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Schwarzlose MG

Water-Cooled Belt-Fed Machine Gun (1905)

Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

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The Schwarzlose MG family of machine guns served as the standard machine gun of Austro-Hungarian forces during World War 1.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/10/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
Prussian-German gunsmith Andreas Wilhelm Schwarzlose developed a line of machine guns that became the standardized water-cooled medium machine gun of the Austro-Hungarian Army heading into World War 1 (1914-1918). These developments were also taken on by many European nations, from Albania and Austria to Sweden and Yugoslavia. Operational service saw the line in action from its adoption in 1905 to the end of World War 2 in 1945, such was its reach on the battlefields of the 20th Century.

The Schwarzlose machine gun adopted the appearance long-established by the Maxim design complete with its rectangular receiver, jacketed barrel section, and conical flash suppressor. It was a belt-fed weapon typically feeding from a 250-round ammunition stock and chambered for the 8x50mmR Mannlicher Austro-Hungarian rifle cartridge. Export orders also led to more localized cartridge calibers then being adopted. The action and weight of the weapon required use of a heavy-duty tripod which made the complete system weigh 42 kilograms. Overall length was 945mm with a barrel measuring 530mm. As a water-cooled weapon, the design required an accompanying water supply held in a can. This was pumped into the water jacket by way of a hose and was used to cool the barrel from overheating. With all of this in play - including ammunition handling and feeding - a typical machine gun team numbered a handful of people for proper operation in-the-field. One unique design element of the Schwarzlose approach was its use of an unlocked-breech design which, in turn, required the facilities of a short barrel than seen in its contemporaries. The short barrel helped to quickly alleviate breech pressures but led to limited effective engagement ranges and a lowered muzzle velocity for the outgoing bullet.

Original production guns were forged during in 1905 as Model 1905 and these were steadily improved through a line of similar weapons which including the upcoming Model 07 of 1907. In fact, one of the more popular breeds was the M07/12 of 1912. As proved common with other self-loading gun developments of the period, the earlier M05 and M07 production models featured an included oil pump function which was used to lubricate incoming cartridges to help ensure a smooth transaction from belt-to-breech. This feature was only supported up until 1912 to which a new, heavier bolt design was added in place of the reservoir and intended to apply additional pressure on the incoming cartridges.

In practice, the Schwarzlose was a well-liked weapon for its sheer simplicity of design and function. It was heavy as other machine guns of the period were and also as clunky due to all of the components actually making up the completed weapon system. The water-cooling feature was a key limitation of many types of the war including the famous Browning, Maxim and Vickers models. The limited range and lower muzzle velocity certainly hurt the weapon's battlefield reach but a machine gun was a machine gun in times of war - capable of mowing down inbound enemy infantry in short order as any other machine gun of the war. The inherent simplicity in design also meant that Austro-Hungarian factories could output the weapon in the necessary quantities for wartime service.

A lighter-weight version appeared for use on aircraft but this did not become an outright success - certainly not on par with competing types in the same role. The weapon was also trialed on trainable mountings in rear cockpit positions with similar limited results. Still other versions saw the weapon set atop a special turn-table mount to allow for its use as an air-defense weapon with a near-vertical elevation reach.

Active sales of Schwarzlose machine guns ended with the close of World War in 1918 and the eventual military drawdown following. Regardless, its sales and export prior to the end of the conflict ensured it a healthily long service life that saw it still in use with several armies of World War 2 (1939-1945) including both Italy and Hungary - though this was for lack of a better replacement or failure to modernize in time.


Service Year

Austria-Hungary national flag graphic


Water-Cooled Belt-Fed Machine Gun

Schwarzlose - Austria-Hungary
National flag of Albania National flag of Austria National flag of the Austro-Hungarian Empire National flag of Bulgaria National flag of Colombia National flag of Czechia National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany National flag of Greece National flag of Hungary National flag of Italy National flag of the Kingdom of Italy National flag of the Netherlands National flag of Poland National flag of Russia National flag of Serbia National flag of Sweden National flag of Taiwan National flag of Turkey National flag of Yugoslavia Albania; Austria-Hungary; Austria; Bulgaria; Colombia; Czechoslovakia; Nazi Germany; Greece; Hungary; Kingdom of Italy; Netherlands; Ottoman Empire (Turkey); Poland; Imperial Russia; Serbia; Sweden; Taiwan; Yugoslavia
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Fire Support
Capable of suppressing enemy elements at range through direct or in-direct fire.

Overall Length
945 mm
37.20 in
Barrel Length
530 mm
20.87 in
Empty Wgt
91.49 lb
41.50 kg



Full-Automatic Fire; Belt-Fed; Toggle-Delayed Blowback

Rounds are automatically ejected from the breech, a new cartridge stripped from the feed and set in the chamber, and rounds are continuously fired so long as the trigger is pulled and an ammunition supply exists.
Blowback Operation
Gas pressure from the rearward movement of the ignited cartridge case provides the needed bolt movement, ejecting the spent case and stripping a fresh case from the magazine.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


8x50mmR Mannlicher; 8x56mmR Steyr; 6.5x53mmR; 7.92x57mm Mauser

Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a 7.92mm Mauser rifle cartridge
Rounds / Feed

250-round belt.
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.

MG M.05 - Model of 1905; original production model featuring oil lubrication for incoming cartridge.
MG M.07 - Model of 1907
MG M.07/12 - Improved model M1907 of 1912; heavier bolt to do away with lubrication action of earlier marks.
MG-16 - Variant
MG-16A - Variant
MG M.07/31 - Modernized M1907 of 1931
M08 - Dutch variant of 1908; chambered for Dutch 6.5x53mmR cartridge.
M08/13 - Dutch variant of 1913; chambered for Dutch 6.5x53mmR cartridge.
M08/15 - Dutch variant of 1915; chambered for Dutch 6.5x53mmR cartridge.
SJ vz. 07 - Model of 1907; chambered for Czech 7.92x57mm Mauser cartridge.
SJ vz. 12 - Model of 1912; chambered for Czech 7.92x57mm Mauser cartridge.
SJ vz. 24 - Model of 1924; chambered for Czech 7.92x57mm Mauser cartridge.

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