The shooters at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot run through hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition every year. Which is great for ammunition companies, but poses a slight problem for the shooters: how do you take loose or clipped ammunition and put it in belts? If it were one or two belts doing it by hand might not be an issue, but when volume is the name of the game it seems like the MG shooters turn to some interesting mechanical devices to do the dirty work for them.
Some guns don’t lend themselves well to mass ammunition loading, and other shooters didn’t think to invest in the sundry bulk loading options available on the market. In those cases shooters resort to the “old fashioned” method and do it one round at a time.
Some firearms were designed with clips in mind for rapidly replenishing magazines. The AK-47 comes to mind, as does the M1 Carbine. Even the M-16 has a capability for clips of 5.56 ammo to reload the magazines.
The lazy (or lucky) ones purchased their ammunition already in belts. Surplus ammunition, especially ex-Soviet stock, can be found still belted together decades after it was manufactured.
While magazine fed guns and pre-belted ammunition were present, a good number of the shooters used interesting machines to belt loose ammunition for them. I found these little machines fascinating, and so snapped a few pictures to share with the rest of you. This first machine takes .30-06 ammo on stripper clips and makes Browning m1919 belts.
Most of the machines were hand cranked, but this one looks like the owner got lazy and hooked up a small electric motor to work it. Caliber seems to be .30-06, and he links look like an m1919 Browning is the intended recipient.
Here’s another hand cranked one, this time for an M60 machine gun. 7.62 NATO.
While browsing through the gun show that was adjacent to the firing line, I came across a few dozen such loaders for sale. For $1,000. Each. I guess if you shoot machine guns enough that you need one of these then you have the cash to spare. Which also explains the three booths selling cigars…
It is my opinion, having fired a crew-served M60, the Ma Duce an MP5 and a Glock Autopistol, that it is impossible to maintain a bad mood while firing a machine gun.
Fascinating post, thanks. Did you happen to take any video of the loading process?
You can buy a hand cranked loading device for the PK/PKM for around $250. Honestly, if I were to buy a belt-fed machine gun (no way can I afford it), I’d get a PKM. They’re ungodly reliable, they’re very light weight for what they are, and 7.62x54R is about as cheap as center fire rifle ammunition gets.
And they cost about $4500 for a semi auto. Parts kits go for 2K and up.
Demand worldwide is strong for the PKM. Why chop it up to ship it to the US when you have 10 other buyers waiting to take it intact.