How Links And Belt Fed Machineguns Work (TFBTV Weekly 4)

Many people have asked us how a belt fed machinegun works, so in this episode of TFBTV weekly, we showcase a few different types of common links found in belt-fed machine guns, as we show how a 1919 strips cartridges from the links in order to fire.

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • BattleshipGrey

    I had just found this gif earlier this morning and found it helpful, hope it helps with the illustration. Good timing. Thanks for doing this vid, I’ve always been curious how belt feds work and I couldn’t figure it out just by looking at the mechanism.

    • Now that is awesome!
      From an engineering standpoint they really are fascinating machines.

      • marathag

        Just in case the other post doesn’t get approved

        Animation of Maxim’s Prototype Machine Gun, showing the revolver action
        later used by other automatics to increase speed and reliability to
        delink and then chamber rounds

      • Tassiebush

        Thanks for that video! It’s cool to see the workings of it.I certainly never realized those Browning machine guns extracted the cases backwards first with rimless cases.

    • Hokum

      That’s when Guns Disassembly come in handy.

    • UCSPanther

      A twist on the old ratchet and pawl mechanism.

      Personally, I would love to see a similar GIF for the DShK. I understand those use a sprocket-style roller to pull the belt into the weapon and feed the shells into the chamber.

  • Riot

    Could you do internal vs external extractors on 1911s ?

  • Ya nub, you can’t put a round directly into a 1919 chamber because the “T” slot on the bolt can not get around the case head. The round must move down the face of the bolt in the “T” slot.

    BTW cloth belts are still very common and there are even new belts available for the 1919 which most shooters prefer since you don’t have to pick links up.

  • RICH


  • NDS

    Great video, thanks!

  • Broz

    Thanx, Alex…often wondered just how the extraction from a cloth belt worked and this shows it damn well…In the army we had courses on disassembly of the M73 Coax MG…basically an M1919 modified for tank use…but at the time I wasn’t as interested in the mechanic as I am now. I know the Ma Deuce needed to be charged twice and figgered the first pull drew the round pout of the belt and the second chambered it, but could never figger out the cloth belt and rimmed rounds like the .303 Brit and the 7.62x54R….thanx to this I now “get it”!!!

    • Ken

      Oddly enough, the Czech UK 59 actually manages to use push through belts for 7.62x54R.

  • Broz

    I agree – the engineering is a Modern marvel…remember – the fahter of all beltfeds was the Maxim…developed in a time BEFORE smokeless powder…and Hiram’s ability to make the contraption work with the old ‘black’ powder and its resultant fouling still stand as a mervel of Victorian Engineering!!! JMB simplified the system with his recoil operated M 1917 and further perfected it in the 1919 model!!!

  • DIR911911 .

    wait , you mean you actually can post a video without transcribing every word below it. what sorcery is this?

  • Goody

    Getting that winter hair do sorted, hey? :p