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The Five Worst Light Machine Guns (LMGs)

2. Breda 6.5mm Model 30

Possibly the ugliest, most awkward light machine gun ever made, the 6.5mm Breda Model 30 looks like an outsider art project constructed by a demented welder on hallucinogens. All odd angles and protuberances, the LMG fired from a closed bolt using a form of delayed blowback operation, with the barrel and bolt moving backward for a short distance before the barrel parted ways with the bolt, which continued to move backward, ejecting the round and feeding the new one.

Breda 30

The 6.5mm Breda 30, showing to good effect the permanent box magazine hinged forward, along with a spare barrel. U.S. Navy photo

One disadvantage of firing from a closed bolt is heat buildup, not very desirable in a light machine gun, as it could cause rounds to “cook off” without the trigger being pulled. In addition, since the barrel moved, the front sight had to be mounted on the cradle or trough in which it lay, so whenever a fresh barrel was exchanged for one worn out in battle, the rounds that left it might have only a tenuous relationship with where the weapon’s sights were pointed.

It must have been a nightmare task to keep the Breda 30 clean enough to operate anywhere, much less in the Western desert, feeding sandy cartridges into a dirty, oily magazine. To top it off, this monstrosity didn’t even have a carrying handle, so the long-suffering gunner would have to cradle it in his arms or carry it over his shoulder, with everything from the operating handle to the magazine digging into his flesh and catching on his other equipment.

Breda 30 LMG

Another view of the Breda 30, with the magazine closed and locked against the receiver. Note the cutout on top of the magazine. The large rectangular box on top of the receiver contained the integral oiler. Photo by Edo leitner

Yet another disadvantage of the operating system was that, in order to ensure rounds could be extracted, there was an integral oil pump that lubricated each round as it was chambered. The rounds came from a permanent 20-round box magazine feeding from the right side, which hinged forward to receive a stripper clip, or charger, of 20 6.5mm cartridges, then was closed and locked against the receiver. Naturally, there was a cutout in the top of the magazine to allow the gunner to see how many rounds remained, and as always, this hole in the magazine invited copious amounts of sand and debris to enter the action. It must have been a nightmare task to keep the Breda 30 clean enough to operate anywhere, much less in the Western desert, feeding sandy cartridges into a dirty, oily magazine. To top it off, this monstrosity didn’t even have a carrying handle, so the long-suffering gunner would have to cradle it in his arms or carry it over his shoulder, with everything from the operating handle to the magazine digging into his flesh and catching on his other equipment. Almost every design feature of the Breda 30 makes one want to ask its designers, “Why?”

Breda Model 30

Type: Light machine gun
Operating System: Delayed blowback
Weight: 22 pounds, 8 ounces unloaded
Length: 48.5 inches
Barrel length: 20.5 inches
Cartridge: 6.5mm
Muzzle velocity: 2063 fps
Cyclic rate: 450-500 rpm
Feed system: 20-round non-detachable magazine, fed by chargers

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