Lewis Gun

The Lewis gun (or Lewis automatic machine gun or Lewis automatic rifle) is a First World War-era light machine gun of US design that was perfected and mass-produced in the United Kingdom, and widely used by British and British Empire troops during the war. With its distinctive barrel cooling shroud and top mounted pan magazine, the Lewis saw service to the end of the Korean War. It was also widely used as an aircraft machine gun, almost always with the cooling shroud removed, during both world wars.



DESIGNER Samuel McClean
Colonel Isaac Newton Lewis
The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited
MANUFACTURER The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited or BSA
Savage Arms Co.
PRODUCED 1913–1942
Aircraft Pattern
Anti-Aircraft configuration
Light Infantry Pattern
Savage M1917


WEIGHT 28 pounds (13 kg)
LENGTH 50.5 inches (1,280 mm)
BARREL LENGTH 26.5 inches (670 mm)
WIDTH 4.5 inches (110 mm)
CARTRIDGE .303 British
.30-06 Springfield
7.92×57mm Mauser
ACTION Gas-operated
RATE OF FIRE 500–600 rounds/min
MUZZLE VELOCITY 2,440 feet per second (740 m/s)
EFFECTIVE FIRING RANGE 880 yards (800 m)
MAXIMUM FIRING RANGE 3,500 yards (3,200 m)
FEED SYSTEM 47- or 97-round pan magazine
SIGHTS Blade and tangent leaf


Street and Menzies examine an Anti Aircraft Lewis Mk II at Puckapunyal (June 1940).


A soldier firing a Lewis gun over a parapet of sandbags at an enemy aircraft.


Renescure, France. Unidentified soldiers from the 28th Battalion training with Lewis guns (Sept 1917).


A Machine Gun Company gun post on the lookout for enemy aircraft in the Ypres salient. One Australian is using binoculars whilst another mans a Lewis gun under the spotters directions. In the distance on the right is Bellewaarde Lake and in the background to the left is Chateau Wood (Sept 1917).