Book Review—Death Rattle: The British Soldier’s Machine Gun 1870 - 2015

by
posted on June 13, 2019
death-rattle.jpg

"Whatever happens, we have got The Maxim gun, and they have not.“ — Hilaire Belloc, The Modern Traveller (1898)

John Hutchins’ book, Death Rattle, is the definitive treatise on the machine gun as used by British forces from 1870-2015. Gatlings, Gardners, STEN’s and Brens (as well as dozens of others) are covered in great detail and supported by shockingly clear and detailed photos of the guns and their accouterments. Close up detailed photos show how each gun functioned, and a substantive number of period photos show soldiers using the guns during their long and storied history.

This is not your typical “gun book” as you may be used to perusing. The introduction, “30,000 Operations,” gives the reader a look at many of the contemporary thoughts and reviews on the whole idea of the machine gun entering into the service of the British military. Essays on the technological advances and reactions as to the morality of the use of such a “weapon of mass destruction” provide an interesting commentary on the subject matter at hand. The closing chapter, “The Future,” also deals with the question of the 20th century arms race. Given chemical and nuclear choices, does the machine gun represent the furthest man is willing to take his technological advances in warfare? Interesting thoughts to ponder while also learning how Maxim’s 1881 design evolved into the Vickers—eventually the bane of trench-dwelling infantry during the Great War (1914-1918).

While most books of this nature have dwelled mostly on American Browning designs and Maxims, this is the first book to clearly delineate the evolution of British automatic firearms from their infancy to current use. From crew-served Gatlings to the Minimi, every model and type are thoroughly documented in the 512-page tome. Well indexed, this is a “must have” for any shooter or collector of these workhorses of the Empire. tommyatkinsmedia.co.uk

Latest

National Sporting Clays Championship 1
National Sporting Clays Championship 1

On Scene At The Sporting Clays National Championship

American Rifleman Television attended the 2022 Sporting Clays National Championship for an in-depth look at the experience had by thousands of the nation's most-avid shotgunners.

Diamondback Firearms: From Airboats To Guns

Started as a company designing and manufacturing airboats for hard-to-reach places in its home state of Florida, Diamondback Firearms emerged from the machine shop and captured the market with its defense-oriented guns.

Favorite Firearms: A Sentimental Colt Single Action Army​

My favorite firearm is a .45-cal. Colt Single Action Army that I purchased new in 1980. The old Colt exudes Western adventure, both real and imagined.

Riton Optics Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Riton Optics offers a variety of riflescopes, red-dot optics and a complete line of accessories and was founded in 2013 in Tucson, Ariz., by Brady Speth, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former Capitol Police Officer. For 2023, Riton optic is celebrating its first decade doing business.

The Rifleman Report: 100 Years & Counting

As most anyone who is married knows all too well, failing to remember a significant anniversary is a mistake best avoided. In view of that, we always strive to point out important milestones as they pertain to the world of firearms—and in this issue we mark two.

Preview: Grayl UltraPress

A more compact option than the company’s similar GeoPress, the Grayl UltraPress is a portable water-filtration system that can produce 16.9 ozs. of potable water in only about 10 seconds—making it a potentially life-saving addition to any hunter’s pack.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.