Firearm Showcase: The Burton Machine Rifle at the Cody Firearms Museum – HIGH RES PICS!

In January, just before the 2017 SHOT Show, I got the opportunity to travel to Cody Wyoming to visit the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, to see some of their rare firearms and bring photos of them to our readers.

Today our subject is one of my all-time favorite rare firearms, the World War I-era Burton Machine Rifle. What makes the Machine Rifle so fascinating is that it is a collection of then-futuristic ideas, many of which would, many decades later, become staples of automatic weapon design. From the weapon’s straight-line stock, to its ambidextrous controls, modular construction, and interchangeable barrels, the Machine Rifle is a collection of features so advanced and out of place, it seems as if it were invented by a time traveler.

So far as we know, the example at the Cody Firearms Museum is the only extant Machine Rifle, although the Cody Museum does also possess a number of alternate barrels for the rifle. Sadly, I did not get hands-on time with the Burton, as an untimely storm cut our visit short. The below photos, therefore, are courtesy of the Cody Firearms Museum staff, and I am very grateful to them for it.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the Cody Firearms Museum, I highly recommend taking a trip out to Cody, Wyoming to see their awesome and extensive collection. They have over 7,000 firearms, about 4,000 of which are on display. In particular, if you have an interest in Winchester firearms and their history, Cody is the place to be. If just a visit isn’t enough for you, then check out the museum’s 79-page book, which highlights some of the finest pieces in their collection!

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Jared Vynn

    Looks like the inspiration for many guns in borderlands.

  • Jared Vynn

    How did they get it to feed from two magazines reliably?

  • Tony Williams

    One of my favourite LMG designs, too. I think that the twin magazines were an interesting solution to the feeding problem, with advantages over a single, top-mounted box.

    • Physic

      Wow, are you the real Tony Williams? Or just copied his name? The guy who thinks hes good in ballistic but made a heavy 6.5 with completly stupid form factor and recoil?

      • Be nice.

        • Physic

          I try, but Reality sometimes is hard to fit into nice words.

  • Don Ward

    Excellent. I’ve only seen this weapon in small black and white photos.

    • Anonymoose

      I think Forgotten Weapons did a video about it a while back.

      • Don Ward

        If so, I must have missed that episode. Looking at the date the FW video was made, if it was June of last year it means that I’m always up in the wilds of Bristol Bay with limited Internet access commercial salmon fishing.

      • Gary Kirk

        Yeah it was FW..

  • Graham2

    Thanks for posting the photos.

    Take off the right hand magazine and swivel the other mag to the left side and you’ve got an FG42!

  • The_Champ

    Seems pretty well ahead of its time

  • Conner

    Beautiful piece of history in pristine condition.

  • nate

    very buck rogers looking

  • Tony Williams

    The US Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory assessed the Form Factor of the 5.45mm 7N6 as being better than the 7.62mm M80, which in turn is better than the 5.56mm M855.

    Some of the investigations into the performance of a 6.5mm military cartridge have IMO been flawed by using a target-type lead-cored heavy bullet like the Sierra MatchKing, which is not a fair comparison with a lead-free military bullet churned out by the billion. For my comparisons I therefore assumed the same form factor as the 7N6, with calculations for both lead-cored and lead-free bullets (123 grain and 108 grain respectively).

    In stating that the FF of the 7N6 is quite poor, you presumably believe that a military bullet could be an even better shape. You may well be right – and if you are, then the calculated performance of the 6.5mm would be even better – but I preferred to use the example of an actual military bullet which has been mass-produced for decades.

    • Physic

      Of course the 5.45 form factor is better then M80 and M855…
      Longer nose, etc, pure simple physic. But that doesnt nearly mean its any truly good.
      And yes far better shapes are usable, by the slightest changes, and to get beyond certain limits it requires a specific patent.
      I understand youre reason, but using this kind of form factor flawes the entire research results, and results in a terrible performing cartridge for its weight, capacity and high recoil.

      6.5mm is wrong, and the future will 100% prove me.

  • FulMetlJakit

    One, proof reading is your friend. Especially when trying to convince others of the merits of your opinion (attack)…
    Secondly, please present a mass fielded example of a round with better form factor than 7NX(x)…
    As if the most important factor in military cartridge selection is in flight ballistics…
    Terminal effectiveness and cost/weight are far FAR more influential.

    • Physic

      “As if the most important factor in military cartridge selection is in flight ballistics, terminal effectiveness and cost/weight are far FAR more influential.” … what? Youre so off. With a well shaped projectile you get a round with flat trajectory, low wind drift, high supersonic range (accuracy and supression), and a LIGHT round for a specific required energy at range. = optimum

      With a bad shape you end up with a round that is overly heavy for its energy at range, has less magazin capacity, has high wind drift, a bad supersonic range for its energy, and substantially increased Recoil. = a really bad idea and a waist of money (due to entire NATO adoption of a bs cartridge you would have a highly underperforming round that you cant just change out, over decades ,due to cost and insane logistics)

      =it has to be damn perfect in the first place, or you dont know what youre actually doing

  • Old Vet

    I was on vacation with a cousin of mine and we spent the night in Cody while enroute to Illinois. We awoke early and got breakfast and I mentally prepared to be dazzled. But then my cousin, older than me, was missing his “mommy”, so we left town without going to the museum. I have not forgiven him for that yet. I mean, come on, the man was 60 years old at the time. His wife was as befuddled as I.

    • Ranger Rick

      Put him on a Trailways with a baloney sandwich and wish him a pleasent ride?