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Posted on January 04 2016

More Sensible Than You May Think

by Jason Ross

Picture the gnarly machine guns mounted on top of Humvees, Jeeps and bad-ass dune buggies used by Special Forces. You can own as many of those as you like (assuming you don’t live in a Nanny State.) Yes, legitimate military hardware can be yours.

While no one outside the military can arm themselves with Hellfire missiles and RPGs, belt-fed machine guns garner plenty of respect, even from Special Operations Forces (SOF.)

Twenty-eight year Green Beret, Jeff Kirkham says, “When you're working and you hear a belt-fed rattling off, a little voice in your head says, ‘I hope that’s ours.’”

We’d been BS ing with our SOF staff about civilian applications for belt-feds. That conversation led to inviting the gents from Machine Gun Armory and a few lucky ReadyMan members up to the ReadyMan range to blast some steel with three 249 SAWs (Squad Automatic Weapons) supplied by the Armory. The 249 is the current military issue SAW in .223 — the belt-fed seen often in videos from “over there.” Machine Gun Armory manufactures full-auto and semi-auto variants of the 249 SAW, in a variety of rounds.

Few, if any, Special Forces boys know more about the surgical application of belt-feds than Jeff Kirkham. He’s a veritable Renoit in the application of belt-fed fire.

The ReadyMan guys and I wanted to know; does a belt-fed make sense for a preparedness-minded civilian?

Jeff’s answer, “Hell YES!”

Here’s how:

  1. Crowd Control. During civil unrest, the burp of a belt-fed has a disproportionate psychological impact on crowds. Nobody presses forward into belt-fed machine gun fire, no matter how hungry or angry. It’s a good bet that the mere placement of a belt-fed would prevent bloodshed.
  2. Long Distance Persuasion. One of the best applications of belt-fed fire is to hammer distant positions, acting as a sort of sloppy sniper rifle. Especially in .308, a belt-fed can cream enemy positions hundreds of yards, if not thousand-plus yards, distant.
  3. Vehicular Interdiction. There’s hardly a vehicle that can’t be stopped with concentrated belt-fed fire, and that becomes critical if defensive positions, gates and fences are being threatened.
  4. General Prophylactics. If the locals know your group has one or more belt-feds, the chances of anyone making a play for your bug out location goes way, way down. Nobody but a fully-stocked armor unit would dismiss the threat of a belt-fed. A bigger gun often ensures peace, especially when its set in a strong, defensive posture.
  5. Trade. Even if you don't have a great use for a monster gun, somebody will want it bad in a post-apocalyptic world; bad enough to trade almost anything. Local government groups, farmers, ranchers and virtually anyone trying to re-build society will crave the safety and force multiplication of a SAW.

Virtually all of these same advantages apply to the semi-auto versions of belt-feds as well. A belt-fed can maintain indefinite blankets of fire so long as bullets keep going in the feed tray and so long as the barrels are rotated out every 200 rounds or so. Plus, semi-autos are a great way to train with belt feds.

Some semi-auto belt-feds can be converted to full-auto given the right machine work. Yet, you’d have to have rocks in your head to do so — at least while we’re enjoying the Rule of Law and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) has something to say about it. Making full-autos without the right BATF licensing will land you in federal prison in a hurry.

BUT a semi-auto belt-fed that could be converted to full-auto IF the world went crazy and the ATF ceased to exist — that could be a small investment now with HUGE returns later. Picture spending $3,500 now in exchange for a small farm or a herd of horses, after the zombie apocalypse kicks off. And, if our nice, modern world keeps chugging along, then your investment is still solid given that exotic guns, even in semi-auto, have yet to depreciate.

Semi-auto belt-feds go from anywhere between $3,500 (1919A4) and $9,000 (Machine Gun Armory 249 SAW.) In between in cost, you can find M60s, PKMs, MG-38s, MG-42s and several others.

True, legal-to-own full-auto belt-feds are available in 38 states, but they're not cheap. On the low end, you can buy 1919s around $20,000 and M60s, if you can find one, run from $35,000 to upwards of $70,000. The good news is that transferable machine guns have yet to ever go down in value, especially considering that there will never be more made. The only full-auto citizen-transferable machine guns are weapons built before 1986. Owning one or more of that dwindling inventory of guns has, thus far, been an outstanding investment — with values climbing every year. If you have the scratch, I recommend shopping for them through James D. Julia auctions or the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot once a year in West Point, Kentucky.

When you buy a transferable belt-fed, be prepared to wade through some paperwork, with a $200 fee, background check and six to nine months of wait time. For a semi-auto belt-fed, no such hang ups await you. It’s usually just cash-and-carry.

ReadyMen almost always over-buy when it comes to weapons. We could probably all use fewer guns and more water, food and med supplies. But belt-feds may be the exception.

If you're lucky enough to stand with a preparedness group, then a belt-fed machine gun will be more valuable than anything else in your arsenal. If Jeff is correct (and I can promise you he is), the belt-fed will become the anchor around which your entire defensive plan is built. It’s a tremendous force-multiplier and can be worth a half-dozen or more assault rifles.

Even in semi-auto, it’s tempting to write the belt-fed off as “too expensive.” I wouldn’t be so sure. It might be time to sell off some of the ARs and handguns in your safe for a single “big gun.” With the current political tides, new semi-auto belt-feds could become non-existent. That probably translates into making them outstanding investments.

Any way you cut it, a belt-fed could literally be worth its weight in gold, post-collapse. It could easily be the one purchase now that changes everything later.



Semi-auto Belt-fed Machine Guns 

(Legal-to-own in 38 States)

249 SAW  $9,000   Machine Gun Armory


M60   $10,000     Urban Armory


$7,000 Wide Open Armory


Full-auto Transferable Belt-fed Machine Guns 

(photos courtesy of James D. Julia Auctioneers)

1919A4  Transferable  $16,100

RPD  Transferable  $36,800

H&K 21   $29,900

M60   $39,100

Class III States

(where you can own belt-feds) 

Al, Ar, Ak, Az, Co, Ct, Fl, Ga, Id, In, Ky, La, Ma, Me, Md, Ms, Mt, Nd, Ne, Nv, Nh, Nm, Nc, Oh, Ok, Or, Pa, Sc, Sd, Tn, Tx, Ut, Va, Vt, Wa, Wv, Wi, And Wy.


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  • Terry: April 21, 2018

    I am looking to sell my British aircraft .303 Mark II Browning fully transferable original C&R machinegun in 2019.
    I bought the gun, the most expensive gun I ever bought, from J Curtis Earl before he passed.
    I used it in my WWII British Humber Mark IV Heavy Armored Car until I sold the car that went to Canada.
    An aluminum adaptor was made to insert the Browning into the position where a British BESA tank machinegun was mounted in the turret.
    It has the flexible handgrip and cradle and comes with spare barrel and almost every single part possible.
    I also have an adaptor so the gun can be fired from a Vickers tripod using the original cradle.
    If you have an U bolt or the H shaped adaptor you can mount the gun using the Vickers cradle.
    The gun can be viewed on YouTube.
    Thank You
    Terry Johns
    St. Louis

    PS: Right now you can buy .303 Wolf FMJ from Ammunitionstore,com for $106 for 280 rounds!

  • Tamera: October 03, 2017

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  • 280zxt: January 08, 2016

    Hello guys at READYMAN how about the next best thing, a Franklin Armory CSW. i know its not belt-fed but as for price and familiarity of such a weapon not to mention the cost, would you consider sharing your thoughts on it, maybe a review?

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