Original French WWI Fusil-Mitrailleur Modèle 1915 CSRG Chauchat Display LMG with Magazine - Serial No. 23468

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Just purchased at a recent military auction, this is an incredible Inert Fusil-Mitrailleur Modèle 1915 CSRG Chauchat Display Gun, with serial number 23468.

It was built from all original parts on an original BATF compliant non-firing display receiver, making this a 100% legal inert machine gun. This receiver was created by using portions of the original torch cut receiver, including the barrel bushing, combined with some new made steel portions. It has properly had a 25% section of the total length completely replaced entirely with solid steel bar stock. Meaning a 1/4 length section of the display receiver is solid steel, making this totally legal to own without a license of any kind. Many of the internal components were also demilitarized long ago, and welded in place. Included with this excellent example is a fully functional original magazine, which will be deactivated where required.

The trigger group on this example is marked on the left side with the ST.CHAMOND Star Logo of FAMH, the parent company of SIDARME. Next to this it is marked with the original model and serial number under the maker:

C.S.R.G. No. 23468

It is also marked with matching serial number 23468 on the left side of the rear receiver, and also partially on the very end of the recoil assembly. This is also usually on the cocking lever for the gun, however this example unfortunately does not have one, as it was lost at some point in the past 100 years. Both the receiver and magazine are also marked with S A in a rectangle, for the Finnish Army (Suomen Armeija), which did use the Chauchat during WWI and after, though it is impossible to tell when this example was sold to Finland.

Condition is very good, showing light wear from service, and some peppering on the metal components, which has made some of the more delicate markings a bit faint. The wooden stocks are in very good used condition, showing light wear from service and a lovely color. This is a partial matching serial number example complete with original bipod, and comes with an original curved magazine (which can be deactivated if shipped to locations where required). We have found a few reference photos online showing the Chauchat in service with French Soldiers, which are shown for reference purposes only and not included.

We've only ever had a handful of these exceptionally rare LMGs, so this is an wonderful seldom seen opportunity to add to your Great War Collection. This is definitely a lovely lightly used example, complete with an original magazine and ready to display!

The Chauchat, named after its main contributor Colonel Louis Chauchat, was the standard machine rifle or light machine gun of the French Army during World War I (1914-18). Its official designation was "Fusil Mitrailleur Modele 1915 CSRG" (in English: "Machine Rifle Model 1915 CSRG"). It was mass manufactured during World War I by two reconverted civilian plants: "Gladiator" and "Sidarme". The term CSRG is made up of the initials of Chauchat, Sutter, Ribeyrolles and Gladiator, the respective designers and manufacturers of the completed form of the gun. Beginning in June 1916, it was placed into regular service with French infantry where the troops called it the FM Chauchat. The Chauchat machine rifle in 8mm Lebel was also extensively used in 1917-1918 by the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F) where it was officially designated as the "Automatic Rifle, Model 1915 (Chauchat)". The armies of eight other nations, notably: Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia and Serbia, also used the Chauchat machine rifle in fairly large numbers during and after World War I.

A total of 262,000 Chauchat machine rifles were manufactured between December 1915 and November 1918, including 244,000 chambered for the 8mm Lebel service cartridge, making it the most widely-manufactured automatic weapon of World War I. Besides the 8mm Lebel version, the Chauchat machine rifle was also manufactured in U.S. .30-06 Springfield and in 7.65×53mm Argentine Mauser caliber to arm the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) and the Belgian Army respectively. The Belgian military did not experience difficulties with their Chauchats in 7.65mm Mauser and kept them in service into the early 1930s,. Conversely the Chauchat version in U.S. .30-06 made by "Gladiator" for the A.E.F., the Model 1918, proved to be fundamentally defective and had to be withdrawn from service.

The Chauchat machine rifle was one of the first light, automatic rifle caliber weapons designed to be carried and fired by a single operator and an assistant, without a heavy tripod or a team of gunners. It set a precedent for several subsequent 20th century firearm projects, being a portable yet full power automatic weapon built inexpensively and in very large numbers. The Chauchat combined a pistol grip, an in-line stock, a detachable magazine, and a selective fire capability in a compact package of manageable weight (20 pounds) for a single soldier. Furthermore, it could be routinely fired from the hip and while walking (marching fire).

The muddy trenches of northern France exposed a number of weaknesses in the Chauchat's design. Construction had been simplified to facilitate mass production, resulting in low quality of many metal parts. The magazines in particular were the cause of about 75% of the stoppages or cessations of fire. They were made of thin metal and open on one side, allowing for ingress of mud and dust. The weapon also ceased to function when overheated, the barrel sleeve remaining in the retracted position until the gun had cooled off. The stock setup also left much to be desired, with the butt stock wood being prone to cracking at the front due to the design. Even the weight of the gun itself would slowly cause the thin front end to tear away. Consequently in September 1918, barely two months before the Armistice of November 11, the A.E.F. in France had already initiated the process of replacing the Chauchat with the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle. Shortly after World War I, the French army hastened to replace the Chauchat with the new gas-operated Mle 1924 light machine gun.

The Chauchat is the only full automatic weapon actuated by long recoil, a Browning designed system already applied in 1906 to the Remington Model 8 semi-automatic rifle: extraction and ejection of the empties takes place when the barrel returns forward, while the bolt is retained in the rear position. Over time, the Chauchat machine rifle's just passable performance in its dominant version (the Mle 1915 in 8mm Lebel) and the failure of its limited version in U.S. 30-06 (the Mle 1918), have led some modern experts to assess it as the "worst machine gun" ever fielded in the history of warfare.

Caliber: 8x50R (also .30-06, 6.5x54, 7.92x57, 7.65x53)
Weight: 9.5 kg
Length: 1170 mm
Barrel length: 450 mm
Feed: curved box magazine, 20 rounds (16 rounds for .30-06)
Rate of fire: 240 rounds per minute

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