Ukraine uses WWI machine guns to fight Russia.

A video of a Ukrainian soldier using a nearly century-old machine gun has gone viral on social media. In the 21-second video, the soldier is seen firing a heavily modified M1910/30 Maxim machine gun fitted with modern optics, stock, and suppressor. 

It’s unclear exactly where or when the video was shot; in fact, the soldier may not have been in combat. In any case, it’s remarkable that such an old platform is still viable.

As previously reported, Ukrainian forces were removing a number of seemingly outdated rigs from storage even before Russia mounted its invasion last year. Along with World War II-era DP-27 light machine guns and American-made M101 howitzers, vintage weapons like the M1910 machine gun continue to find a place on the modern battlefield.

History of Pulemyot Maxima

The weapon depicted in the film was the Russian adaptation of Hiram Maxim’s original machine gun design, and its official name was the Pulemyot Maxima obraztsa 1910 goda (Maxim model 1910 machine gun) or M1910.

Created in the 1890s, the Maxim was adopted by European countries in various variants. Similar to the British Vicker’s machine gun and the German Maschinengewehr 08, it was refined (MG08).

The Russian version was originally prepared for the 7.62x54mmR round, just like the Mosin Nagant M1890 rifle. It was mounted on a wheeled Sokolov stand (sometimes with a barrel shield), making moving the medium machine gun easy.

Original Imperial Russian versions of the M1910s featured plain brass water jackets, but at the outbreak of World War I, jackets were made of stamped plain steel. These weapons offered considerable firepower, but Russian industry had trouble producing them sufficiently during the war.

From the First Civil War to the war in Ukraine

During World War I, the Central Powers and the Germans were both major beneficiaries of the M1910’s use. Russians have used it frequently against other Russians, and Ukrainians have used it, too.

Tsar Nicholas II was deposed in the February Revolution of 1917, and the country descended into civil war after the October Revolution. The M1910 was employed by both the White Tsarists and the Red Army of the Bolsheviks. It was also utilized by the Ukrainian and Russian Green Armies. Submachine gun production intensified after the Russian Civil War outbreak.

Some 21,000 were made between 1918 and 1920, more than had been produced by the Imperial Russian arsenals. Production continued after the Civil War and did not cease until 1939.

Production picked back up in 1940, and by the war’s end, at least 175,000 had been made. The M1910 saw duty in the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War, and Vietnam, mostly as a secondary or defensive armament.