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This M1918 Chauchat is still awaiting NFA transfer, but my dealer was able to bring it out to a public range where I could do some initial testing on it. I was expecting to get extraction problems as soon as it got warm, as that is what the literature suggests will happen. The .30-06 American Chauchats were made with improperly cut chambers. However, I ended up finding no extraction problems at all – although I had lots of feed problems with my original magazines.
People expect that because they don’t have the big open cutouts, the American Chauchat magazines are much better than the semicircular French 8mm Lebel Chauchat magazines. This is not the case; the American mags are made of equally flimsy material, and their feed lips are actually worse that the French magazines. They are supposed to hold 16 rounds, but I could not get more than 13 into any of them before I started to get a worrying amount of mag body bulging and feed lip stress.
I have plans for arranging much more reliable magazines, and once I have those (and the gun is out of NFA jail) I am excited to do a lot more shooting with it!
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