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.

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    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.

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    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:

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

     

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

     

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    FV433 Abbot

     

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    Abbot: Betcha can’t have just one.

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

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    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:

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

     

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    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.

     

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    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:

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

     

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

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

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    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.

     

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    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. He can be reached via email at [email protected]


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