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Firearms have dominated the battlefield for centuries and have been one of the most revolutionary inventions in the world. Although they seem rather the prerogative of the modern world, the origin of firearms is lost in the mists of history. The first firearms used in battle are almost 1,000 years old, or even older as some historians suspect.
With the invention of gunpowder came the creation of firearms and over the centuries man has created more and more devastating weapons with which to kill other men. In 1862, Richard Jordan Gatling invented a multi-barreled, rotating gun operated by a hand crank that could fire up to 200 rounds a minute.
The man who is credited with inventing the first actual ‘machinegun’ in 1884, was an inventor named Hiram Maxim. Maxim harnessed a bullet’s recoil power to create a portable machine gun that needed only one barrel to fire all of its bullets automatically.
The Maxim gun was first used by Britain’s colonial forces in the First Matabele War in 1893-1894. In one engagement, 50 soldiers fought off 5,000 warriors with just four Maxim guns. The Maxim machinegun played an important role in the swift European colonization of Africa in the late 19th century.
Hiram Maxim sold his machine guns to European countries on the eve of World War I and it would change the nature of combat forever.
It was in World War I, where the Maxim Machinegun was put to horrible usage. World War I, sometimes called ”the machine-gun war,” saw carnage unequaled in all previous history. In just one day along the Somme, July 1, 1916, the British suffered 21,000 killed, the great majority by Spandau machine guns, the German version of the Maxim.
Watch as Brandon Herrera shows-off a Maxim gun at the range and also get’s into the mechanism(s) which allows the gun to operate and fire at such a high interrupted rate.