1882 Madsen machine gun finally retired

James reported on this last week, but I thought I should mention it:

From Strategypage.com:

The world’s first light machine-gun, the Danish Madsen has finally been retired from service after over a century of use. The State Police of the Brazilian state of Rio De Janerio were the last users of the twenty pound weapon…

The Madsen required some precise machining, but it was not exceptionally costly to make. It was reliable, although it used an awkward top loaded magazine, carrying 25, 30 or 40 rounds. Over its long career, it was equipped to fire ammunition from 6.5mm to 8mm. The Brazilian Madsens fired NATO 7.62mm (.30 caliber) ammo. It’s rate of fire was 450 rounds per minute.

Firearms last a long time!

These photos of of a replica of the 8mm model which can be bought here. They are the best photos I could find and are probably close to the original.

Click to expand the images.





Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Jcamelo

    The Madsen machine gun was a really, really good gun. Even with a top loading mag it is one of the best.

  • ‘even with the top loading mag’….?

    I’m getting the feeling you guys have something against top loaders?

    The British (er…well via Czechoslovakia!) BREN is generally recognized as one of the best medium MGs ever made – and was in service with the British Army until comparitively recently.

    The great thing about top loaders – aside from the slight feeding advantage of working with gravity – is that they are ideal for loading while in the prone stance. This is also why the Brits were fond of the side-loading STEN and Sterlings. Thier operation was more tactical than a convensional bottom loader…

    Likewise the Australiand found that their Owen top-loading SMGs were ideal for jungle operations.

    This point was not lost on Eugene Stoner – the Stoner system included a top loading configeration in it’s LMG form!


    • alannon

      There are mechanical advantages to top-loaders, but there are functional disadvantages; namely, they complicate sighting.

      Sideloaders really only have an advantage when prone; upright, your arm is already underneath the weapon. Magazines sticking out of the side are also something to catch while moving, and tend to complicate shooting around corners and similar obstacles.

      Like anything else, there are advantages and disadvantages to all of the mechanisms.

      • Thiel

        The Madsen would seem to be the best of both worlds then.
        It’s top-loaded but the magazine is off-set so you can use standard sights

  • Dennis Hogan

    I’ve heard comments that the Madsen Light Machine gun was either “costly” or “not too costly”. Does anyone know what a new Madsen cost at any point in time?

  • Mark


    Even though it’s retired, the Madsen still serves a role, apparently. This picture is from November 2010. Workhorse. 😛

  • Jesper Rex

    I have just received photos from the November 2010 BOPE Police raid in Rio De janairo, and BOPE is still using the Madsen LMG…..

    (Search for Madsen)