Gun Jesus Proclaims The Breda Modello 30 Italy’s Worst Machine Gun – I Agree

Following military trials, especially historical ones, is a wonderful way to learn what not to do for weapons design. While some trails produce a few good offerings like the Garand/Pederson trials, most tend to quickly weed out the inferior designs (like the MHS’s rapid dropping of the Remington RP9 pistol). And sometimes, those trails can pick one of the bad ones… like Italy did with their Breda Modello 30, their LMG going into World War 2.

Almost immediately one notes issues with any design that includes an oiler to help with extraction from the chamber. While this can be done well (look to the Japanese machine gun designs of the same era), the inclusion was just a band-aid over an overall terrible design.

Externally the most obvious issue is the choice for the permanent magazine to be open to the environment. As just about any modicum of experience with firearms design will tell you – its much easier to keep crud out of a weapon than it is to try and deal with it once in the action. Open magazines just invite debris to enter the gun. This issue adds insult to injury with the reloading technique, which has the permanent magazine pivot forward to accept a stripper clip of ammo which is difficult to top off as four rounds will remain fed into the weapon yet not retained.

Gun Jesus, aka Ian from Forgotten Weapons, goes into extreme detail with one Breda Modello 30, showing its shortcomings en-masse. It’s an entertaining expose if only to see what not to do with a machine gun.


TFB’s FNG. Completely irreverent of all things marketing but a passionate lover of new ideas and old ones well executed. Enjoys musing on all things firearms, shooting 3-gun, and attempting to be both tacticool AND tactical.


  • Wrong. It’s the French Chauchat.

    • EdgyTrumpet

      this meme needs to die

      • Major Tom

        That “meme” is correct though. Chauchat didn’t survive after WW1 anywhere being abandoned by even the French by 1924.

        Its so called modern features were largely drowned out by its abysmal performance.

        • Alexandru Ianu

          It wasn’t the reliability, but the weight, and the large reciprocating mass that threw off more accurate shots for regular users of the gun. The replacement was a true LMG, and that worked better in context.

          • ostiariusalpha

            The Goliath made guns were poorly constructed & unreliable on top of the general issues that were inherent to the design. The SIDARME Chauchats were far superior in quality, but they only made 8.2% of the overall stockpile. The Goliath guns were very consistent with one thing: the sights were all set wrong, so that aiming directly at a target would result in the bullets striking the ground in front of the target. Unbelievably, the French military was aware of this early on, but never had it corrected.

          • Amplified Heat

            Really expensive too

        • Thom430

          You could not be more wrong. The Belgians modified their 8mm Lebel Chauchats to 7.65 Belgian in 1927, and it functioned quite well with this cartridge (It has less taper). Even more so, the magazines weren’t open. This meme is just that, a meme

          • ostiariusalpha

            The Belgians made several modifications to the design in addition to changing the caliber, it was orders of magnitude better than the French CSRG. Even so, it was still inferior to the BAR.

        • pbla4024

          Belgians kept Chauchats till thirties, French as well as far as I know, Finish till fifties, Greeks used it in WW2, etc.

    • Joe

      So the French Chauchat was….Italy’s worst machine gun? First off wrong country. Secondly the Chauchat was an Automatic Rifle, or Assault Machinegun. The Breda has a quick change barrel.

      • ostiariusalpha

        The Breda is a Fucile Mitragliatore, in English that is usually translated as automatic rifle, so they are both in the same class of weapon as the Madsen Alfa and M1918 BAR. The quick change barrel is the only nicely engineered point of the gun. In fact, Sweden took the already adequate BAR design and added a quick change barrel to it to create the M/37, the pinnacle of pre-WWII automatic rifles.

        • pbla4024

          I cannot agree with M/37. ZB 30 was lighter and better.

          • ostiariusalpha

            The M/37 was 9.5kg versus the ZB vz.30 being 9.1kg and the vz.30J being 9.58kg; not really much of a weight advantage. There were also complaints that the ZB vz.30’s cone of fire was too small, in contrast to the Chauchat that had too wide a cone of fire to be as useful as it should. The solution was to use slightly more worn barrels, but the M/37 was in the happy medium right from the get go even with new barrels. I would say the M/37 was a bit more robust than the lighter vz.30 also. Even so, the vz.30 was a very good automatic rifle; it certainly pleased the British enough that they adopted it as the Bren.

          • The solution to the small beaten zone of the ZB26/30/Bren (they really were accurate enough to be used as DMRs on semiauto) was a simple technique change.

            Most LMGs, you hang on like a drowning man on a liferaft. With the ZB26 family, hold it LOOSELY and let it rattle around.

            Other advantage of the ZB26, ZB30, and Bren was magazine change — a good AG can maintain ammo supply between bursts so that there is no noticeable pause for reloading.

      • Major Tom

        Royal Italian Army used Chauchats in WW1 in a moderate capacity.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Probably why they didn’t think the Modello 30 was so bad, the CSRG threw off the grading curve.

          • Major Tom

            More like obliterated the curve into flattened rubble saying “This is what we got, ANYTHING you make will be better than it”.

    • Kyle

      The French Chauchat in 8mm Lebel worked fairly well. It was the Americanized version in .30-06 made by Gladiator that was junk.

      • ostiariusalpha

        No, the 8mm Lebel CSRG is the 2nd worst automatic weapon every adopted by a major military, the .30-06 Chauchat is #1.

        • tsubaka

          “worst automatic weapon”

          • Major Tom

            The L85 does not fail to feed or extract after 3 rounds in the presence of (but not contact with) mud.

            It’s bad, but not THAT bad.

            Chauchat on the other hand IS that bad!

          • tsubaka

            the chauchat fail to feed in the presence of mud and has overheat issues (mainly due to long recoi and heat-shield)

          • Alexandru Ianu

            It isn’t. A Chauchat will fire 10 mags continuously just fine, without overheat. Even some mud in the single stack magazine won’t make it fail – it needs to accumulate for a longer time, and that means loading new mags in the mud, or setting it down there with the bolt back, since pre-loaded mags are wrapped in cloth. Also, closed side mags were developed late in the war (annoyingly late, though).

            The problems arise when you use it like an emplacement gun, instead of the mobile assault-phase gun it is. It is obsolescent, as it’s too heavy for a modern machine rifle, and not heat resistant enough for an LMG, however it was good during the war, with other operators being happy to use it.

          • ostiariusalpha

            “A Chauchat will fire 10 mags continuously just fine, without overheat.”
            I’m calling BS. I’ve yet to see a single Chauchat that can go more than 6 mags before the cooling sleeve seizes to the barrel. Video or it didn’t happen.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Believe it or not the Chauchat was worse than the INSAS, and that’s not an easy thing to accomplish.

          • Independent George

            By modern standards, the Chauchat is laughable; by 1915 standards, it was an innovative, effective, and serviceable weapon. It’s like saying the Henry-Martini sucked because the mag tube was hard to load and prone to jamming. Or complaining about the Gatling gun’s ammo hopper. It’s true, but misses the point.

            At the time, nobody else had a man-portable automatic rifle that could be used offensively (as opposed to defending a fixed position). The BAR would eventually make it obsolete, but for its time, it was a huge advance.

            By contrast, I think the problems with the SA80, the INSAS, or even the original M16 were far less forgivable than a first-of-its-type weapon rushed into service in WWI.

          • ostiariusalpha

            “At the time, nobody else had a man-portable automatic rifle that could be used offensively”
            The Madsen Alfa had been available since 1902, so that is patently incorrect.
            “By contrast, I think the problems with the SA80, the INSAS, or even the original M16 were far less forgivable than a first-of-its-type weapon rushed into service in WWI.”
            The CSRG had been in development since 1903, with the design team settling on a long recoil action in 1908. So they had at least 7 years to get the Chauchat ready for combat conditions. They failed.
            In contrast, the AR-15 began development in 1957 and was adopted by the U.S. Air Force in 1961; that’s 4 years. That’s not so much to excuse the failure to adapt the rifle from what the Air Force required to the much more demanding combat conditions that an Army rifle would need, but it does show how badly the French failed to foresee the limitations and vulnerabilities of their automatic rifle.

          • Major Tom

            And it wasn’t even the first French LMG.either. That belongs to the M1909 Hotchkiss aka Benet-Mercie. The US Army had it in WW1 as did France, Britain, Belgium, Italy and more.

            It was a lot more robust than the Chauchat ever was. (But unfortunately it was a bazillion times more expensive than Chauchat.)

          • ostiariusalpha

            The Portative was a great LMG, though rather complex internally; it almost seems an inspiration to the Breda’s designer in that aspect. I keep harping on the Madsen, but despite its complex and expensive machining geometries, it was operationally very simply and robust. Too bad the French High Command thought that soldiers lives were cheap, and that guns like the Portative and Alfa were too expensive.

            French soldiers trialling a 8mm Lebel Alfa:

          • Cisco

            Pray tell, what “mag tube” are you referring to on the Martini Henry? It was a single shot, key word single….. Don’t take history lessons from video games.

          • marathag
    • Ryfyle

      It has an awesome report. needs to be Gas operated next time.

    • Muri

      When someone says the Chauchat is the worst gun ever made by anyone ever:

  • XT6Wagon

    a LMG so bad, I’d bet the 3 man crew could lay down more supressive fire with bolt action rifles. Even better you could stagger the reloads so 2 men are shooting at all times. Where as that dumpster fire rips off 20 rounds if everything goes right, then you take forever to reload.

    Also looks really expensive to make.

  • Black Dots

    “Whatever you do for the least of my LMGs you do for me.” – Gun Jesus

  • SP mclaughlin

    Call of Duty: Big Red One.

    • Major Tom

      This gun was ridiculously overpowered in that game’s one level the gun appeared in. And really common.

  • The_Champ

    Somehow the most complex and worst designed guns are also the most interesting. That hinging opening, charger fed magazine is quite something. How did they possibly think that was a good idea?

    This likely the most interesting LMG Ian has covered, next to the Madsen, which I found completely fascinating.

    • Amplified Heat

      Unshrouded feed strips are really, really fragile (and shake like crazy, sometimes tossing out loaded rounds). In the sense that this kind of system was the alternative, the Breda was a step up. Now, by the time this gun was developed, box mags weren’t exactly a theoretical/unproven technology, so the strip/box system really should have been abandoned as obsolete, but clearly Italian procurement wasn’t the most forward thinking (at least in this area; their SMGs were pretty much always among the most top notch available)

  • Fruitbat44

    Really interesting video. As for the gun . . . it’s like it was the first ever attempt at designing a light machine gun. No lessons learned from experience or other designs, everything completely fresh and, well, weird.

  • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    Intricate design. Not something preferable in a machine of war. Beautiful, and tricky, machining of the piece.

  • M4SCAR

    Worst is Japanese Sumitomo Type 62 7.62mm GPMG.
    Reliability is crap, it called “Single-shot macine gun”.

    • Out of the Blue

      Yes, but it’s not Italian, unless Mario had a career as a firearms engineer before becoming a video game protagonist.

  • ToddB

    We all know there was a group of engineers congratulating themselves on such a great design. For people with alot of education, they do not seem very smart. I dealt with alot of really stupid engineering working on cars, where you have to ask, was there ANY thinking?

    I remember reading somewhere the built in magazine was to prevent it from getting lost. When everybody else said, well they will get lost so just make them cheap. One could only imagine how slow that gun was to load under fire. 4 barrels, when could you ever load enough ammo to get 2 barrels hot much less 4? I have seen oilers used in delayed blowback guns as they tend to have violent ejection, but gas? Everybody else went with the proper amount of gas or an adjustable regulator.