The Browning M1917 was a heavy machine gun used by the United States and other nations before, during, and after World War II.


A recoil operated, belt fed air or water cooled weapon, the M1917 was chambered for 30-06 Springfield ammunition, and capable of firing 500 rounds per minute. Weighing between fourteen and fifteen kilograms, the gun measured ninety-eight centimeters in length, including the sixty-one centimeter barrel.[1]

Each standard belt for the M1917 typically carried 250 rounds of ammunition and the weapons muzzle velocity was about 850 meters per second. Despite being a World War I era weapon, the M1917 was famous for its great reliability in the field and its ability to fight scores of enemies at once with its high rate of fire.[2] The weapon was designed to be used with the M2 Tripod


The first variant of the M1917 was the M1917A1 which featured general improvements such as a rate of fire of around 600 rounds per minute, improved sights, etc.[3] Following were the M1918 and M1918A1 models which were both air cooled, aircraft mounted machine guns except that the A1 was the general improvements model for the M1918. The other variant of the original M1917 was the Browning M1919 which in reality was its own spin off series of machine guns.


The Browning M1917 machine gun was first developed late in World War I as the US Army decided that if they were going into combat, they would need a machine gun suitable for the fighting in France. Although the model was delayed and only saw limited service during the Great War, it still proved an excellent design which is why even with air-cooled alternatives, it stayed in service until the Vietnam War. It especially saw combat in the Pacific Theater with the United States Marine Corps. In total, around two million models were made.


  1. Williams, Anthony G. Rapid Fire - The Development of Automatic Cannon, Heavy Machine Guns and their Ammunition for Armies, Navies and Air Forces. Airlife Publishing. 2000. ISBN 1-84037-122-6 Table 6 (Pages 254-255)

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