Deep Lore on Machine Guns: Q&A with John Keene

Today I’m speaking with retired Master Sergeant John Keene, the NFA export for Morphy’s. John is a machine gun collector himself, and between this and his work with Morphy’s he has exceptional experience and expertise. So we have a slate of questions for him from Patrons:

0:00 – Introduction
0:29 – What’s the best way to sell a transferrable SMG?
5:00 – German small arms engineers used by the US after WW2?
10:44 – Could the T24 (American MG42) have worked?
14:09 – Are there any machine guns underpriced or overpriced right now?
18:30 – What new machine guns would become popular if the NFA registry was reopened?
21:18 – Was open bolt ever a bad thing on a crew-served gun?
24:14 – Best first machine gun?
27:31 – Converting Colt Balloon Guns into other models – acceptable?
35:06 – If you bought a Thompson in 1932, what was required to keep it legal until today?
42:27 – Why was the MG42 considered such a good machine gun?
48:48 – How effective was the M1919A6 as a squad automatic?
53:00 – Most important improvement in machine guns by today?
55:29 – Are variable rates of fire actually practical?
1:00:51 – What is the current direction of machine gun collecting?
1:06:20 – Impact of Knob Creek ending, and will there be a replacement?
1:11:50 – Examples of feed systems that hinder a gun?


  1. Question, prompted by the video: I used to assume that transferring to a dealer was as effortless as consigning a conventional firearm, because the dealer’s already inside the “circle of trust”. If that’s not the case, how would it work with a gunsmith (e.g. in the DEWAT situation you described)? You’d probably want a lawyer (the rare kind with experience in this area) to put together a contract first.

  2. “(…)Are variable rates of fire actually practical(…)”
    Ability to configure gun for low or fast akin to ZK-383 is available also in Austrian MG74, so apparently some were finding it desirable during Cold War.

    • Pakistan actually. Sudan and Turkey and a few other countries had been delivered factories and tooling as well. I do not know if the other countries even manufacture MG3 currently. Germany has long since scrapped its own manufacturing tooling for the MG3. But the Pakistan made receivers turned out to be bad quality and were not taken by the Bundeswehr as replacement parts for its MG3 arsenal. So I personally would abstain from buying a made in Pakistan MG3.

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