The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought about the resurgence of some of both countries’ old weapons that still pack a good punch, some of which have outlived their operational capacity. However, there are a few that still does make a difference despite their age, and one of those weapons is the M1910 Maxim machine gun.
Footage and photographs of the M1910 Maxim machine gun had surfaced on social media after it made its 2022 debut on the battlefield. However, they have been seen being used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 2018 as well to hold fortified positions, notably by the 92nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade.
Using old weapons has been not uncommon during this three-month-old war as both countries have, one way or another, used very old weapons to arm their troops. The Russian forces are guilty of arming their conscripts with Mosin-Nagant rifles from the 1800s, and they were also allegedly spotted using a very old antique cannon to guard a checkpoint in Kherson. The Mosin-Nagant rifles are very much still capable of blasting the heads of your enemies off, and it is still a reliable weapon to wield. Nevertheless, the Maxim is still a pretty good machine gun. It is water-cooled and has a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute, and fires the 7.62×54 round. This round is still in use today in the Dragunov, SV-98 sniper rifle and the PKM machine gun. It is a bit bulky to lug around and is usually serviced by a crew of 4-6 soldiers to drag it on it wheeled carriage, and carry ammo and water for it.
The same can be said for the Ukrainian forces, who are now using the M1910 Maxim machine gun. Yup, there are loads of other better options out there, but we think it’s more acceptable for Ukraine’s situation as the country needs all the weapons it can get to fend off Russian invading forces. For the Russians, we think that for a country that boasts their so-called military prowess, they could have armed their conscripts with something better than Mosin-Nagant rifles. It’s funny to think that the Russians have actually mocked the Ukrainians for using this machine gun, telling their public that the Ukrainians lack modern weapons when they themselves have been using olden munitions too.
But going back to the M1910 Maxim machine gun, we’d argue that they are still very much effective given the way they are used under certain conditions. To give you context, this machine gun entered service in 1910 and was in service during World War I during the Russian Empire (not even the Soviet Union yet), so this weapon is likely older than your granddad. Older versions of this weapon were in Imperial Russia’s arsenal as early as 1891. You can usually find it mounted on a two-wheeler with an armored gun shield.
The Ukrainians have been using it to defend fixed and fortified positions, so no worries about moving it around. They could move it, but these are 150 pounds per unit, so it does take a bit of effort to carry, but then again, it is wheeled so they could tow the weapon. In comparison, the M2 .50 cal weighs some 121 pounds, a weapon that is also used by the Ukrainians. These M1910s use 7.62mm x 54mm ammunition and can fire 600 rounds per minute. They’re also water-cooled, enabling the user to fire for an extended period of time when compared to the Russian PKM, which is prone to overheating and a cook-off even when just fired for over a minute. However, the PKM does have a higher fire rate and is much lighter.
These M1910 Maxim machine guns were reported to be highly accurate at 1,000 meters and effective as far as 3,000 meters, but that’s about it. Compare that to the M2, which has a maximum firing range of 7,400m, and the Russian PKM’s 4,000m then the winner here is quite obvious. Add these elements up with the rate of fire, and the weight of the weapon, then the Ukrainians do have a disadvantage in combat when using these machine guns.
Disadvantages are there for sure, but as long as the gun is still firing, not overheating, and can still kill its enemies, then there are no high-level problems that Ukrainians should worry about. Its 7.62 mm x 54mm ammunition is still in production in Russia and Ukraine, so there’s no worry about sourcing ammunition. It won’t overheat as long as its cooling jacket stays intact and is regularly topped up.
Perhaps giving credit to the Ukrainians, these things are in pretty good shape given that they’re over 100 years old. It also shows that both the Russians and the Ukrainians are throwing everything they can into the fight. We ran a piece this morning about a Russian checkpoint in Kherson being guarded by a 12lb muzzleloading cannon from the Napoleanic Wars.