By JJ Sutton, C.P.S., C.M.A.S. [via ammoland.com]
How many times as a kid where you told that something wasn’t possible and you tried it or did it anyway? I mean if a “Double Dog Dare” isn’t jet fuel to the “It can’t be done” factor nothing else is. So when former Marine (SGT) and competition shooter Ken Wittekiend, Owner of Witt Machine & Tool ( www.wittmachine.net) was told those words; it made him dig in . . .
How it all Started
As an innovator and heavy thinker Ken strives to create, rather than just add a new spin to industry fads. Lets be real, plenty of brand name companies have big budget R&D with dedicated teams, yet often times the unexpected comes from the most unexpected places. So right after serving 10yrs in the US Marine Corps; three deployments to the sand box of the middle east and being stationed in Hawaii – all places HOT, this Texas native decided he was heading for the cooler Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
He went all in too, he built an off the grid cabin and when he finished that he built another room onto it, ordered a CNC machine and powered it off a propane generator. His ideas started to come to life, he started making pretty interesting clamp-on muzzle brakes for all kinds of rifles and that was just the start of things.
His portfolio, and new ON-GRID shop now include muzzle devices that eliminate muzzle rise (the Muzzle Rise Eliminator), muzzle devices for shotguns, a revolutionary Integrally Suppressed AR-15 & AR-10 upper receivers using full length barrels, a cannon with a muzzle device (seriously), very quiet suppressors, and not the least bit surprising… a suppressed M1919A4.
Ken stumbled across a good deal one day while browsing thru a gun shop that he just couldn’t pass up. He found a dusty M1919A4 sitting on display that the owner said wasn’t functioning. It was a semi-auto .308 variant but it still called out to Ken.
Forever the collector of cool things related to guns – Ken decided he had to have it and figure out why it wasn’t firing. A deal was made and he took it home. It was after he got it that the idea hit him – the industry’s biggest event was fast approaching. It would be something if he could get that dusty M1919A4 working and suppressed to draw attention to his new venture into creating suppression systems.
The self challenge was made and accepted, little did he know it was a bigger challenge than just with himself and that it had never been done before.
He stripped the whole thing apart and like a good Marine; gave it some serious attention. He cleaned it like it probably had not been done in decades, the M1919A4 and its parts drank up oil & lube from the years of neglect, reassembling it and function testing it he started to notice parts he would need to replace. There really is only a few good places to get parts for an old beauty like this (no names mentioned).
When he called to order his parts the conversations turned to what he had in mind. Immediately he was told “that can’t be done” and the conversation and others later turned cold, even mocking. When he would order a part or parts he would also notice that they would either be delayed or some other issue would arise as an obstacle for him getting the parts he needed. He commented to me one day when discussing it that he was surprised that the firearms community (and Co.) could treat others this way and not be more supportive of new thinking or new ideas.
Despite the obstacles and trouble shooting he did the old M1919A4 finally awoke from the dead and started eating links again!
Having solved the issues of why it wasn’t functioning and now that it was eating up the links – everyone loves a hungry belt fed beast don’t they? He set to the task of making it suppressed. With the mocking words of “that can’t be done” keeping him stubbornly on task. He built from scratch all the parts he needed to make it happen.
The Obstacles of the Suppressed M1919A4
For the well heeled firearms collectors and historians who are in the know… The M1919 has a few unique things about it that make applying the common principles of suppression a real challenge. First of all the barrel itself recoils into the receiver (the barrel moves back and forth and uses the recoil to cycle). When suppression is added it also dampens recoil and in this case that would cause immediate malfunctions and it did. So full recoil is a must.
The M1919 Browning was manufactured by numerous companies during World War II in the USA and UK. The earliest models or the original variant was a medium machine gun chambered in .30-06 caliber. Many where re-chambered for the new 7.62x51NATO caliber and some still are in service in corners of the globe to this day.
The M1919 variants have seen combat and a lot of service world wide. It may be obsolete in the USA Armed Forces but if it catches on that M1919s can be suppressed and deployed into service… not to mention the many that are in the hands of collectors and enthusiasts or even easily made by hobbyists. This could be big? It potentially could revive this beast in many new and exciting ways and it could allow for other similar designs and systems to get suppression too. Witt Machine & Tool will suppress other M1919s for clients. (click to contact)
Ken doesn’t generally share what he had to do to get the M1919A4 to function properly while suppressed. Since I have seen it and have a little inside information; I can tell you it was innovative! He manufactured from scratch the parts that had to be added to the system and did a few modifications to others. He used titanium for the suppressor and the modified parts to help keep the weight down and the result speaks for its self.
Since this one is a semi-auto the cycle rate is lower but I have seen it run thru a belt as fast as anyone can pull the trigger again and again. A few more modifications would be needed he thinks if this was a full auto version that was going into combat but that really would just be reinforcements to his design to ensure the durability needed under those conditions.
The Suppressed M1919A4 Unicorn is Uncloaked
Witt Machine & Tool comes down off the mountain each year and ONLY attends the Live Fire – Media/Buyers Day at the world’s largest industry show – SHOT Show in Las Vegas. That is where they roll out their wares, show industry contacts, clients, and buyers their innovative products and then head back. The crowded exhibit floor just isn’t a cup of tea they want to swig from and besides, live fire is where the proof of concept is real.
The Suppressed and fully functional M1919A4 got its reveal to its key audience at SHOT Show 2016 and the crew at AmmoLand News(in a private showing). Mind you the public still has not completely seen or is aware of this marvel yet! (To my knowledge this is also the first article discussing this feat and accomplishment).
Almost a double edged sword – Journalists, Bloggers, Writers, and Buyers all flocked to see a unicorn in the flesh. They ALL got to shoot it, fondle it, and marvel at it and no one; not a single person said – “Oh, I have seen one of those before.” They all pushed passed Witt Machine & Tool’s other products and shot the M1919A4.
The second public appearance of sorts for the M1919A4 came by way of a special invite only event. LTC Robert Brown Founder & Editor of Soldier of Fortune Magazine, NRA Board of Directors, and NRA Whittington Center Trustee extended an invite.
I know the COL’s passion for all things powder burning and lead throwing and I knew he had never seen one of these suppressed M1919s.
We all met up at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. which at that time of year gave us the entire facility almost to ourselves – it was incredible and beautiful. Ken was my plus one and we got to show a very select group of industry names the Suppressed M1919A4, Witt’s Integrally Suppressed .300BO & 5.56NATO Uppers, and his new Titanium Suppressors.
Once again the Unicorn ate belt after belt of ammo, provided some of the biggest smiles of the year yet, and was marveled at. It was an honor to be included among the names that where around us and some of those names or photos wont be said or seen. To date the Suppressed M1919A4 has fired over 7,500 rounds of ammo without fail.
Put in a Book Mark
Here is what I know and think about all this. Witt Machine & Tool is a small Veteran Owned company you should keep on eye on and watch for other innovative things to come. Is this a hint at something else – absolutely; that is another article and another day, but stay tuned for more news about Witt Machine & Tool – WittMachine.net
About JJ Sutton, C.P.S., C.M.A.S. :
A Native Colorado resident & life time Hunter. JJ served 7yrs in the US Army during the 90s and logged 12 months down range during hostilities in the Balkins. Mostly work and some play he as traveled/visited 20+ countries. He has served in the Private Security Field for more than 15yrs., as a Certified Protection Specialist and Certified Master Anti-Terrorism Specialist, including the 2002 Winter Olympics, Presidential Security Detail Member with the President & First Family of Haiti, Int’l Celebrities and personalities related to his business in Aspen, CO. Later Security Services throughout Colorado & Caribbean, Firearms Training, Consulting and now overseeing custom design & builds of the AR15s & AR10s put out by VDC Armory, LLC. His current pet project includes a new website promoting the Modern Sporting Rifle like it truly is intended to be with ARHunters.com & social media by the same name.
A suppressor on a machine gun. This required an entire article?
I feel as if you have failed to grasp the magnitude of this accomplishment. I will take a wild guess and assume that you are not a firearms designer or engineer.
Yes. Yes it did.
I speak for all present in saying the following:
I want one.
Yes, you are, in this case, speaking for me.
The M1919 is on my “All Time Favs” short list. Top 3 or so.
So, I’ll add at this point I don’t even care if it is this new suppressed version.
I want one.
I’ve always wanted one of those table top .22lr brownings. Add a can and I would be even happier.
Can he work out the bugs to suppress a .22lr gatling gun?
The suppressors on the Gatling barrels wouldn’t be the problem, since the barrels are all fixed to the rotating assembly. The cam/track inside the receiver to move the bolts back and forth would probably be the most difficult thing, since I haven’t seen a gatling kit for sale that wasn’t the “strap a pair of 10/22s together” type.
The reason this one would be difficult is the short recoil mechanism. Although I would be curious to see if a spring change with a fairly lightweight titanium unit lacking a recoil booster would work, I don’t have anywhere near the disposable income to find out.
a company was making scaled down gatling guns. Can’t recall off my head if they’re still doing it or what their name was.
They were pricey.
There have actually been several. Tippmann and Furr Arms come to my mind.
There have been such things, as I recall they have no recoil springs or mechanism, it is a .22, unnecessary. They are also not NFA, not machine guns (you have to turn a crank), looks like the the only hurdle would buying a can for each barrel.
So a simple booster couldn’t keep it working? Did he have to do something really outrageous to make it work?
I suspect simply *cooling* it is the major accomplishment.
Here’s hoping one day we see a .50 BMG with a water jacket on the suppressor.
(Using the steam to boil some lobsters and steam some clams would be a nice touch…)
Now I want steamers.
That’s flippin’ awesome.
This is as good of a place to state this request so here goes:
I want to see TTAG do some kind of acoustics testing between suppressed supersonic ammo (like above) and non-suppressed pistol caliber subsonic ammo out of a rifle – say a rossi lever action in .38.
My tentative theory is that the subsonic ammo that is not suppressed is “quieter” than the suppressed ammo moving at mach 1 +. I use quotation marks as there is much more to sound quality than mere volume.
Subsonic ammo is quieter. You can tell by just alternating subs and supers out of a pistol. A little less recoil, concussion, and muzzle flip. And no muzzle flash… making subs ideal for defensive use.
I am trying to see if subsonic (non-suppressed) is quieter than supersonic suppressed.
It’s not an easy thing to compare recorded firearm sounds accurately.
They tend to sound the same since they keep running into the automatic level control in the recorder lectronics.
About the best way to do it is to be about 100 yards away when recording, and using 2 identical guns doing an A then B back and forth.
Quieter from where? Holding the gun? 100 yards downrange? I can tell you that supersonic ammo passing your position is VERY loud, sounds like gunfire. There, I’m talking about rifle ammo (I don’t see how pistol ammo would be different) passing 10 feet over my head from a rifle which was 1000 yards away, so the question of suppressed or not doesn’t make a lot of difference. OTOH, I do not have a suppressed pistol, unless we consider a 9″ SBR as the same thing. I can fire both subsonic or supersonic ammo without ear protection through the suppressor. I would not even consider firing either without the suppressor.
If your question involves report *downrange*, it would depend on the distance, I suspect (here’s the place for a test) at 10 feet you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between suppressed and unsuppressed with supersonic ammo. Subsonic would be massively quieter through the suppressor. If you are behind the gun, both will be massively quieter through the suppressor, as the supersonic shock wave moves with the bullet, which is away from your ears, behind the gun you will not hear it except as reflected from something in front of you.
I have had some training here as a pilot of supersonic aircraft, but I rely more on my experience with .300 blk SBR with super and sub ammo, and using the same suppressor on a 16″ AR-15 in 5.56. Especially with the 5.56 I was shocked at the effectiveness of a 7.62 suppressor from behind the gun shooting across open ground, including indoor 100 yard range. The shock wave has to reflect off the far wall and travel 100 yards back to you, mostly dispersed by the time it reaches your ears. But, again, trust me and do not think that little 5.56 BB passing your ears downrange at mach 2+ will somehow be quiet. Hope that is of some help.
“I am trying to see if subsonic (non-suppressed) is quieter than supersonic suppressed.”
Rereading, I may have missed the specific question. To this specific question, from 10 feet in front of the gun, I’d guess they are close to the same, the sonic blast sounds very much like a gunshot right beside you, and the unsuppressed subsonic fired 10 feet away *IS* a gunshot right beside you. The longer the distance, the quieter the unsuppressed sub, and the supersonic will still be just as loud until it passes subsonic.From behind the gun, an unequivocal “absolutely not”. The subsonic still sounds like a gun going off, while the blast from the super ammo cannot be heard and the sound of the gun going off is much quieter. The unsuppressed subsonic will still ruin your hearing, though it might be marginally quieter than an unsuppressed supersonic, due to more power going into the super.
It all depends on the load, and host. I reload some 308 subs that are almost as quiet as suppressed full house loads when shot unsuppressed. It’s very close with rifles, pistols not so much. My 9mm 147 subs are way louder unsuppressed, than full power 124s through my Octane 9.
5 ways around a wall….it’s a Marine Thing.
Not the first article.
Also, this guy did it in 2009. Any relation or different person?
Would like to know more about the 5.56 integral too.
I should add, great job Marine. Good engineering!
I’m gonna have sexual thoughts about that.
The use of titanium in this application is perplexing. I understand weight savings, but titanium can do weird things when exposed to 800-1100° for extended periods.
I thought it just changed color.
If you heat titanium to sufficient temperatures in air it will result in oxygen getting into the structure of the metal. This results in the metal getting hard and brittle which can result in cracks forming. This is called Alpha Case. It is why you should always weld or heat treat titanium with an argon atmosphere purge or in a vacuum chamber. It does have to get fairly hot to do this 850F-900F.
Cool but an suppressed gattling gun is cooler ^^
This whole thing really needed a lot of copy editing. And it reads like it was written by a 5th grader.