Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Military Channel's Top 10s: Machineguns

Hey Everyone!

After enjoying some Warhammer goodness from JQ about female dwarves and the discussion over their supposed whiskers, it's time for some good ol' military nerdiness!

First and foremost, I LOVE watching the Military Channel.

Dinner-time for me is usually Military Channel time, and military documentaries always seem to teach me new things about wars across history. Quite a good bit of it touches on WWII, and it's my hunch that historical events generally take years for fuller understanding, and WWII might offer a relatively rich ground for analysis and pretty much much shook the foundations of a majority of countries in the world.

Recently they featured a top-10 list of machine guns across the world, and I thought it might be fun to share their list with you all. I took down brief notes for the countdown, and let's see how it compares with your expectations...

No. 10: SG 43 System Goryunov (Soviet Union)

A machine gun that was fixed onto a wheeled mount, the SG 43 is historically remembered to have helped turned the tide in the vicious Eastern Front of WWII.
  • Claw feed that led to less jams.
  • Ability to be cocked without changing aim
  • Long service in the Soviet Army.
No. 9: M249 SAW "Minimi" (U.S.)

A replacement of the M60 for the US Armed Forces, M249s have been widely deployed across the globe and have proven themselves in various modern conflicts.
  • Compact and maneuverable, ideal for close quarters combat.
  • Light, can carry more ammo and more accurate to fire.
  • Ease of replacing ammo.
  • Open bolt, allows air to cool chamber.
  • Quick change barrel.
No. 8: Mk19 (U.S.)

An automatic grenade launcher that rains a constant barrage of death, enough said?
  • First saw action in the Vietnam War, and becomes universal grenade launcher for the U.S.
  • Has to be cocked twice before shooting.
  • Massive firepower at high rate of fire.
  • Limitation: Lobs its grenades, which can give target time to dodge.
No. 7: M60 (U.S.)

Nicknamed the “pig” due to its heavy weight, the M60 certainly packed a punch and became an icon of the Vietnam War. As made famous by Rambo's akimbo shenanigans.
  • Drew inspiration from MG 34 and MG 42 designs by Germany in WWII.
  • Parts Riveted together in sheet metal, cheap and easy to make.
  • Versatile, shared common ammo among NATO forces (7.62x51mm NATO), and capable of being fired at different stances.
No. 6: PKM (Soviet Union)

Kalashnikov's next invention after the wildly successful AK-47, and he duly produced a MG that was both rugged and deadly.
  • Stamping process to make production cheap.
  • Open bolt, air to cool barrel.
  • Quick change barrel.
  • Reliable at all weather conditions.
No. 5: M134 Minigun (U.S.)

An electrically driven dispenser of hell, the “mini” actually refers to its relatively small size as compared to other Gatling guns like the M61 Vulcan. As made famous by the Terminator.

  • Original Gatling gun was invented in 1861
  • Early service saw it mounted on the C47 Gunship aka Puff the Magic Dragon, spawning the deadly gunship “genre”.
  • Favored by helicopter crews in Vietnam due to its phenomenal rate of fire
  • Feared by the Vietnamese, due to psychological impact arising from its unworldly muzzle flash and sound
  • Experienced jamming problems and was improved over the years.
No. 4: Vickers Machinegun (U.K.)

First introduced in WWI, the Vickers MG was renowned for its reliability and was capable of being fired for 12 hours straight (with barrel changes) without a single breakdown.
  • First saw service in 1911, and became a game changer in WWI.
  • Originally used to support troops like artillery (indirect fire), derived from the Maxim MG.
  • Bolt unlocks up to remove receiver, lighter but still difficult to support as it needed a 6 men crew.
  • Water jacket cooling, soldiers actually urinated to make cool but the gun stunk and brass fittings would rust.
  • Equipped with a stable mount, accuracy was high as it can hit a man size target at 2000m!
  • Flaw: toggle could sever knuckles (it continuously moves up and down very near to the user's fingers).
  • Longevity proven: used until late 1960s
No. 3: MG 42 (Germany)

The MG42 served with distinction with the Wermacht in WWII, it had such a high rate of fire (1,200 rds/min is actually one of the highest among single barrelled MGs) that individual sounds of bullets cannot be heard by the human ear...thus earning it the name: “Hitler's Buzzsaw”.

  • Germany was fighting a two front war and needed a MG that was faster and cheaper to make than the MG 34.
  • Interchangeable parts, which made servicing much easier.
  • More accurate than MG 34.
  • Feared among allies.
  • Quick change barrel.
  • Special mount rendered it extremely accurate.
  • D-Day: Germans had used them to effectively cover zones in Omaha Beach, and had nearly succeeded in stopping the Allies.
No. 2: Maxim Machinegun (U.K.)

The one that started it all, the Maxim MG became a weapon “most associated with [British] imperial conquest” and played a major role in setting the stage for trench warfare in WWI.
  • First MG that changed the battlefield.
  • First fully automatic weapon.
  • Proved its deadly potential during the Zulu war.
  • Distrusted as it jammed frequently during battle.
  • Germans made the MG 08 in response.
  • Individually made parts proved to be reliable and tough.
  • Cold weather: the gun's snow cap allowed troops to cool it with snow and ice.
  • Redefined modern warfare, gave rise to trench warfare.
No. 1: Browning M2 (U.S.)

Perhaps one of the most iconic MGs in the world, it is still actively deployed a long time since its first introduction at the end of WWI...demonstrating its unparalleled longevity and tremendous power. The M2 is the No.1 machinegun in the world.
  • Max range of 4.5 miles!
  • The M2 can destroy vehicles and emplacements, not just men.
  • Major design change to make it air cooled, and in effect it made the M2 more adaptable.
  • Capable of firing AP incendiary rounds that would light up fuel tanks of light vehicles.
  • Heavy, had to be mounted on vehicle or tripod.
  • Belt fed on either side, can be used side by side (eg. M1 Abrams commander and gunner MGs).
This list was compiled by John Gresham, a military analyst and historian best known to have worked closely with the man Tom Clancy himself. It's my gut feeling that this list leans toward historical significance over technical performance, as some older guns have finished ahead of their replacements. But I did see the M2 Browning taking top spot!

Do you guys agree with his list...or do you have other dream guns that are not in this list?


  1. Does the CIWS Phalanx count? That gun Tears missiles to shreds.

  2. CIWS Phalanx would just be another form of Gatling gun or the Minigun like what was put on the Military channel.

  3. Shen, It says,Machine Gun. How is the CIWS Phalanx a Machine Gun? Don't see anyone wielding or holding one and firing it.

    For Me, The most awesome machine gun would be the SAW M249. Made famous in Courage under Fire and pretty much every other Modern Warfare Computer Game.

  4. But Killers, Some of these Machine Guns cannot be wielded and shot from the waist.

    By definition, a machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm.

    For me, it has to be like how the channel rates it to be, The Browning M2.

  5. Just out of curiosity, Isn't the Minimi made in Belgian? I understand that it is iconicly used by the Americans but wasn't it created in Belgium?

    One that isn't here but is made from one of my favourite Gun manufacturers is the HK21 by Heckler & Koch. It has been upgraded to the HK21A1 and is belt fed while it does have a magazine adaptor which allows it to use magazines from a G3. Its design looks similar to a G3, and that is why I kind of like it, plus it is German. German guns ROCK!

    MK42 is amazing too. When I used Day of Defeat and COD :P hehe

  6. Jiaqi, I think you are correct.

    The list is what I kind of expected. Although I believe that the Vickers Machine Gun should be in front of the MK 42 (No offense to you Jiaqi)

    Largely due to its long service length.

  7. I am going to go with the Russian PKM. Really like the design of the gun and its wooden handle!

  8. M2 is indeed the best. Japan Sumitomo Heavy Industries does a modified version of M2.

    The M2 gun is very powerful.

  9. Well, if CIWS doesn't really count, I guess I would take my dream gun to be the M60.

    Who can say no to the RAMBOOOO GUN.

  10. Chuck Norris Can say no..

  11. LOL, I ake what I said earlier on back on the best machine gun. Chuck Norris is the best machine gun.

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