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I’ve been slowly working on my Colt Commercial 303 Digger and upon disassembly I’ve found multiple traces of green enamel paint on it. I’ve found good circumstantial evidence that this gun was used by the Canadians and possibly the MMGB units. Anyone seen Colt diggers or even diggers period painted green and not left in the original blued finish?
 

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99569


Here’s the barrel lock and guide assembly along with the “hammer” arm plus linkage in process. When the cnc’s have long cycles I work on grinding/buffing the major pits out.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have the gun apart (except the barrel and receiver) and started cleaning it up to start the cosmetic restoration of it. Upon disassembly I discovered this is one of the few guns that had the side cocking assembly as it would appear it saw use on a vehicle due to the rare options it has/had. The side charging system and the feed wheel release/belt release (still intact) from the research I’ve done so far it appears to have been in the service of the Machine Gun Moror Brigades in Canada during WWI, and prior to 1916-1917 when they converted over to using Lewis and Vickers guns.

This gun also has the same rear sight as 1917 Browning 30’s. The large windage knob and rotating “disk” for sight apatures.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
99570
99571


This is the side cocking assembly I’m referring to. The gun used to have it but not anymore. Was looking forward to looking around the Creek for pieces/parts but that’s shot in the ass since it was just canceled. Guess I’ll have the gun operational and add it on IF I find any of it come April 2021
 

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If it was in a vehicle, its very possible the front got painted because it was "not someones job" to remove the gun while painting the vehicle.... Thats my guess.
 

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I did not know that "Digger's" could be found in .303 British!
I find that to be interesting!
I wonder when & where they served.
yes we Brits had the .303 version and it continued in reserve until WW2. I have a tripod for one that came out of a TA building that was being demolished. It was found with a Bren tripod and could easily have been sat in the rafters of the building since WW2.

the only other tripod like it is in the Royal Armouries in Leeds, England although that one doesn’t have the bracket for what I think would be a shield that mine has.
 

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From what I have read BREN tripods were not popular with the troops and many were stowed/stashed away and ignored.
The Colt Digger is like the Hotchkiss portative, not a gun you can use without a tripod or some sort of mount.
I wonder how many of the Colt guns the British purchased?
I would suspect they would have been procured well before WW1.
Some many have come over at the beginning of WWII just like the Colt Vicker's did along with early BAR's etc.
It is amazing to think that the 303 Portative was a Cavalry, aircraft and tank MG.
I wonder what all uses were found for the 303 Digger?


99627


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99629
 

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The reason the Bren tripod was often dispensed with should have been obvious to the British senior ranks from day one. The gun was a light weight portable weapon for rapid fire.

I think they thought they were getting a general purpose machine gun but after 1940 they saw the light, tripod production slowed to next to nothing and all the superfluous kit was dispensed with. No more butt handle, no more butt spoon, fixed line plessey sight and bracket gone, AA tripod gone, fancy machining gone.

what was left was a simple reliable light machine gun.
 

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The Colt Digger in .303 was the standard Canadian machine gun at the beginning of WW1. In Canada, the advantages over a water-cooled gun should be obvious; no anti-freeze needed in the winter. In the mud of northern France, the disadvantages quickly became apparent and the gun was phased out as Vickers and Lewis guns were made available.
Herbert McBrides book 'The Emma Gees' details the use by Canadians early in the war.
 

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Canada purchased a total of 932 1895 Colt Diggers and they were their primary machine gun until the Vickers and Lewis guns became available in 1915-1916. There's a cool back story of the Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade purchasing armored Ford Autocars with Colts mounted in place and sneaking them across the border in the dead of night. Herbert McBride actually speaks highly of the Diggers but he was also one of those people who understood weapons and how to make them function in various conditions.
 

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Some very interesting history here of the Colt 1895.
I find I don't have any reference material about this gun.
Are there are decent books describing it?
 
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