In 1901, Hotchkiss et Cie, a French company, designed a light machine gun in 8mm Lebel, which was produced in 1909, giving it the name Hotchkiss M1909 machine gun. This machine gun was adopted by the French army in 1909. Also in 1909, the British produced a .303 variant called the Hotchkiss Mark I, which was manufactured by Enfield.
That same year the United States adopted the same gun, chambered in .30-06, as the “Benet-Mercie Machine Rifle” after Lawrence Benet and Henri Mercie, its two main designers. This 26.5 pound machine gun is gas operated, air-cooled, and has a rate of fire of 400-600 rounds per minute. Although initial models were fed by a 30 round magazine, later models could be either strip or belt-fed. The U.S. variant was equipped with a bipod while the British variant (MKI) was equipped with a tripod which could be moved with the weapon.
The French and British used the Hotchkiss 1909 during World War I and World War II. It was also used in the Desert Campaign in Sinai and Palestine (1915-1917) by the Australian Light Horse, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, and Imperial Camel Corps. The U.S. military used the Benet-Mercie in France as well as in Mexico during the Pancho Villa Expedition of 1916-1917.