TFB Experiences Battlefield Vegas

After the Wednesday round of the 2016 SHOT Show, I sat down for an evening of quiet work, to finish up a few articles I had from the day’s show-trekking. Less than an hour later, I was standing in a crowd at Battlefield Vegas, watching a Chieftain tank crush a sedan.


If your SHOT afterparty looks like this, you’re doing it right. Note that the Chieftain is wearing M1 Abrams drag.


Wait, how did I get there? As part of my agenda for SHOT Show each year, I make an effort to coordinate with other folks in the industry, to arrange meetings and interviews. On my list this year was Ron Cheney of Battlefield Vegas, one of the major machine gun rental outfits in Las Vegas. Ron had reached out to me previously to ask a technical question about one of the tanks he owns, and after some brief back-and-forth, he sent me a text Wednesday night: “There’s a huge party out here going on right now, we’re going to crush a tank.”

Well, so much for getting work done.

A quick Uber over to Battlefield Vegas, and I was exchanging handshakes with Ron and he began showing me around the place. Battlefield Vegas is a machine gun rental business, but Ron has taken the operation to the next level, with a whole experience built around HMMWVs, Jeeps, tanks, and other military vehicles. Unlike a museum however, Battlefield Vegas’s military hardware isn’t for show; I asked Ron about his collection, and he said “every vehicle here is or will be a working vehicle.” The Sherman tank he asked me about? That will become a touring vehicle (complete with air conditioning and LCD screens) patrolling the streets of Vegas looking for folks who want to be picked up in style for their machine gun shooting experience.


So far as I know, there is no Battlefield Vegas package that includes pickup by Choctaw, but it’s probably only a matter of time.


Enough chitchat, though; I am guessing you want to see a car get crushed:

Beyond SHOT 2016 – that was the name of the party – was a hoot. Hosted by Battlefield Vegas and OSS Suppressors, it went on into the night with gun and gear giveaways, tank rides, car crushes (oh yeah, there was more than one), and free drinks. According to Ron, about 90% of his staff are veterans, and Beyond SHOT reflected this with constant shout-outs and thank-yous to all the veterans in the crowd.

Eventually, though, I had to get back to my hotel room and get ready for the next day at SHOT, but I promised Ron I would be back. We agreed to meet up Friday for the full tour of the place. When I arrived, I got a chance to snap photos of the vehicles in daylight:



HMMWVs. Battlefield Vegas has a large fleet of these, well into the double digits.



Ron’s Polish T-55AM tank, supposedly one of the last ever made.



FV433 Abbot



Abbot: Betcha can’t have just one.



M56 Scorpion AT gun carriage, a 7 tonne airmobile 90mm self-propelled gun. Essentially the tracked anti-tank equivalent of a .380 ACP pocket gun.



The aftermath of Beyond SHOT. Note the different car under the Chieftain’s tracks than the one in the video, and the two other crushed sedans in the background.



Alvis Saracen armored personnel carrier.


“But Nate”, I hear you say, “this is The Firearm Blog, not the Armored Fighting Vehicle Blog!” How right you are:


The distinctive facade of the Battlefield Vegas shoot house. I hear there are machine guns inside…



Oh yeah, these look like machine guns. An MG-42, PKM, M14, Bren, RPD, M60, M1918A2 BAR, and M240B, waiting to be brought to the line.



Guns – most of them fully automatic – in the staging area outside the range. This is just a fraction of the total guns at Battlefield Vegas’ disposal.


Ron graciously gave me a tour of the Battlefield Vegas armory, AKA Gun Nut Paradise:


I wonder if “EXTRA CREW SERVED” is for like, naval battleship guns?



It’s not every day you see an Ohio Ordnance HCAR and an L86 on the same gun rack.



Of all the guns in the armory, I had to get my picture with the L86, since this is the first time I’ve ever seen one in the United States. It is a heavy, ungainly beast, for sure. I am not sure why I couldn’t look directly at the camera.



One of Ron’s prized machine guns, a Lewis gun that took a round to the cooling fins. This relic of World War I still works the line at Battlefield Vegas.



Ron’s Type 96 light machine gun, fully kitted out with sling, bipod, 2.5x telescopic sight, and bayonet!


Deeper into the vault, we find that Battlefield Vegas has just a few more guns:

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The AK on the far left is for the Saudi prince in your life.



A pretty unusual sight, a Garwood M134G minigun. These differ from the Dillon Aero gun in several important respects that I’m not qualified to describe.



99 German machine guns up on the wall, 99 German machine guns, take one down pass it around, 98 German machine guns up on the wall…


What good would a trip to Battlefield Vegas be, though, if we didn’t shoot anything? On that account, Ron had me covered (hey thanks, Ron!):

Larry Vickers I may not be, but that was still a heckuva good time!

Finally, Battlefield Vegas is not quite all fun and games, as they have repeatedly made public their assessments of their working guns through TFB. These experiences over such high round counts, while not scientific, are still very valuable, and Battlefield Vegas has released information regarding their AR-15s, Kalashnikovs, handguns, and even optics. According to Ron, Battlefield Vegas has even provided support to the military in the form of HMMWV maintenance advice, since their fleet has so many miles on them.

Hopefully you all enjoyed this look inside Battlefield Vegas, despite it not being my usual thorough (long-winded) technical (dry) detail-oriented (nitpicky) historical (passe) type of article. If you’re ever in Las Vegas, definitely give Ron’s operation a look.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • TheNotoriousIUD


  • Wolfgar

    Disney World for Adults, I love it. The MG42 is one of the most fun anything I have shot. Which was your favorite? I would guess you just crossed off things to do on your bucket list.
    How long did it take you to stop smiling after that experience? Great story and video!

    • The M2 Carbine was on my bucket list. I wouldn’t say I am a regular machine gun shooter, but that certainly wasn’t my first rodeo. I had shot the M3 before, for example. Those are always a hoot because of the low cyclic.

      The 805 Bren in full auto was one of the most interesting, in retrospect. Extremely loud, with virtually no recoil, and if you put your hand in the wrong spot you get SCAR syndrome. Didn’t hurt, but the gun stopped chugging so that’s worth noting. Obviously it’s something you could train out, but it does reinforce my feeling that the AK and AR charging handles have lasted so long for good reasons.

      Thanks for the positive feedback, glad you enjoyed it!

    • Giolli Joker

      “How long did it take you to stop smiling after that experience”
      I think that checking the bill helps with killing that smile. 🙂
      I’d definitely waste some money there, though, no doubt about that.

  • SP mclaughlin

    L86A1 in America
    yeah boi

  • Lance

    Best article Nathaniel F. Love to see a L-85 here in the states…. Wish they made a semi auto import!

    Pointer about the 105mm Chieftain tank:
    Chieftain was UK’s 105mm gun era tank for there Army. The US equivalent was the M-60A1. Though the M-60A1 did see combat and was proven better than the Soviet T-55, T-62, and even T-72 in Lebanon in 1982 and Kuwait in Desert Storm 1991. Chieftains did not see combat with the UK since being replaced by the Challenger series of tanks before Desert Storm. The only combat use of the Chieftain was the Iran Iraq war since Iran bought both US M-60 and UK Chieftain, though lack of trained crews after the revolution in 79 meant they didn’t preform well against Iraqi armor in the few armored clashes during the war.

    • Lance, thanks for the positive feedback. However, as always you are a fountain of incorrect information. The Chieftain was a 120mm gun tank, not a 105mm gun tank. It uses the L11 120mm rifled gun using combustible bag charges, less powerful than but in many ways foreshadowing the M1A1 Abrams’ 120mm smoothbore combustible-case M256 gun.

      • DW

        US did have 120mm-gunned tank(s) that predate the Chieftain: the T34 (not deployed, experimental) and the M103 (actually fielded and deployed). Guns they use are very similar to the Chieftain’s: they are all rifled 120mm guns designed to counter perceived soviet heavy tanks (T-10) at long range.

        • Oh yeah, the M103 is literally my favorite tank, hahah.

          There was a whole host of 120mm guns, many of which are covered in Hunnicutt’s excellent books.

          • Don Ward

            Yep. The M103 Longstreet is the best.

          • Bronezhilet

            What you did there, I see it.

      • Lance

        Strange I mistype something you blame all my post are wrong sorry Blimpy got Chieftain and Centurion tank mixed up for a second.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        You and I share an opinion of typical Lance posts, but…

        as always you are a fountain of incorrect information.

        Bro, Finch, you aren’t good looking enough to have that much sass. He just complimented you and you come back with that. Kinda low.

        Meh, here you have me defending Lance. I hope you’re happy with yourself.

        • You’re right, I should get more training in how to comment tactically.

          • JumpIf NotZero

            Gracefully is more what I was implying 🙂

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    I rented the skorpian and a belt fed run on the pkm. Loved the skorp, but the pkm was mounted on a monopod stuck in the concrete. Fun, but docile. Would have loved just to hold it and run it. Staff was super, looking fwd to going back to Vegas!

    • Giolli Joker

      The PKM is docile even shouldered from its bipod.

  • Don Ward

    Good times and great oldies!

  • ostiariusalpha

    I’m somewhat surprised that you haven’t been jumpif notzeroed for having your index finger inside the trigger guard when you took your eyes off the sights.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      It’s ok, there was a man present to hold his shoulder.

  • USMC03Vet

    More guns and vehicles than a Battlefield game!

    Do NFA laws not apply because the government gets a piece via taxes from the business?

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Why would NFA laws not apply? “Battlefild Vegas” is an SOT 07/02 LLC I’m sure.

      Are you talking buying post-samples without demo letters?

      • sgt fish

        before they started the range in vegas, they did foreign weapons familiarization contracts for high end military types. I assume they got agency demo requests from the government and probably still do as I assume they still keep those training capabilities

        • SGT Fish

          I mean, its obvious they have one of those super hard to get class 3 licenses, duh!
          on a serious note, ive heard they also have licenses for explosives and the real special tours ($$$) allow you to take a ride out to the desert in the Humvees and shoot live HE grenades (MK19,M203,M79,etc) and maybe soon some RPGs.
          but, if you know anything about HE laws, the licensing, registration, storage, and use of this ammunition makes it prohibitively expensive for us normal citizens

    • Cymond

      My guess is they have a manufacturer’s SOT like Alex C. That would allow them to buy inexpensive semi-autos and convert them to full.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    What was your issue with the 805?

    • SCAR thumb.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        Sorry. Not framiliar. I’ve only shot SCARs a couple times and never owned one.

        • jcl

          Do you think xcr type charging handle could be used on scar?

          • JumpIf NotZero

            You’re definitely asking the wrong person 🙂

  • rusty

    I’ve always wanted to go there, maybe next time

  • datimes

    The laws of supply and demand set prices. Now I know why machine guns are so expensive.

    • WISteve

      Laws of Supply and Demand? There is no such thing.