Bwanalewis

Belt-fed Question

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I  have been  saving my pennies and now ready to make the move to get a belt-fed.  I have been looking at the 1919, 1917, Vickers.  I am all over the map.  I am knowledgeable about machine guns, own a couple.  Belt-feds from what I gather require more maintenance and knowledge, which ai think would be part of the fun.  I am looking for recommendations on what would be the best option taking into account Parts availability, maintenance, etc... 

Thanks in advance...

Chad

San Antonio, Tx.

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these days all the greats are about equal in parts availability, cost etc. while I am a huge fan of both the .30 cal Brownings , nothing comes close to the simple grace of the VICKER's. and 7 million rounds non stop without a single broken part say's it all for reliability. easy caliber changes are in the run, all the history you can stand. the Browning fits in an all US collection and parts are simple while they are both about equal work to set up and use but I still prefer the VICKERS just to fondle and look at. one of the best features of the Vickers is the head space remains set when its taken down for cleaning and service while the brng's must be re-set each time. it uses maxim/pkm belts for the Russian long and they load fast and easy . the pkm loader is one of the easiest in the trade, easy to get and under $250. while simple for 1 person. the brng loader requires major effort and a hand full at best with 2 using it.  at first glance the Vickers seems more expensive in spares but only if replacing complete feed blocks or locks. the small parts for them are low in cost.

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I only accept postal money orders. contact me DIRECTLY before sending any funds                                           email  myoldiron@outlook.com        

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Check out the cost and availability of ammo. Find out what caliburs and ammo the gun can be converted to. Ammo is a big cost of shooting the belt fed gun. I have a browning and a Vickers. I shoot the vickers a lot because I can get and shoot 7.62 x 54R in the gun. Read Mikes post above. good information.

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Good points on service and ammo.  Thanks for the information on the Vickers.  I know there are many variants.  I think I remember seeing a zeppelin or balloon version?  Can you recommend a good location for literature or post on the Vickers to start my research. Thanks again for your help.

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Well, the bible is Dolf'sbook Grand old Lady... but it is out of print and very expensive.  there is a newer book on the vickers, I got it off Amazon. If I can find it I will post it but you should be able to find it.  It is better than nothin and a lot cheaper.  the balloon gun you refer to is not one mounted in a balloon but used to shoot them down from aircraft. It fired a 11mm incendiary bullet. Realistically you will be looking at remanufactured transferable standard ground gun.  what comes with it will make the difference-

Personally I have Browning 1919s, 1917A1s, Vickers, 1910 maxims, 08s, 08/15s and a raft of other belt and strip fed guns.  For ease of use and portability, the 1919A4 is probably best. the points of ammo and parts are valid, but realistically I rarely break any parts. Look at ammo cost, conversion cost, ( what cals can a gun be converted to for how much)  I shoot my Vickers in 54R because I have a LOT of cheap ammo . If I had to buy  the ammo today, I would probably reconsider the cost to convert it. The water cooled guns are a bit more work to take shooting.  The flip side is they shoot all day as long as you keep water and ammo in them. You need t really considwr how much and where you will shoot it.

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I will probably shoot, 3-4 times a year.  Maybe more, depending.  I know I have not shot my UZI in a couple of years.  I think the BF will certainly in the begining be shot a lot espescially out in West Texas.  Thanks again for your insights.  I will now start looking for a good specimen.  

Chad

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1919a4 in 8mm is my suggestion. 1917 too messy and heavy.  Shrike on m16 clone for lightweight shooting.  Fellow in mt home next to yo ranch wants to sell his 1919a4 with  tripod and thousands of rounds of 8mm ammo.  He also has a 1917 for sale.  Motivated seller.

   I prefer the  ramo m37 in 8mm.  More user friendly than 1919 but parts harder to get and cost more.

 

Marty Seidler

San Antonio Arms co.

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Marty,

i sent you a message.

Thanks,

Chad

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all the above is good straight forward information and I am inclined to agree "almost" with all of it.  I get asked these questions a lot and over the years have never had someone come back and chew me out. for years my number one suggestions were 1919-A4 , UZI, and always a Reising for a good balanced start . those superb INLAND A4's were right at $1000.00 in the early 80's. I still feel the 1919 is a good choice but hands down prefer the Vickers at todays prices mainly because of its grace . it has few equals just sitting on a mount with acc. yes the water cool's are tough and don't make sense unless a day is made of it. I know the appeal of the 8mm but all that's OVER! problems are even starting to show up in some of the ROMANIAN now. same with the Russian long caliber. most my CZECH is now splitting the necks , I am fortunate when J+G was selling all the new cased 8mm and 54 ammo for $29.95 a crate I bought several truckloads and cant make a dent in it, but reality for most folks its .308 or 30/06 or reload to shoot a lot . the 19 will be less money to convert but the parts wont last with the VICKER's which run both , but parts harder to find. a young man in NEVADA I helped get started has perfected a low cost VICKER's conversion for both calibers making it much easier. again I must stress there are a LOT of bad builds out there and the 1919 rears its head most often so make sure of the one you choose. anything can be fixed, but why bother unless saving a lot.


I only accept postal money orders. contact me DIRECTLY before sending any funds                                           email  myoldiron@outlook.com        

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1919 in 308 is the only way to go. I have 2 in full auto. One with a 8 inch barrel! What a beast! 

Many thousands of rds with no breakage or stops. Like they say" only thing that will stop a browning is a bad primer or empty belt. 

Vickers might be a good gun, but parts are almost non existent, and it sure doesnt grab the attention like a good old browning. 

Not too mention 54r is mostly corrosive and 8mm is dried up and exspensive. 

Also there is no surplus 06 ammo out there. 

You can walk into ANY store that sells ammo and find 308. Try that with 54r or 8mm. 

The browning is the absolute way to go unless you can find a stash of 54r cheap or 8mm stash cheap.

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I love my Vickers (and Maxims) and as Mike points out, parts and support for the Vickers platform are still very plentiful...especially if one performs the extremely easy 54r conversion.  As mentioned and an important consideration IMO, the 54r setup allows the use of the plentiful and cheap metal belts and belt loaders out there...Russian or Finn.  Yes, 54r is not as cheap as it once was, but I find its availability and price in my AO at least as good to quite a bit better as military surplus 308.

Having said the above...I would go with the air-cooled 1919a4 (which I also love) as your first belt-fed.  Not because it can be set up in 308...it's just a simpler platform to master and parts / accessories are generally cheaper.  It's also more versatile caliber wise...30-06, 8mm, 308, 7.62x54r and 7.62x39 are common setups which are available to the platform.

It's my belief that both demand their owners to be "students of the platform"...the Vickers even more so b/c of the water-cooled and fusee (action) spring components.  If you're the type of shooter who just wants to "load and go" and not take the time to study and understand the "machine" portion of these machine guns...then neither are for you IMO.

Good luck and let us know what you decide. 

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"students of the platform"  , well put sir! my love for these things makes all the required stuff automatic and "out of mind" but I know there are shooters that only wish to put rounds downrange and could care less about the mechanics/ history etc. they all do require more thought than just breaking the sear. 


I only accept postal money orders. contact me DIRECTLY before sending any funds                                           email  myoldiron@outlook.com        

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I own several belt fed machine guns. My first was the 1917a1 browning water cooled. Its true its heavy and it is a pain in the butt packing the barrel water glands.They do leak water when you shoot them. When you do shoot them the cool factor is amazing. People love water cooled  machine guns they are like a piece of art. Another thing about the browning 1917a1. Parts are numerous and mine is chambered in 30 06, 308, and 8mm. It does not matter what ammo you shove in the pipe of that gun it goes bang Alabama ordnance made make a video that described how to set timing head space and every other aspect of the gun. Cant go wrong with a browning just my two cents. Glenn O.

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first beltfed?

I'd say definitely 100% a 1919a4 ...pick your caliber but .308 is easiest and cheapest.

dont go water cooled right off the bat. keep it simple. dont go HK 21/23 either. M60 is prob too expensive.

 

You just cant beat a 1919 for simplicity, parts availability, price, price to shoot, etc. It aint the prettiest gun but ....

I modified my shooter 1919 from 308 to 54R bc at the time 54R was the cheapest .30 ammo in bulk to shoot. Now 308 is cheaper I think.

with 1919 you have options of 308, 30-06,8mm, 54R...... prob. others as well. I think troy at barrel xchange was working on a 7.62x39 conversion.

 

go 1919 and dont over think the decision.

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No shortage of options for sure. 
I like the Vickers best. No shortage of caliber conversions either. I’ve shot mine in .308, 30-06, 8mm Mauser 7.62x54R .303Brit 11mm Gras and 7mm-08. 
My Browning 1917/1928 goes from .308 to 30-06. 
 

I have a (Balloon Buster) Aircraft Vickers too. 
Its a common misconception that the barrels go bad quickly. It depends on how you use it. 
if you aim and fire 5-10 round bursts, you can shoot it all day. This is how some of us old guys shoot anyway. You definitely need a water cooled gun for belt dumps, but nothing wrong with the aircraft Vickers or Maxims. 

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rhouston8 , your correct on the conversions, my first 17 was paid for by renting it out at the range in 22 lR of all things it only took 2 weekends ! I had found a bolt so using the concept of the COLT 1911 22 conversion, I made a barrel with a expansion chamber to provide more thrust to the parts. that started insanity, it went to 38spl/357 with cast bullets shotgun powder less cost than .22 shells. 7.62 x39 was no problem , but altering the links very hard. every major non magnum rifle cal came followed. many "experts" said it couldn't be done but I pioneered the sale of 7.62 x 54 conversions for BRNGS in the US.  TROY at the brl exchange had a pending order with me, I could not complete and I ended up turning it all over to him. FANTASTIC GUY and he did great with it.  the conversion that gave me the most satisfaction was the 1919 in .410 shotgun! the planes at BIG SANDY didn't stand a chance!   you guys out there with VICKERS guns that want to use .308 should contact board member M1919a6 ! he converts low cost parts and the WORK! another fantastic guy. when we first met he was active in NFA but seemed kind of bored with it all. he had just bought his first W/C and the BUG BIT! now he cant get enough of the old weird stuff! and loves making things for them , very creative. wish we had more like him in the trade.


I only accept postal money orders. contact me DIRECTLY before sending any funds                                           email  myoldiron@outlook.com        

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