Manufactured by Vickers, little information is available on this rifle. While Vickers did work on a line of light machine guns derived from Berthier's 1922 machine gun, this rifle appears to stem from a slightly different origin. In addition to his machine gun work, Berthier experimented in the "machine rifle" field, and was one, among many inventors, trying to put reliable semi-automatic or full automatic firepower in the hands of the average infantryman. To this end, a number of patents were submitted by Andre Berthier c.1917-1919 under the name of the U.S. Machine Gun Company, a division of Hopkins and Allen, with an eye for sales to the Army and Marine Corps. The design was not picked up; Berthier's machine rifle was one of the many "also-rans" of the military arms development process. The exact circumstances of the design ending up with Vickers are unknown, though it would be a logical fit for the company; in the mid-1920s, Vickers became interested in the Berthier's machine gun as a possible LMG companion to their already very popular Vickers heavy machine gun, and produced several variants. The Vickers rifle would make a very natural addition to the line. At heart, this rifle very strongly resembles the Vickers-Berthier, if it were converted from an open bolt selective fire machine gun to a closed bolt semi-automatic rifle, and scaled down to make a relatively lightweight and maneuverable rifle, coming in at about 10 pounds, in contrast to the 24+ pounds of the machine gun. The heart of the rifle is a long piston gas operated action, with the piston assembly concealed by the forearm and enclosed by an aluminum heat shield. The sights are offset to the left to clear the top-load magazine (not included) with a blade front sight and a peep rear; the rear sight is elevation adjustable, but with no graduation marks and only two positions, suggesting an early prototype or test model. The barrel itself is finned at the rear, again concealed by the forearm. On the receiver are a pair of levers, both of which do double duty as a control mechanism and a takedown pin; a safety lever on the left side that serves as the takedown pin for the forearm, and a bolt catch control lever that acts as the takedown pin for the buttstock and trigger guard. In combination, these pins permit a basic field-style strip to be performed without tools. A serrated rail is cut into the frame around the ejector port, with a pair of detents on the right side, suggesting the option for a sliding dust cover, and the top is marked "Vickers Limited/System A. Berthier/Model 1919". The Vickers firm was "Vickers Limited" from about 1911 to 1927. Fitted with a ribbed long forearm and a smooth pistol grip stock with a right handed cheekpiece attached via pins and filler material, and a serrated aluminum buttplate. A hollow raceway runs through the wrist of the stock, giving clearance for the gas piston during cycling.
Fine, with 60% of the original blue finish, showing areas of brown patina, scattered spotting and light handling marks. Heavier spotting and some rust can be seen in the areas hidden by the forearm, likely due to gas exposure. The stock has been broken at the wrist, exposing the raceway, with a number of dents, scuffs and chips overall. Magazine absent. Mechanically excellent. An intriguing early semi-automatic rifle design; deeper research may produce very interesting results.
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