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Madsen machine gun

From Internet Movie Firearms Database - Guns in Movies, TV and Video Games
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Russian contract Rexer-Madsen, 1902 pattern - 7.62x54mmR.
Brazilian contract Madsen, 1907 pattern - 7x57mm Mauser.
Portuguese Madsen machine gun - 7.92x57mm Mauser. This is a typical example of the later-type Madsen, including the double-feed magazine (which can be identified by the reinforcement plate at the end). The strange-looking vertical green thing on the magazine is a spring-like metal band with a pointed tip: the Madsen magazine has no feed lips, and the tip of this spring retains the cartridges when the magazine is detached and also acts as a magazine catch. Note the coat of arms of Portugal on the side.

The Madsen machine gun (contemporarily known as a "machine rifle") is a Danish magazine-fed, recoil-operated light machine gun. Designed in the period from 1893 - 1901 by Julius A. Rasmussen and Theodor Schoubue of the Dansk Rekylriffel Syndikat (Danish Recoil-rifle Syndicate), it was the first light machine gun adopted in any meaningful quantity, being adopted by the Danish Army in 1903, designated Rekylgevær m/1903. It was subsequently named after the Danish Minister for War at the time, Colonel Vilhelm Herman Oluf Madsen, who had lobbied strongly for its adoption. Shortly afterward, licensed mass-production of the weapon was established in Britain, under the name Rexer, intended for international export. Rexer-Madsen machine guns were sold to various countries, the largest order being to Russia, who purchased 1,250 guns which were issued to cavalry regiments during the Russo-Japanese War. In 1907, the D.R.S. company suspended the British license, and all manufacture was moved back to Denmark, whereupon a new model was introduced.

During World War I, the 1907 and 1912 pattern Madsen guns were adopted by Germany and Austria-Hungary as under the rather ambiguous designation M.15 Muskete, which was intended to disguise the origin of the guns. Denmark was officially neutral and was prohibited from selling armaments to Germany, so the Germans intercepted a shipment of Madsen guns intended for Bulgaria and rechambered them into 7.92x57mm. The manufacturer's stamps on the receivers were covered over. These were distributed to the Musketen-Bataillone, light machine gun battalions raised specifically to exploit the advantages of the Madsen. The battalions fought on the Western Front until 1916, but were disbanded after suffering heavy casualties during the Battle of the Somme. The remaining Madsen guns in German service were then redirected to the Italian Front and were used extensively at the Battle of Caporetto in 1917. The Russian government also licensed production of the Madsen gun in 1917.

By the time of World War II, the Madsen gun had been sold in various iterations to many countries around the world. Production continued until the early 1950s, and it was ultimately sold in 12 different calibers to 34 countries. Amazingly, it appears to still be in service today, with 7.62mm NATO guns retired by the Brazilian Army in 1996 used by military police units in Rio de Janeiro State. While it was supposed to have been retired in 2008, police Madsens were seen in video footage taken in 2018.

The operating cycle of the Madsen is one of the most complicated machine gun actions ever devised, using a mixed recoil operating system built around a copy of the lever-action Peabody Martini breechblock. The block in this design, unlike most machine guns, performs none of the actions of extracting or loading. Instead, extraction and cartridge ramming are performed by two separate mechanisms, which are operated by cam grooves in a "switch plate" mounted to the inside of the receiver: the block tilts up on the rearward stroke of the barrel assembly to provide access for the extractor mechanism, which ejects the spent casing downwards, and tilts down on the forward stroke so the rammer can push a new cartridge into the breech from the top-mounted magazine: the net result is an action which is incredibly compact, only requiring about 1.3 inches of travel to cycle a 3-inch long cartridge. In spite of all this insanity going on inside it, the Madsen had an enviable reputation for reliability in most calibers (the Norwegian 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser version being a notable exception). The barrel and action form a single group that can easily be removed from the weapon by pulling out a single pin and hinging the trigger group down, functioning as a fairly rapid barrel change system. Charging is accomplished with a crank-like non-reciprocating charging handle on the right side of the receiver, though this is only pulled back rather than rotated. Unlike most other top-loading machine guns, the Madsen is sighted along its centerline, with the magazine offset to the left to allow this. One interesting aspect of the Madsen is because it uses a gravity-assisted feed and its feeding lips are part of the gun rather than the magazine, it is possible to simply drop loose rounds into the magazine well and have the weapon fire them with no magazine fitted (up to four at a time). The original Madsen used 25-round single-row magazines; some sources also give magazine capacity of 30 or 33 rounds, while period documents and survive examples suggest that only ubiquitous used magazines capacity was in fact 25 rounds. Later modifications, starting with the M22, received double-row magazines, which made it possible to use a large capacity for 30 and 40 rounds with smaller overall dimensions. For use on armored vehicles, an 80-round drum was developed, as well as a separate version with a belt feed.


(1902 - 1955)

Type: Light machine gun

Caliber: 12 different calibers, including 8x58mmR Danish Krag, 7x57mm Spanish Mauser, 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser, 7.92x57mm Mauser, 7.65x53mm Argentine, 7.62x54mmR, .30-06 Springfield, 7.62x51mm NATO, .303 British

Weight: 20lbs (9.07kg)

Length: 45 inches (1,143mm)

Barrel length: 23 inches (584mm) (many other lengths available)

Capacity: 25, 30, 40-round box magazine, 80-round drum magazine, belt-fed

Fire Modes: Semi-auto / auto (350–450 rpm)

The Madsen Machine Gun and variants can be seen in the following films, television series, video games, and anime used by the following actors:


Title Actor Character Note Date
Young Eagles (Noored kotkad) Estonian soldiers M1916 in 7.62x54R caliber 1927
A Hill in Korea Chinese soldiers 1956
Reptilicus Danish soldiers Danish M/48 in 7.92x57 caliber, on bipod and tripod 1961
The Thin Red Line Japanese soldiers Stand for Type 96 or Type 99 1964
The Eighth (Osmiyat) Bulgarian soldiers and resistance fighters Supposedly in 7.92x57 caliber 1969
The Black Angels (Chernite angeli) Bulgarian poice Mounted on motorcycle 1970
The Stolen Train (Otkradnatiyat vlak) Dimitar Buynozov Damyan 1971
Les Morfalous French soldier 1983
Tango & Cash Seen in hangar 1989
Seven Years in Tibet 1997
April Captains (Capitães de Abril) Seen in DGS headquarters; Portuguese version in 7.92x57 caliber 2000
April 9th Danish soldiers 2015
Batalion Yanina Malinchik Dusya Grynyova 2015
Colonia A Chilean soldier 2015
The Lost City of Z German soldiers 2017


Title Actor Character Note Date
Bors Seen in barracks; Ep.15 1968
And Quiet Flows the Don (Tikhiy Don) Roman Danilin Podkhorunzhiy Khristonya In 7.92x57 mm caliber 2015


Title Character Note Date
Porco Rosso Pirate 1992
Golden Kamuy - Season 1 Ep. "Grim Reaper" 2018

Video Game

Game Title Appears as Note Release Date
Karma Online 2011
Battlefield: 1918 Estonian contract Madsen 2004
World of Guns: Gun Disassembly Madsen Machine Gun with bipods and stock support 2014
Battle of Empires: 1914-1918 "Madsen" Anachronistic post-war model 2015
Verdun "Madsen" Anachronistic Portuguese contract Madsen 2015
Battlefield 1 "Madsen MG" Anachronistic Portuguese contract Madsen 2016
Battlefield V "Madsen MG" Dutch version; added with Tides of War Chapter 4 (2019) 2018
Screaming Steel: 1914-1918 "Madsen M1914" Added in the "Endgame Update" (2021) 2018
Enlisted Russian contract 1902 Rexer-Madsen 2021
Beyond The Wire "M1902 Madsen" Brazilian contract 1907 Madsen 2022
Isonzo "Madsen" Anachronistic hybrid of Portuguese and Brazilian contract models 2022

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