Back to 1919 links page
TripodsZeiss & AA sightsCurio & Relic 1928
New look? This site got too big to have on one page so I broke it up into relevent topics. The C&R section is new, thanks to Ricardo in Argentina.
This site is devoted to the Colt Commercial Browning 1917 water-cooled machine gun. Of all the Browning designed water-cooled guns produced by the various manufactures, the Colt Commercial is the closest to John Browning's original design which he presented to the US Military for adoption. The Colt Commercial 1917 was exported after WW1, mostly during the 1920s. Some of the buyers were Siam, Bolivia, Paraguay, Mexico and Argentina, with the largest number of guns being sold to Argentina. For lovers of the Browning water-cooled .30 caliber machine guns, the Colt manufactured commercial 1917 is as fine an example as one could hope to find.

The Browning 1917 shown in this photo of a soldier in training shows the gun as it was finally adopted, although this particular weapon has the reinforcing stirrup which was added After WW1. Also shown is the lightened tripod. Source: My own collection.

The photo above shows John Browning with the first .30 caliber self-loading water-cooled machine gun, manufactured by Colt PFAC, Hartford, CT. Source: A History of Browning Guns from 1831 -, Copyright 1941 by Browning Arms Co., St. Louis, Mo.
Special thanks to Dolf Goldsmith for permission to use images from The Browning Machine Gun, published by Collectors Grade Publications. Information on purchasing this book can be found at the bottom under Sources.
105. Right side view of the first Colt-made M1917 type
Browning recoil-operated machine gun, on a cradle very
similar to the original designed and patented by John
Browning.
     This historic gun was stolen from the John M. Browning
Museum on March 2, 1995, and has not been recovered.
                  Rock Island Arsenal photo dated May 19, 1959
Photo: Virginia Ezell via Dolf Goldsmith
Text: Dolf Goldsmith
104. Left side view of the first water-cooled, recoil-operated
M1917 type gun made at the Colt factory, serial no. 1.
     This gun was most likely one of the two which fired the
the endurance tests in May, 1917, and was reportedly the
gun taken to France in 1919 by Lt. Val Browning for use in
instructing US instructors and troops.
                 Rock Island Arsenal photo dated May 19, 1959
Photo: Virginia Ezell via Dolf Goldsmith
Text: Dolf Goldsmith
Note: Anyone with information on the whereabouts of this important piece of
Browning history should contact the Rock Island Arsenal Museum at 309-782-5021.
THE ARGENTINE CONTRACT GUN, MODEL 1928

The Argentine Army ordered 926* Commercial 1917 guns which were built in 1928, hence the name of that particular production run. The guns were ordered with the distinctive thumb safety (also found on the Argentine contract 1919A4) and the Type "A" flash hider. The 1928 contract guns also had a sight base for the Zeiss panoramic sight.
*The Browning Machine Gun, Volume 2 by Dolf Goldsmith

At right are two views of an Argentine contract gun. The Colt M1928 has some improvements to the original 1917 design. The most notable of these is the redesign of the bottom plate. The side plates have a step-down on the bottom which gives the rear of the receiver increased height. The bottom plate is riveted to the side plates along the bottom. The GI 1917 bottom plate had no rivets, but was held in place by a sliding dovetail joint. The design proved inadequate, requiring the guns to be retrofitted with a stirrup to reinforce the side plates.


Browning 1917 with stirrup installed.

Detail showing the GI and improved commercial bottom plate attachment. The proportions are not accurate in this drawing, but the general concept is. The half dovetail of the early 1917 was simply not robust enough for the stresses involved.
The Colt Commercial shown was originally chambered for the Argentine 7.65. This particular
weapon has been converted to fire 30-06, .308 NATO, or 8mm by changing the barrel and
cartridge stops.

Colt factory schematic showing cutaway of Colt Commercial 1917. Click to enlarge. It's a large file - 1 megabyte.
This was originally a manual fold-out. This copy is from Automatic Arms, by Johnson & Haven, 1941, William
Morrow and Co.

A rear shot showing the thumb safety.

Photo from Automatic Arms, by Johnson & Haven,
1941, William Morrow and Co.

Original left side plate with Zeiss panoramic sight mount.

Left side plate factory engraving.

1917 with Zeiss sight. The leather funnel sitting
on the sight box is for filling the water jacket.

Detail showing the early top cover pin.

Type A flash hider installed.

Click on image to see dimensioned hole location.
At right is a detail showing the positioning of the captive driving spring. Many of the semi 1928s were converted to the 1917A1 style driving spring and rod. Mine was, but I restored it to it original configuration.
SOURCES
Automatic Arms, by Johnson & Haven, 1941, William
Morrow and Co.
E-mail Dolf
E-mail Dolf
Hey, what happened to the tutorial on gun bluing that used to be here? I moved it to its own page and you can get there by clicking HERE.
The Browning Machine Gun - Volume I, by Dolf Goldsmith,
published by Collectors Grade Publications.
The Browning Machine Gun - Volume II, by Dolf Goldsmith,
published by Collectors Grade Publications.
If you would like to purchase one or both of the Browning books, click on the books at right to E-mail Dolf Goldsmith. He will be happy to autograph any books you buy. I cannot say enough about this latest addition to Dolf's growing body of work.
The Colt Commercial and accessories shown here are from my own collection, except where noted. Special thanks to Dave West for his contributions to this site, and to Mike Crowder for his technical tranlation. Questions or comments? E-mail me.
BACK TO TOP