In this week's episode of American Rifleman TV, we reach the end of our picks for the top 10 machine guns of all time. At No.1 is a machine gun that was the most significant in history, the Maxim gun. On "Rifleman Review," we take a look at the Taurus USA G3 T.O.R.O. striker-fired handgun. On "I Have This Old Gun," we examine the history of the Civil War-era LeMat revolver.
The American inventor Sir Hiram Maxim worked with several mechanical designs in his career, with arguably his most famous being the machine gun. The Maxim machine gun is at the top of the American Rifleman top-10 machine guns list due to its impact on history. The design used a toggle-lock breech block actuated by recoil operation from a round being fired to cycle the action without continued manipulation from the operator, as was the case with previous designs like the Gatling gun.
A German MG 08 machine gun, one of the many direct adaptations of the Maxim machine gun design used during World War I.
The Maxim gun also featured a large, water-filled barrel cooling jacket to keep the temperature of the barrel down during sustained fire. This design was purchased around the world in the early 20th century, with guns being acquired by nearly all of the major world powers of the time. The British, Russians, and Germans adapted the Maxim design into their own heavy machine guns, the Vickers, M1910 and MG 08, respectively, which would fight against each other throughout World War I.
The Maxim machine gun and its variants were heavy and slow to reposition, but their presence on the battlefield and ability to reliably sustain fire around 600 r.p.m. made them a powerful tool on the battlefield that could not be ignored. The Maxim changed the course of military tactics with its use in World War I, and continued to play a role as versions, including the British Vickers, continued to see use well into the latter part of the 20th century.
The Taurus G3 T.O.R.O. optic-ready handgun.
The Millennium G series of striker-fired handguns is one of the most successful Taurus USA lines, especially with the introduction of the midsize G3 in 2019 and sub-compact G3c in 2020. Taurus adds a new addition to this line for 2021 that follows the current trend for optic ready slides with the G3 T.O.R.O. The Taurus G3 T.O.R.O., or Taurus Optic Ready Option, is a Millennium G series striker fired handgun that comes with the slide pre-cut and tapped for the mounting of micro red-dot optics.
One of the most unique revolvers in U.S. Civil War history was the brainchild of Jean Alexandre LeMat, a doctor in New Orleans during the mid-1800s. LeMat designed a percussion revolver with a nine-shot .42-cal. cylinder, which also incorporated a percussion-fired central 20-ga. shotgun barrel located underneath the main barrel. The LeMat revolver held more rounds than conventional revolvers being used at the time, and the inclusion of a shotgun barrel was a unique feature that earned it the nickname of "Grape Shot Revolver".
The LeMat revolver with its shotgun barrel visible under the main barrel.
A lever on the hammer allowed a segment to drop downward in order to strike the primer for the shotgun barrel. The LeMat was mostly produced in Liege, Belgium and Paris, France, though some 1,500 were smuggled to the Confederacy for use by the Confederate States Army and Navy. The LeMat revolver was also carried by famous Confederate officers including J. E. B. Stuart. Despite its unique features, the LeMat revolver did not help turn the tide for the Confederacy and did not see much commercial success after the war.
To watch complete segments of past episodes of American Rifleman TV, go to americanrifleman.org/artv. For all-new episodes of ARTV, tune in Wednesday nights to Outdoor Channel 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST.