In 1865 the French officer Reffye invented a machine gun with a total of 25 fixed barrels, which fired 125 to 150 missiles a minute. It was soon made obsolete by newer and quicker-firing models. In 1883 the American Maxim invented the automatic machine gun.
Although there were earlier versions, the modern machine gun and machine pistol were developed by Hotchkiss in 1914. His main aim was to make a gun, which would give heavy fire over a limited area. The whole weapon was automatic and cartridges were made up into belts, which fitted one of the apertures of the machine gun. The gun was based on an American model invented by Gatling, which could fire 100 missiles a minute. The idea of a rapid-firing weapon dates back to the days of the first firearms such as rifles and revolvers. Gatling’s machine gun was used in 1865 during the American Civil War. There were other models by Montigny, Feldi, Nobel, Maxim, Gardner, Colt, Hotchkiss and Skoda. The machine gun has evolved through a variety of forms, but that used by the world’s fighting forces today is a single-barreled automatic weapon.