.303-inch Mk I

Cat. No.IntroductionObsolescentObsoleteRemarks
Section C.1
L. of C. 16217
26th November, 1912
7th March, 1968
  • Cat No. C1/BD 0600, List of changes 22675, GUNS, Machine, Vickers, .303-in., Mk. 1 – With dial sight bracket
  • Cat No. C1/BD 7930, List of changes 22675, GUNS, Machine, Vickers, .303-in., Mk. 1 – without dial sight bracket

Training variants on the training accessories page.

Data summary

Method of FeedFabric belt from right side
BeltCapacity – 250 rounds.
Construction – canvas with brass separating strips
WeightEmpty – 30 lbs.
With water – 40 lbs. (approx.)
Length3 ft., 7½ in.
BarrelLength – 28.4 in.
Calibre – .303-in.
Rifling – number of grooves – 5; twist – 1 turn in 10 in.; direction – to the left; depth – .005 in. to .008 in.; width of lands – .0936 in.
SightsType – aperture and blade.
Range adjustment – using Plate, Graduated, Tangent Sight, No. 2 Mk. 1 for Mk. 7 ammunition – 100 to 2900 yd.
Range adjustment – using Plate, Graduated, Tangent Sight, No. 2 Mk. 2 for Mk. 8z ammunition – 100 to 3700 yd.
Sight base – (radius) – 36 in. (approx.)
Cyclic rate of fire450 to 550 rounds per minute.
Method of breech lockingToggle joint.
System of operationRecoil, gas assisted.
Change leverNil – full automatic only.
Type of coolingLiquid cooling
Capacity of barrel casing7 pints (approx.)
Number of rounds required to boil water600 (continuous firing)
Rate of evaporation1.5 pints per 1000 rounds
AmmunitionCartridges, S.A. Ball, .303 in., Mk. 7, Mk. 7z or Mk. 8z, or Tracer or A.P.

Before the Great War

The Vickers first began service as the ‘Mk. I’ from the 26th November, 1912. This was the service pattern gun that remained largely unchanged for its entire service life. It was, by far, the largest Mark produced and the majority of parts in other Marks came from it.

The Great War

At the start of the Great War, the Vickers Mk. I in production varied only slightly from that adopted in 1912. However, it soon began to change. For the first few years, these changes were small and affected component parts and the amount of lightening that took place on that gun – the increased lightening increasing production time and cost. The completely lightened guns have a ‘five-arch’ top cover and any area where the thickness of the metal was greater than required, it was milled out so that only the minimum would remain. This even went to the extent of boring the centres of pins so they were hollow and saved precious-few ounces. The gun shown was produced in May, 1915, and displays all of the early milling.


More information on the early ‘L’ series production guns can be found in our YouTube video:

As the demand for machine guns increased even more, it was decided that a smooth barrel jacket could be produced quicker that the fluted jackets. Therefore, from late-1917 some Vickers MGs were manufactured with smooth barrel jackets. They are similar in appearance to the Second World War production guns.


Between the Wars

The large numbers of guns produced during the Great War satisfied the appetite for replacements and, with refurbishment, were able to keep the British Army equipped throughout this period.

However, with the increased mobilisation in the 1930s, it was necessary for the War Office to start placing orders for further refurbishment and the commencement of further production. All were in .303-inch.

DateItemMakerQuantity and Other Details
24.04.1935Vickers Mk I overhaul and repairEnfield100
13.06.1935Vickers Mk IVickers Armstrong200
13.06.1935Vickers Mk I overhaul and repairEnfield450
29.10.1935Overhaul Vickers Mk I to “S” or “SM” standardEnfield110
16.04.1936Vickers Mk I repairEnfield110
06.07.1936Vickers Mk I repairEnfield500
29.09.1936Vickers converted from Mk I to Mk VIEnfield8 for Iraq
16.06.1937Vickers Mk I repairEnfield500
24.11.1937Conversion of Vickers Mk I to Mk VI LH feedEnfield200
29.12.1937Vickers Mk I repairEnfield28
05.05.1938Vickers Mk I repair and Mk VI conversionEnfield500
08.09.1938Vickers Mk IVickers Armstrong200
28.03.1939Vickers Mk IVickers Armstrong30
11.05.1939Vickers Mk I repairEnfield500
01.08.1939Vickers Mk I repairEnfield200

Australian production

It was also during the inter-war period that Australia began to manufacture Vickers MGs at its Small Arms Factory, Lithgow.

The Second World War

The ramp-up of Vickers MG repair and production increased with the outbreak of the War. From this time, some orders placed were referred to as ‘Ground Pattern’ guns, presumably to avoid confusion with Vickers Gas Operated Mk I guns. All were in .303-inch unless otherwise mentioned.

DateItemMakerQuantity and Other Details
15.12.1939Vickers Mk I Ground PatternVickers Armstrong600 at £118/10/- each
15.12.1939Vickers Mk I Ground PatternVickers Armstrong320
18.12.1939Vickers Mk I repairEnfield3,000
12.02.1940Vickers MG 7.92mmsupplied by Edgar Grimaud750 for Turkey
16.04.1940Vickers MGsupplied by Edgar Grimaud326
09.07.1940Vickers Mk I Ground PatternVickers Armstrong49
14.10.1940Vickers Mk I Ground PatternVickers Armstrong920
11.05.1941Vickers Mk I Ground Pattern, Class “C”Vickers Armstrong133, differs slightly from service pattern
11.05.1941Vickers Mk I Ground Pattern Land ServiceVickers Armstrong16
12.06.1941Vickers MGVickers Armstrong2,000
26.07.1941Vickers MGVickers Armstrong1,888
07.08.1941Vickers MGVickers Armstrong500
10.03.1942Vickers MGVickers Armstrong190
13.07.1942Vickers Mk I w/Tripods2,900
04.01.1944Vickers MGVickers Armstrong3,000

There were no more orders placed after this period. It is assumed that repairs were being carried out by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers or being scrapped. No more Vickers MGs were produced in the UK. Production did continue to take place in Australia for a short time.

Post-Second World War

In 1968, the Vickers Mk. I was declared obsolete and removed from British Army service. It was such a momentous occasion that it warranted a special dinner and an article on the front page of The Times on January 09, 1968.