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Hotchkiss M1909 Benét–Mercié machine gun
Hotchkiss M1922.PNG
Type Light machine gun
Place of origin France
Service history
Used by See Users
Wars World War I
Production history
Designer Lawrence Benét and Henri Mercié
Designed 1901
Manufacturer Hotchkiss et Cie
Produced ~1909
Number built ~700 by Springfield Armory
Variants Hotchkiss M1909 (French Army, 8mm Lebel)
Hotchkiss Mark I (Britain, .303)
Benét–Mercié Machine Rifle M1909 (United States, .30-06)
Weight 12 kg
Length 1.23 m (48 in)[1]
Barrel length 64 cm (25 in)[1]

Cartridge .303 British (Britain)
8mm Lebel (France)
.30-06 Springfield (U.S.)
Caliber .303 British
8mm Lebel
7.62 x 63mm (30-06 Springfield)
Action Gas-operated
Rate of fire 400 rounds per minute[1]
Maximum range 3800 m
Feed system 30-round strip magazine, or belt-fed

The Hotchkiss M1909 machine gun was a French designed light machine gun of the early 20th century, developed and built by Hotchkiss et Cie. It was also known as the Hotchkiss Mark I and M1909 Benét–Mercié.

It was adopted by the French army as the Hotchkiss M1909 (or Mle 1909) in 1909, firing the 8 mm Lebel.

A variant to use the .303 round was produced in Britain as the "Hotchkiss Mark I" and manufactured by Enfield. The British army employed three different types of machine gun: the Vickers medium machine gun, the Hotchkiss (for cavalry and tank use), and the Lewis Gun with the infantry.

It was adopted by the US in 1909 as the "Benét–Mercié Machine Rifle, Caliber .30 U. S. Model of 1909" firing the .30-06 cartridge. The name comes from three sources: Hotchkiss, the name of the American Benjamin B. Hotchkiss who started the company in France; the two main designers, Lawrence Benét and Henri Mercié; and the US designation system at time which label arms with "Model of Year". Lawrence Benét was related to the former head of US Army Ordnance at the time of adoption.

It is also known as the Hotchkiss M1909 and M1909 Benét–Mercié, but should not be confused with the heavier Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun.

It was also used by other countries, including Belgium, Spain, Brazil and Australia.


It was gas-operated and air-cooled, had a maximum range of 3,800 m (4,200 yd) and weighed 12 kg (27 lb). Initial models were fed by a 30-round strip-magazine but later models could be either strip- or belt-fed. The US types had a bipod, while some others used a small tripod. This tripod, fitted under the firearm, could be moved with the weapon, and was very different from larger tripods of the period.

The U.S. M1909 machine guns were made by Springfield Armory and by Colt's Manufacturing Company. Total production for the United States was 670.[1] This may seem small compared to the huge production runs of firearms later in the 20th century, but this was a significant number for the size of the contemporary US Army. The M1909's adoption coincided with the withdrawal of the .30-06 manually operated Gatling guns from the US Army's arsenals.


France and Britain used the Hotchkiss M1909 through World War I and on into World War II. The Australian Light Horse, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and the Imperial Camel Corps used the Hotchkiss in the Desert Campaign in Sinai and Palestine (1915–17).[2] US forces used the Benét–Mercié in the Pancho Villa Expedition in Mexico of 1916–17 and initially in France. Firing pins and extractors broke frequently on the American guns. United States troops called the M1909 the "daylight gun" because of the difficulty in replacing broken parts at night and jams caused when loading strips were accidentally inserted upside down in darkness.[1]


  •  Austria-Hungary
  •  Australia
  •  Belgium
  •  Brazil
  •  French Third Republic
  •  Ireland
  •  New Zealand
  •  Taiwan
  •  Spain
  •  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
  •  United States


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Bruce N. Canfield "The Daylight Gun": U.S. Model of 1909 Benét–Mercié Machine Gun" American Rifleman September 2010 pp.84–87
  2. Ion Idress: The Desert Column, Angus & Robertson 1944, p. 225

Further reading

External links

  • Images from the Museum of the Soldier, Portland, Indiana
  • More images: 1, 2

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