Troubleshooting a Chauchat Machine Rifle

Nathaniel F
by Nathaniel F

The Chauchat Machine Rifle, formally designated the Fusil Mitrailleur Modele 1915 CSRG, has come to be widely regarded as one of the worst firearms ever made. The rifles made for the French military during WWI were chambered for the standard 8mm Lebel, but the weapon got its reputation as a stinker in American hands, where the “Automatic Rifle, Model 1915 (Chauchat)” made by the Gladiator bicycle factory experienced numerous issues, specifically with extraction of fired cases from chambers that often were not properly reamed for the US .30-06 caliber. What does a failure to extract do to a long-recoil weapon like the Chauchat? The answer lies in the video embedded below:

YouTuber SitsinShadow attributes the malfunctions his CSRG experienced to a possibly improperly reamed chamber, but another explanation is that the barrel shroud and barrel may be experiencing too much friction, possibly due to heat. Whatever the cause, it’s clear that a stuck case in the CSRG results in a gun that’s locked up with little hope for remedy. The ejection port is blocked by the retracted barrel, and the gun likely cannot be disassembled in that position. If the case is stuck firm, there’s likely to be little a machine rifleman could do to get the Chauchat back in action. Fortunately, the chance of a severe stuck case is minimized with the aggressively tapered 8mm Lebel round, but it’s not difficult to see that the much straight .30-06 caliber could turn an annoyance into a total show-stopper. Add to that the problem of improperly reamed chambers in the .30-06 variants greatly increasing the chance of a severely stuck case, and it’s difficult to argue with the doughboy’s apocryphal assessment of the Chauchat as “the worst gun ever made”.

Thanks to Daniel for the tip.

Nathaniel F
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. He can be reached via email at

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