Full Auto Friday: Colt Potato Digger Edition (VIDEOS)
By Chris Eger
In honor of Patriots’ Day, let’s take a minute to celebrate what is generally considered the first American machine gun that didn’t have a hand crank — the Colt Potato Digger.
Designed in the 1880s by none other than John Moses Browning (who went on to craft several other machine guns to include the M1917, M1918 BAR, M1919 and world-famous M2 BMG), the “Potato Digger” got its name from its peculiar operating lever that visibly travels while the gun is being fired — which would connect to the ground if the gun was not mounted high enough. In essence, it is a gas-powered lever-action belt-fed machine gun capable of firing at about 400 rounds per minute.
Patented by 1895, Browning shopped the gun to Colt extensively and it was put into production by the Connecticut gun maker that year as the M1895. In a nod to the inventor, these early guns are marked “Made under Browning Patent By Colt Pt FA Co.”
Weighing in at 35 pounds, it was still heavy compared to the machine guns of today but was much lighter than earlier Gatling guns and Sir Hiram Maxim’s water-cooled machine gun designs of its era. As such, it was the firstSource: Guns.com