OPINION: Why I feel Machine Guns Are Overrated

Tommygun-picard

Heresy. BURN HIM!

I can feel the hate coming from each one of you right now, but hear me out.

I think I have a pretty good reason for making the statement that machine guns are highly overrated for recreational shooting. In a military, police, or even self-defense situation; there is still a very real need for a machine gun, but at the range when you are having fun or building skill? I will pass thanks.

How can a passionate shooter like myself go from jumping at the chance to shoot anything full auto to no longer seeking the opportunity out? It turns out it isn’t too hard.

In the early days of TFBTV, Alex C. and I would shoot 2 or 3 times a week to film an episode or test products. During that couple of months, we shot very few semi-auto firearms, almost every one of them was select fire with a handful of exceptions. We wanted to cover as many machine guns as we could early on as we felt that the videos would do well and Alex was planning on closing his firearms business down necessitating the sale of most of the NFA firearms in his collection.

Sure, shooting a machine gun a lot is tons of fun, but the downside is the cost to become proficient with a select fire gun. Both Alex and I had amassed an ammo bill that was nothing short of staggering. Hell, I am still hiding how much I spent on gun food from my wife.

I just don’t seem to jump at the chance to shoot a select fire gun like I once did. I am not saying I don’t like shooting them, just that they aren’t as exciting as they once were. I guess over exposure can have that effect on people. So how does machine guns no longer being as much fun for me to shoot translate into being overrated?

It seems that shooters who haven’t been fortunate enough to spend a bunch of time on a select fire gun place the experience on a pedestal, building the experience up in their mind as the holy grail of shooting. The truth is, while fun, there are several shooting activities that can be much more rewarding and enjoyable. Shooting under a timer, even if it is an informal range day, can be quite a lot of fun as well as skill building. Shooting long range is another one of those activities that I personally find to be more rewarding than ripping through a thirty caliber clip in half a second, even if the shoulder thing does go up. I find that when shooting with friends, we almost always have more fun challenging ourselves rather than hanging onto a rifle that turns dollars into noise faster than you realize.

To further put me off the machine gun fan wagon is the cost of entry. Entry level Mac-10s top $7,000 last time I looked and a transferable M-16 hovers around the $20 – $25 thousand dollar range. I think I would rather buy a new truck, spend the money on several firearms and ammo, or stuff it into a savings account for my son’s college fund. The price of a transferable machine gun is just too damned high.

What it boils down to in my mind is that shooting a machine gun is the gun nut equivialant of getting a model into bed. They are expensive, loud, the experiance is over far too quick, and leaves you wanting more. Go with the down to earth girl that won’t drain your bank account with expensive dinners and shopping trips; life will be much more rewarding.

If you still want to light the torches and chase me with pitchforks, now is the time to do so.



Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and works in the shooting sports industry. He is an avid recreational shooter and a verified gun nerd. With a lifelong passion for shooting, he has a love for all types of firearms, especially handguns and the AR-15 platform. Patrick may be contacted at tfbpatrick@gmail.com.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Jacob Peters

    Come to the People’s Republic of Canada where machine guns and all things fun are illegal. Weed and Welfare however is.

    • Stephen Beat

      Er…You are kinda not making a good argument there! LOL

    • iksnilol

      I agree with Comrade Stefan, you’re not making a good argument.

      • Giolli Joker

        “You won’t have cool toys but you’ll get stoned and you’ll forget about them… then somebody will take care of you”

        • iksnilol

          Umm… illegal and won’t have it are two separate things, Italian comrade 😉

  • Georg B.

    Looks like over-exposure to what is usually very limited to others. Not only cost, but also the law aspect of getting a machine gun, let alone shooting it, makes it a scarcity for most people, thus furthering the hype and romantization of it.

  • Raginzerker

    Agreed, I’ve got to shoot an mp5 on full auto, it really wasn’t all that exciting

  • Tassiebush

    It’s okay I had a hunch that might be so. The trade offs (cost and mediocre shot placement) and saturation diminish the pleasure. I’m guessing you’re either a fan of Epicurus or just eerily similar in your insightfulness. About the only thing I could suggest is maybe add another thrill factor like illegality!?
    Loved the observations about other aspects of life BTW. Very accurate.

    • Tassiebush

      To contradict myself jcitizen did share some truly awesome anecdotes of using an American 180 like a mini LMG on varmints! That could never get old! I doubt full auto bursts on pigs would either.

  • JoshCalle

    You’re spoiled, Patrick. As someone who never gets to shoot the cool stuff, I totally want to shoot everything full auto.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      I won’t disagree with you there. I have had the chance to shoot some pretty cool guns.

  • Full auto is like cilantro, best consumed in small quantities.

    If you eat a pound of cilantro, you’ll probably never want to have it ever again.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Amen.

    • Tassiebush

      I had to google that and discovered that is coriander. When mum started experimenting with that I thought cleaning products had contaminated the meal.

      • Major Tom

        That’s a genetic thing. Like 1 in 3 humans on Earth has a genetic predisposition to tasting cilantro/coriander as soap. And it appears almost at random. It might not appear in your parents but could appear in your uncle or his uncle.

        • Tassiebush

          Wow that’s interesting and makes sense. Strange thing is I don’t mind it so much now but it was a total meal wrecker before.

        • Old Vet

          My wife loves it, I am the “soap taster”.

    • Major Tom

      Until sufficient time has passed that you’re willing to give it another try or chance. Like one time I had a bad experience with pizza from a place. I eventually gave them another try…15 years later.

    • Sasquatch

      I feel a story tied to this.

  • PK

    “Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog”

    More like Senior Wronger.

    • iksnilol

      *Senior Weiner

      smh

    • Don Ward

      Hey OH!

  • Major Tom

    The absurd cost of “machine guns” like said M16 is due to idiotic gun control measures like the NFA. If they were eliminated you’d see select-fire M16s and M4s about the same price as a higher end civilian AR.

    But why are we caring about that right now? We have HERESY to burn!

    • Audie Bakerson

      If you live in Florida, Rubio’s office is supposedly considering NFA repeal now. Would be a good idea to call them now.

    • Adam

      Yep,I remember RPB MAC11’s were about $200 and went too $2000 overnight when the GCA passed…

  • Black Dots

    *yawn*

    In b4: “This will all change when the Hughes Amendment gets repealed!!!!”

    *Goes back to bed*

  • Giolli Joker

    I only shot FA guns in tourist oriented ranges in South East Asia (a PKM and an M60).
    In both cases the guy supervising me was surprised that I was enjoy more shooting short bursts than burning through the belt in seconds…
    I would love to be able time by time to play with a select fire gun, but I agree on finding the experience somehow overrated.

    • Vitor Roma

      Happened the very same to me in Vegas.

  • Bill

    Full auto is like a 3 way with your girlfriend’s besty: sounds great in concept but is awkward and seldom lives up to the hype. I don’t see the need for it in domestic policing or self defense, versus aimed rounds delivered on target.

    If you opponent is a herd of ISILs or zombies or Folke-Wolfe triplanes, that may be a different story. I’m by no means opposed to people having machine guns, but like Corvettes they have little real world utility.

    • Cymond

      But no matter how much people say that, you still have to experience it for yourself to ever be satisfied.

    • Tassiebush

      Haha awesome analogy! I’ve never heard anyone say one was as good as they’d hoped for and if we reverse that and suppose anything so rare is that good is it a good thing to acquire a taste for if it can’t be sustained?
      I recall a friend who observed that being entertained by a wealthier friend who shared $200 bottles of wine actually sucked because he had no capacity to regularly drink them and his own usual “good wines” that he was previously content with and could afford seemed poor in comparison.

  • Edeco

    Problem is, sounds like the author went nuts, used automatic guns immoderately and cured himself of a fundamentally natural, healthy desire. I blame the forbidden-fruit effect for causing this poor man to lose control and overindulge. Make a debauched beast of himself.

    If one were just able to just go about ones bidness, have giggle switches installed, use them whenever or not, it wouldn’t have to be like this. Proficiency would be slow and/or expensive to build but maybe not so slow/expensive if a culture were able to exist.

  • LazyReader

    Full Auto is tons of fun, but fun is not always practical. Is it practical to have full auto in a defensive situation? Not really, but like I said……..It’s FUN. Unless your shooting at a human wave or keeping people in the trenches a machine gun can only be……*sheds tear* recreational

  • thedonn007

    I wish I could buy a M16 lower for the cost of a standard lower. I would love to be able to shot some FA .22 lr every once in a while.

    • Rick O’Shay

      I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, based on my experience, .22LR ammo isn’t reliable enough for that kind of full auto. There’d just be too many duds to really get any enjoyment out of the experience. A hand-cranked gatling gun in .22LR? Now that would be fun. Duds could just stay on the belt.

    • Andrew Miller

      Ever see the American Arms 180?
      Has a top “pan” type drum, kind of like the Lewis Gun does.
      Somebody built an “upper” out of that which goes right on an M16 Lower and uses those pan magazines.
      Had one in each hand in a video doing a loooooooong magazine dump.

      • thedonn007

        Yes, I have seen a few videos online. I believe someone created a magwell adapter so that you can use the AA 180 drums in an AR lower. Bazooka Brothers I believe.

      • I got to fire one of those. Man that was FUN.

      • Darren Hruska

        The American-180 looks extremely fun. Dream SMG right there.

  • iksnilol

    I feel full auto is similar to sex: Because people who’ve done it too much don’t really care too much for it anymore and when they voice that, all the folks who don’t get to do it often (or at all) get infuriated.

    • AC97

      I’ve done neither, nor do I really care to go about doing either of those.

      YMMV

      • iksnilol

        You oughta try it, it’s pretty fun.

        • Jake

          I guess making friends with a machinist is like having an affair with the sheriff’s wife?

          • iksnilol

            Wha?

          • Doctor Jelly

            Maybe he means both of them will measure your dingus in 128ths of an inch?

          • Tassiebush

            I’m guessing he means exhilarating but you have to constantly look over your shoulder

          • iksnilol

            THANK YOU, bushy comrade, I would never have understood otherwise.

          • Jake

            inexpensive yet life threatening

          • GaryOlson

            ?In either case make sure all is screwed down tight so you don’t have to worry about unexpected projectiles?

      • Vhyrus

        “A lot better than ham, isn’t it?”

        A crisp high five for whoever gets that reference.

    • Adam

      I must have addiction too Machine guns, I still fly too the Philippines every year too get my fill…

      • Norm Glitz

        “to” and “to” and “to”

  • Harry’s Holsters

    I can see where you are coming from and you make some very valid points.

    If we are ever lucky enough to see the Hughes repealed I’ll probably have all my ARs converted and maybe a Glock but I can’t see myself shooting more than 1000 rounds rifle or handgun ammo a year.

    Now an MP5SD may change that.

  • MrBrassporkchop

    Get a 22 conversion for your full auto. Problem solved.

  • SGT Fish

    i still have lots of fun shooting full autos and have been doing it for around 10 years, but iaso mix in a healthy dose of shotgun, handgun, bolt action, and semi shooting too. full auto is kinda a novelty

  • Dave Y

    Bloggers who pontificate about full auto being overrated are overrated [Opinioin]

    😛

    Machine guns are the pinnacle of visceral satisfaction in shooting a firearm, period. There are numerous reasons that someone may now want to engage in fully automatic fire and there is nothing wrong with any of them Ignorance (not meant as an insult), fear, trepidation, intimidation, inadequacy ( not wanting to shoot the gun in front of a bunch of people for fear of almost certainly stitching the ceiling tiles), injury or infirmity, projection, rationalization (or both), can’t afford it, etc.

    As all gun owners know, sometimes non-gun owners want to try out guns, or other gun owners want to try your gun. Without fail, the guns my gunny friends want to try are the 6” 12 gauge AOW, the 500S&W magnum, the Mac10, and FNC, sometimes the belt-fed. The 12 gauge AOW and 500S&W both produce -punishing- recoil and muzzle blast, and get few requests for follow up. The Mac, FNC and belt-fed leave all shooters with a grin a country mile wide you couldn’t smack off their faces with a 2×4.

    Proficient marksmanship with a Mac is an acquired skill for sure and even a relatively heavy assault rifle like the FNC is difficult control free hand in full auto. I usually introduce shooters to the guns in stages of several single shots, followed by several 2 round bursts limited by magazine, then 3 rounds, and onward. This introduces a shooter in a way that instills proper handling, respect and discipline that generally results in tighter groups when firing multiples. Indeed, it’s not as easy as it looks on TV, but nothing gun related is as easy as it is made out to be on TV.

    Sure, machine guns are not inexpensive and the cost of ammunition and maintenance can be high. However, proficiency is a perishable skill, and you need to keep up with it. If your budget tops out at 30K, a Ma Deuce is probably not the best selection for you if you want to be a good shot with it as you will be “gun poor”. OTOH, a .30 belt fed should fit into that budget class and permit some more ammo capacity.

    “Ripping through a clip” in half a second as described above isn’t doing it right. Sure, mag dumps, or belt dumps can be fun, but they’re the moto – equivalent of big, tire smoking burnouts in a car or motorcycle. Properly directing accurate fire on target with a machine gun or select fire rifle is more akin to piloting the vehicle capable of big smoky burnouts rapidly around a track. You don’t use a scalpel for every cutting job around the house, nor do you use a chainsaw for every cutting chore. You use a more optimal tool based on the job at hand. There are jobs that some fully automatic and select fire guns aren’t best suited for, so use a better tool in that case.

    On the other hand sometimes they can make a bigger impact than the semi-automatic cousins.

    Appreciate a firearm for its intended purpose and use, and try to proficiently employ it. Avoid rationalizing why not to do something or project same onto others.

    • datimes

      Well said.

    • Da Miller

      Fully automatic grenade launchers (a la Mk 19) are the pinnacle of visceral satisfaction in shooting. Select fire small munitions (up to 5.56 and 7.62) pale in comparison. Ma Deuce gets close, but isn’t quite the same.

  • datimes

    There are two things I have wanted since I was 14. One was a Ferrari and the other was a machine gun. After 50 years I have both. I’m not a rich guy. It just depends on how you want to allocate the limited funds.

    • iksnilol

      Lemme guess, no kids? 😉

      • datimes

        Bingo!

  • Pete – TFB Writer

    I’m right there with you. If cost weren’t an issue, sure why not, all my guns would be select fire.

  • Wolfgar

    Your comparison of firearms with woman was flawed. It is not the firearm or woman that makes rock and roll a successes but the skill of the operator. That said, like any firearm or woman a high price tag does not guarantee satisfaction.

  • Kalash

    “Hey everybody, I’ve shot full auto weapons a lot, trust me, it is no big deal.”

    Liar, liar, pants on fire.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      No, it is a big deal. I think everyone should give it a go a few times, but it isn’t something I would recommend doing often.

  • Ark

    I could have a lifetime of shooting enjoyment for the price of one transferable machine gun. Full auto is only useful for impressing your dumb friends and converting large amounts of money into smoking brass.

  • Ambassador Vader

    Shooting in an indoor range is boring. Run and guns are fun.

  • Andrew Miller

    Well, if it wasn’t for that pesky Hughes Amendment, people could choose for themselves instead of having them priced out of reach.

  • This article smells like click bait.

    Do you get bored with long range target shooting once you are able to hit a target at long range consistently? How about pistol shooting when you chew the center out of a silhouette? Do you give up shooting shotguns once you break all the clays in a round?

    As for the cost, well these days if you can afford the cost of admission then you should be able to afford the cost to feed it. I got into machine guns when they were cheaper, though at the time they did not seem cheap, but I was smart and used a few thousand to buy surplus ammo for the gun each time I bought a machine gun so I could keep feeding it long after i am buried. Granted my ammo collection now stresses my garage slab but I have not bought and machine gun ammo in the last10 years.

    I enjoy MGs for several reasons, I like the engineering behind them as well as shooting a 3 shot burst on steel at long range to hear the impacts and revile in the mastery of the control over the gun. This also explains why I collect only controllable well engineered machine guns. I must admit that I do not get enjoyment that many do in blasting ammo indiscriminately into the ether.

    BTW add tracers to your machine gun shooting experience will multiply their giggle effectiveness 10 fold.

    • Bland Samurai

      At last, a voice of reason!! This really stinks of click bait. What informative value is there to this “story”? So the author got burned out firing someone else’s MGs (and ammo?) at the range. Has he employed them for their actual intended use or trained to use them during peacetime? That’s like a guy who drives a Ferrari to: shop at the mall; get the kids at school; hit the dry cleaners; go to work. He then bemoans the MPG and insurance rates and states it’s not practical for anyone to own. Meanwhile his neighbor, Mario Andretti, has the same car yet he opens her up on the highway and on a closed track. He loves the car and wants everyone to have one. Mario’s opinion is better educated but it’s still just an opinion. All that matters is that he isn’t seeking to deny others the same joy he experiences. You are bored shooting MGs? BFD why should I care or know?!?!

    • Tassiebush

      I think it’s also comment bait which isn’t a bad thing. I have gotten a fair amount out of what you’ve just written. I recall your previous comments too about how contemporary machine guns aren’t necessarily good examples of how good automatic fire can be since certain specific earlier guns often have better handling.

  • Andrew Miller

    If he was a “business” then the guns were probably Dealer Samples and therefore, couldn’t be kept if the business closed up.

    • MIke H

      This. One of my best friends is a gun dealer who’s able to have full auto dealer samples on hand… but they belong to the business, not him. If he closes shop, he needs to sell them.

  • it’s just Boris

    I want a full auto AR-15 for two reasons. First, because people (who shall not be named – no politics…) don’t want me to have one. And second, because that way the news outlets’ nomenclature will be correct once in a while.

    But seriously, what possible and plausible reason would most police units have for full auto? Terrorism response units are one thing, but otherwise…?

  • MIke H

    One of my best friends is one of the few in the state who gets to keep full auto demonstration guns on hand for his gun shop as he deals with LE and security contractors quite regularly, so when I go to visit, we’re always out shooting some of his toys. Yes, “giggle switch” is a very appropriate term. BUT… I wouldn’t want one if given the opportunity. Unless you’re laying down suppressive fire or trying to clear a room full of bad guys, (and unless you’re a professional door kicker, how realistic is either of those scenarios?) I fail to see the point. They are much harder to control unless you can afford the ammo to practice regularly, so most of your rounds fired won’t be on target unless you fire in very short bursts… in which case, what is the point of getting it over a semi-auto?

    The giggle switch is great for giggles… really, I can’t begin to tell you how much fun they are if you’ve never shot one… but as a practical matter, for home defense or even a SHTF gun, from my own experience with them I’d rather have an accurate semi-auto with a good optic and trigger.

    • Chris

      An old m61 or m67 is much ,much more effective for clearing a “room full of bad guys” (…as long as they are ALL BAD ! and you have good cover , ) …than any Machine gun ! Quicker too !

  • Brick

    Everybody wants to get knee deep in brass but nobody wants to pay the bill.

  • DIR911911 .

    did NOT read a single word past the title , do we really need clickbait articles like this?

  • Full auto is definitely cool, but at the prices its hard to justify. If we could get rid of the Hughes amendment, and allow full auto to be less rare, they would be easy to justify more often (but not all the time).

  • Kevin E Bates

    Even if they weren’t on the NFA feeding them would be expensive. No thank you.

  • HH

    Ok. I’ll bite as a MG’er. I have a spectrum of different guns, don’t compete, and don’t shoot distance. I do ,even after a decade, get a pretty good smile after mag dumping. Call me a crack ho’. Fine. Ringing steel bursting with an MP5 full auto is music to my ears that just cant be replicated by quick trigger pulls or anything else (binary triggers, slidefire, you name it- I have them too).

    Practical value and ninja warrior skillz? Nope. I completely lack those. Nor am I prone to develop them past basic SMG classes (have taken a pair of them).

    A lot of MG’ing is maintenance and engineering as MONGO states below. I like that aspect. If you are a gearhead in general then MGs are awesome to mess with. Go jump into a HK 3 round burst mechanism or pick a belt fed and start messing with timing and HS. Troubleshooting. That’s what a lot of it is. And owning a MG forces one to become a gunsmith of sorts as mailing these guns off for repair/eval is expensive and tedious.

    Is it for everyone? nope. Most will be happy with shooting one here and there and being done with it. Fine. Others will only shoot FA guns and completely disregard their semis (me). To each his own. I find MGs to be a lot more interesting than semis….and yep, I wish Hughes had never passed and the costs of them were basically the gun manu cost + the $200 stamp. I’d love that.

  • Madcap_Magician

    The irony of the machine gun is that most of us who have shot them did so in the military. Where the ammunition was supplied at no cost to us, but the shooting fun was minimized by interminable cleaning, wearing full battle rattle, only shooting at authorized targets, and having to run 800 other joes through the range as well and then pick up zillions of casings and links afterward.

    Whereas if we shoot machine guns on the civilian side, we have to do none of those things, really… except for pay for the ammunition, which ruins the fun in a different way.

  • retfed

    “In a military, police, or even self-defense situation . . .”
    I’d take exception with that statement. In a police or self-defense situation, you have to account for where every bullet went and why you put it there. Full auto is so hard to control that I, for one, would not want to be the one standing in front of the bench and telling the guy in the dress (as we used to call him) why I fired a burst, instead of controlled multiple rounds, at another human being.
    In American policing, or in a self-defense situation in the U.S., there is no legal justification for suppressing fire. Controlled semiauto fire will accomplish what must be done without the legal headaches of full-auto.
    Having said that, full-autos are fun to shoot. My personal favorites were always the open-bolts (Uzi, Thompson), because they’re easier to clean afterwards.

    • Major Tom

      “in a self-defense situation in the U.S., there is no legal justification for suppressing fire”

      Maybe not in California or New York but under Colorado Make My Day law, self-defense has no limits nor a duty to retreat. If somebody breaks into your property to inflict violence upon you and others around you, it’s perfectly legal to break out RPG’s and Miniguns as overkill as that might sound.

      • retfed

        But you still have to fire on a specific threat. You can’t just throw rounds in the bad guy’s direction to keep his head down. That was my point.
        All bullets end up somewhere. You have to be able to tell a judge where every bullet you fired went, and why you put it there, Make My Day law or not.
        Someone just reminded me of an incident that happened in Miami when I was working there in the 80s. Two pairs of drug dealers got into a running gunfight with Beretta SMGs. Nobody was killed, but one bullet traveled several blocks, entered the window of a residence, and blew the lip off a 73-year-old guy who was watching TV in his den.
        The actors were all criminals, but the point about uncontrolled full-auto fire stands.
        I just read the Make My Day law. It says that the use of deadly force is justified inside your dwelling, and if you use justifiable force you can’t be sued civilly. It does not relieve you of the duty to properly apply deadly force. Suppressing fire is not a reasonable use of deadly force; the laws of war don’t apply in your neighborhood.

        • Logic Rules

          ***You have to be able to tell a judge where every bullet you fired went, and why you put it there…***

          That idea just doesn’t jive with reality, even if it does sound nice.

          Many people in law enforcement repeat that idea over and over, and I agree that it is a great goal. However, we’ve all seen many accounts of law enforcement shooting where numerous bullets, even a majority of the bullets, missed the intended target. I’ve read articles over the years that claim that somewhere around 75% of rounds fired by officers miss the target.

          Most officers in shooting will miss with some rounds, and there’s no way they can explain to a judge where every bullet went. All those officers aren’t being punished because they didn’t have a 100% success rate with each shot. Obviously, the vast majority of those officers didn’t experience the horrific tragedy of accidently harming an innocent person; so in that aspect, they got lucky. But an officer who misses and doesn’t accidently harm someone likely didn’t do much or do anything different than an officer who did accidently harm someone.

          The argument can certainly be made that there’s a difference between firing individual shots that accidentally miss the target vs firing bursts of fully-automatic fire that should be expected to result in misses. So the arguments against full-auto use in law enforcement make sense. However, the supporting rationale that is the idea that officers should truly be expected to have 100% hit percentages during shootings is ridiculous. 100% hit percentages by officers is a wonderful goal that all should strive for, but it’s also an impossible goal. Concluding that officers should be instantly subject to massive punishment for failing to do the impossible is ridiculous and thankfully doesn’t occur all the time in the real world.

          • retfed

            I know about the high miss ratio. I used to be a LE firearms instructor. In the case of a miss with a non-full-auto weapon, the officer can say, “I was aiming at the suspect, and I missed.” That’s defensible in court. But “I fired a burst at the suspect, and I missed” is much less defensible. And even in the first case, the officer will probably face big trouble if one of his misses hit an innocent bystander.
            I must have missed the part where I said officers would or should “be instantly subject to massive punishment.” What I said was, full auto fire is inherently too inaccurate and uncontrollable to be safely used in a policing environment in the United States, over ninety-nine percent of the time.
            Please remember, too, that the original dispute was over the use of suppressive fire, not aimed fire directed at a threat.
            And the original argument with me was over self-defense shooting and the Colorado Make My Day law. A LEO who fired a full-auto burst at a suspect, missed, and hit an innocent bystander (or someone three blocks away) may or may not be covered by his qualified immunity arising from his duty to pursue and apprehend. A homeowner who did the same thing would be SOL.

      • H.C.

        There most certainly is a place in law enforcement for “suppressive” fire, and it’s generally referred to as “directed” fire to avoid the bs stigma. We recently had a gun fight occur during a vehicle pursuit. One officer had been hit while actively pursuing the suspect. The suspect then crashed, and came out shooting. The suspect had an officer pinned, while another responding officer put down suppressive fire to extract the pinned officer to a safer location, saving the pinned officer’s life. Suppressive or “directed” fire is a tool, and it is a tool that may not be used often, but one we cannot remove from our tool box lest we are handicapping first responders.

        • retfed

          Was this done with full-auto fire? I’d bet not. Again, full-auto fire is too inaccurate and uncontrollable to use in domestic policing. Aimed, rapid semi-auto fire is preferable ninety-nine-plus percent of the time.
          I like to play with full-auto weapons as much as the next guy, but it’s not suitable for most police work in the United States. (How often does a SWAT team, for example, use it?)
          When I was on the street I was issued a select-fire M4, and it was fun on the range, but I never fooled myself that I would fire any three-round bursts at anyone.

  • lowell houser

    With no NFA, machine guns would still be kinda niche because the ammo bill is insane. Granted the price disparity wouldn’t be as bad as the Thompson and all other guns back in the 30’s, hell they’d probably be pretty cheap now, but even if every AR/AK came standard with the waste-ammo switch, it wouldn’t get used all that often. Granted there are a few firearms that I simply don’t understand how they sell – semiautomatic belt feds/RPKs and semi-automatic submachine guns top the list, because by nerfing them you’ve defeated the entire point of them.

    But, I’ve shot a Thompson. I have trigger time on an M249, M240, and used the three round burst on a live fire course when I wasn’t supposed to(didn’t get caught). It was fun, but if I were buying the ammo that sort of fun would be a once a year thing.

  • Evan

    Having shot machine guns in the Marine
    Corps and once in civilian life, I must say I wholeheartedly disagree. Yes, they are grossly expensive because of stupid laws. The answer to this isn’t to dismiss machine guns entirely, it’s to work to change those laws. Machine guns are fun. Very, very fun. The fact that most of us will likely never own one due to the cost makes them no less fun. I’ll admit they aren’t exactly practical for civilian purposes, but they’re still a blast to shoot. Even in the Corps, everyone loves that end of the fiscal year dumpex when you burn off all your surplus ammo, even though cleaning the weapons afterwards is a nuisance.

  • Dude

    Pick any caliber you want, then use the same “logic.” It just doesn’t make any sense. Just because YOU don’t like shooting full auto doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t have the “right” (I use quotes because it is a right but it is one infringed upon) to shoot them.

  • El Duderino

    Machineguns are dumb because they’re too expensive? That’s artificial scarcity created by the NFA.

    Does the writer of the article have any military experience with FA weapons? Us veterans, by and large, can appreciate FA. Though, back to finances, it’s nice when Uncle Sam is paying for the ammo.

    • marathag

      Not so much the NFA as the 1986 cut-off done by FOPA

  • Chris

    True , models are extremely overrated !
    And when I shot FA ,with Uncle Sammy (usually ) providing all the ammunition we needed ,my personal goal was 2 or 3 rounds on target for each trigger press !
    But , now ; when I have to buy my own ammo , I can really relate to ,the turning dollars into noise thing ! Machine guns(and models ) are overpriced and ,yes , overated …. But , if someone else covers the tab , I’d give her a whirl … or a shot ! …magazine …belt ? ? ?

  • jerry young

    I guess everyone has an opinion so here’s mine, I’ve been lucky enough during my time in the military to fire a wide variety of weapons from the .45 to firing a law rocket launcher, to being in and near tanks when they were firing, to witness a 20 mm cannon firing from a cobra helicopter and firing a M60 from the door of a huey and much more, Unless you have shot a full auto firearm you can’t know the joy, but much like anything else when you have the chance to fire one any time you like it gets old for the rest of us some like me had their time in the military some get lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time and some just have the unlimited funds to enjoy this whenever they want, no there isn’t much use in the sporting world or in law enforcement but for the normal person that never has had the chance and you get lucky enough to experience the wonders of full auto do it! Every time I see a new gun someone came up with like a pistol that fires a 50 bmg and say how I’d like to fire it someone asks why well until you experience something you never know what you missed so I ask why wouldn’t I want too?

  • uisconfruzed

    Agreed, it was fun for the first mag. After that I realized how much more effective a semi-auto is at hits on target, and sparing your wallet.
    A hand held MG’s job is to keep the enemy’s head down, and it does so well.

    I would still love to fire an Aero from a chopper door in low light, with someone else footing the $3000/min bill.

  • Spear Fish

    The ironic thing is aimed semi-auto fire is infinitely more deadly than full-auto, but don’t tell the ATF that. Full auto in anything but military use is just a fun toy, that’s why it’s called the giggle switch. To me the ultimate in full auto is a .22LR AR with a suppressor. It’s the only caliber full-auto that is so controllable you can write your name with it, the ammo is relatively cheap, it’s very quiet, and it has the cyclic rate of an MG42. Fun, fun, fun.

  • lookinoutforu

    Years ago, I fired a full auto BB gun. Great fun.

  • bobk90

    Full Auto is good for a few things and Accuracy is not one of them. They are great for laying down suppressing fire, Initiating an Ambush or Surviving a Close Ambush running into it. The 3 round Burst Mode is not Full Auto so please stop thinking that a gun with that option is a machine gun…. Long Live the Republic!!!

    • Bob

      depends on which full auto you have.
      I’ve had the privilege of getting to shoot a variety of select fire weapons (other then my time in the Armored Cav in Vietnam).
      In order from easiest to hardest to shoot on full auto for me.
      1) mp 40 9mm (super easy.. like shooting a squirt gun)
      2) m-16.. If you shoulder it, and fire in 3 to 5 round bursts you’d be surprised at the level of accuracy
      3) Thompson 1928 ( the “tommy gun”) heavy, club like, again do 3 to 5 round bursts
      4) M-14 SLING UP REAL TIGHT with the E-2 wood pistol grip stock and the forearm handle. on a full sized silhoutte at about 75 yards, standing and slung up TIGHT, round one hit at the waist, round two hit about the heart, round 3 would be airborne.
      5) FN/FAL paratrooper model…. much like the M-14 above
      6) UZI …. this thing climbed uncontrollably. I would not own one.
      2.5) I’ve had the opportunity to fire a “spitfire” which is a cheap “grease gun” type weapon with a wood stock, front pistol grip, and uses grease gun magazines (30 rounds of 45 aCP). I’d place it between number 2 and 3 above…in ease of shooting and hitting the target.
      It takes lots of money, even if you reload to feed one of these fine devices!!
      It is fun though. That’s why people call the safety “the fun switch”

      • bobk90

        Thank God I never had to see a Human Wave attack… where any Full Auto will help the cause! Knew an older guy who fought in Korea and he said when the Chinese Wave came, it was unbelievable and that they were melting their Barrels out! Thanks for your service! I agree with what you said, though it takes practice to control a True Full Auto Weapon and be accurate with it! Also, you better have good support chain to supply the Ammo for sure, since you’ll burn thru it quickly! I was in the Army for 9 1/2 years and the last 5 were with D co. 2nd Bat, 7th SFGA (non-tabber) and I have fired the MP5, the British Sten Gun, the UZI (I thought it sucked) and of course FA Ak-47’s which we got from a Cache we stumbled across while in Central America. I’d rather shoot single or semi-auto and use Full Auto for ‘close’ ambushes and let the M249’s, 60’s (the PIG) & 50’s do the suppressive fire using Full Auto! That also means I’d have to carry less in the field and while on Patrol… allot guys just don’t realize how ‘heavy’ ammo can get! Sadly many think it’s like the Video Games they play with an endless supply of ammo and they don’t know that there isn’t any music playing motivating them to go on. No it’s just the noise of Battle and feeling your Heart Beat Thumping in your Chest & Ears….

        • Bob

          it was a “small human wave”. We buried about 600 of them right across from Tan San Nhut AFB at the soccer field right after tet 68.
          I can’t believe the VC would attack and armored Cav unit.
          I would be hesitant to put the bums rush on M48 Tanks with their 90 mm main gun and 50’s and APC’s with those 50’s.
          (we’d only use the coax 7.62 till it jammed, took too long to clear it as it was in a tough spot to get at between the main gun and the turret wall.)

          • bobk90

            They probably had them on some Heroin I bet…

      • Major Tom

        A former (now-retired) coworker of mine was in Central Highlands of Vietnam and much echoes your sentiment about the M14. Dig in your shoulder and put some muscle into it if you want to stay on target on Auto. Even then it was simply easier to use on Semi at any sort of range greater than 100 meters. You simply could not reliably hit anything on Auto that far or beyond. (Unless you had one with a bipod, then you could do so while set up on one.)

  • Richard Lutz

    Stupid article. As if shooting a PPSh-41 in semi-auto is anywhere near as much fun as full auto. A full auto is also much more useful in engaging multiple targets at close range as when hosing a corridor full of enemy combatants. By the same argument why bother driving a 1000cc Ducati motorcycle when a 50cc Honda moped is much cheaper and more practical around town?

  • Baggy270

    What’s a 30 round clip?

    • wjkuleck

      Three ten-round strippers welded together.

  • Stephen Cornell

    I think everyone should do it at least once in their life, though. Just to have the experience.

  • wjkuleck

    Once upon a time, Mike Dillon got himself a Tommy Gun. Mike was spending way too much on ammo, so he bought a Star progressive reloader. He didn’t like some things about the Star, so he designed his own progressive reloader. Now, Dillon is the “blue standard” in reloading equipment, and Mike is wealthy to the point that he has not only Dillon Engineering but also Dillon Aero, manufacturers of the M134 Minigun. So, owning a machine gun can make you financially quite comfortable. Did I mention Mike’s helicopter and airplane and quad .50 and…?

    For those of us with less entrepreneurial moxie, MGs are indeed God’s answer to the question, “How can I have the most fun turning dollars into decibels?”

    That having been said, I’ve got access to a full-auto M14 and a case of Hornady .308, and can’t wait to get back to the gravel pit to perfect my technique.

  • Tim Pearce

    “..hanging onto a rifle that turns dollars into noise faster than you realize.” That perfectly sums up the reasons I’ve never even bothered to try shooting a full-auto.

  • Norm Glitz

    A great way to turn money into smoke & noise.

  • Badwolf

    I half agree. MGs are overrated to fire. But they are not overrated to own.

  • Stanley Rabbid

    Sure as hell seems to work on Borg. I’ll give you that.

  • Archie Montgomery

    After twenty-eight years as a lawman, I see very little actual need for a fully automatic weapon in such work. I suppose one could make a case in support based on a specific situation, but typically fully automatic fire – especially from hand held devices – rather, uh, sloppy.

    For those who get a ‘thrill’ from firing automatic weapons, good for you. I get a bigger thrill from putting a round, either handgun or rifle, right where I want it to go. I can think of better things to do with my money than buy and shoot lots and lots of ammo.

    But most of you are big kids; make up your own mind.

  • Cynic

    Thing is allot of what you say is truely fun can be done with machine guns. I want one to shoot timed subgun matches or run lmg/mmg drills under a timer on a popup range or a assault rifle in a shoot house to Test my skill and get better