Mr. Stanley and the Maxim Automatic Gun
Text & illustration excerpted from Belford’s Annual, 1887

In all his expeditions, Mr. Stanley, the great African explorer, takes with him the Maxim automatic machine gun. This gun has been provided with a special mounting, expressly designed to meet the requirements of this particular service. The carriage, or the tripod is so constructed that it can be instantly folded up, and carried upon the shoulder of one man. It was found upon trial that the tripod could be placed in position, and the gun mounted and fixed, in ten seconds, everything being arranged with a view of putting the parts together with greatest rapidity. At the rear of the gun are the means for cooling it while in action; the small water-tank contains sufficient water for 2,000 rounds. As the gun is fired, each particular shot causes a certain portion of this water to pass through the casing around the barrel, and the heat of the discharge evaporates this water, the quantity of water actually required for 1,000 cartridges being about a quart. The automatic movement of this machine-gun results from the force of the recoil being utilized for operating on the mechanism, so that, when it has once been loaded, it only requires that the trigger should be pulled, and held in the pulled position, the gun continues to fire at the terrific rate until it is again liberated. A single slight and quick impulse of the trigger fires but one shot; a somewhat slow pull fires three or four shots; while, if the trigger be held in the pulled position for one second, the gun will discharge eleven shots. It can be turned with great facility in any direction, while firing, without any special training device. Mr. Stanley’s gun weighs forty pounds; and the peculiar steel carriage on which it is mounted weighs fifty-four pounds. In our illustration the shield is shown in a position to receive arrows, the top part projecting inward over the head of the gunner. If, however, he should be assailed with bullets, the top projection and the two bottom ones are turned forward, so making the shield of two thicknesses instead on one. Mr. Stanley, before leaving, fired this gun about 500 rounds under various conditions; and at his departure the inventor fired a parting salute of 334 cartridges, one full box, allowing the whole to go off in quick succession, the time occupied being about thirty seconds.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V8N7 (April 2005)
and was posted online on May 31, 2013


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