U.S. Maxim Model 1904

U.S. Maxim Model 1904

Wheeled field mount manufactured by Rock Island Arsenal. Note the water box on the left and spare parts box on the right mounted under the axel. (Rock Island Arsenal Museum)

(From No. 1770 Handbook of the Maxim Automatic Machine Gun, Caliber .30, Model of 1904, Tripod, Model of 1904, Wheeled Mount, Model of 1905, Pack Outfits and Accessories. June 15, 1906.)

The gun can be best disassembled when in position on the tripod.

1. Raise the cover. – By pressing the cover latch to the front the cover may be raised upward and to the front.

2. Remove the spring box. – To do this, take it firmly by both hands, the right hand near the rear and the left near the front of the box.  Push the box forward until the three hooks are clear of the fastening studs.  Then gradually allow the box to come to the rear thus relieving tension of the recoil spring.  Turn the box slightly with the left hand until the fingers of the right hand can reach the fusee links and release the recoil spring from the securing pin.

3. Remove the lock. – Push the roller handle as far forward as possible with the right hand.  Grasp the carrier and lock frame with the left hand.  Rotate the handle slowly to the rear with the right hand and at the same time lift the lock frame upward and to the rear until the face of the carrier is at an angle of 45° to the horizontal.  Continue to revolve the handle to the rear and lift the carrier and lock frame upward and forward until free from the casing.  Rotate the lock frame about 60°, thus opening the bayonet joint connecting it with the crosshead.  The lock can then be lifted free.

4. Remove the feed box. – Insert the fingers of both hands in the belt openings of the box and lift the feed box vertically out of the outside plates.

5. Remove the handle block. – Withdraw the handle block pin by pulling it sharply to the right.  Then the block can be lifted vertically out of the casing.

6. Remove the trigger bar. – Draw it to the rear as far as possible, and then by pressing down on it the bar is lifted up and freed from the trigger-bar guide stud.  The trigger bar can then be withdrawn to the rear.

7. Remove right and left crank slot filler pieces. – Draw them straight to the rear.

8. Remove the nozzle. – Remove the nozzle locking split pin by a sharp pull.  Unscrew the nozzle by turning it 90° to the left. This will bring the threaded sections of the nozzle opposite the slotted sections of the water-jacket cap.  The nozzle can then be withdrawn straight to the front.

For ordinary cleaning of the gun no more dismounting is necessary. – As the recoil spring has been released, the barrel and parts connected with it may be pushed forward and back a slight amount, sufficient for cleaning and oiling.  Care must be taken to keep the end of the crosshead away from the bottom plate in moving the barrel back and forth, for otherwise the lower end of the crosshead, hanging down, will jam in the cross slot at the bottom plate lying immediately below the crank.

9. Remove the barrel and recoil plates and parts connected with them. – Unscrew the barrel-disk locking pin with the wrench provided for that purpose.  The barrel disk can then be unscrewed from the barrel.  This leaves the barrel, recoil plates, roller handle, crank, crosshead, etc., free to be drawn straight to the rear and removed from the casing.  Care must be observed in the withdrawal or insertion of the barrel while the muzzle end is passing through the sliding seats and packing.

10. Remove the recoil plates from the barrel. – With the barrel and recoil plates removed from the casing, remove the fusee and the right and left recoil plates are then free to be removed from the trunnions of the barrel.  The right recoil plate, crank, and roller handle should not be taken apart except at an armory or by skilled workmen with the proper tools.

The water jacket, trunnion block, water-jacket cap, outside plates, bottom plate, front sight, steam-escape system, front plug, and set screw are not to be separated.

Right side of the Colt manufactured Maxim Model of 1904 mounted on the 1904 tripod.

1. Assemble the barrel and recoil plates and bind them together by inserting and locking the fusee to the crank.

2. Insert the barrel and recoil plates in the casing.  Push forward slowly until the muzzle end of the barrel is seen approaching the water-jacket cap.  If the top of the left-hand recoil plate is kept level with the bottom of the feed box cavity in the casing, the barrel will enter its bearing in the water-jacket cap without trouble.  Push the barrel as far to the front as it will go.

3. Screw on the barrel disk and secure it by tightening the barrel disk locking pin.

4. Insert the nozzle, revolve 90° to the right, and secure with the split pin.

5. Insert the right and left crank-slot fillers.

6. Insert the trigger bar.

7. Insert the feed box.

8. Insert the handle block and lock it with the handle-block pin.

9. Hook the recoil spring to the fusee links and replace the spring box.

10. Insert the lock frame.

11. Close the cover.

12. Throw the roller handle forward a couple of times and allow it to snap back, to be sure that all is properly together.  Also test the trigger action.

The data plate for the Model 1904 tripod. This tripod, serial number 69, shows the inspection initials “W.S.P.” for Major W.S. Pierce. All 1904 tripods were manufactured by Vickers, Sons & Maxim, Ltd., in England.

Official records are a bit sketchy and sometimes contradictory, but the following is a brief chronological order history of purchases:

January 1904: Initial order of 50 guns and tripods from VS&M.
June 1904: Second order of 40 guns placed with VS&M.
June 1904: First tripods to be numbered 1-50 by VS&M.
June 1904: Order for 30 wheeled mounts from RIA.
May 1905: Orders for 36 guns from Colt.
October 1905: Orders 85 guns from Colt and 30 tripods from VS&M.
October 1905: Orders for 25 wheeled mounts from RIA.
November 1905: Orders for 36 wheeled mounts from RIA.
January 1906: Orders for 16 guns from Colt.
January 1906: Orders for 16 wheeled mounts from RIA.
May 1907: Orders for 10 guns from Colt.
January 1908: Orders for 107 tripods.
July 1908: Orders for 50 guns from Colt and 50 tripods from VS&M.
May 1911: 21 tripods dismantled for spares.
June 1911: 3 additional wheeled mounts mfg. by RIA.

In all there were 287 guns purchased (the first 90 produced by VS&M and the remaining 197 guns manufactured by Colt), 197 tripods (minus 21 tripods dismantled for spare parts for a total of 176 usable tripods all made by VS&M) and 111 wheeled carriages made by RIA.


Weight of gun (without water):
57.5 pounds

Capacity of water jacket:
9.5 pints
(7.8 lbs)

Weight of tripod:
80 pounds

Length of gun:
44 inches

Length of barrel:
28.5 inches

.30-06 U.S.

Rate of fire:
450 to 600 rpm

250 round fabric belt


Recoil and muzzle gas assist

Graduated to 2,600 yards