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Machining a machine gun in the US

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  • Machining a machine gun in the US

    So as not to hijack a thread I decided to start another.
    The title is so those who have no interest in such things or who live where such things are prohibited would not view this post.
    In another thread I was asked about building 30 and 50 caliber Browning machine guns.
    Here is the way any citizen of the US can do it.
    Buy a kit of demiled parts from any one of several vendors - more on that later.
    These kits will all lack the critical right side plate. That's the part the BATF considers to be the "gun". All the rest of the parts are just that, metal parts.
    They are not controlled or illegal to own, sell, etc.
    Then buy from one of several vendors a partially completed right side plate (not considered a gun) and finish machine it using readilly available drawings and specificiions. Or, start from scratch and machine a right side plate.
    Note that this plate must conform to a BATF approved design for a semi-automatic version of the Browning. You must also modify (machine) the internal parts to go with the right side plate so that full auto parts cannot be installed. The machining requires at a minimum a lathe,a mill, a drill press, a press or rivet gun to set rivets and the usual hand and hand power tools and some machining skill.
    You then carefully assemble the parts into a functional semi-auto firearm.
    If you want a full auto Browning you must find one for sale and buy it or buy a registered full auto right side plate and build your own.

    It is absolutely illegal to build your own full auto gun from scratch.

    Now then bead blast and parkerize or blue or paint the weapon and go have fun.
    Here are the websites for information on parts kits, how to build, reloading and anything else you might want to know about this subject.
    Here are some of the machineguns and cannons I have built.

    If you want to build cannons that is a different subject.
    Last edited by Seastar; 08-23-2007, 10:25 PM.
    I cut it off twice and it's still too short!

  • #2
    Thanks for that explanation. I've always wonder what part of the gun was considered the heart of the machine. Pardon my ignorance, but what is the "righ side plate" and what does it look like? Why is it that this part considered the most critical?

    BTW, are you saying that you can buy a rifled barrel of a gun and it's not considered a fire arm?


    • #3
      BTW, are you saying that you can buy a rifled barrel of a gun and it's not considered a fire arm?
      Reply With Quote

      Correct. Only the reciever(The part that all the other parts are attached to) is considered a firearm.
      For rifles(long guns) as long as it's semi auto only and has a barrel length of 16 inches minimum, it's OK to build. it also has to be .50 cal or under.


      • #4

        The barrel of a gun is just another metal part as far as the BATF is concerned. They are freely bought and sold.
        The Browning machine guns all have a receiver that is rectangular - top, bottom, left and right sides. The right side plate is exactly that, the right side of the receiver of the gun.
        Here is a picture of a M2HB I built that has the right side plate toward the camera.

        The gun is in a mount that obscures part of the RSP but you will get the idea.
        I cut it off twice and it's still too short!


        • #5
          Originally posted by rotate
          BTW, are you saying that you can buy a rifled barrel of a gun and it's not considered a fire arm?
          -Yes. The only part of a gun that's considered the "gun" is the part with the serial number, typically the receiver.

          For most pistols, it's the frame/grip. Easy and clear on something like a Colt 1911 or a Glock, since it's the main part of the gun, including the handle. A little less clear on something like an old Colt SAA, where the grip strap and trigger guard are seperate from the frame that holds the cylinder. Here, it's the frame, the part that holds the cylinder, that's considered the "gun".

          Most rifles are the same way- Typically it's the part the bolt rides it and the barrel attaches to. In most bolt-actions, it's the part you'd drill and tap for a scope mount. (Assuming you weren't mounting a 'scope "Scout" style, but hey, there's always exceptions.)

          But then, there's some guns, such as the H&K battle rifles and the M-16/AR-15 styles, that have an upper and lower receiver half. In both cases, the upper holds the bolt and barrel, while the lower is little more than a detachable trigger mechanism. In these, it's the trigger portion that's the legal receiver; you can own multiple upper halves and interchange them freely (assuming the barrels are longer than 16".)

          There's a few obscure ones out there, like the aforementioned Browning belt-feds, where only a portion of the reciever is really considered the legal reciever, but suffice it to say that there's only the one part of any firearm (well, semi-auto anyway) that's controlled. The rest- barrels, bolts, trigger parts, stocks, sights, magazines, furniture, etc.- are all free to be bought, sold, traded or whatever.

          (With the usual exceptions; rifle barrels have to be longer than 16", shotgun barrels longer than 18", you can't have a shoulder stock for a handgun [with the exception to the exception of blackpowder guns- you can have a short-barreled, wood-stocked cap-and-ball revolver, if you wish] and some places, like California, still restrict things like folding/telescoping stocks and magazine sizes. Which mean, if you listened to Evan, that a site like would be collapsing Californian Democracy as we speak- quite probably leading to the entire West Coast sliding off into the sea. )

          Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


          • #6
            Awww! Dang! Does that mean I have to dismantle the full scale 16" Gatling I was gonna use battle ship ammo in? 200 16" inch rounds a minute at a ton per shell out of 7 barrels? It was only gonna be a working hobby piece and I was only gonna target WalMarts. We got three in its 27,000 yard range.


            • #7
              Dunno about the legal aspect, Forrest, but I'd really like to see a video of the loading/ramming crew in action when it fires.

              Now, does one crew service all six barrels, or are there six crews that ride around inside a rotary breech like a carnival Tilt-a-Whirl? How fast would you have to spin 'em so they wouldn't fall off the floor as each barrel passes the apex?

              Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


              • #8
                Forrest Addy:
                You are the master!
                Not only have you made this thing, you keep it hidden on Google Earth!

                I won't get too deep into the the whole Class III, Form 4, C&R, pre-86 DS, post 86 DS, SBR, DD, or what part is/is not a "machinegun" to the GOV.

                Not that I would know anything about all that...
                Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there no sweeter words than "I told you so."


                • #9
                  If you guys would just elect me dicta.....uh president I could fix all this gun non-sense.

                  Just two laws reguarding gun control.......

                  #1"anyone operating a self-propelled howitzer or heavy tank must have a current drivers license or learners permit."

                  #2"anyone operating a self-propelled howitzer or heavy tank must maintain at least 50% rubber on the vehicles treads"(don't want to ruin the streets)
                  I just need one more tool,just one!


                  • #10
                    Rotate, here's a picture of a semi-auto 1919 right side plate.

                    "The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the greatest liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth." H. L. Mencken

                    "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident."

                    "When fear rules, reason and logic are ruled out."


                    • #11
                      Doc, would you believe it's belt fed? I'm using old bulldozer tracks for ammobelts. I was going to use a clip but I couldn't find a spring at Home Depot.

                      Actually its rail fed. 50 projectile rounds per standard flat car. The loader runs the car into the stripper and that mechanism scrapes them off onto a conveyor. The powder bag handling still has to be worked out because of the loading accellerations but I got an idea using Sono-Tube.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Forrest Addy
                        The powder bag handling still has to be worked out because of the loading accellerations but I got an idea using Sono-Tube.
                        -Go caseless. Just extrude single 110-pound grains of blackpowder and have them in a seperate hopper.

                        Oh, and watch out for static buildup.

                        Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


                        • #13
                          Well, not quite as daring as Forrests plan, but there were some fairly large Hotchkiss revolving cannons - 47mm(3 pdr) and 37mm(1 pdr).

                          Sarco has a 1pdr Hotchkiss sittting in their showroom(bought in a cleanout sale from Navy Arms), all polished brass.

                          Might make an interesting project. Perhaps a 4 bore, 5 barrel job?

                          EGO partum , proinde EGO sum


                          • #14
                            NICE m2, seastar


                            • #15
                              I'm curious about restrictions on hand cranked guns. Can you build a hand crank mechanism that uses gearing to increase rotational speed? What about a flywheel?

                              I'm guessing fitting a Gatling with an electric motor does not please the good people at BATF..
                              Brett Jones...