The M1910 Maxim Sokolov Machine Gun: The gun wheeled around the world

At first glance, it seems like something from a steam punk fantasy. With more parts in common with an early automobile than a modern machine gun, the Russian M1910 Maxim Sokolov variant represents a thought process from a very different age. But what make this gun truly amazing is that while the technology of its day is long gone, it is not uncommon to find this hearty century-old gun still in service on the battlefields of today.

Today we are used to driving from place to place over nice paved roads in automobiles that have computers in them to keep them from driving too far over 100mph. Back in the 1900s, roads from city to city were made of dirt that turned to thick mud in the rain; even in the industrial United States, there was no such thing as asphalt. In 1903, it took an epic 63 days to cross the US from coast to coast by automobile—the roads in 1903 Russia were far worse. The primary means of transport for the Tsar of Russia’s 15 million man Imperial Army was by the soles of their boots.

With the heavy water-cooled Maxim guns issued to them weighing in at 60 kilos, even the strongest Ivans found it a tough hump. With this in mind, the Tsars machine gunners got a set of wheels.

The 1910 Maxim going for a drag

The 1910 Maxim going for a drag

Invented by the American-born British inventor Sir Hiram Maxim in 1889, the machinegun that bears his name was the worldwide standard for automatic weapons by 1900. The militaries of Germany, Great Britain, as well as the US Navy among others had it in regular service. When the Russians adopted it, they greatly simplified the design to make it as soldier proof as possible. With the adoption of the short-wheeled mount and a steel plate shield to protect the gunner, the gun became known as the Pulemyot Maxima Sokolov Model of 1910, or simply PM 1910.

Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com

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