Book Reviews: October 2002

By Charles Q. Cutshaw

Machine Gun Dealer’s Bible, 4th Edition
By Dan Shea
ISBN 0-9701954-5-1
Moose Lake Publishing
223 Sugar Hill Road
Harmony, ME 04942
Reviewed by Charles Cutshaw

If anyone is qualified to write a book on the subject of National Firearms Act (NFA) or Class 3 firearms, it is Dan Shea. Not only has Dan been involved in the NFA world almost all his life, he is one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the country on the subject. In this latest edition of the Machine Gun Dealers Bible, Dan not only updates the previous editions, but goes much, much farther, creating a reference not only for the dealer, but for anyone with an interest in machine guns, destructive devices, suppressors, pen guns, or for that matter anyone with an interest in any type of firearm.

The Machine Gun Dealers Bible, 4th Edition, is first and foremost a guide through the arcane and complex world of Federal firearms laws, including not only the National Firearms Act of 1934, but also those laws that were not specifically enacted to deal with fully automatic firearms, destructive devices and their kin, such as the Gun Control Act of 1968 the McClure - Volkmer Act of 1986 and others. The laws and regulations that devolved from them are not quoted in their entirety, but those parts that directly affect the purchaser or owner of NFA firearms. Dan elaborates on these laws and regulations, explaining in clear, concise and highly readable language what they mean and what the dealer, owner or prospective owner of NFA firearms must do to avoid the unpleasantness of an “up close and personal” encounter with ATF agents, who tend to take a dim view of violations of the laws and regulations they are hired to enforce, regardless of the lack of malice on the part of the violator. In this regard, Dan goes into detail in a separate chapter entitled “Things that Get You in Trouble.” This chapter explains those mistakes, whether by intent or ignorance can land you an extended stay in a not very pleasant government facility. In this context, the book also explains how to deal with the ATF and provides a complete list of regulatory offices in the United States. While the Machine Gun Dealers Bible, 4th Edition covers all aspects of the appropriate laws and regulations, the author makes it clear that this book is to be used only as a guide. Because laws and regulations change or are subject to interpretation, the Machine Gun Dealers Bible, 4th edition should not be considered absolutely authoritative on the legalities of NFA firearm ownership. That said, it is an essential starting point to understanding the NFA world.

Approximately one fourth of the book is devoted to the forms required by the ATF. Forms are nor removable as in some earlier editions because many must be originals and not photocopies. Thus, while all the necessary forms are illustrated and most are explained, the reader and prospective NFA purchaser must obtain his or her own forms.

The portion of the Machine Gun Dealers Bible devoted to NFA firearms and the laws pertaining to them was interesting in that this reviewer learned quite a number of previously unknown facts, but the most enjoyable and informative aspect of the 4th Edition to the reviewer was the illustrated guides to Heckler & Koch, Colt and Stoner firearms. These are not intended to be definitive guides to the history of the firearms themselves, but photographic essays that help the student or prospective owner to identify the firearm in question. These guides are fully comprehensive and as far as the reviewer can determine, absolutely accurate. The photographs are clear with sharp detail. While these guides ran in successive issues of Small Arms Review Magazine, they have never to the reviewer’s knowledge been published collectively. Other chapters that are essential for the serious student of firearms are those on the subjects of machine gun accessories and loaders, which in this edition focuses on machine gun tripods.

Another significant aspect of the The Machine Gun Dealers Bible, 4th Edition is its comprehensive list of resources that includes manufacturers, dealers and importers. Virtually every Class 2 manufacturer, dealer and importer is represented in this section of the book.

In sum, the Machine Gun Dealers Bible, 4th Edition, is a volume not only for the dealer, manufacturer and owner of NFA firearms, who will certainly find it essential, but also for the serious student of firearms, whether hobbyist or professional. It thus belongs on the reference library of everyone who is in any way interested in firearms for whatever reason.

By Ian V. Hogg
336 Pages, c. 2002,
ISBN # 0-87349-288-9
Krause Publications,
Book Dept. SAR,
PO Box 5009
Iola, WI 54945-5009
Price: $29.95 plus $4.00 s&h
Reviewed by Larry Sterett

The author of this large, softbound volume, Ian Hogg is a former editor of Jane’s Infantry Weapons, in addition to being the author or editor of over 140 books published in some 13 languages. This following his retirement from the British Army Royal Artillery as a Master Gunner and a specialist instructor in ordnance and ammunition.

Divided into eight chapters, this informative volume also contains six appendices, a Glossary and an index, all features of an excellent reference volume. The first two chapters deal with the basic methods of operation for recoil and gas-operated machine guns, and the mechanical guns which are operated by an outside source, such as the Puckle, Gatling, Lowell, Gardner and Nordenfelt.

Chapter three is devoted to the first of the automatic guns, the Maxim, demonstrated on January 30, 1885. While Maxim’s patents were so numerous they could have prevented any other machine gun designs for the next quarter-century, such was not the case. By the time the First World War ended, there were many machine guns being produced, including those of Browning, Parabellum, Vickers, MacLean, and Lewis. Some were good designs, some not, but many were still being when World War II started and beyond.

Chapters Four, Five and Six, cover World War I, the twenty-five years between wars, and World War II, respectively. World War I was a static war and the machine guns were bulky and heavy, except for a few designs. Lighter and more mobile when needed were the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), the Chauchat and Hotchkiss M1e 1909. Others which showed promise, and might have done well, were the Beardmore-Farquhar, and Berthier. They simply arrived too late on the scene to achieve production, but all are covered in this text.

The time between the two World Wars was one several nations made good use of relating to machine gun design. Three of the most famous light machine guns of the 20th Century were the German MG-34, the British Bren, and the Russian Degtyarev DP, which became realities during this period. All performed their jobs well, and even to serving as the basis for improved designs. The Bren, however, has served well for more than six decades. Weighting in at just under 22 1/2 pounds, empty, the Bren weighed approximately three pounds more than the BAR, and four pounds less than the MG-34. On the plus side, the Bren featured a 30-round magazine and a detachable barrel, compared to the BAR’s 20-round magazine and a non-detachable barrel, and the MG-34’s 75-round drum or 50-round continuous link belt and a detachable barrel. World War II required mega number of machine guns, and the Germans in particular were not endowed with unlimited resources. By redesigning the MG-34 to make use of more stampings, they determined they could save $18.50 per gun and turn out three of the new MG-42s in the same time it took to build one MG-34. The Bren and the BAR models continued to be produced using expensive machined parts. Following World War II, the U.S. took a good look at the MG-42m with the result being our M60. It weights slightly less than the MG-42, has a detachable barrel, makes extensive use of stamped parts, feeds from a linked belt, and can be fired from the shoulder, a bipod or a tripod.

Although World War II ended more than fifty years ago, research and development of machine guns has not. The search for the ultimate light and heavy goes on, and some excellent designs have been developed. Author Hogg covers them all in Chapter Seven and Appendix One. (Chapter Eight is devoted to automatic cannon, generally considered those models for calibers of 20mm and above).

Illustrations in MACHINE GUNS consist of more than 500 black and white photographs, including some period photos of machine guns in use, line drawings, sectioned drawings, and operational drawings. There’s even a color section featuring three dozen full-color photographs covering many of the models from a five-barrel Nordenfelt to the Belgian FN-MAG, all from the Royal Pattern Room collection.

Other features of this volume include detailed technical reports, often with disassembly/assembly instructions, for 19 important machine gun models. The appendices list the machine guns and their specs by alphabetical order and order by ascending caliber, with a similar table for the cannons and their cartridges.

Machine gun fans, arms researchers and manufacturers, arms historians, and military arms collectors should find this an excellent reference book. It is lavishly illustrated, well researched and written, and the author definitely knows the subject.

The Machine Pistols of Europe
By Michel Malherbe
132 Pages
Published by Editions Crepiin-Leblond, 14 ,rue du Patronage Laique,
B.P. 2057, Dept. SAR, 52 902
Chaumont Cedex 9, France.
Price: 13 Euros, or 85.27 Francs, plus 2.5 Euros shipping.
Reviewed by Larry Sterett

If you’re interested in machine pistols, or submachine guns, and you wouldn’t be reading SMALL ARMS REVIEW if you were not, this is an interesting volume. Softbound and digest-size, it covers more than 85 different models and variations of the machine pistols of Europe, from their origin to the later days of the 20th Century.

There’s no contents page at the beginning of this volume, nor an index page at the end. There is a table of materials (contents) page located where the index is usually located. This table lists the machine pistols in alphabetical order by countries of Europe, from Germany to Portugal, plus what was the Sovier Bloc of Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.

Each model, from the Schmeisser/Bergmann, M.P. 18 to the Skorpion V.Z. 61 is discussed with two or more pages of text. A table of specifications is provided for each model, listing the caliber, length of barrel, length of the machine pistol, weight, magazine capacity, rate of fire, barrel twist, and the names of the inventor and the manufacturing firm. Where a MP model was available in more than one caliber the optional calibers are listed, such as the MP 28 II, which is listed as being available in 7.63mm Mauser, 7.65mm Parabellum, 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Bergmann-Bayard, and 11.43mm (.45 ACP). The same comment applies to manufacturers. The MP 28 II is listed as being produced by Haenel in Suhl, Germany, Pieper in Herstal, Belgium, S.I.G. in Neuhausen, Switzerland, Sterling in Dagenham, Great Britain, and Unceta y Cia in Eibar, Spain.

Illustrations consist of more than 120 photographs and/or drawings. The photographs are sharp enough to permit all major features to be seen, but a few of the drawings could be improved. The majority of the models are illustrated, but some prototype or model variations are mentioned, but not pictured. Three of the models, the French M.A.S. 38 and M.A.T. 49 and the German MP40, have section drawings in addition to photographs.

The majority of the models, particularly those of the World War II era, are covered in many other books, but some are less well known. These include such models as the Erma EMP 44, MP 60, 65, and MP 3008 (Germany), R.A.N. (Belgium), A.D.A.S.A. (Spain), E.T.V.S., Hotchkiss Model 010, 011, 017, 304, M.A.C. 47-2, 48-2, 48-L.S., M.A.T. 49/54, P.M. 9, Gevarm Model D.3 and D.4 (France), Husqvarna Hovea (Sweden) and the Mors M.39 (Poland). The French M.A.T. 49/54 not only featured a longer barrel and perforated jacket, but different sights, sling attachment, charging handle, and of course, weight. At least one version of the 49/54 featured a wooden buttstock in place of the standard telescoping design.

This is not the last word on European machine pistols, but it’s still a handy reference volume for collectors, arms students, historians, and researchers. An ability to read French would be useful, but a good French/English dictionary helps, and the specifications tables are easily understood.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V6N1 (October 2002)
and was posted online on December 27, 2013


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