Raffica: May 1998

By Dan Shea

“The mechanical engineers have given us in various forms the means of enabling two or three men to deliver a fire equivalent to that of fifty or sixty rifles with deadly effect. The use of such an enormous power as this should not be the mere temporary occupation to which a few men and officers are assigned for a while. Rather it should be the life work of a machine gunner...” Maj. F.V. Longstaff -The book of the Machine Gun 1917

Once again, from eighty years ago, the words of the founders of machine gunnery speak clear and true. Men at arms have always known that training hard and the scholarly study of their art has yielded victory on the battlefield. Raffica would once again like to urge the powers that be in the military to allow ample ammunition for training, as well as encouraging marksmanship and excellence in the ranks of the machine gunners. When you need the skills, you really need the skills. If you have allowed them to atrophy, or to slip away forgotten, you may not be able to gain them back in time to meet a threat such as was encountered in World War II.

Civilian owners of the weapons should likewise train; not so much for war duty, but so that the skills are not rusty if they need to be called upon. It happened in 1950 for Korea. Besides, it’s a wonderful past time, and competitions can include who can pile up the most brass along with who actually is best at hitting the target areas...

On a “Support our advertisers” note; numerous people have asked me for sources for original transit chests for Vickers and Brens. Lots of times these boxes have been forgotten in the back corner of a warehouse, or unknowingly used for other purposes. I recently spoke with Don Bell from Omega Weapons Systems, and he has both Bren and Vickers / Lewis transit chests in stock at some pretty reasonable prices. Don has been one of SAR’s supporting advertisers from the start, and owns a good company to deal with. If you are one of the people who have been asking me where these can be purchased, give Don a call at (520) 889-8895 (Omega’s ad is on page 52)

Q1- I recently bought and took possession of an MP5. According to the paperwork this is a “Registered receiver” MP5. A friend of mine told me that registered receivers are supposed to have the swing down lowers. Mine has a clip on lower. It is an HK94 converted to an MP5 by Bill Fleming. I am wondering if I could be in any trouble, the paperwork is marked in section b as a machinegun and the serial number is the one stamped on the receiver. It was approved by the BATF. Secondly, since it is a registered receiver can I buy full auto components, like a trigger pack or another sear if this one should break? I understand that I can’t have it converted to a swing down lower, but can I put other types of lowers on it? Last of all, I am having some minor problems with it. When firing the trigger seems to have two positions. If you fire a short burst and let go of the trigger, the trigger repositions to its normal position full forward, however if your fire a burst and then release some tension in the trigger, the trigger seems to position itself somewhere in between. If you pull the trigger at this point the weapon will discharge most of the time, occasionally it won’t fire and looking at the round, it has a light primer hit as if the hammer follows the bolt. Most of the time the gun works fine but I would like to get it to work perfectly.

Stephen G.

A1- I’ll try and hit these in the order you gave them to us. Several manufacturers registered HK semi automatic weapons as fully automatic receivers before the May 19th 1986 deadline. Some were made into factory “Clones” by removing the front block and drilling a hole so that a factory HK machine gun trigger housing is used on the gun. These guns you can interchange all factory machine gun parts on. Others were made into “Clip-on” lower registered receivers. These are identical to registered HK Sear guns. The receiver has not been modified to accept the factory swing down lower; it has a machine gun style trigger housing that has been altered to fit on the semi automatic guns. The sear that is used in these guns is basically identical to a registered HK sear, but it is not the registered part. This sear, away from the registered receiver, is considered a machine gun by itself. Do not remove the sear from the proximity of the registered receiver. You are not allowed to finish the alteration of the registered receiver clip on lower guns to fit the swing down, so you can not use the factory parts. You can not make a replacement sear either. SAR will cover this more in depth in future issues.

You can use other lowers if the trigger grip housing is converted to use the original pack and sear that is on your gun. This generally precludes using the 3 shot burst type lowers.

On to your “Trigger” problem. This is really a “Hammer” problem, and it has more insidious ramifications than you might be thinking. Many of the hammers in these converted HK guns were converted themselves from semi automatic hammers. The notch on the hammer is an add on for the full automatic HK’s. Some of these were incorrectly placed. This can be a very dangerous situation. Not only will you experience the problem you have, but you may very well have an Accidental Discharge (AD) when chambering the first round.

Let’s keep it simple here. As SAR readers are aware, AD’s are considered “Bad”. People get hurt and killed. With any firearm, you should always chamber a round in a safe direction to begin with. Safety and proper handling are considered “Good”. The solution here is to get this fixed. You do this by getting a new hammer that is properly cut for the sear. Fred Volmer at F. J. Volmer (309-663-9494) has these in stock for about $40. If you have either a registered receiver clip on lower gun, or a registered sear conversion, you need to check this and see if you have a correct hammer. The problem ones will usually be obvious weld ups on the notch / axle end of the hammer. You can talk to the people at Volmer’s and they will help you ID the problem hammers.

Q2- I recently purchased some fifty-caliber ammunition that was kind of odd. It was on stripper clips, had a silverish tipped bullet, and the base has a large rim around it. Is this the spotter ammunition I hear talked about?

George K.

A2- First, the denizens of Raffica should be aware that I immediately bought this ammunition, after explaining what it was to George. I intend to shoot it, so there is not much point in either trying to bribe, wheedle, or mug me for this ammunition. What George had was .55 Boys ammunition. These are armor piercing rounds, designed for the 1937 model anti-tank bolt action rifle made by the British. The Mark I and Mark II models had short lived military lives, not being particularly useful against WWII armor. Boys Rifles are Destructive Devices under the NFA rules, and require registration as such. Many were converted to .50 BMG, which is somewhat less brutal on the shooter- and makes the Boys a regular Title I firearm as well. The first and most significant identifying feature of the cartridge is the heavy “Belt” around the base, noted at the arrow in the photo at the left.

Q3 I am considering the purchase of a Stoner 63 machine gun. Can I use the M249 linked ammunition that is available today?


A3- Stoner links are different from the M249 links. Even though they look the same, they are somewhat smaller- making the pitch different. Pitch is very important to the feeding process in machine guns.

The first production Stoner links were marked “S-63”, later ones were marked “XM27”. Links for the M249 or Minimi machine gun, are marked “M27” (See Above Photos) A new feed can can be made to utilize M27 links.
Questions to: Dan Shea C/O SAR

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N8 (May 1998)
and was posted online on June 9, 2017


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