Colt Automatic Gun Model 1895/1914

Colt Automatic Gun Model 1895/1914

Right side of the Colt Automatic Gun Model 1914 on the third type of tripod with the barrel approximately 28 inches above the ground. The cartridge ejection port is seen just behind the belt exit slot and the safety switch is seen just below the sight base.

To remove the bolt, throw the gas lever rearward as far as possible, and while holding it in that position, insert the small end of the handle lock in the hole on the right hand side of the gun, pushing the handle lock in as far as it will go.  This removes the bolt pin from the bolt.  Withdraw the handle lock pin, but leave the bolt pin in the position in which it now is – i.e. projecting from the left side.  The bolt is now free to be removed from the rear of the gun.  The extractor and firing pin can be removed from the bolt by pushing out the small pins that hold them in place.

To reassemble, insert the bolt and push forward as far as it will go.  Retract the gas lever to the rear and hold in place.  Push in the bolt pin from the left hand side as far as it will go.  Then release the gas lever to return to its forward position.  Finally, replace the hand grip, locking it in position with the hand lock.

To remove the barrel on the Model 1914, retract the gas lever to the rear and hold it in place.  Using the handle lock, push the bolt pin from right to left.  This causes the bolt pin to lock the slide to the receiver and holds the gas lever back.  Attached to the gas cylinder will be the barrel lock.  Place the small end of the combination wrench under the point of the barrel lock and press down and out until it clears the barrel.  Engage the combination wrench in the slot in the underside of the barrel just forward of the gas cylinder and unscrew the barrel.  Pull the barrel forward and out.

The front sight on the Model 1895 is a plain leaf.  The sides are grooved near the top so that the appearance of the upper part from the rear is that of a bead, which facilitates aiming.  The leaf is mounted on a base which is fitted snugly into a transverse groove in the barrel, being held in position by friction only.

The data information for the gun is located on the top of the receiver along with the serial number. The information on the top of the barrel has the serial number as well as the caliber and patent dates. Note the alignment marks where the barrel screws into the receiver.

The rear sight is a folding leaf with slide having a wind-gauge screw for traversing it laterally for windage.  In its lowest position the aim is taken through the notch in the forward (upper) end of the bar; this position corresponds to a range of 300 yards.  For ranges of 400 yards and upward the leaf is raised and the slide is set at the desired graduation up to 2,000 yards.

The front sight of the Model 1914 is a hooded sight and is a wedge-shaped piece of steel which is dovetailed on its bottom surface and fits into the front sight base that is also dovetailed.  The front sight and front sight cover are rigidly fastened to the base by means of a clamp screw and cover screw, respectively.  The carrier is a band which is pinned to the barrel and has a dovetailed slot to receive the dovetail on the bottom surface of the base and a set screw which holds it in position.  The rear sight is a folding leaf type and the leaf is graduated from 100 to 2,100 yards.  It sits on a base that is affixed to the receiver and is capable by means of a windage knob on the right front side of the base to traverse for windage correction.  There is an aperture disk at the bottom of the slide that is circular in shape containing five sight openings – four peepholes, 0.04, 0.06, 0.08 and 0.10 inch in diameter, and one large aperture which contains an open sight.

Cartridge Belt
Each gun was provided with 23 cartridge belts made of canvas by means of which the cartridges are fed into the gun.  Each belt is designed to hold 250 cartridges and one is placed in each ammunition box so as to feed freely into the gun, with the end of the belt having a brass tip, which is to be inserted into the gun first.  While appearing very similar to the later Browning Model of 1917 belts, the Colt Automatic Gun belts have a slightly different pitch to the pockets.  Thus Browning belts, while they can be used in the Colt Automatic Gun, will not feed reliably.

Ammunition Box
The ammunition box is designed to hold one loaded cartridge belt (250 cartridges) and is made of ash or other suitable material.  It is 13 inches long, 8 inches deep and 4 1/8 inches wide in its exterior dimensions.  The ends, sides and bottom are nailed together.  The top is attached to the sides by means of a tongue and groove slide.  Later boxes were provided with a cotton web handle attached to the end of the box.  One end of the box is sloped to facilitate the egress of the ammunition belt.  About one-half inch back from the vertical edge of the sloping end are cut two narrow grooves which fit over correspondingly spaced flanged ribs on the saddle mount, supporting the box and belt in position for firing on the left side of the mount.  The interior of the box is given a coat of linseed oil and its exterior is painted.

Quartering front view of the Colt Automatic Gun mounted on the Light Landing Carriage as used by U.S. Navy and U. S. Marines landing parties. Note ammunition chests to the front and rear.

The Mount
The mount consists of two principle parts: the saddle with toothed arc and the yoke.  The saddle, in which the gun rests, pivots on the yoke by the axis bolt, in order to move in a vertical plane.  The gun is held in place on the saddle by the gun pin, which is inserted with its handle vertical.  In any other position of the handle, the gun pin is held secure by the gun-pin locking screw.  Changes in elevation are made by means of a worm gear, which engages the teeth of the arc, and is operated by the hand wheel.  A clamp on the right side of the saddle ensures locking at the desired elevation.  The lower part of the yoke is in the form a spindle and fits in the socket of the tripod.  The gun will traverse through a complete 360 degrees.  A clamp on the right side of the tripod head locks the traversing motion.  The muzzle may be depressed 39 degrees and elevated 31 degrees, giving a total vertical range of 70 degrees.

There are four types of tripods, all similar except for height.  The first type has very short legs and sits close to the ground with the gun’s barrel about 18 inches above the ground.  This type also has a wood board attached to the rear leg that swings perpendicular to that leg.  The board acts as an elbow and arm rest as the gunner lies and fires in the prone position.  The second type of tripod is similar to the first except that the legs are a bit longer, it doesn’t have the elbow rest board and the gun barrel is approximately 22 inches above the ground.  The third type of tripod has even longer legs and has a seat attached to the rear leg for the gunner to sit on.  The barrel is approximately 28 inches above the ground.  The fourth and last type of tripod has the longest legs, again with a seat for the gunner, and the gun barrel is approximately 36 inches above the ground.

Unlike later Browning tripods, there is no leather strap that affixes to the rear leg to band the three legs together during transport nor are there any clamping mechanisms to secure the legs when deployed.  The legs freely swing into set up or transportation position.

Photo of Officers Squadron, 6th Colt machine gun course, Rockcliffe Range, Ottawa, 1915. 22 officers pictured with two Colt Automatic Guns Model 1914.

Light Landing Carriage
The Light Landing Carriage, also made by Colt, was used by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines as a means of transporting the gun and eight boxes of ammunition, all in a ready state, as they came ashore and provided excellent mobility primarily by man but also by mule or machine.  The two wheels are of wood and are held on the axel by the axel washers and the axel linchpins.  The axel washers each have eyes into which dragropes may be fastened if desired.  The tow axel arms are connected together by the axle body to the middle of which is secured the socket.  The trail, which is made of steel tubing, is secured to the socket by the trail pin.  The rear end of the trail is provided with a wooden crossbar or handle for use in moving the carriage about, and also a ring or lunette for the attachment of a dragrope in case of necessity.  The carriage has accommodation for two ammunition chests, which are removable and are held in place by lock pins for a capacity of 8 ammunition boxes.  The front ammunition chest holds two ammunition boxes horizontally.  The rear ammunition chest holds six ammunition boxes upright as well as a space for a spare parts wallet and a cleaning rod handle.  Affixed to the drop down lid are two sections of the cleaning rod.  The ammunition boxes are of the slightly smaller type than are typically encountered.  Depending on the caliber of the gun, the landing carriage ammunition boxes were to hold two belts each of 120 rounds, or 240 rounds per box.  With different ammunition, the ammunition box was to contain one 250-round belt.  Thus, depending on the cartridge, the carriage capacity was 8 ammunition boxes with either 1,920 rounds or 2,000 rounds.  The carriage had a net weight of 146 pounds and a gross weight of 290 pounds.  The dimensions of the carriage are 54.25 x 47.75 x 19.5 inches.

Spare parts and accessories regularly supplied with each gun included: 1 main spring, 1 hammer, 1 cartridge extractor and spring, 2 firing pins, 2 firing pin springs, 2 firing pin lock pins, 2 shell extractors, 2 shell extractor springs, 2 shell extractor pins, 2 handle locks, 2 bolt pins, 2 trigger springs, 4 cotter pins for piston pin, 1 piston pin, 1 oil can, 1 combination spanner and screw driver, 1 jointed cleaning rod, 1 combination operating handle and screw driver and 3 drifts.

All in all, the Colt Automatic Gun Models 1895 and 1914 are important in respect to the early development and use of machine guns.  As the first practical gas-operated machine gun as invented by John Browning, they proved themselves in the combat arena and are today desirable collector items and enhance any classic machine gun collection.