Machine gun

A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm designed to fire rifle cartridges in rapid succession from an ammunition belt or magazine for the purpose of suppressive fire. Not all fully automatic firearms are machine guns. Submachine guns, rifles, assault rifles, battle rifles, shotguns, pistols or cannons may be capable of fully automatic fire, but are not designed for sustained fire. As a class of military rapid-fire guns, machine guns are fully automatic weapons designed to be used as support weapons and generally used when attached to a mount- or fired from the ground on a bipod or tripod. Many machine guns also use belt feeding and open bolt operation, features not normally found on rifles.

M2 Browning, Musée de l'Armée
A .50 caliber M2 machine gun: John Browning's design has been one of the longest serving and most successful machine gun designs

In the U.S.A, a "machine gun" is a legal term for any weapon able to fire more than one shot per function of the trigger regardless of caliber, the receiver of any such weapon, any weapon convertible to such a state using normal tools, or any component or part that will modify an existing firearm such that it functions as a "machine gun" such as a drop-in auto sear.[1] Civilian possession of such weapons manufactured prior to 1986 is not prohibited by any federal law and not illegal in many states, but they must be registered as Title II weapons under the National Firearms Act and have a tax stamp paid. Machine guns manufactured after 1986 are prohibited by the Hughes Amendment to the Gun Owners Protection Act.

IDF-machineguns-67
Top: IMI Negev (light machine gun). Bottom: FN MAG (general purpose machine gun).
Kulomet UK-L vzor 59
Czechoslovak 7.62 mm Universal Machine gun Model 1959.

Overview of modern machine guns

JGSDF Type73 Light Truck 20081025-2
A vehicle with a Sumitomo M2 heavy machine gun mounted at the rear

Unlike semi-automatic firearms, which require one trigger pull per round fired, a machine gun is designed to fire for as long as the trigger is held down. Nowadays the term is restricted to relatively heavy weapons, able to provide continuous or frequent bursts of automatic fire for as long as ammunition lasts. Machine guns are normally used against personnel, aircraft and light vehicles, or to provide suppressive fire, either directly or indirectly. They are commonly mounted on fast attack vehicles such as technicals to provide heavy mobile firepower, armored vehicles such as tanks for engaging targets too small to justify use of the primary weaponry or too fast to effectively engage with it, and on aircraft as defensive armament or for strafing ground targets, though on fighter aircraft true machine guns have mostly been supplanted by large-caliber rotary guns.

Some machine guns have in practice sustained fire almost continuously for hours; other automatic weapons overheat after less than a minute of use. Because they become very hot, practically all machine guns fire from an open bolt, to permit air cooling from the breech between bursts. They also usually have either a barrel cooling system, slow-heating heavyweight barrel, or removable barrels which allow a hot barrel to be replaced.

Although subdivided into "light", "medium", "heavy" or "general-purpose", even the lightest machine guns tend to be substantially larger and heavier than standard infantry arms. Medium and heavy machine guns are either mounted on a tripod or on a vehicle; when carried on foot, the machine gun and associated equipment (tripod, ammunition, spare barrels) require additional crew members.

Light machine guns are designed to provide mobile fire support to a squad and are typically air-cooled weapons fitted with a box magazine or drum and a bipod; they may use full-size rifle rounds, but modern examples often use intermediate rounds. Medium machine guns use full-sized rifle rounds and are designed to be used from fixed positions mounted on a tripod. Heavy machine gun is a term originating in World War I to describe heavyweight medium machine guns and persisted into World War II with Japanese Hotchkiss M1914 clones; today, however, it is used to refer to automatic weapons with a caliber of at least .50 in (12.7 mm)[2] but less than 20 mm. A general-purpose machine gun is usually a lightweight medium machine gun which can either be used with a bipod and drum in the light machine gun role or a tripod and belt feed in the medium machine gun role.

Machine guns usually have simple iron sights, though the use of optics is becoming more common. A common aiming system for direct fire is to alternate solid ("ball") rounds and tracer ammunition rounds (usually one tracer round for every four ball rounds), so shooters can see the trajectory and "walk" the fire into the target, and direct the fire of other soldiers.

A soldier with the Ukrainian Land Forces fires a Degtyaryov-Shpagin Large-Caliber heavy machine gun
DShK in heavy role

Many heavy machine guns, such as the Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun, are accurate enough to engage targets at great distances. During the Vietnam War, Carlos Hathcock set the record for a long-distance shot at 7,382 ft (2,250 m) with a .50 caliber heavy machine gun he had equipped with a telescopic sight.[3] This led to the introduction of .50 caliber anti-materiel sniper rifles, such as the Barrett M82.

Other automatic weapons are subdivided into several categories based on the size of the bullet used, whether the cartridge is fired from a closed bolt or an open bolt, and whether the action used is locked or is some form of blowback.

Fully automatic firearms using pistol-calibre ammunition are called machine pistols or submachine guns largely on the basis of size; those using shotgun cartridges are almost always referred to as automatic shotguns. The term personal defense weapon (PDW) is sometimes applied to weapons firing dedicated armor-piercing rounds which would otherwise be regarded as machine pistols or SMGs, but it is not particularly strongly defined and has historically been used to describe a range of weapons from ordinary SMGs to compact assault rifles. Selective fire rifles firing a full-power rifle cartridge from a closed bolt are called automatic rifles or battle rifles, while rifles that fire an intermediate cartridge are called assault rifles.

Assault rifles are a compromise between the size and weight of a pistol-calibre submachine gun and a full size battle rifle, firing intermediate cartridges and allowing semi-automatic and burst or full-automatic fire options (selective fire), sometimes with both of the latter present.

Operation

DIRECTM16
direct impingement
PISTONM16
gas piston

Many machine guns are of the locked breech type, and follow this cycle:

  • Pulling (manually or electrically) the bolt assembly/bolt carrier rearward by way of the cocking lever to the point bolt carrier engages a sear and stays at rear position until trigger is activated making bolt carrier move forward
  • Loading fresh round into chamber and locking bolt
  • Firing round by way of a firing pin or striker (except for aircraft medium calibre using electric ignition primers) hitting the primer that ignites the powder when bolt reaches locked position.
  • Unlocking and removing the spent case from the chamber and ejecting it out of the weapon as bolt is moving rearward
  • Loading the next round into the firing chamber. Usually the recoil spring (also known as main spring) tension pushes bolt back into battery and a cam strips the new round from a feeding device, belt or box.
  • Cycle is repeated as long as the trigger is activated by operator. Releasing the trigger resets the trigger mechanism by engaging a sear so the weapon stops firing with bolt carrier fully at the rear.

The operation is basically the same for all locked breech automatic firearms, regardless of the means of activating these mechanisms. There are also multi-chambered formats, such as revolver cannon, and some automatic weapons, including many submachine guns, the Schwarzlose machine gun etc., that do not lock at all but instead use simple blowback or some type of delayed blowback.

Design

Most modern machine guns use gas-operated reloading, which taps off some of the propellant gas from the fired cartridge, using its mechanical pressure to unlock the bolt and cycle the action. The Russian PK machine gun is an example. Another efficient and widely used format is the recoil actuated type, which uses the guns recoil energy for the same purpose. Machine guns such as the M2 Browning and MG42, are of this second kind. A cam, lever or actuator absorbs part of the energy of the recoil to operate the gun mechanism.

An externally actuated weapon uses an external power source, such as an electric motor or even a hand crank to move its mechanism through the firing sequence. Most modern weapons of this type are called Gatling guns or, in reference to their driving mechanism, chain guns. Gatling guns have several barrels each with an associated action on a rotating carousel and a system of cams that load, cock, and fire each mechanism progressively as it rotates through the sequence; essentially each barrel is a separate bolt-action rifle using a common feed source. The continuous nature of the rotary action allows for an incredibly high cyclic rate of fire, often several thousand rounds per minute. Rotary guns are less prone to jamming than a gun operated by gas or recoil, as the external power source will eject misfired rounds with no further trouble, but this is not possible in the rare cases of self-powered rotary guns. Rotary guns are generally used with large rounds, 20mm in diameter or more, offering benefits of reliability and firepower, though the weight and size of the power source and driving mechanism makes them impractical for use outside of a vehicle or aircraft mount.

Revolver cannons, such as the Mauser MK 213, were developed in World War II by the Germans to provide high-caliber cannons with a reasonable rate of fire and reliability. A recoil-operated carriage holds a revolving chamber with typically five chambers. As each round is fired, electrically, the carriage moves back rotating the chamber which also ejects the spent case, indexes the next live round to be fired with the barrel and loads the next round into the chamber. The action is very similar to that of the revolver pistols common in the 19th and 20th centuries, giving this type of weapon its name.

Firing a machine gun for prolonged periods produces large amounts of heat. In a worst-case scenario this may cause a cartridge to overheat and detonate even when the trigger is not pulled, potentially leading to damage or causing the gun to cycle its action and keep firing until it has exhausted its ammunition supply or jammed (this is known as cooking off, distinct from runaway fire where the sear fails to disengage when the trigger is released). To prevent this, some kind of cooling system is required. Early machine guns were often water-cooled; while very effective, the water also added considerable weight to an already bulky design. Air-cooled machine guns often feature quick-change barrels (often carried by a crew member), passive cooling fins, or in some designs forced-air cooling, such as that employed by the Lewis Gun. Advances in metallurgy and use of special composites in barrel liners allow for greater heat absorption and dissipation during firing. The higher the rate of fire, the more often barrels must be changed and allowed to cool. To minimize this, most air-cooled guns are fired only in short bursts or at a reduced rate of fire. Some designs – such as the many variants of the MG42 – are capable of rates of fire in excess of 1,200 rounds per minute.

In weapons where the round seats and fires at the same time, mechanical timing is essential for operator safety, to prevent the round from firing before it is seated properly. Machine guns are controlled by one or more mechanical sears. When a sear is in place, it effectively stops the bolt at some point in its range of motion. Some sears stop the bolt when it is locked to the rear. Other sears stop the firing pin from going forward after the round is locked into the chamber. Almost all machine guns have a "safety" sear, which simply keeps the trigger from engaging.

History

Muzej Međimurja, Čakovec (Croatia) - mitraljezi
Collection of old machine guns in the Međimurje County Museum (Čakovec, Croatia). From rear to front: Austro-Hungarian Schwarzlose M7/12, British Lewis, German MG 08.

The first successful machine-gun designs were developed in the mid-19th century. The key characteristic of modern machine guns, their relatively high rate of fire and more importantly mechanical loading,[4] first appeared in the Model 1862 Gatling gun, which was adopted by the United States Navy. These weapons were still powered by hand; however, this changed with Hiram Maxim's idea of harnessing recoil energy to power reloading in his Maxim machine gun. Dr. Gatling also experimented with electric-motor-powered models; this externally powered machine reloading has seen use in modern weapons as well.

While technical use of the term "machine gun" has varied, the modern definition used by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute of America is "a fully automatic firearm that loads, fires and ejects continuously when the trigger is held to the rear until the ammunition is exhausted or pressure on the trigger is released."[4] This definition excludes most early manually operated repeating arms such as volley guns and the Gatling gun.

Early rapid-firing weapons

Drehling GNM W1984 ca 1580
Detail of an 8-chambered matchlock revolver (Germany c. 1580)

The first known ancestors of multi-shot weapons were medieval organ guns, while the first to have the ability to fire multiple shots from a single barrel without a full manual reload were revolvers made in Europe in the late 1500s. One is a shoulder-gun-length weapon made in Nuremberg, Germany, circa 1580. Another is a revolving arquebus, produced by Hans Stopler of Nuremberg in 1597.[5]

True repeating long arms were difficult to manufacture prior to the development of the unitary firearm cartridge; nevertheless, lever-action repeating rifles such as the Kalthoff repeater and Cookson repeater were made in small quantities in the 17th century.

Perhaps the earliest examples of predecessors to the modern machine gun are to be found in East Asia. According to the Wu-Pei-Chih, a booklet examining Chinese military equipment produced during the first quarter of the 17th century, the Chinese army had in its arsenal the 'Po-Tzu Lien-Chu-P'ao' or 'string-of-100-bullets cannon'. This was a repeating cannon fed by a hopper which fired its charges sequentially.[6] Another repeating gun was produced by a Chinese commmoner in the late 17th century. This weapon was also hopper-fed and never went into mass production.[7]

Puckle gun Photo
Replica Puckle Gun from Bucklers Hard Maritime Museum.

Another early revolving gun was created by James Puckle, a London lawyer, who patented what he called "The Puckle Gun" on May 15, 1718. It was a design for a manually operated 1.25 in. (32 mm) caliber, flintlock cannon with a revolver cylinder able to fire 6–11 rounds before reloading by swapping out the cylinder, intended for use on ships.[8] It was one of the earliest weapons to be referred to as a machine gun, being called such in 1722,[9] though its operation does not match the modern usage of the term. According to Puckle, it was able to fire round bullets at Christians and square bullets at Turks.[8] However, it was a commercial failure and was not adopted or produced in any meaningful quantity.

In 1777, Philadelphia gunsmith Joseph Belton offered the Continental Congress a "new improved gun", which was capable of firing up to twenty shots in five seconds; unlike older repeaters using complex lever-action mechanisms, it used a simpler system of superposed loads, and was loaded with a single large paper cartridge. Congress requested that Belton modify 100 flintlock muskets to fire eight shots in this manner, but rescinded the order when Belton's price proved too high.[10][11]

In the early and mid-19th century, a number of rapid-firing weapons appeared which offered multi-shot fire, mostly volley guns. Volley guns (such as the Mitrailleuse) and double barreled pistols relied on duplicating all parts of the gun, though the Nock gun used the otherwise-undesirable "chain fire" phenomenon (where multiple chambers are ignited at once) to propagate a spark from a single flintlock mechanism to multiple barrels. Pepperbox pistols also did away with needing multiple hammers but used multiple manually operated barrels. Revolvers further reduced this to only needing a pre-prepared cylinder and linked advancing the cylinder to cocking the hammer. However, these were still manually operated.

French Infantry Machine Guns
A detachment of French infantry with 2 Saint-Etienne Model 1907 machine guns (c.1914)

In 1847 a short description of a prototype electrically-ignited mechanical machine gun was published in Scientific American by a J.R. Nichols. The model described is small in scale and works by rotating a series of barrels vertically so that it is feeding at the top from a 'tube' or hopper and could be discharged immediately at any elevation after having received a charge, according to the author.[12]

In 1854 a British patent for a mechanically operated machine gun was filed by Henry Clarke. This weapon used multiple barrels arranged side by side, fed by a revolving cylinder that was in turn fed by hoppers, similar to the system used by Nichols. The gun could be fired by percussion or electricity, according to the author. Unlike other mechanically operated machine guns of the era, this weapon didn't use any form of self-contained cartridge, with firing being carried out by separate percussion caps.[13] In the same year, water cooling was proposed for machine guns by Henry Bessemer, along with a water cleaning system, though he would later abandon this design. In his patent, Bessemer describes a hydropneumatic blowback-operated, fully automatic cannon. Part of the patent also refers to a steam-operated piston to be used with firearms but the bulk of the patent is spent detailing the former system.[14]

In America, a patent for a machine gun type weapon was filed by John Andrus Reynolds in 1855.[15] Another early American patent for a manually operated machine gun was filed by C. E. Barnes in 1856.[16]

In France and Britain, a mechanically operated machine gun was patented in 1856 by the Frenchman Francois Julien. This weapon was a cannon that fed from a type of open-ended tubular magazine, only using rollers and an endless chain in place of springs.[17]

The Agar Gun, otherwise known as a "coffee-mill gun" because of its resemblance to a coffee mill, was invented by Wilson Agar at the beginning of the US Civil War. The weapon featured mechanized loading using a hand crank linked to a hopper above the weapon. The weapon featured a single barrel and fired through the turning of the same crank; it operated using paper cartridges fitted with percussion caps and inserted into metal tubes which acted as chambers; it was therefore functionally similar to a revolver. The weapon was demonstrated to President Lincoln in 1861. He was so impressed with the weapon that he purchased 10 on the spot for $1,500 apiece. The Union Army eventually purchased a total of 54 of the weapons. However, due to antiquated views of the Ordnance Department the weapons, like its more famous counterpart the Gatling Gun, saw only limited use.

The Gatling gun, patented in 1861 by Richard Jordan Gatling, was the first to offer controlled, sequential fire with mechanical loading. The design's key features were machine loading of prepared cartridges and a hand-operated crank for sequential high-speed firing. It first saw very limited action in the American Civil War; it was subsequently improved and used in the Franco-Prussian war and North-West Rebellion. Many were sold to other armies in the late 19th century and continued to be used into the early 20th century, until they were gradually supplanted by Maxim guns. Early multi-barrel guns were approximately the size and weight of contemporary artillery pieces, and were often perceived as a replacement for cannon firing grapeshot or canister shot.[18] The large wheels required to move these guns around required a high firing position, which increased the vulnerability of their crews.[18] Sustained firing of gunpowder cartridges generated a cloud of smoke, making concealment impossible until smokeless powder became available in the late 19th century.[19] Gatling guns were targeted by artillery they could not reach, and their crews were targeted by snipers they could not see.[18] The Gatling gun was used most successfully to expand European colonial empires, since against poorly equipped indigenous armies it did not face such threats.[18]

In 1870 a Lt. D. H. Friberg of the Swedish army patented a fully automatic recoil-operated firearm action and may have produced firing prototypes of a derived design around 1882: this was the forerunner to the 1907 Kjellman machine gun, though, due to rapid residue buildup from the use of black powder, Friberg's design was not a practical weapon.[20]

Also in 1870, the Bavarian regiment of the Prussian army used a unique mitrailleuse style weapon in the Franco-Prussian war. The weapon was made up of four barrels placed side by side that replaced the manual loading of the French mitrailleuse with a mechanical loading system featuring a hopper containing 41 cartridges at the breech of each barrel. Although it was used effectively at times, mechanical difficulties hindered its operation and it was ultimately abandoned shortly after the war ended.(de)[21]

Maxim and World War I

Armouredgermanmachinegunnerworldwari
A model of a typical entrenched German machine gunner in World War I. He is operating an MG 08, wearing a Stahlhelm and cuirass to protect him from shell fragments, and protected by rows of barbed wire and sandbags.

The first practical self-powered machine gun was invented in 1884 by Sir Hiram Maxim. The Maxim machine gun used the recoil power of the previously fired bullet to reload rather than being hand-powered, enabling a much higher rate of fire than was possible using earlier designs such as the Nordenfelt and Gatling weapons. Maxim also introduced the use of water cooling, via a water jacket around the barrel, to reduce overheating. Maxim's gun was widely adopted, and derivative designs were used on all sides during the First World War. The design required fewer crew and was lighter and more usable than the Nordenfelt and Gatling guns. First World War combat experience demonstrated the military importance of the machine gun. The United States Army issued four machine guns per regiment in 1912, but that allowance increased to 336 machine guns per regiment by 1919.[22]

Vickers machine gun crew with gas masks
British Vickers machine gun in action near Ovillers during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The crew are wearing gas masks.

Heavy guns based on the Maxim such as the Vickers machine gun were joined by many other machine weapons, which mostly had their start in the early 20th century such as the Hotchkiss machine gun. Submachine guns (e.g., the German MP 18) as well as lighter machine guns (the first light machine gun deployed in any significant number being the Madsen machine gun, with the Chauchat and Lewis gun soon following) saw their first major use in World War I, along with heavy use of large-caliber machine guns. The biggest single cause of casualties in World War I was actually artillery, but combined with wire entanglements, machine guns earned a fearsome reputation.

Another fundamental development occurring before and during the war was the incorporation by gun designers of machine gun auto-loading mechanisms into handguns, giving rise to semi-automatic pistols such as the Borchardt (1890s), automatic machine pistols and later submachine guns (such as the Beretta 1918).

Machine guns were mounted in aircraft for the first time in World War I. Immediately this raised a problem. The most effective position for guns in a single-seater fighter was clearly, for the purpose of aiming, directly in front of the pilot; but this placement would obviously result in bullets striking the moving propeller. Early solutions, aside from simply hoping that luck was on the pilot's side with an unsychronized forward-firing gun, involved either aircraft with pusher props like the Vickers F.B.5, Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 and Airco DH.2, wing mounts like that of the Nieuport 10 and Nieuport 11 which avoided the propeller entirely, or armored propeller blades such as those mounted on the Morane-Saulnier L which would allow the propeller to deflect unsynchronized gunfire. By mid 1915, the introduction of a reliable gun synchronizer by the Imperial German Flying Corps made it possible to fire a closed-bolt machine gun forward through a spinning propeller by timing the firing of the gun to miss the blades. The Allies had no equivalent system until 1916 and their aircraft suffered badly as a result, a period known as the Fokker Scourge, after the Fokker Eindecker, the first German plane to incorporate the new technology.

Interwar era and World War II

As better materials became available following the First World War, light machine guns became more readily portable; designs such as the Bren light machine gun replaced bulky predecessors like the Lewis gun in the squad support weapon role, while the modern division between medium machine guns like the M1919 Browning machine gun and heavy machine guns like the Browning M2 became clearer. New designs largely abandoned water jacket cooling systems as both undesirable, due to a greater emphasis on mobile tactics and unnecessary, thanks to the alternative and superior technique of preventing overheating by swapping barrels.

MG42 Sideview
MG 42 with retracted bipod

The interwar years also produced the first widely used and successful general-purpose machine gun, the German MG 34. While this machine gun was equally able in the light and medium roles, it proved difficult to manufacture in quantity, and experts on industrial metalworking were called in to redesign the weapon for modern tooling, creating the MG 42. This weapon was simpler, cheaper to produce, fired faster, and replaced the MG 34 in every application except vehicle mounts, since the MG 42's barrel changing system could not be operated when it was mounted.

Submachine guns evolved during the war, going from complex and finely made weapons like the Thompson submachine gun to weapons designed for mass-production and easy replacement like the Sten gun. On the Eastern Front, entire Soviet divisions were equipped with nothing but the PPSh-41 submachine gun. Experience in close-range city combat led to the German military desiring a weapon representing a compromise between the high fire volume of the SMG and the accuracy of a full-size rifle; after a false start with the FG 42, this led to the development of the MP 44 select-fire assault rifle, the first weapon to be called such.

Cold War

Gau 17 7.62mm minigun
A U.S. Navy 7.62 mm GAU-17/A Minigun, an externally powered weapon.

Experience with the MG42 led to the US issuing a requirement to replace the aging Browning Automatic Rifle with a similar weapon, which would also replace the M1919; simply using the MG42 itself was not possible, as the design brief required a weapon which could be fired from the hip or shoulder like the BAR. The resulting design, the M60 machine gun, was issued to troops during the Vietnam War.

As it became clear that a high-volume-of-fire weapon would be needed for fast-moving jet aircraft to reliably hit their opponents, Gatling's work with electrically powered weapons was recalled and the 20 mm M61 Vulcan designed; a miniaturized 7.62 mm version initially known as the "mini-Vulcan" and quickly shortened to "minigun" was soon in production for use on helicopters, where the volume of fire could compensate for the instability of the helicopter as a firing platform.

Human interface

M2m60c2
This M60 machine gun is part of an XM2 armament subsystem; it is aimed and fired from the aircraft rather than directly

The most common interface on machine guns is a pistol grip and trigger. On earlier manual machine guns, the most common type was a hand crank. On externally powered machine guns, such as miniguns, an electronic button or trigger on a joystick is commonly used. Light machine guns often have a butt stock attached, while vehicle and tripod mounted machine guns usually have spade grips. In the late 20th century, scopes and other complex optics became more common as opposed to the more basic iron sights.

Loading systems in early manual machine guns were often from a hopper of loose (un-linked) cartridges. Manual-operated volley guns usually had to be reloaded manually all at once (each barrel reloaded by hand, or with a set of cartridges affixed to a plate that was inserted into the weapon). With hoppers, the rounds could often be added while the weapon was firing. This gradually changed to belt-fed types. Belts were either held in the open by the person, or in a bag or box. Some modern vehicle machine guns used linkless feed systems however.

Modern machine guns are commonly mounted in one of four ways. The first is a bipod – often these are integrated with the weapon. This is common on light machine guns and some medium machine guns. Another is a tripod, where the person holding it does not form a 'leg' of support. Medium and heavy machine guns usually use tripods. On ships, vehicles and aircraft machine guns are usually mounted on a pintle mount – basically a steel post that is connected to the frame or body. Tripod and pintle mounts are usually used with spade grips. The last major mounting type is one that is disconnected from humans, as part of an armament system, such as a tank coaxial or part of aircraft's armament. These are usually electrically fired and have complex sighting systems, for example the US Helicopter Armament Subsystems.

See also

References

  1. ^ In United States law, a Machine Gun is defined (in part) by The National Firearms Act of 1934, 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b) as "... any weapon which shoots ... automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger."
  2. ^ ""Machine Guns and Machine Gun Gunnery," US Marine Corps" (PDF). Marines.mil. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  3. ^ Henderson, Charles. Marine Sniper Berkley Caliber. (2005) ISBN 0-425-10355-2.
  4. ^ a b "SAAMI.org terminology glossary". Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute.
  5. ^ Roger Pauly (2004). Firearms: The Life Story of a Technology. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-32796-4.
  6. ^ Song, Yingxing; Sun, E-tu Zen; Sun, Shiou-Chuan (1997). Chinese Technology in the Seventeenth Century. Courier Corporation. p. 271. ISBN 978-0-486-29593-0.
  7. ^ Needham, Joseph (1987). Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 5, Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Part 7, Military Technology: The Gunpowder Epic. Cambridge University Press. p. 408. ISBN 978-0-521-30358-3.
  8. ^ a b original patent claim reproduced in: Francis Bannerman Sons Bannerman Military Goods Catalogue #28 (1954) p.103
  9. ^ "The Armoury of His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry" (PDF). University of Huddersfield.
  10. ^ Harold L. Peterson (2000). Arms and Armor in Colonial America, 1526–1783. Courier Dover Publications. pp. 217–18. ISBN 978-0-486-41244-3.
  11. ^ United States Continental Congress (1907). Journals of the Continental Congress. USGPO., pp. 324, 361
  12. ^ Scientific American. Munn & Company. 1847. p. 172.
  13. ^ office, Great Britain Patent; Woodcroft, Bennet (23 December 2017). "Abridgments of the Specifications Relating to Fire-arms and Other Weapons, Ammunition, and Accoutrements: A.D. 1588–1858]-Pt. II. A.D. 1858–1866". Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode, pub. at the Great seal patent office. p. 163.
  14. ^ "Mechanic's Magazine". R. A. Brooman. 1855. p. 259.
  15. ^ "Improvement in fire-arms". Google.com. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  16. ^ "HyperWar: The Machine Gun (Vol. /Part )". Ibiblio.org. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  17. ^ Office, Patent (1859). "Patents for inventions. Abridgments of specifications".
  18. ^ a b c d Emmott, N.W. "The Devil's Watering Pot" United States Naval Institute Proceedings September 1972 p. 70
  19. ^ Emmott, N.W. "The Devil's Watering Pot" United States Naval Institute Proceedings September 1972 p. 72
  20. ^ "HyperWar: The Machine Gun (Vol. I/Part III)". Ibiblio.org. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  21. ^ Smithurst, Peter (2015). The Gatling Gun. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-4728-0598-0.
  22. ^ Ayres, Leonard P. (1919). The War with Germany (Second ed.). Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. p. 65.

External links

Bren light machine gun

The Bren gun, usually called simply the Bren, are a series of light machine guns (LMG) made by Britain in the 1930s and used in various roles until 1992. While best known for its role as the British and Commonwealth forces' primary infantry LMG in World War II, it was also used in the Korean War and saw service throughout the latter half of the 20th century, including the 1982 Falklands War. Although fitted with a bipod, it could also be mounted on a tripod or vehicle-mounted.

The Bren was a licensed version of the Czechoslovak ZGB 33 light machine gun which, in turn, was a modified version of the ZB vz. 26, which British Army officials had tested during a firearms service competition in the 1930s. The later Bren featured a distinctive top-mounted curved box magazine, conical flash hider, and quick change barrel. The name Bren was derived from Brno, the Czechoslovak city in Moravia, where the Zb vz. 26 was designed (in the Zbrojovka Brno Factory) and Enfield, site of the British Royal Small Arms Factory. The designer was Václav Holek, a gun inventor and design engineer.

In the 1950s, many Brens were re-barrelled to accept the 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge and modified to feed from the magazine for the L1 (Commonwealth version of the FN FAL) rifle as the L4 light machine gun. It was replaced in the British Army as the section LMG by the L7 general-purpose machine gun (GPMG), a heavier belt-fed weapon. This was supplemented in the 1980s by the L86 Light Support Weapon firing the 5.56×45mm NATO round, leaving the Bren in use only as a pintle mount on some vehicles. The Bren is still manufactured by Indian Ordnance Factories as the "Gun, Machine 7.62mm 1B".

Degtyaryov machine gun

The Degtyaryov machine gun (Russian: Пулемёт Дегтярёвa Пехотный Pulemyot Degtyaryova Pekhotny "Degtyaryov's infantry machine gun") or DP-27 is a light machine gun firing the 7.62×54mmR cartridge that was primarily used by the Soviet Union, with service trials starting in 1927 followed by general deployment in 1928. Besides being the standard Soviet infantry light machine gun (LMG) during WWII, with various modifications it was used in aircraft as a flexible defensive weapon, and it equipped almost all Soviet tanks in WWII as either a flexible bow machine gun or a co-axial machine gun controlled by the gunner. It was improved in 1943 producing the DPM, but it was replaced in 1946 with the RP-46 which improved on the basic DP design by converting it to use belt feed. The DP machine gun was supplemented in the 1950s by the more modern RPD machine gun and entirely replaced in Soviet service by the general purpose PK machine gun in the 1960s.

FN MAG

The FN MAG is a Belgian 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun, designed in the early 1950s at Fabrique Nationale (FN) by Ernest Vervier. It has been used by more than 80 countries, and it has been made under licence in several countries, including Argentina, Canada (as the C6 GPMG), Egypt, India and the United Kingdom.The weapon's name is an abbreviation for Mitrailleuse d'Appui Général, meaning "general support machine gun". The MAG is available in three primary versions: the standard, infantry Model 60-20 machine gun, the Model 60-40 coaxial machine gun for armoured fighting vehicles and the Model 60-30 aircraft variant.

Heavy machine gun

A heavy machine gun or HMG is a class of machine gun implying greater characteristics than general purpose or medium machine guns.

There are two generally recognized classes of weapons identified as heavy machine guns. The first are weapons from World War I identified as "heavy" due to the weight and encumberment of the weapons themselves. The second are large-caliber (12.7x99mm, 12.7×108mm, 14.5×114mm, or larger) machine guns, pioneered by John Moses Browning with the M2 machine gun, designed to provide increased range, penetration and destructive power against vehicles, buildings, aircraft and light fortifications beyond the standard rifle calibers used in medium or general-purpose machine guns, or the intermediate cartridges used in light machine guns.

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 troops of the British Empire during the war. It had a distinctive barrel cooling shroud (containing a finned, aluminium breech-to-muzzle heat sink to cool the gun barrel) and top-mounted pan magazine. The Lewis served to the end of the Korean War. It was also widely used as an aircraft machine gun, almost always with the cooling shroud removed (as air flow during flight offers sufficient cooling), during both World Wars. "The Lewis Gun is the most recognized classic light machine gun in the world."

Light machine gun

A light machine gun (LMG) is a machine gun designed to be employed by an individual soldier, with or without an assistant, as an infantry support weapon. Light machine guns are often used as squad automatic weapons.

M1919 Browning machine gun

The M1919 Browning is a .30 caliber medium machine gun that was widely used during the 20th century, especially during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The M1919 saw service as a light infantry, coaxial, mounted, aircraft, and anti-aircraft machine gun by the U.S. and many other countries. Many M1919s were rechambered for the new 7.62×51mm NATO round and remain in service to this day.

The M1919 was an air-cooled development of the standard US machine gun of World War I, the John M. Browning-designed water-cooled M1917. The emergence of general-purpose machine guns in the 1950s pushed the M1919 into secondary roles in many cases, especially after the arrival of the M60 in US Army service. The United States Navy also converted many to 7.62mm NATO, and designated them Mk 21 Mod 0; they were commonly used on river craft in the 1960s and 1970s in Vietnam. Many NATO countries also converted their examples to 7.62, and these remained in service well into the 1990s, as well as up to the present day in some countries.

A similar conversion of the M1917 also produced the larger M2 Machine Gun, using the same basic operating principles and layout but firing the much more powerful .50 caliber (12.7mm) ammunition. The M1919 is distinguished by its smaller size and the use of a holed jacket around the barrel used on most versions.

M240 machine gun

The M240, officially the Machine Gun, Caliber 7.62 mm, M240, is the US military designation for the FN MAG ("Mitrailleuse A Gaz" = Gas operated machine gun; alternatively, "Mitrailleuse d'Appui General" = machine gun, support, general) a family of belt-fed, gas-operated medium machine guns that chamber the 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge.The M240 has been used by the United States Armed Forces since the late 1970s. It is used extensively by infantry, most often in rifle companies, as well as on ground vehicles, watercraft and aircraft. Despite being heavier than some comparable weapons it is highly regarded for reliability and its standardization among NATO members is a major advantage.

All variants are fed from disintegrating belts and are capable of firing most types of 7.62 mm (.30 cal) NATO ammunition. M240 variants can be converted to use non-disintegrating belts. There are significant differences in weight and some features among some versions which restrict interchangeability of parts. The M240s used by the US military are currently manufactured by FN America, the American subsidiary of FN Herstal.The M240B and M240G are usually fired from an integrated bipod, a tripod, or a vehicular mount; regarding tripod use, the U.S. Army primarily uses the M192 Lightweight Ground Mount, while the U.S. Marine Corps uses the M122A1 tripod, a slightly updated M2 tripod.

M249 light machine gun

The M249 light machine gun (LMG), formerly designated the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) and formally written as Light Machine Gun, 5.56 mm, M249, is the American adaptation of the Belgian FN Minimi, a light machine gun manufactured by the Belgian company FN Herstal (FN). The M249 is manufactured in the United States by the local subsidiary FN Manufacturing LLC in Columbia, South Carolina and is widely used in the U.S. Armed Forces. The weapon was introduced in 1984 after being judged the most effective of a number of candidate weapons to address the lack of automatic firepower in small units. The M249 provides infantry squads with the high rate of fire of a machine gun combined with accuracy and portability approaching that of a rifle.

The M249 is gas operated and air-cooled. It has a quick-change barrel, allowing the gunner to rapidly replace an overheated or jammed barrel. A folding bipod is attached near the front of the gun, though an M192 LGM tripod is available. It can be fed from both linked ammunition and STANAG magazines, like those used in the M16 and M4. This allows the SAW gunner to use rifle magazines as an emergency source of ammunition in the event that he or she runs out of linked rounds.

M249s have seen action in every major conflict involving the United States since the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989. Due to the weight and age of the weapon, the United States Marine Corps is fielding the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle with plans to partially replace the M249 in Marine Corps service.

M2 Browning

The M2 Machine Gun or Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun is a heavy machine gun designed toward the end of World War I by John Browning. Its design is similar to Browning's earlier M1919 Browning machine gun, which was chambered for the .30-06 cartridge. The M2 uses the much larger and much more powerful .50 BMG cartridge, which was developed alongside and takes its name from the gun itself (BMG standing for Browning Machine Gun). It has been referred to as "Ma Deuce", in reference to its M2 nomenclature. The design has had many specific designations; the official designation for the current infantry type is Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Flexible. It is effective against infantry, unarmored or lightly armored vehicles and boats, light fortifications and low-flying aircraft.

The Browning .50 caliber machine gun has been used extensively as a vehicle weapon and for aircraft armament by the United States from the 1930s to the present. It was heavily used during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War, the Soviet–Afghan War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan in the 2000s and 2010s. It is the primary heavy machine gun of NATO countries, and has been used by many other countries as well. The M2 has been in use longer than any other firearm in U.S. inventory except the .45 ACP M1911 pistol, also designed by John Browning.

The current M2HB is manufactured in the U.S. by General Dynamics and U.S. Ordnance for use by the U.S. government, and for allies via Foreign Military Sales, as well as foreign manufacturers such as FN Herstal.

M60 machine gun

The M60, officially the United States Machine Gun, Caliber 7.62 mm, M60, is a family of American general-purpose machine guns firing 7.62×51mm NATO cartridges from a disintegrating belt of M13 links. There are several types of ammunition approved for use in the M60, including ball, tracer, and armor-piercing rounds.Introduced in 1957, it has served with every branch of the U.S. military and still serves with the armed forces of other states. Its manufacture and continued upgrade for military and commercial purchase continues into the 21st century, although it has been replaced or supplemented in most roles by other designs, most notably the M240 machine gun in U.S. service.

MG 42

The MG 42 (shortened from German: Maschinengewehr 42, or "machine gun 42") is a 7.92×57mm Mauser general purpose machine gun designed in Nazi Germany and used extensively by the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS during the second half of World War II. It was intended to replace the earlier MG 34, which was more expensive and took much longer to produce, but both weapons were produced until the end of the war.

Designed to be low-cost and easy to build, the MG 42 proved to be highly reliable and easy to operate. It is most notable for its very high cyclic rate for a gun using full power service cartridges, averaging about 1,200 rounds per minute compared to around 850 for the MG 34, and perhaps 450 to 600 for other common machine guns like the M1919 Browning or Bren. This ability made it extremely effective in providing suppressive fire, and its unique sound led to it being nicknamed "Hitler's buzzsaw".The MG 42 was adopted by several armed organizations after the war, and was both copied and built under licence. The MG 42's lineage continued past Nazi Germany's defeat, forming the basis for the nearly identical MG1 (MG 42/59), chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO, which subsequently evolved into the MG1A3, and later the Bundeswehr's MG 3 and Italian MG 42/59. It also spawned the Yugoslav nearly identical Zastava M53, Swiss MG 51 and SIG MG 710-3, Austrian MG 74, and the Spanish 5.56×45mm NATO Ameli light machine gun, and lent many design elements to the American M60 and Belgian MAG.

Machine Gun Kelly

George Kelly Barnes (July 18, 1895 – July 18, 1954), better known by his nickname "Machine Gun Kelly", was an American gangster from Memphis, Tennessee, during the prohibition era. His nickname came from his favorite weapon, a Thompson submachine gun. He is most well known for the kidnapping of oil tycoon and businessman Charles F. Urschel in July 1933, from which he and his gang collected a $200,000 ransom. Urschel had collected and left considerable evidence that assisted the subsequent FBI investigation which eventually led to Kelly's arrest in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 26, 1933. His crimes also included bootlegging and armed robbery.

Machine Gun Kelly (rapper)

Colson Baker (born Richard Colson Baker; born April 22, 1990) known professionally as Machine Gun Kelly (abbreviated as MGK), is an American rapper and actor from Cleveland, Ohio. MGK embarked on a musical career as a teenager, releasing a mixtape in 2006. He went on to release four more mixtapes.

MGK then secured a recording contract with Bad Boy and Interscope Records in 2011. His major label debut album, Lace Up, was released in October 2012 to positive response from critics. The record contained the singles "Wild Boy", "Invincible", "Stereo", and "Hold On (Shut Up)", and debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart; it was later confirmed to have sold more than 178,000 copies. In early 2015, he released the singles "Till I Die" and "A Little More" for his second studio album, General Admission, which released in October 2015, and debuted at number four in the US. The album incorporated darker tones, rap rock, R&B, and storytelling. His third studio album, Bloom, was released on May 12, 2017, preceded by "Bad Things" with Camila Cabello, peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, his highest charting single.

MGK is also an actor, having made his film debut in the 2014 romantic drama Beyond the Lights. He has appeared in several other films and had a recurring role on the Showtime series Roadies in 2016.

Maxim gun

The Maxim gun was a weapon invented by American-born British inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim in 1884: it was the first recoil-operated machine gun in production. It has been called "the weapon most associated with the British imperial conquest", and likewise was used in colonial wars by other countries between 1886 and 1914.

PK machine gun

The PK (Russian: Пулемёт Калашникова, transliterated as Pulemyot Kalashnikova, or "Kalashnikov's Machinegun"), is a 7.62×54mmR general-purpose machine gun designed in the Soviet Union and currently in production in Russia. The original PK machine gun was introduced in 1961 and then the improved PKM in 1969 to replace the SGM and RP-46 machine guns in Soviet service. It remains in use as a front-line infantry and vehicle-mounted weapon with Russia's armed forces. The PK has been exported extensively and produced in several other countries under license.

Submachine gun

A submachine gun (SMG) is a magazine-fed, automatic carbine designed to fire pistol cartridges. The term "submachine gun" was coined by John T. Thompson, the inventor of the Thompson submachine gun.The submachine gun was developed during World War I (1914–1918). At its zenith during World War II (1939–1945), millions of SMGs were made. After the war, new SMG designs appeared frequently. However, by the 1980s, SMG usage decreased. Today, submachine guns have been largely replaced by assault rifles, which have a greater effective range and are capable of penetrating the helmets and body armor used by modern infantry. However, submachine guns are still used by military special forces and police SWAT teams for close quarters battle (CQB) because they are "a pistol-caliber weapon that's easy to control, and less likely to over-penetrate the target".

Thompson submachine gun

The Thompson submachine gun is an American submachine gun, invented by John T. Thompson in 1918, that became infamous during the Prohibition era, being a signature weapon of various crime syndicates in the United States. It was a common sight in the media of the time, being used by both law enforcement officers and criminals. The Thompson submachine gun was also known informally as the "Tommy Gun", "Annihilator", "Chicago Typewriter", "Chicago Piano", "Chicago Style", "Chicago Organ Grinder", "Trench Broom", "Trench Sweeper", "The Chopper", and simply "The Thompson".The Thompson was favored by soldiers, criminals, police, FBI and civilians alike for its large .45 ACP cartridge, accuracy, and high volume of fully automatic fire. It has since gained popularity among civilian collectors for its historical significance. It has had, and continues to have, considerable significance in popular culture, especially in works about the U.S.'s Prohibition era and World War II, and hence is among the best-known firearms in history. Although the original fully automatic Thompsons are no longer produced, numerous semi-automatic civilian versions are still being manufactured by Auto-Ordnance. These retain a similar appearance to the original models, but they have various modifications in order to comply with US firearm laws.

Vickers machine gun

The Vickers machine gun or Vickers gun is a name primarily used to refer to the water-cooled .303 British (7.7 mm) machine gun produced by Vickers Limited, originally for the British Army. The machine gun typically required a six to eight-man team to operate: one fired, one fed the ammunition, the rest helped to carry the weapon, its ammunition, and spare parts. It was in service from before the First World War until the 1960s, with air-cooled versions of it on many Allied World War I fighter aircraft.

The weapon had a reputation for great solidity and reliability. Ian V. Hogg, in Weapons & War Machines, describes an action that took place in August 1916, during which the British 100th Company of the Machine Gun Corps fired their ten Vickers guns continuously for twelve hours. Using 100 barrels, they fired a million rounds without a failure. "It was this absolute foolproof reliability which endeared the Vickers to every British soldier who ever fired one."

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