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MG-40 Commentary

by David Albert

My acquisition of an MG-40 beltfed machinegun in .30-06 a little over 10 years ago was the result of a combination of economics and a determination to cure a desire to fill out this part of the collection in an expedited manner. I wanted to get into a beltfed for $2K, and after making the decision to look for one to buy, I quickly found a D.L.O. MG-40 listed in Shotgun News for just that price. The 1919's were all about $800-$1000 more than the MG-40 at that time, and I found out that the MG-40 was based on the same Browning design, but in a scaled down version for aircraft use. Pretty much all I knew was that it was a .30 caliber beltfed machinegun of Browning design made by Colt with spade grips, and the price was right.

At the time of purchase, I was in a very active NFA firearm acquisition mode. The ten Title II weapons I currently own were all purchased in 1988 and 89, and it was important to me that I end up with at least one beltfed before prices shot up any further. At that time prices seemed high, just like the prices now seem astronomical in comparison. I wasnt buying them for investment, but for a collection that I will never sell, so the most I could get with the budget allowed at the time was going to have to be the limit of my collection for a while.

When it arrived at the gun shop I bought it through, the gun seemed much smaller than I had thought it would be, but was very cool looking. It sat on the M-2 tripod I had purchased for it while I waited for the paperwork to go through. I found out that its original chambering had been in 7mm Mauser, and it had been exported by Colt to a Latin American country when manufactured. The MG-40 was the designation Colt gave to foreign exports of AN-M2 aircraft machineguns. The AN-M2 was reportedly used for a very short time on B-17's in a few mountings, but they were traded out almost immediately for additional .50 caliber guns due to lack of firepower with the .30's. The .30 caliber AN-M2's were then used for training, and on Navy dive bombers such as the Dauntless and Avenger. These guns were usually mounted in a side by side setup for the rear gunner. The gun is capable of being fed from either side, so the tandem mounting was possible in very tight quarters with the two guns being fed from opposite sides.

The first thing I found out about the gun when I went to the range is that it is extremely finicky about ammo. IT WILL NOT FIRE ANYTHING BUT M-2 BALL AMMO CONSISTENTLY. I have been told that handloads have been used with this type of gun, but I have not found a load yet that will make it work. It will run like a sewing machine on turbo, though, if you feed it M-2 Ball. I am still looking for a load I can use with it, and if anyone reading this knows of one, I would be especially interested in acquiring this information. As a result of its taste for grande cuisine ammo at 1200 RPM or so, I have only fired about 500 rounds through it in several outings during the past 10 years.

I picked up an M-60 shield about 7 years ago, and mounted this with the MG-40 on my M-2 tripod. The opening page picture for the MG-40 and AN-M2 section of biggerhammer.net is my gun and setup. When I have fired it, it gets attention quick with its high cyclic rate and unique look.

Last Modified on July 31, 1999
aalbert@biggerhammer.net