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WW1 Villar Perosa SMG at the Range

This is lot 1042 in the Morphy Extraordinary auction on October 22, 2019.

Courtesy of the Morphy Auction Company, I am out at the range today with a very rare Italian Villar Perosa machine gun from World War One. These are pretty unorthodox machine guns, as they were initially designed as aircraft armament and later repurposed as ground guns. The basic design is a pair of actions and barrel with a single rear trigger housing. The actions are (slightly) delayed blowback, feeding from 25-round magazines and firing at about 1500 rpm each. The grip has two separate thumb triggers, which fire the two barrels independently.

For an aircraft application, this allowed a very high volume of fire for a very short time; exactly what aerial combat called for. As an infantry gun, the design was much less practical. The bipod held the gun up, but did not have any firm stop that could be pushed into. Coupled with the lack of a buttstock, the gun was very difficult to keep on patter with anything but the shortest burst. The small aperture sight certainly doesn’t help things either.

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