By Cain M. Grocox
When it comes to owners of NFA items, we tend to be perceived as marching to the beat of a different drummer. Our friends and coworkers that are not consumed by the NFA collecting / shooting hobby have no comprehension of why we spend the money and resources on our hobby that we do. Of course with the passage the 1986 FOPA, which included the infamous Hughes Amendment, transferable machine guns have continued to rise with no decline in sight.
This continuous escalation of prices and the rarity of some items have led to numerous American made replacements. MarColMar Firearms, LLC in Richmond, Indiana is a manufacturer and dealer that has brought several semiautomatic projects to the market. These include the semi AKS 74 rifles with In Range and the semiautomatic PKM Project that was developed with WiseLite Arms. The PKM project was wildly successful and when available they often command a selling price that is substantially higher than what they originally sold for. MarColMar is now bringing the Czech Uk-59 semiautomatic belt fed to the market.
The Czechs have a long history of firearms development. As many SAW readers know, the famous Bren gun of World War II is a combination of BR for Czech Bruno and EN for Enfield and a development of the ZB26 series. After WWII, the Czechs continued to develop their own firearms designs.
Although a Warsaw Pact member, the Czechs did not adopt the AK-47, SKS, Tokarov pistols, or standard PPSh series of weapons. They developed Vz58 assault rifles, CZ SHE 52 in lieu of the SKS and CZ52 pistol to go along with their own subgun designs. In this same vein, the PKM was not adopted and the UK-59 was developed and is still fielded to this day. Many people consider the Uk-59 to be basically a belt fed version of the Bren.
To those who know their firearms, the Czechs are considered some of the finest weapons designers and manufacturers in the world. Their penchant for milling and robust operating designs, made beautiful and unique weapons that continue to be used long after they were developed. The Uk-59 was developed in the late 50s to fill both the light (man portable) and heavy (tripod mounted) machine gun roles. Keeping only the caliber mandated by the Soviets, the Uk-59 was developed utilizing their unique design and manufacturing techniques. It is estimated that approximately 24,000 of these guns were built, making it one of the least produced machine guns in the former Soviet arsenal. These guns continue to serve to this day, and have even been encountered by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The current version is in .308, having changed the caliber when the Czech Republic was incorporated into NATO. MarColMar plans to offer a caliber conversion at a later date.
The Uk-59 features a very unique belt. Just like most Soviet-Bloc weapons, the belt does not disintegrate, and comes in 25 round segments that can be linked together. The most unique feature however, is that unlike the PK series, the belt allows for push-through feeding of the rimmed 7.62x54R round. As can be seen, the Czechs “marched to the beat of a different drummer.” Enter MarColMar Firearms along with 350 kits and you start the semi Uk-59 saga.
Dave Bane at MarColMar Firearms teamed up with Frank Hatten with AMA and Jeff Scherschel with ITD Engineering in Richmond, Indiana to develop the design and production plan. Many SAW readers and NFA owners would recognize Frank from working the Ohio Ordnance tables for years at the major shows, and his work as a Class II manufacturer and gunsmith.
The design intent was to retain the outward appearance of the weapon and the unique cocking procedure in the process. Since the final design is patent-pending, and the 50 initial production units are just about to deliver, the details are not included in this article but are in the approval letter included with the firearm purchase. The firearm submitted for approval to BATFE has over 10,000 rounds through it at the time of this writing. You can go to the MarColMar Firearms website to view the weapon in action. The goal was to have a semiautomatic firearm equal in reliability to the original and the reputation that the semi PKM has achieved. BATFE final approval was received on February 14, 2013.
Just like the original, the semi-auto Uk vz. 59 is not a stamped receiver but a solid block of steel. In this day and age of stamped or riveted construction this is a refreshing change. The receiver actually begins life as a 40 pound block of 4140 steel, ending up a 4 pound receiver. The machine work is performed in Richmond, Indiana at the ITD facility, where MarColMar has a licensed manufacturing location.
The barrel blanks are made by Lothar Walther in Germany and then imported. These are made from LW19 machine gun grade steel and are 4 groove. Upon arriving in the United States, they are turned to the original profile and are then chrome lined in Connecticut by Superior Plating. The barrels are then head spaced, and checked again prior to final finish in Richmond. The original caliber is retained, 7.62x54R, still plentiful and a good value.
The final finish for the firearm is a special blend of KG known as VZ Dark Blue on the receiver and bipod, while the barrel and other parts are blued, creating a beautiful finish that looks just like the original. The final product is truly a beautiful firearm that functions as well as it looks. As is SOP for all MarColMar products, the weapon is test fired, cleaned, and a final inspection is performed before shipment. The package includes the gun, owner’s manual, an English translation of the original Czech manual, a 50-round assault can and belts, a 250-round can and belts, as well as a sample of Militec oil and grease.
As with the previous AKS 74 sales and the semi PKM, there will only be a limited number of these firearms built. MarColMar produced slightly over 300 PKMs and they have acquired 350 Uk-59 parts kits. They will also do builds on a customer kit, but the quantity will definitely be limited. Initial introductory price is $4,295. MarColMar will also sell their Uk-59 barrel tubes as well.
Additional information is available at www.marcolmarfirearms.com or you can email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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