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The machine guns of Tennessee

For me, the big draws the Lucky Gunner Blogger Shoot were a) getting to mingle with a bunch of “A-list” gun bloggers, b) getting to meet the staff of Lucky Gunner that I’ve been talking to and writing for, c) free classes, d) free ammo, and e) machine guns.

I may or may not have listed all those items in the right order, but they’re all there, just the same.

The machine guns, of course, dominated everyone’s attention on day one of the shoot, and not just because they were deafening, but because they were everywhere. From one end of the firing line to the other there was a baffling array of heavy machine guns, light machine guns, sub-guns, assault rifles and even some machine pistols . Weapons ranged in age from the WWI-era Maxim MG1908/15 to the ultra-modern Kriss SMG.

I didn’t fire many of the guns on the line, because I was having too much fun watching the expressions on other shooters faces when they got done firing. I did get my hands on a couple though, and had three clear favorites.

Browning 1918A2
The BAR is a 22-lb .30-’06 automatic rifle firing from an open bolt, fed by a 20-round box magazine. Bonnie and Clyde were BAR fans, and it isn’t hard to see why. While heavy, the BAR has negligible recoil and with AP ammunition, can shoot through trees, telephone poles and cinder blocks that would stop lesser guns cold. My personal experience with the BAR wasn’t as good as I would have hoped because it had been shot dirty and simply wouldn’t cycle more than a round or two at a time by the time I got to it late in the afternoon. That allowed, there is huge amounts of “want” built into this beast of a rifle, and I’d get one, too… if the cheapest version of it wasn’t a $4,000 semi-auto.

Smith & Wesson M76
The M76 is a straight-up, no apology clone of the “Swedish K,” a cheap, reliable and effective 9mm submachine gun developed at the end of WWII. The Smith & Wesson version came about when the SEALs wanted the gun for operations in Southeast Asia, but the Swedes refused to sell them to the U.S. because of their opposition to the Vietnam War. Fortunately for U.S. shooters, the mission the gun was designed for was over by the time the gun was ready for for the Navy, leaving them to be sold to the civilian market. I fired the M76 twice. It didn’t feel like it weighed nine pounds fully loaded with a 36-round stick magazine, and it shot like a dream.

Yep, the original with the 20-inch barrel and the triangular handguard. I shot this rifle a lot. Not enough to feel guilty, mind you, but enough to really begin to enjoy it. I’ve fired AR-pattern machine guns before, but there was something about getting in tune with the old A1 and getting my rhythm with three shot bursts that just felt natural and right. It’s enough to make a guy contemplate a NFA gun trust. It’s not like the kids really need a college education anyway, right?

All in all it was a great experience and everyone at the shoot seemed to have a wonderful time. I was thinking on the 6 1/2-hour drive home just how absurd the Hughes Amendment was in word and deed, stating that Americans have the right to own or fire these delightful pieces of engineering, but that those freedoms are only applicable up to a certain date. Do any other Constitutional rights come with controversial expiration dates? Would anyone stand for a law that banned any free speech created after March of any arbitrary year?

Machine guns like we fired in Tennessee are precisely the kind of modern weapons that best align with the direct purpose of the Second Amendment. It’s too bad craven politicians were able to side-step the Constitution back then, but perhaps the pendulum of reason will swing back our way soon and this and other absurd laws can be changed, struck or replaced, making these arms affordable again to American patriots like you and I.

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