First of all, the Maxim gun used smokeless powder which made a great impact in battle. Failed to sell at auction. This made it vastly more efficient and less labour intensive than previous rapid-firing guns, such as the Gatling, Gardner, or Nordenfelt guns that relied on actual mechanical cranking, as well as decreasing the gas buildup in the barrel, allowing the gun to fire more bullets over an extended period of time without overheating the barrel. Chivers wrote in The Gun, his history of automatic weapons. by War Is Boring. Maxim also invented a cleaner-burning, smokeless powder that he called cordite, which fouled a weapon much less than the black powder of the era. Hiram Maxim and one of his early machine gun designs: When Maxim introduced his weapon to the British army in 1885, he changed the battlefield forever. Vickers machine gun: earlier Maxims had been chambered for earlier British service cartridges, but the Vickers was produced for export available in most of the different calibres and cartridges used by countries around the world, and including a large caliber (.50 inch) as used on Royal Navy warships. Maxim MG 08 machine gun. Feared, respected and deadly beyond understanding, it was part of the arsenal of the new, modern war. The combination of mechanized automatic fire and cleaner ammunition was revolutionary. During the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871, the French fielded the Mitrailleuse, an unwieldy weapon whose limited range left it vulnerable to German artillery and ultimately disappointing as a weapon.  It has been called "the weapon most associated with the British imperial conquest",  and likewise was used in colonial wars by other countries between 1886 and 1914. The Maxim gun was first used by Britain's colonial forces in the 1893–1894 First Matabele War in Rhodesia. It was the first self-sustaining heavy MG used in any sizeable numbers on any battlefield, due to its sustained suppressive fire, and it became the standard German heavy machine gun in 1899. A machine gun is a rapid-firing, rifled long-barrel autoloading firearm designed for sustained direct fire with full-powered cartridges.Other automatic firearms such as assault rifles and automatic rifles are really designed more for unleashing short bursts rather than continuous firepower, and not considered machine guns. He was so impressed that he ordered that his Dragoon Guards to be equipped with a number of these early guns. It was a Maxim machine gun scaled up to the quite impressive 37mm caliber, intended primarily for naval use defending large vessels against small torpedo boats. Born in 1840 in Sangersville, Maine, Maxim was apprenticed at 14 to a carriage maker. All were based on his earlier patents. Hiram Maxim with his initial 1885 prototype machine gun – note the rate of fire lever. A blue plaque on the Factory where Maxim invented and produced the gun is to be found in Hatton Garden at the junction with Clerkenwell Road in London. That is how Earth-shattering a weapon the Maxim gun was. In the 1800s, gun manufacturers designed a number of mechanisms to address the problems associated with limited firing ability. This content is not compatible on this device. In one engagement, fifty soldiers fought off 5,000 Matabele warriors with just four Maxim guns. A large bore Maxim on the USS Vixen ca. has the distinctive ww1 pressed folded... more info. Invented by Hiram S. Maxim in 1884, the first automatic machine gun was birthed in the United States. More a publicity stunt than a serious military contribution, in view of the main financier of the expedition, William Mackinnon, "merely exhibiting" the gun was likely to "prove a great peace-preserver".  The first prototype was demonstrated to invited guests in October 1884. 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