain in this position, a unique bolt stop is employed. This stop is a conical plug that engages within both the bolt body and bolt head, and prevents a torque motion between these two rotating components except when released.

When the cartridge has been firmly seated, the bolt stop rides inside the breech housing, forcing the bolt to rotate. This serves to firmly lock the assembly when the bolt group's forward travel has terminated. The recoil/driving spring continues to drive forward that part of the bolt body that contains the firing pin, and then the final rotary motion of the locking lugs frees the firing pin to impinge against the primer.

Subsequent to ignition, the bolt, barrel and barrel extension recoil rearward, locked together in long recoil (a distance greater than the overall length of the cartridge). At a point just under the full recoil stroke, the bolt's lugs unlock the bolt from the barrel extension and the barrel.

The bolt is then held to the rear by a searing device, while the barrel starts forward in counter-recoil. Since the rim of the empty case is securely held by the extractor on the breechface, as the barrel and barrel extension start forward into battery, they are pulled away from the empty case. After the barrel has cleared the case, a spring-loaded ejector located on the breechface impinges against the empty case and expels it from the ejection port on the receiver's right side.

If the trigger remains depressed, the barrel group cams the sear off just before reaching battery, releasing the bolt that had been held to the rear, and hopefully (in the case of the M1915 CSRG) the cycle is repeated.

"Walking fire" was a tactical concept unique to World War I. It was a technique developed to provide infantry with suppressive fire during offensive attacks while advancing from their trenches across "no man's land" to the enemy's trenches. It was eventually used by both sides in the war. In the case of the Chauchat Machine Rifle, the gunner fired from the hip assault position with the weapon supported by a sling, while the two-man team's loader (Pourvoyeur) walked alongside, changing magazines, to "supposedly" maintain a steady series of burst fire.

I'm quite sure that none of the military historians who write about such things have ever in their lives actually fired an M1915 CSRG. In addition to the difficulty of inserting a magazine into this weapon while walking, because of its long-recoil method of operation, the Chauchat's recoil impulse is quite oddly elliptical and the gun feels like it's about to literally fly out of your hands. This is certainly not very conducive to high hit probability, especially so when on the move and without employing the weapon's sights.

The M1915 CSRG Machine Rifle was a complete dud. Although it was used after the war by Belgium and Greece, the French waited only six years to dump it. In 1924 they adopted what was eventually designated as the Chatellerault M1924/29 Light Machine Gun in caliber 7.5 x 54mm. It was an excellent squad automatic, especially when compared to its contemporaries, and battle-proven in Algeria, Indochina, Morocco and Tunisia after World War II. Few machine gun collectors are motivated to acquire a Chauchat and transferrable specimens are worth less than $4,000.

8mm Lebel Cartridge

With the development of smokeless powder by Paul Vielle in 1886, rifle cartridges began to shrink in size, as the same performance could be obtained in a much smaller envelope. French research in this area resulted in a new magazine-fed, self-loading rifle firing an 8mm cartridge designed by Capt. Desaleux and Col. Gras. The 8mm Lebel cartridge is also known as 8x5OR and 8mm Mie 1886M. German designations for this round were DWM 472 and Patrone S304(f).





The original, bottlenecked case was made of brass with a slightly rounded head. The case body has a very unusual double taper. This is a consequence of the 11 mm Gras case from which the 8mm Lebel was derived and which resulted in a sharply tapered case when necked all the way down to 8mm. This proved to be a principal cause of feeding malfunctions in automatic weapons magazines, such as that of the Chauchat Machine Rifle.

The original round-nosed bullet resembles a thinned-down Gras projectile. This "Balle M" bullet weighs approximately 230 grains. It has a lead core and full cupro-nickel jacket. The smokeless powder charge weight is 36 grains, which 'generates a muzzle velocity of about 2100 fps. Thus we have a heavy bullet moving downrange at a respectable speed. Which means it was quite effective on the battlefield.

In 1898, Capt. Desaleux (promotions were quite slow in those days) designed a new spitzer bullet, which was adopted by the French army. This boat-tailed projectile was made of lathe-turned 90/100 brass (which undoubtedly rapidly accelerated bore erosion). It weighs 198 grains and was loaded in front of 46 grains of smokeless powder.

The decrease in bullet weight, combined with an increase in the powder charge weight increased the muzzle velocity to 2300 fps. The spitzer projectile and higher velocity provided flatter trajectories at longer ranges. This was the 8mm Mle 1886M cartridge.

To prevent accidental ignition in the Lebel rifle's tubular magazine, a large groove in the case head around the primer was designed to receive the bullet tip of the cartridge to the rear in the magazine. This also served to prevent the following projectile from wedging between the case head and the magazine tube.

In addition, the primer had a "cover," in essence a double primer cup, to protect it from the bullet tip to its rear in the magazine. This double primer cup was crimped in place by swaging. The cartridge nomenclature was changed to 8mm Mle 1886 a.m. (modified primer). In 1917, a spitzer bullet with a lead Core and cupro-nickel jacket was adopted that weighed 195 grains.

The 8mm Lebel cartridge was produced in many countries friendly (and also not so friendly) to France, including Austria, Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, South Vietnam and the United States. Production, M France ceased in the 1960s. There, were many variations, including tracer, armor-piercing, incendiary, short-range and gallery practice, blank 'and dummy rounds.

It was used in Gras, Remington Rolling Block, Lebel and Mannlicher-Berthier rifles and the Chauchat, Saint Etienne and Hotchkiss Machine guns. Its rimmed case was not ideal for use in magazine-fed machine guns, although it worked well in belt-fed automatic weapons.

Machine Gun Theory

To fully understand the Chauchat and machine guns in general, you must have at least a basic understanding of what they are, and are not, capable of and what their proper tactical applications are. For this you must understand the elementary principles of machine gunnery, lost in the U.S. Army and remaining now only in the U.S. Marine Corps.

First and foremost, machine guns, like mortars and artillery, are "area target" weapons. Rifles and handguns, on the contrary, are: "point target weapon's. However, unlike mortars or artillery, machine guns can be deployed as point target weaponry, although that is not utilizing their full potential. Why is that so? When a machine gun is fired in bursts, no matter how sturdy the tripod or how many sandbags have been placed on its legs, all of the bullets do not follow the same trajectory like some sort of laser beam. This is a function of vibrations induced by varying tolerances between the gun and the cradle and between the cradle (or flex mount) and the tripod itself.


In addition, each cartridge will have enough of a difference in propellant charge weight and projectile weight and configuration, no matter how minuscule, to produce a slightly different trajectory. Furthermore, shifting winds and other non-homogeneous atmospheric conditions will also spread the trajectories in a burst group.

This group of trajectories formed by a single burst is called the cone of fire by machine gunners. When this cone of fire strikes the ground, it forms an elliptical pattern referred to as the beaten zone. As the range to the target increases, the elliptical shape of the beaten zone becomes shorter and wider. The slope of the ground also affects the shape of the beaten zone.

When firing Onto slopes, the beaten zone becomes shorter, but retains the same width. When firing onto ground that slopes away from the gun, the beaten zone will become longer. The center of the beaten zone is called the center of impact.

It's also important to clearly understand the different classes of machine gun fire with both respect to the ground, with respect to the target and finally, with respect to the gun itself.

There are two classes of machine gun fire with respect to the ground:

Plunging Fire--this is fire in which the angle of the fall of the rounds with reference to the' slope of the ground is such that the so-called "danger space" for friendly troops is practically confined to the beaten zone and because of the slope of the ground is materially shortened. Plunging fire is obtained when firing from high ground to low, when firing from low ground onto high ground, and when firing at long ranges. Experienced friendly troops can safely advance under the protective cover of plunging fire.

Grazing Fire--fire in which the center of the cone of fire does not rise more than one meter above the ground. Grazing fire protects friendly troops from an advancing enemy.

There are four classes of machine gun fire with respect to the target:

Frontal Fire--the long axis of the beaten zone is in direct line with the forward movement of the target.

Flanking Fire--this is fire delivered against the flank, or left or right side, of the target.

Oblique Fire--fire in which the long axis of the beaten zone is at an angle, but not 'a right angle, to the long axis of the target.

Enfilade Fire--the most important, and yet most often misunderstood class of machine gun fire with respect to the target. This is fire in which the long axis of the beaten zone coincides with the long axis of the target, This is the single most desirable class of machine gun fire with respect to the target, because it makes the most effective use of the beaten zone.



Many self-styled authorities mistakenly believe it is synonymous with flanking fire. This is not strictly true, because if a single column of enemy troops, as in a patrol, were advancing with their long axis perpendicular (or normal) to the front line, then enfilade engagement in this example would mean firing with the machine gun pointed at the first man in the single file, and thus it would also be frontal fire, and yet the long axis of the beaten zone would coincide with the long axis of the column of troops.

There are five classes of fire with respect to the gun:

Fixed Fire--fire delivered on a point (or single) target and, as a consequence, little or no manipulation of the T&E (Traversing and Elevation) mechanism is required. After the initial burst, the gunners will follow and change for movement of the target without command.

Traversing Fire--this is fire distributed against a wide target requiring successive changes in the direction of the gun. When engaging a wide target requiring traversing fire, the gunner should select successive aiming points' throughout the target area. These aiming points should be close enough together to insure adequate target coverage, but not so close as to be wasteful of ammunition by concentrating a heavy volume of fire in a small area.

When there are two guns, the target is divided as follows: the target is divided at midpoint, with gun No. 1 firing on the right half and gun No. 2 firing on the left half. The point of initial lay and adjustment for both guns is on the midpoint of the target. After adjusting on the midpoint, gun No. 1 traverses right, firing a burst after each change in direction until reaching the right flank. Gun No. 2 traverses to the left flank in the same manner. Both gunners then reverse their directions of traverse and return to the midpoint.

Searching Fire--this is fire delivered against a deep target, requiring changes in elevation of the gun. The amount of elevation change depends upon the range and slope of the ground. When range is announced on a deep target, it is given to the midpoint of the* target.

When there are two guns, the point of initial lay for both guns is on the midpoint, which is also the point of division. After the initial burst, gun No. 1 searches down to the near end of the target and gun No. 2 searches up to the far end. Both gunners then reverse their direction of search and return to the midpoint. With one gun only, initial lay is again the midpoint. The gunner then searches down to the near end and back up to the far end.

Traversing and Searching Fire--this is fire delivered both in Width and depth by change in direction and elevation. It is employed against a target whose long axis is oblique to the direction of fire. When range is announced, it is again given at midpoint. With two guns, No. 1 gun traverses right, No. 2 gun traverses left and each gunner employs enough search between each burst to keep the center of impact on the base of the target. A single gunner should first traverse and search the near flank and then back to the far flank.


Swinging Traverse--employed against targets that require major changes in direction, but little or no change in elevation. The tripod's traversing slide lock lever is loosened enough to permit the gunner to swing the gun laterally without great effort.

Free Gun--this is fire delivered against moving targets that must be rapidly engaged with quick changes in both direction and elevation. To fire free gun the rear mounting point of the gun's attachment to the tripod must be disengaged so that the gun is attached to the tripod only at the cradle. This class of fire is effective only against targets at moderate ranges and should be reserved for emergency use only as the gun's accuracy potential is at its lowest level.
M1015 CSRG Machine Rifle Specifications

Caliber: 8mm Lebel (8 x 50R)

Method of Operation: Long-recoil-operated; Firing from the open-bolt
 position; Semiautomatic or full automatic fire
 with a three-position selector.

Cyclic Rate: 350 to 400 rpm.

Feed Mechanism: 20-round, single-position-feed, single-line,
 detachable, crescent-shaped magazine.

Weight: Empty, but with a magazine: 18 pounds (8.2 kg).

Overall Length: 43 inches (1,092 mm).

Barrel: Four grooves with a left-hand twist, with
 full-length radial cooling fins.

Barrel Length: 17.1 inches (435 mm).

Furniture: Wooden buttstock, grip panels and vertical

Sights: Tangent-type rear sight with an open U-notch and
 adjustable for elevation only in 200-meter
 increments from 200 to 2,000 meters; unprotected
 front sight is a forward tapering, blade that is
 integral with its mount, which is wrapped around
 the front of the barrel Jacket, immediately to the
 rear of the conical flash hider.

Finish: Rust blue with the internal components left in the

Manufacturers: Societe des Cycles Clement et. Gladiator and
 Forges et Acieries de la Marine a Home-court,
 Saint, Chamond, France.

Status: No longer manufactured, or in service; almost
 250,000 were produced.

T&E summary A complete dud with serious feed problems due to
 a poorly designed magazine, equipped with a very
 bad bipod with a command height far too high,
 prone to overheating, strange elliptical recoil
 impulse resulting in low hit probability, overall
 dreadful human engineering and shoddy
 construction. The French waited only six years to
 replace it with the excellent Chatellerault
 M1924/29 light Machine Gun.

Recommended References:

Machine Guns and the Great War by Paul Cornish. Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Great Britain, S70 2AS, email:; website: Copyright 2009. ISBN 978-1-84884-047-8. 169 pages, black & white illustrations, $39. An important and generally brilliant analysis of the machine gun in World War I, but accompanied by a flawed examination of the Chauchat as a consequence of the author's personal lack of user's experience with military small arms.

Honour Bound--The Chauchat Machine Rifle by Gerard Demaison and Yves Buffetaut. Collector Grade Publications, Inc. P.O. Box 1046, Cobourg, Ont K9A 4W5, Canada; phone: 905-342-3434; fax: 905-342-3688; email:; website: Copyright 1995. ISBN 0-88935-190-2. 227 pages, 244 illustrations, $39.95. This is one of the only references that have ever been dedicated entirely to the Chauchat, but dripping with a Francophile attitude that prevents the author from assessing the weapon with impartiality.

French helmets and militaria:

World War Supply

phone: 616-676-7277; email:; website:

International Military Antiques, Inc.

Dept, SGN, 1000 Valley Road, Gillette, New Jersey 07933; phone: 908-903-1200; fax: 908-903-0106; website:

Text and photos by Peter G. Kokalis
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Author:Kokalis, Peter G.
Publication:Shotgun News
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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