Which machine gun?

I’m putting away some money for a machine gun in the next year or two, but am having trouble deciding which one I should end up getting. I’m looking at either subguns or automatic rifles, as most rifle-caliber MGs (M1919, M2, etc.) are expensive to buy and expensive to feed. No miniguns for me.
Here’s my current list:

  • Uzi. 9mm is relatively inexpensive. Can fire both semi- and full-auto. Simple operating mechanism (less to go wrong). Parts and magazines are widely available and inexpensive. Only downside: controls are not ambidextrous/lefty-friendly, but not a big problem (I’ve fired Uzis, and it works pretty well even though I’m a lefty.) Cost: between $6,000 and $8,000.
  • Ruger AC-556. Factory chambering in .223, but one can also fire .22LR easily with a simple conversion kit. Parts are widely available. Ruger still provides free warranty service. Can fire semi-auto, full-auto, or three round burst. Uses Garand-style operating mechanism for strength and reliability. Available in both stainless or blued steel. It also doesn’t look terribly scary, and so wouldn’t stand out much unless I switch it to one of the “fun” positions. Cost: between $6,000 and $8,000. Lefty-friendly.
  • M16. Chambered in .223, but one can equip any number of uppers, conversion kits, etc. to change calibers to just about anything. Truly the “lego set” of guns. I’d probably get a DIAS, as I’d be afraid of damaging a registered receiver. Lightning links are also an option, but their fragility troubles me. Cost: around $12,000. Lefty-friendly.
  • MP5. Everyone wants one, so prices are crazy — about $15,000. Registered sears can be easily moved to other HK guns, giving one some flexibility. Long-term durability is somewhat iffy (they’re not as durable as, say, Uzis). Parts and mags are widely available, but not the cheapest thing around. Pretty lefty-friendly.

The warranty service on the AC-556 is a perk, but the relatively thin barrel does heat up fast, so lots of full-mag dumps probably won’t be a good thing. It’s non-scary appearance may be handy in some situations.
M16s are expensive, but have wide industry support. The potential for a future “assault weapons ban” not including machine guns could still affect me, as it would freeze the supply of magazines and possibly other stuff (uppers, barrels, etc.). Troubling.
The MP5 is a fine subgun, but everyone seems to want one, so prices are stupidly high. The Uzi has a much more “crude” appearance (but is perfectly functional), and is about half the price.
I’m not looking for a “safe queen”, so “new in box” guns are probably not a good idea. I intend to shoot such a gun on a regular basis and keep it in good repair, rather than keep it as an investment or collector’s item.
Any thoughts or input?

11 thoughts on “Which machine gun?”

  1. Scratch the MP5. I hear their customer service is abysmal (H&K: Because You Suck, and We Hate You).
    I was leaning toward the Ruger till you mentioned the barrel. What’s the use of going full auto if you can’t do it a lot?
    So, that leaves the Uzi and the M16. My opinion, the Uzi has more of a “gee-whiz” factor than the M16, and ammo is cheaper.
    But, the M16 fires a rifle round, and although a new “assualt weapons” ban could impact it, any such ban will impact the Uzi as well.
    I’d say the M16 is a more practical choice, but the Uzi will let you do a better Schwarzenegger impersonation.
    I’d get the Uzi.
    Nice blog, BTW. Got here via Sebastian. Blogrolled ya, too.

  2. Rustmeister:
    – Yeah, I’ve heard about HKs sucky customer service. But still, there’s a part of me that says “HK! Shiny!” It’s hard ignoring that…well, at least it’s hard ignoring it until I see the price tag. Then it becomes easy to ignore.
    – Well, my thoughts on the Ruger are that it’s an “automatic rifle”, so putting 100-round Beta mag dumps downrange is probably not what it was designed for. I’d think that it’d be perfectly suitable for most fun full-auto uses, but not for a huge amount of sustained fire.
    – One of the reasons I was looking at the M16/Ruger is that they can easily shoot .22LR. Cheap ammo is always something to be thinking about when you’ll easily blow through a huge amount of ammo at the range. The Uzi does have .22 kits, but I hear they’re not nearly as reliable (and you can’t really use them if you have a registered bolt, rather than a registered receiver).
    Decisions, decisions!
    …..
    Sebastian blew my hit counter out of the water today. It’s good, but somewhat nerve-wracking to know “hey, some people are actually reading this!”. No pressure. 🙂
    Anyway, thanks for your kind words and the add, I appreciate it.

  3. I’ve thought of spending the big dough that a full auto costs but am put off by the fact that were it not for the post-1986 ban the things would cost under a grand. It’s probably no more than a pipe dream that the ban will ever be lifted but if it were a 12-15 grand investment would vanish in a heartbeat.

  4. Flash: I know the feeling, and those same thoughts have crossed my mind as well.
    However, I think I differ a bit from most people when it comes to things like homes and machine guns — I don’t regard them as investments (although they may well behave like them most of the time).
    Instead, I look at a house as a dwelling-place, and a machine gun as something fun to shoot. Nothing more. I don’t usually make such big purchases (car, house, etc.) with the intention of selling it in the near future (condo’s not included, as they’re usually a “starter home”)…I bought my car and intend to drive it into the ground, rather than sell it.
    If the ban were overturned and I lost a bunch of money, I might be a little grouchy at first, but in the end I figure it’d benefit me more than it’d harm me (as I could now buy Shiny! New! Guns!).

  5. Cowboy Blob: Hmm. Well, if you ever find yourself wanting to sell the Uzi, let me know. 🙂
    *reads profile* Say, you’re also in Tucson! Want to go to the range and grab a beer (afterwards, of course) some time?

  6. As a Class III dealer years ago, I think I’ve owned everything made through 1975.
    An M-3 or M3A1 Greasegun is far and away the most fun. Slow cyclic rate and a round big enough to do the job. Dead simple and almost indestructible.
    Cobble up an interchangeable wood stock.
    Get a silencer if you can. A silenced M3 makes more noise slamming the bolt on an empty chamber than it does firing.

  7. I agree with you that a sub gun is for fun, not investment. If the post-1986 ban were lifted I’d gladly settle for a loss in value of a pre-1986 that I had bought.
    Another thought, once you have a legally-owned pre-1986 M16 I believe you can buy all the parts you want for it except the receiver that is registered. If I’m right about that you can practically build it into a new gun.

  8. Flash: You’re right. The only restricted part is the lower receiver (or whatever the registered part is, such as a DIAS or Lightning Link) — everything else can be changed out at will.
    The nice thing about a DIAS or LL is that you can transfer them between “carrier” guns — if your DIAS/LL-equipped gun gets run over by a truck and the registered part survives, you can simply get a new AR and put the DIAS/LL into it. No problem.
    —–
    George: I was under the impression that Grease Guns were a bit…crude. Also, .45 ACP is way too expensive for my regular pistol ammo, let alone shooting it from a subgun in great amounts.

  9. Here’s the dirty dozen thoughts.
    1. Grease Gun: More expensive than a Thompson today. Parts kits getting expensive but mags are a mere $5 or so each.
    2. Uzi: Not lefty friendly, but cheap parts and mags. Easy to work on when (oh so rarely) something goes down. There’s a reason my pre-sample was my first gun and why I still have it. Mags $15 each.
    3. M16 RR: It bores me, so I sold it. However, it will work with nearly any upper out there and parts/mags common. Be advised that pistol caliber conversions can oval out the pin holes. Fixing this is annoying. Mags $10-$15 each.
    4. M16 DIAS: No receiver to worry over, but simply swapping this between receivers is problematic. It needs to be timed for each individual setup.
    5. M16 LL: Unless you get it cheap, don’t bother.
    6. AC-556: Generally stuck as it is, but it’s an inexpensive rifle caliber MG with factory service. Put on a regular wood stock and it’s a stealth MG. Quality mags $30-$75 each.
    7. MP-5 RR: Stuck as it is, but they are a decent subgun. Parts, mags, and repairs are expensive. Mags $30-$75 each.
    8. MP-5 sear/registered pack: Allows you to have a MP-5, MP-5SD, G3 (.308), HK-53 (.223), beltfeds, etc. Mags depend upon caliber with .308 being cheapest around $5 each and .223 being most expensive around $65 each.
    9. Sterling SMG or a Stenling (Sten coverted into a Sterling): Quality piece, smooth shooting, parts kits can be found and mags around $35 each.
    10. AUG: My vote. They’re just sexy! Parts will get more common and will fall in price with these new US-made clones coming out. Mags around $40 and falling.
    11. FNC: $7,500 or so. Parts can be rough to find, though. Uses M16 mags.
    12. STG: Stemple takedown gun. BRP Guns got hold of a mess of registered Stemple tubes (meh) and made them into some pretty cool stuff. Check out http://brpguns.com/ Oh, if you do a M16, get their MG34 8mm M16 beltfed upper. Mags depend on type of setup used (IIRC).

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