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The US Adopts A Maxim: The Colt Model 1904

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The US Army spent nearly 16 years languidly testing the Maxim gun, but was never willing to actually make a decision until a final trial in 1903 finally settled the matter. The Maxim was deemed the best available machine gun and a contract was signed with Vickers, Sons, & Maxim to purchase 50 (later increased to 90). Eventually a total of 287 were procured; 90 from VSM and a further 197 made by Colt in the US. The first British guns were chambered for .30-03, with the Colts all made for the later .30-06 (and the VSM guns updated to that standard).

The Model 1904 was the heaviest Maxim gun ever made, weighing in at 62 pounds for the gun and another 80 for its tripod. Despite excellent reliability and durability, it was so heavy and unwieldy that it was pretty universally hated by American soldiers. The final order for 1904 Maxims was placed in 1908 and jut the following year the M1909 Benet Mercie light Hotchkiss pattern was was adopted. By the time World War One arrived, half the Maxims had already been relegated to long-term storage. They were pulled out of the warehouses for training troops prior to their deployment to Europe, but they never saw any more significant military use.

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