May 16, 2005

You Know You're A Gun Nut If... go to a machine gun shoot & end up selling ammo to the guy you're renting from. :)

Jed & I went up to the .50 BMG Rifle & Machine Gun Shoot in Cheyenne Wells, Colorado yesterday. It was about a 3 hour drive (each way) but Jed's an interesting fellow to shoot the breeze with.

No pics. Didn't have a camera betwixt us. So I'll post some pics from last years shoot as I try to tell the tale:

We arrived around 3 p.m. Eastern Colorado is a lot like Kansas - dry, treeless (more or less), dry, dusty, windy, dry & a bit on the warm side. Oh yeah - & dry. But it's a nice place to shoot with plenty of room to reach out & try to touch something.

The firing line seemed bigger than the last few years which is a good sign. More people seem to be renting space on the line. More people = more firearms & a greater chance of finding something interesting &/or unusual.

For example there were 2, not 1 but 2 GE Miniguns this year (to tell the truth I'm not sure if they were the M134 Minigun or the XM214 Microgun though I'd lean towards it being the M134). It's rumored that there are only 6 transferable GE Miniguns in the u.S. (thanks to that sunuvabitch Hughes) but I'd assume the number is somewhere in the low dozens. For more on the Minigun click here.

There was the usual assortment of belt fed goodness. I won't list them all but I will mention a few I thought interesting. A water cooled Vickers was very tempting. But what really caught my eye was a pair of dual mounted short barreled 1919's. They had something ridiculously abbreviated barrels. I want to say seven inches but I could be mistaken. Here's a pic of a short barreled 1919 I found online. Here's another pic of a shorty 1919. Here's a pic of a full sized one for comparison. From what the owner was telling Jed & I the short barrels mean a change in function; it's no longer gas operated but direct blowback. The powder needs about 18 inches of barrel to burn completely so a 7 inch barrel doesn't contain the same amount of pressure. Couple that with the heavy bolt & recoil spring & you have a blowback .30-06 Springfield.

In the middle of the event they called a cease fire & held a suppressor demonstration. Funny; it seems the guys with the suppressed weapons spoke a lot quieter than the guys with the belt feds. I wonder why? lol

They explained a few of the different types of suppressors available & how they functioned. Then they demonstrated them. There was a suppressed .22 pistol, .22 rifle, .44 magnum bolt rifle, .308 Winchester bolt rifle, & a Thompson submachinegun. The difference between suppressed & unsuppressed was dramatic, with most sounding like medium powered air rifles. What was most interesting to me was the .308 Winchester. They fired two rounds of standard ammo then two rounds of subsonic. You could follow the crack of the standard ammo's projectile as it kept breaking the sound barrier, but the subsonic stuff was like hearing an air rifle being shot. While you could hear the bullet (from the standard ammo) as it traveled you'd be hard pressed to identify its source if you didn't see it. Unsuppressed you can usually home in on where the shot came from but I doubt you could with a suppressed rifle firing standard velocity (i.e. supersonic) ammo. That alone was worth the price of admission.

They also had an assortment of field pieces. Here are some pics from last years shoot:

The black powder cannons were neat. & here comes the interesting part of the story. There's this group of guys who've been out there ever since I can recall. They wear colonial attire, have colonial era tents & rent out black powder arms; rifles, muskets, a cannon & a mortar. But one of the gentlemen also rents out a suppressed Ruger Mark II pistol & a 1918 BAR. Not a 1918A2 BAR, but a 1918 BAR. Go to the post I did on last year's shoot to find out more about the two versions.

Anyway I was waiting for the BAR to cool down as someone had just put a few mags through it before I got there. A bunch of kids (around 7 of them I think) were taking turns trying out the suppressed .22 Another gent came up & apologized for the wait & I told him not to worry; seeing kids having fun shooting is probably more fun than anything out there.

So the kids get through (you should have seen the smiles on their faces) & the gent who owns the BAR came up. he told me he was running low on ammo but had enough for a couple of mags if I was interested. I asked him how low & he said two full mags & a partial. He said he didn't think it'd be as popular as it was so he didn't bring enough ammo. Now being the cheap bastard enterprising chap I am I casually mentioned I had a few hundred rounds of mil-surp '06 in the car & asked if he'd like to cut a deal. Short version is I gave him a round for every round I fired through his BAR & sold him some more at $0.30 per round. Plus I helped load the mags. Since he was charging $15 a mag (20 rounds) he still was making some cash. More importantly though it gave some people a chance to fire a 1918 BAR.

So I let Jed run through a partial mag & I went through two full ones. This time though I slung up (the sling on a BAR has three hooks & is a little weird to get used to when you're used to the 1907 two hook variety). There was a junked out truck at about 350 yards that I think I hit a couple of times, though everything could have just been going over it or through the cab (windows don't last long out there).

Then the tracer shoot happened. The "Mad Minute" is especially fun as everyone loads up & fires at the same time for a full minute. Horizontal fireworks are the best way to describe it.

After that I went in search of a Garand. Finally found one a few spots away from where I rented the BAR. The sign said $5 per clip so I assumed it'd be around $8 for tracers. The gent who owned it said he'd give me two clips of tracers for $5. When I saw him cutting tracers off a cloth belt for a 1919 I told him I'd load the clips. He seemed a little apprehensive but when he saw that they were loaded right he asked if I owned one. Granted he didn't know me but someone asking me if I own a Garand would be like asking Schumer if he's an ass with a low IQ. He was further surprised when I slung up & got into a sitting position. There was this tower (not sure what the hell it was before the shoot) about 700 yards away (I think). Could barely see it as it was pretty dark by that point. At first I waited for explosions behind it to show its silhouette but that was time consuming as most exploding targets had already went up by then. But someone with a .50 was hitting it with incendiary rounds, so when I'd see the flash I'd aim for it. I hit it a few times (as I saw the tracers bouncing off of it) & the gent who owned the Garand figured out how I was doing it. Hell, half the time I couldn't even see the front sight through the aperture. But it was a wide target so I just lined up the front sight above the rear then settled in to what I thought would be the sight picture. I'm sure there are better ways to shoot at night but that was the most expedient method I could think of at the time.

Now here's the part where Jed can vouch to Spoons & Xrlq that I'm not wanted:

On the way back a cop pulls out behind us. I made sure I was going a little below the speed limit & kept on cruising. About 5 miles later we get pulled over. Now to his credit he walked up & before I had a chance to ask told me that I got pulled because I had a headlight out. Most cops (in my experience) either wait till you ask or don't say anything at all in the hopes it'll draw a confession of some sorts. he did ask what was in the cup I had on the console & I told him it was tea. Then he asked where we were coming from & I told him not to take it personally but I have a cousin that's a lawyer & he'd kick my ass if I discussed anything other than fishing with a cop in the middle of a traffic stop. He didn't seem thrilled but then again he didn't seem upset either. He ran my papers, returned them & we were on our way.

Course he didn't ask for my pistols, but that's probably because he couldn't see them. But I do ave a witness that I A: don't randomly shoot cops & B: I don't have any outstanding warrants as that'd have come up when he ran my papers.

That was this years machine gun shoot. Fun & definitely worth the drive. There were a lot of interesting discussions as well as multitudes of neat firearms that I just don't have time to write about. So if you're in Colorado or can be look for it to happen around the same time next year. Not as big as Knob Creek's shoot but closer if you're near the Rockies or the west coast.

& here are a few pics of me from last year, firing the 1918 BAR & a Garand:

Posted by Publicola at May 16, 2005 04:45 PM
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