SS Say it ain't so!

The SS was hard up for weapons and ammo early on but this is near to bottom fishing.

This French gun is considered by many to be one of the worst ever designed.

I had one and yes it was crude.

Hard to imagine the SS using these.

How far down the pecking order did you have to be to get one of these?

I think a lot of the (justified) criticism of the Chauchat’s performance involved only the .30-'06 version. It may have been more reliable in the original 8mm Lebel chambering. I’ve never read anything about that. Does anyone know?

They might just be posing with a captured weapon or evaluating it. From what you say, I am not familiar with it, the evaluation might be “would make a good fence post”.

Aww, Stop making with the Negative Waves!!! ( Kelly’s Heroes).

The SS may have been “Posing” with a Captured weapopn, but just as likely it was a “Pick up and use” as the SS were always scrabbling for useful equipment, as they were not on the “pecking order” of direct Wehrmacht supplies, but up to 1942 at least, utilised “Capture Nations” equipment, mostly Czech, and Polish ( Photos of SS troops in France show use of Czech ZB26 and Polish BARs ( KM29?) (Both in 7,9 calibre), as well as Geman MG08/15/34 (Belt feed modification to steel link).
Not unlikely they also picked up a few CSRGs along the way.

Very nice (and rare) Photo. Please repost over on Gunboards, French section or MG sections…They will be thrilled.

The CSRG , although conceived in times of peace, was manufactured in Wartime, and for its time, was futuristic ( stamped metal, screw machine parts,
made in a Bicycle factory, product tested on the Battlefield). Its major defect was the Cartridge ( 8mm Lebel) which by its tapered design, required a very curved magazine, which was the major cause of its problems.
Training overcame many of the Long-recoil function problems, and the French CSRG Gunners were intensively trained ( on a par with the training received by German MG08 and 08/15 Gunners.
The Awards List of Valour decorations received by CSRG gunners from 1916 to 1918 is way out of proportion with those received by any other Service awardees.
The Gun did have defects, due to its Long recoil mechanism ( strong gun holding essential for full operation) Too tight tolerances to allow for heat expansion ( barrel expanded and shooting got sluggish to stopping in over-used guns); magazines with their “View slots” were prone to mud jams, as well as thin metal ( deformation)…this was partly solved by producing Hundreds of thousands of magazines in a “Use and Lose” attitude ( although the magazines were supposed to be kept, maintained and re-used.)

The 1918 US order for a .30/06 chambered CSRG was doomed from the start…the .30/06 was too strong a cartridge, and also required a redesign to use a 16 round straight box mag ( thicker metal, no view ports) but the real clincher was “Incorrect chambering tools” which left the guns ( several tens of thousands) with undersized chambers, so that US .30 cal ammo would barely chamber if at all, and then fail to extract… A complete Fiasco.

Properly trained US troops ( under French training methods and schools) utilised the CSRG15 in 8mm well enough; they certainly used the M1914 Hotchkiss and the 75mm M1897 Gun quite well…but even cultural differences between French and US training mindsets affected the outcome.
But eventually both Lewis Guns and late in 1918, BARs became the AutoRifle of choice for US troops.

Post war, several countries which had acquired CSRG15s in 1918-19, set about “improving” them.
Belgium rebuilt theirs to 7,65mm Calibre, utilising some of the CSRG1918 design ideas (straight mags, etc) and allowing for the Tolerances between barrel and recoil sleeve to be improved. ( FM1915/24) and Poland was more successful still, with its 1927 conversion to 7,9mm ( Kbkm27). This remained in parallel service with the New (FN Built) M29 BAR, also in 7,9mm; in the mid-30s, SEPEWE sold the CSRG15/27s to Greece, and these saw some use in the 1941 Invasion by Italy and Germany.
It is unknown whether the SS got any Polish CSRGs ( either calibres) for the Invasion of France.
Finland had acquired some CSRGs after WW I, but these were “disposed of” well before the Winter War (1939).

All in all, the CSRG was produced in enourmous numbers for a WW I Auto Rifle
( the French Name, Fusil Mitrailleur, signifies a rifle with full auto capability, as distinct from the FSA ( Fusil Semi-Automatique, which is SA only).
The Book “Honour Bound” is a “Must read” for all those wishing to foillow the progress of the CSRG from its early prototypes back in the first decade of the 1900s, through to an Aircraft gun in 1913, to the Infantryman’s friend in 1915.
production and field trainig is included, as well as samples of Citations for Valour by CSRG gunners.

Details of the ammunition are also well laid out.

SO, in the words of (Donald Sutherland) to his mechanic…“Quit making with the negative waves!!”

Doc AV

The photo is from a collection in our National Archives. I don’t visit any of the other blogs mentioned but don’t hesitate to cope and post the image if you like.

This one does not seem to have the banana clip and so could well be one of the revisions which you mentioned.

[quote=“DrSchmittCSAEOD”]The photo is from a collection in our National Archives. I don’t visit any of the other blogs mentioned but don’t hesitate to cope and post the image if you like.

This one does not seem to have the banana clip and so could well be one of the revisions which you mentioned.[/quote]

It looks like the 8mm “banana clip” magazine on my screen. The working end of it can be seen just to the rear of the steel helmet in the foreground and the closed end is visible just above the front of the helmet. The large holes through the sidewalls of the mag are also visible.


BLIMEY ! I think you are right. Not only is this a fence post but in 8mm Lebel. Yike.

I don’t actually know what BLIMEY means but I heard it in old British movies as an expletive.

I hope it passes the PC test !

[quote=“DrSchmittCSAEOD”]BLIMEY ! I think you are right. Not only is this a fence post but in 8mm Lebel. Yike.

I don’t actually know what BLIMEY means but I heard it in old British movies as an expletive.

I hope it passes the PC test ![/quote]

I believe the word “blimey” means “blind me”, it is still in use over here.


If you squint just right, it does look as though it has the semicircular magazine. I had always understood the bad rap the CSRG got was more a matter of its conversion to .30, and that in 8mm Lebel it was better. I wasn’t aware of the other post-WWI modifications.

Back in another life, I once had a boss whose father had brought a live one back from the trenches of France as a souvenir, and my boss still had it. There was nothing illegal about doing that in the US, pre-1934, but this gun had never been registered, and he had no intention of registering it. I wonder whatever happened to it, or if my boss ever got nabbed by ATF. Everyone knew about it, as my boss bragged a lot. Back in the good old days before GCA-1968, I remember DEWAT CSRGs (and lots of other full autos) being sold very cheaply. I think the CSRGs were sold the cheapest.

There was a DEWAT and LIVE MG amnesty in 1969. Many of these were put on paper at that time. Thousands of guns under the old DEWAT program were not done to regulation and many others were in circulation without their papers and there were plenty of LIVE guns in circulation as well which went onto papers during the amnesty.

I bought a collection of 10 guns from an antique strore in my area the year before the amnesty. Half were live and the other half DEWATS without papers.

We always hoped that it would be done again. It hasn’t to my knowledge.

I fired mine and it was like trying to control a high pressure fire hose.

As I remember, the 1969 amnesty was brief and not well advertised, and was over before most even knew about it. I think there was a recent amnesty of sorts that allowed war bringbacks to be registered, but only to the original liberator.

You are 100% correct about the 1969 amnesty. I sold my collection under durress from the BATF one month before the amnesty was published.

I sold the 40 piece collection to Curtiss Earl ( well known old time MG dealer in Phoenix) for $5000.

The cover gun for his next sale was MY (his) Japanese flex Lewis aircraft gun which had been a “bad” dewat. Price - $5000. All the rest was gravy for him.

I have been out of the MG collecting market since so I don’t keep up with it but I have seen no news in any gun press about a new one.

I did some research on the 1969 amnesty. It was in effect for only 30 days, and resulted in registration of about 50,000 weapons. It was never repeated. The more recent amnesty proposal was floated in 2010, but it never came to pass as the Democrat leadership in congress never let it be brought up. No surprise there.

Dennis, wasn’t there some kind of amnesty in '86?

Possibly. I seem to remember there may have been a very brief one that lasted just a few days and no one even knew about it. I’d have to look it up. I think it had something to do with the FOPA of 1986 which, as amended, essentially banned private (civilian) purchase of automatic weapons that were manufactured after 1986.

Yup. It had to do with immigration though, not firearms. JH

Knew a (now passed) guy who was a Lt. in the PA State Police & he carried one (8mm) in the war. Loved it.

Do you know what we are talking about here ?