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MG11: The Magnificent Swiss Maxim Gun

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The Swiss were one of the first countries to test Hiram Maxim’s new automatic machine gun in 1887, and they found it far superior to their just-recently-purchased Gardner guns. The first Swiss maxims were delivered in 1889, and the country came back three more times for newer models. The MG94 was the first major adoption, followed by the MG00 for cavalry. Finally, after the Maxim patents expired and DWM introduced their improved 1909 commercial pattern, the Swiss adopted it as the MG11. The first 167 MG11s were produced by DWM, but deliveries ceased in 1915 because of the war. This prompted the Swiss National Assembly to order the government arsenal W.F. Bern to begin production, and between 1915 and 1946 the Swiss made 10,269 more MG11s domestically. They were absolutely beautifully made weapons.

In 1934/35, a modernization program made a number of improvements to the guns. The booster was simplified, the trigger was made one-hand friendly (so the second hand could be used to adjust aim while firing), a bracket for antiaircraft sights was added, and traverse and elevation stops were added to the tripods. Most significantly, the cloth belt was replaced by a fully metal belt. That belt is widely regarded as the best Maxim belt ever produced, and it is particularly valuable to shooters today, as it will function with essentially any caliber in any model of Maxim.

Swiss Maxims were never exported in quantity, and they are quite rare today.

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