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Lewis Machine Gun Spring Balance c.1918

WW1 Lewis Gun Spring Balance c.1918

Price £75.00 Sale

Another iconic WW1 object - the Savage Arms Corporation Lewis Gun Spring Balance, made in the USA c.1918. This was a vital part of the standard tool kit for the Lewis light machine gun, and was used to check the tension of the gun's return spring. The balance is calibrated up to a weight of 24lb, with the ideal tension being 12-14lb. In the 1917 edition of the Forster Groom Lewis Gun Manual, Instruction on the Lewis Automatic Machine Gun, the author states that 'The gun is found to fire very well at 10 and a half pounds. . . if the tension is too small, miss-fires will occur, and the back end of the piston rod will hammer too hard against the buttstock. . . if the tension is slightly too high, the gun will fire faster than usual. If the tension is much too high, the force of the gas will not be sufficient to drive back the piston'. Clearly, the spring balance was a crucial bit of kit, without which the gun simply would not be able to continue to function properly.

Instructions for using the spring balance: 'Take the spring balance issued with the gun and fasten one end around the cocking handle. Hold the other end in one hand and pull the cocking handle backwards and forwards once or twice. Then retain cocking handle about 1 in. from front position and read spring balance.'

The Lewis Gun: The Lewis gun was invented by Colonel Isaac Newton Lewis in 1911, based on initial work by Samuel Maclean. Despite its origins, the Lewis gun was not initially adopted by the U.S. military, most likely because of political differences between Lewis and the chief of the Ordnance Department. Lewis became frustrated with trying to persuade the U.S. Army to adopt his design, and retired from the army. He left the United States in 1913 and went to Belgium, where he established the Armes Automatiques Lewis company in Liege to facilitate commercial production of the gun. Lewis had been working closely with BSA Ltd, the British arms manufacturer, in an effort to overcome some of the production difficulties of the weapon. The Belgians bought a small number of Lewis guns in 1913, using the.303 British round. In 1914, BSA purchased a licence to manufacture the Lewis machine gun in England, which resulted in Lewis receiving significant royalty payments and becoming very wealthy. Lewis moved his factory moved to England before the outbreak of WW1, to avoid possible seizure in the event of a German invasion. The onset of WW1 increased demand for the Lewis gun, and BSA began production, under the designation Model 1914. The design was officially approved for service on 15 October 1915 under the designation "Gun, Lewis, .303-cal." No Lewis guns were produced in Belgium during the war; all manufacture was carried out by BSA in England and the Savage Arms Corporation in the US.


The spring balance is in good condition and full working order, with general signs of wear and use. The body has a slight ding to one side. It comes complete with its original cocking handle hook and ring attachments.


Dimensions : 110mm length (180mm inc. hook and ring)