I know that machine guns were a vital part of world war 1. I know that they were mainly used in the trenches as fixed position weapons. However, I would like some specifications about the machine gun in WWI, including:

  • What was their rate of fire (bullets per minute)?
  • What was their recoil (Regarding how easy they were to fire)?
  • What was their accuracy at a range of 100 meters?
  • At what range did they have a reasonable accuracy (in meters)?
  • What was their average weight (to check if they could be carried)?

I would appreciate it if you could give me those ranges for both the Triple Entente and the Central Powers.

closed as off-topic by CGCampbell, Pieter Geerkens, Semaphore, andy256, Samuel Russell Apr 29 '15 at 5:51

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  • 1
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vickers_machine_gun Look in specifications. – Nathan Cooper Apr 28 '13 at 19:11
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    If you're analyzing weaponry in WWI you should look at artillery in well. Artillery was, by far, the deadliest weapon of the war, killing more people than all other weapons combined. – Odysseus May 1 '13 at 1:19
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    I feel that this question, as it stands, is trivial (both in what it asks and how to find the information.) Have you done any preliminary research, even to a wiki, for this? – CGCampbell Apr 28 '15 at 11:47
  • Personally, I'd argue that asking for such specs for a specific gun or two would be trivial. Asking about the typical specs for machine guns of the era requires compiling info from multiple sources, and is not trivial. – T.E.D. Apr 29 '15 at 12:17

This depends on many conditions (especially the type of gun), but I will outline a few of the main ones here.

Vickers Machine Gun (1912)

  • Rate of fire - 450-500 rounds/min.

  • Effective range - 2000 m

  • Maximum Range - 4100 m

  • Weight - 15-23 kg

  • Muzzle Velocity - 744 m/sec

MG 08 (adapted from 1884 Maxim Gun)

  • Rate of fire - 450-500 rounds/min.

  • Effective range - 2000 m

  • Maximum Range - 3500 m

  • Weight - Gun: 27 kg ; Tripod: 39 kg

  • Muzzle Velocity - 900 m/s

Lewis Gun (1911)

  • Rate of fire - 500-600 rounds/min.

  • Effective range - 800 m

  • Maximum Range - 3200 m

  • Weight - 13 kg

  • Muzzle Velocity - 740 m/s

M1919 Browning machine gun (1919)

  • Rate of fire - 500-600 rounds/min.

  • Effective range - 1400 m

  • Maximum Range - 3700 m

  • Weight - 14 kg

  • Muzzle Velocity - 850 m/s

M1917 Browning machine gun (1917)

  • Rate of fire - 450 rounds/min. (post-WW1 model got 600 rounds/min.)

  • Effective range - 1370 m

  • Maximum Range - 3200 - 5000 m depending on the type of bullet

  • Weight - 47 kg

  • Muzzle Velocity - 854 m/s


So, an average rate of fire would be around 500 rounds per minute. Most guns were recoil operated (some had an additional gas recoil). They would be fairly accurate at 100 meters given their maximum effective ranges were mostly between 1000 and 2000 meters. They could be carried by person, but the tripods were as heavy as (if not heavier than) the gun itself. for this reason, the gun and the tripod were usually carried separately.


  • Respective Wikipedia articles
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    and notice that all these were designed as crew served weapons, with crews of 2-3 at least (gunner, loader, and several others to carry spare ammunition and act as close in support with rifles and/or pistols/revolvers). – jwenting Apr 29 '13 at 5:48

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