Ask The Guy With Machine Guns

Oh, we chat about wee guns now and then, but I don’t think we ever really visited the Dark Side of firearms. Like 1970 Plymouth Superbirds, old Cobras, or Ferarris, we all see one now and then, and maybe have a distant relative who had one, but never see one in person or actually own one.

We’ll start with some definitions and uses, then on to the Q&A.

Gun guys/gals: I’m keeping things simple to begin with. Please trust that your Uncle Duc knows of which he speaks, and will pontificate in more detail as the questions require.
Don’t correct me because I haven’t posted the 1934 NFA act in its entirety just yet.

Also, I’m not your lawyer, or even very smart, so do your own homework before acquiring or using NFA items. Laws vary and change, um, no habla English.
Machine gun: A fully automatic weapon - rifle or pistol - that fires more than one bullet with one pull of the trigger.

Suppressor: Commonly called a silencer, it is a device to reduce the very loud sound of a gunshot to something less.

SBR: Short barrelled rifle. A rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches long.
SBS: Short barrelled shotgun. A shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches long.

I’ll collectively refer to them as NFA itemsfor brevity’s sake.

Hey! Those things are illegal! I’m calling the cops!
Not really. Calm down. NFA items are legal for personal ownership in most of these United States. Here’s a mapto show you where.

Obtaining an NFA item is relatively simple, but there is a procedure to follow.
Each of these items must be registered with the BATF, and a $200 tax paid.
That’s pretty much it.
Here’s how it goes.

Step 1. Find a gun dealer in your state that sells NFA items. Yes you can go out of state, but let’s keep it simple for now.

Step 2. Fill out paperwork, just like a regular gun. More paperwork for the BATF so’s they can check you out. Pay the dealer for the item, mail a check or MO for $200 to the BATF with your paperwork. The dealer will retain your item.

Step 3. Go home. Wait 3-5 months for the BATF to do a thorough background check on you. Eat something. You look thin. Whatever happened to that girl you were seeing? I never liked her.

Step 4. Your tax stamp and approved paperwork arrives at your dealer. He phones to tell you, and like in cartoons, you disappear in a puff of smoke, the phone twirling in the air, and appear at the dealer while he’s still on the phone saying “Hello? Hello?”
No matter how many times you’ve done this, the wait is excruciating.

Step 5. Take your new [del]toy[/del] serious deadly weapon that only the military and spies should have to the range and make the other kids jealous.

Step 6. Start the paperwork on another NFA item next week.
Q: Why would you want these things?
A: They’re fun. They’re cool. They’re unique. And, unlike your Corvette, Viper, Porsche or Ferarri, I can unleash their full power and utility legally, within reason of course. An MG or Miata is fun, but a Lamborghini is more so, right? Same thing.

My left-wing anti-gun BIL simply can’t understand my analogy as he drives his 911, Panamera, and A8 well above posted speed limits around town.:rolleyes:
Any questions?

What is the best, legal way to have fun with such weapons? Are they firing-range material - if so, do you need a different format of firing range vs. the normal hold gun and aim at bullseye type? Or is there someplace outdoors where you can get something big and cool to shoot at?

What is different about unleashing the fury with a real weapon capable of killing? Versus, say, a day out at a paintball place with a semi-auto paintball gun and some well-shielded friends armed with same?

The obvious question… what do you have? An M-16?

You’ll put your eye out with that thing.

There’s a reason the places in Vegas make so much money. All the Californians going over to play with toys we aren’t allowed to have at home. An expensive hobby, but fun.

I like the classics like the M-3 Greasegun and the Sten. Can’t hit shit with either one, of course. The only non-Armalite-based one I’m even remotely on target with is the HK-5. But I still have lots more to try.

My dream gun would be an HK MP5, full auto. The one with the full stock.

Like this.

Full auto stuff I have fired:
M2 .30 carbine.
M-16, Viet Nam era.
Suppressed Uzi 9mm.
.50 Tri pod mount M2 machine gun. “Ma Duece”.

Fun stuff but way beyond my income bracket to own.

Q1–Do you have anything like a “real” machine gun, such as the M2, or do you just have things like automatic rifles?

Q2–Assuming money is not an issue, would you rather have a modern heavy machine gun or a vintage Gatling?

Is the licensing such that you’re the only person allowed to fire the weapon, so when you’re at the range making all your friends jealous, you’re actually making them REALLY jealous because you can’t let them fire it, but it’s okay because you’ve got a really cool weapon and they don’t?

How do you afford to feed them? The costs of the guns are trivial in comparison to more than the occasional day at the range.

Since the federal government has closed the registry to licensing new automatic weapons, hoping that civilian ownership of them will eventually sunset, how do you get one of the limited supply still out there?


OP: Yeah, the obvious question is: what do you have?
How do you afford ammo, assuming it’s not .22. Also, doesn’t your local LEO have to approve it, even if it is legal where you live (or am I confusing with something else)? I also hear about some people going a different route and setting up a trust, which is supposed to be sometimes easier, but I forget the details. Yeah, I’m not helpful here.

Do you have/interested in any other NFA items like suppressors?

Yes, the obviously limited (but not unsubstantial) supply to the civilian population has caused prices for select or full-auto firearms to go through the roof. And what will really burn your ass when you look into it, is the same firearm- based entirely on whether its pre-86 or a “pre/post sample”, can cost 4-10 times what it would cost a law enforcement agency or dealer.

I’ve just started with the SBR’s, went the trust route even though I could get the sign-off, but full auto is really fun, everyone should have one. So that’s next.

A progressive reloading press makes the ammo subject a little more bearable.

And again, Ducati, if you don’t mind- do tell about the toys.


Machine guns are like teenagers. The major cost is in feeding the bastards.

where’d he go?

I heard helicopters.
They sounded black.

The black ones are the ones you never hear.

He’s probably checking to see if the leak in his boat was properly repaired.

Sorry. I was out blowing crack heads for ammo money.:eek:

Here we go…

It depends. Many ranges allow full-auto weapons, but some don’t. The range doesn’t have to be special, just capable of stopping high-velocity rifle rounds. Virtually all do.
Paintballs are cheap and quiet, but can’t chew up a watermelon or a Buick. Shooting your friends carries a different satisfaction than shooting a car. And shit.

Yes. More than one. The lower receiver and its parts are what is registered as the MG. You can then have several “uppers” in various calibers and configurations that fit onto the lower for a variety of weapons.

Ouch. Just automatic rifles? Jeez.
I currently have several MGs including an M-249 and BAR, but no “real” ones.
If money were no object, I’d have them all! And an M-2 is definitely on my wish list.

Other people can use or operate your registered items, but only in your presence. I can’t lend you a suppressed .22 for the weekend so you can tackle that squirrel problem.
Most NFA guys you meet will talk about their toys for days and let you have a go as well, but they all come home with daddy at the end of the day.

Very carefully these days. Ammo costs ain’t what they used to be, but I certainly wouldn’t call gun costs trivial.

$$$$ is the answer. I still lose sleep nights thinking of the ones that got away in 1986. I could have bought a nice pair of Powder Springs MAC-10s for $450 back then, but I just wasn’t into them at the time. Now they’re 5-6 grand apiece. I did get a John Norell trigger pack for a hundred bucks for my Ruger 10/22. Now they’re 10k.
I’ve had most of mine for many years, and haven’t spent nearly as much as they’re worth now. My American 180 was $310 back in the day. Probably 10k now.

A little bit of everything from .22 up to .308 and .30-06.
M-16, MP-5, HK 91, 94, FN-FAL, Uzis and more. More than 20, but less than 100!

I have suppressors for every caliber up to .50 BMG. They’re my favorite things. As an instructor, they’re great for reducing the noise, recoil and muzzle blast for new students. Greatly reduces flinching and overall angst! A quiet gun is a fun gun.
While everyone’s source for what a suppressed gun sounds like is Hollywood movies, it’s not really true in most cases. While a suppressor may eliminate much of the report of the round going off, a supersonic bullet still makes a hell of a sound as it travels. It’s a miniature sonic boom, what we call a sonic crack. Using subsonic rounds – less than 1,000 feet per second or so – makes things much better.

Still, using a semi-auto pistol or rifle lets some sound out of the ejection port, so for real “Hollywood Quiet”, we use bolt-action rifles with subsonic rounds. In most cases, the impact of the bullet on target is louder than the round going off. Click, ding. That’s what we like. Start that video at 1:25 and listen. The bolt cycling is louder than the round going off. A normal .308 rifle shooting near you will have your ears ringing for days. You can’t imagine how cool this is until you hear them together.

I have several SBRs and a couple of SBSs. A short 10/22 with a suppressor is a beautiful thing. Ruger has just come out with a takedown model, and Thompson Machine has made a wicked integral suppressorfor it. I’ll have one soon.

I knew we’d get here eventually.
Traditionally, the paperwork involves getting fingerprint cards, taking them somewhere to get printed, and have your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer or CLEO sign your paperwork to send off to the BATF. It’s not permission from him, just an acknowlegement that he knows about it. This harkens back to olden times when your local sheriff knew everyone and would know if you were up to no good.

CLEOs are not obligated to sign, and many flat out refuse. They’re of the “what the hell do you need a silencer for? You planning a hit?” school of thought. Fuck them.
The BATF tells me what I can have or not have. Not Sheriff Bubba.

The [del]way around this[/del] other option is to create a trust. The forms are the same, the cost is the same, and the wait is the same, only the trust owns the items, not you. No CLEO sign-off is required, you’ll still go through a background check, and there can be many trustees allowed to posess the items. If your wife or kids, or neighbor are trustees, they can possess an item without you present.

However, legislation is brewing to eliminate the need for CLEO sign-off, but don’t hold your breath.

Keep 'em coming.

I have two supressors as well as a SBR. The supressors allow me to shoot in my yard without annoying the neighbors or having to use hearing protection. One of the supressors is .22 rimfire and fits on one of my rifles as well as four of my pistols.

Having a trust or cooperation own the NFA items eliminates the need for fingerprints, photos and LEO sign off of the transfer forms. Can also allow others named in the trust or cooperation posses the items.

If you wanted to be ready for the zombie apocalypse by owning a legal autoloader that could be converted to 3 round burst at some future time when the gummint was eager to ramp up every civilian weapon it could, which would you recommend?

Sorry, I only have a 10 foot pole…:smiley:

Should the gummint one day need your help, they’ll let you know what to do!