Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another post about a time when movies were great...and machine guns

And speaking of television, and the good old days when Hollywood was patriotic and made great movies, I happened to catch the 1970 classic Kelly's Heroes yesterday.

Aside from the fact that the movie features Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Caroll O'Connor, Harry Dean Stanton, Gavin MacLeod, Jeff Morris and Don Rickles all in the same movie, it's got lots of machine guns and tanks--tanks that run lots of stuff over and blow a ton of stuff up. How do you not like that? And adding to the cool factor, Don Rickles--one of my favorite comedians--spends a fair deal of time toting around a Browning 1919A4 machine gun and using it to whack about a score of Germans.

And looking for a clip to post up here, I found this fantastic one that even shows Rickles with the Browning.
How cool is that?

Now after watching Kelly's Heroes and seeing Don Rickles toting that Browning 1919A4, I felt the desire to blog about mine again. I own this wonderful piece of military history, the Browning 1919A4 .30 machine gun. It's an air-cooled, belt-fed gun that weighs about 28lbs by itself and about 41lbs with it's tripod and T&E mechanism, both of which are pretty well required.

It fires 550 rounds per minute of either .30-06, .308 or 8mm ammunition (very versatile guns, these Brownings) and the ammo feeds from either cloth belts or metallic links. Here's a can holding 250 rounds of .30-06 ammunition, and this can weighs about 20lbs all by itself.

So what does 250 rounds linked together really look like?

Well here's a linked belt taken out of the can and laid out straight. It's about twelve feet long and the gun can burn through this in about 30 seconds if necessary, but it's much easier on the gun to just fire 5-6 round bursts and keep the rate of fire down to about 120 rounds a minute so as not to burn the rifling out of the barrel. So at that rate, this belt lasts about two minutes. Obviously, more than one can is going to be needed for any practical employment of this gun.

In actual military use, a gun team would have one or two ammo bearers--soldiers whose main job is just to carry extra cans of ammo for this gun. That's in addition to any ammo carried by the gunner and assistant gunner and that assigned to other soldiers in the squad to carry. Many soldiers would lessen the weight by removing the belts from the can and draping them around their shoulders. This wasn't always good, because it allowed the links to get dirty and sometimes knocked rounds out of alignment--both of which could cause the gun to jam--but it was often done nonetheless, and it's still even done today by our troops as they field the Browning's successor guns, the M60 and M240.

I, of course, am always in the market for ammo bearers. In a perfect world, I would have ammo bearers who looked like these two patriotic ladies, each of whom seems to have exactly what this machine gunner needs:

Sadly, I just get this guy:

Life can be so unfair.

Anyway, here's a nice clip of my Browning 1919A4 in operation. I just found this clip on Youtube, and apparently this guy filmed me and a couple of my cop pals, one of whom is fellow blogger Roanoake Cop, while we were shooting it at the state range near his place a couple years ago.

I thought that set-up looked familiar!

Oh--Well-deserved credit to The Sniper for the ammo bearer babes.


  1. That was a great day for shooting. I believe we had your Uzi out too. Good times. Good times.

  2. What? No Nicki to be your assistant? ;) I think she'd do just fine!!

  3. I've got a semi 1919A4 and a spare kit. Mine's in .308 but I have the 8mm guts as well, working on .30, and have a fantastic 6 lobe floating crank.

    Heavy, but a ton of fun.

    My ammo bearer is really cute but only 12, and my daughter.

    Kelly's Heroes was half WWII and half rebellious hippies. Weird, but entertaining.