M60: Its Purpose, Mechanics, and Development

The concept for the M60 began at the end of World War Two, when US Ordnance officers became very interested in the German concept of a universal machine gun (originally conceived by the Danes, but first put into large-scale use by the Germans). This was the idea of having a single machine gun that was suitable for use as a light MG by a single man or 2-man team off a bipod, or as a heavy MG run by a full crew off a stable and sophisticated tripod, or as a vehicular or antiaircraft MG with other types of mounts. Up to this point, the US machine gun service was divided between static tripod-mounted guns (M1919A4/M1917A1) and automatic rifles (M1918A2). The one major US attempt at a light MG (not counting the Johnson) was the M1919A6 and it was a quite awkward kludge of a gun.

Initially, the first concept for the M60 was essentially a second model FG-42 with an MG-42 feed system shoehorned onto it. The first prototypes were made by the Bridgeport Tool & Die Company, with Springfield Armory stepping in to assist in 1947. The gas system that was chosen for the gun was a gas expansion and cutoff type, similar to the M14 gas system. At any rate, Bridgeport had a contract to develop the design, but actual production was contracted to Inland, with the first 100 guns batch made in 1951. The first field testing was done in 1953, and it was adopted into service in 1957.


  1. As someone who humped a 1919A6 through Phase 1 of Special Forces training in 1973, I can attest to the “quite awkward kludge of a gun” characterization. Our TAC explained as he dumped it into my outstretched arms, “I could have given you guys an M60, but that wouldn’t be as much fun for me to watch.” Good times!

    • If this was a pig, that was a… Walrus, or a Sea cow in comparison. I can understand the use of the 1919 in war, as under the circumstances it worked.

      But it wasn’t ideal, and then they knocked this up; accepting it was not ideal. But it takes a long time doesn’t it, what is the major malfunction design team private pile it is now 2022.

      • Cut that in half, under the front size; cut a pkm in half, and weld the front bit of it onto this… Smack it with a hammer a few times and add wd40… 50 years of progress in an 1 hr; start from there.

        Worth doing, next you will be saying walking fire is not a valid concept. He he.

        • Mk2 Smack that north korean belt fed bren onto the top of the fg42/pkm cross; wd4o/hammer stop moaning.

          Right now fuck around with that for 5 years, val… wa. Bingo. Probably; might not, but can’t do any worse in 5 years as oppose 50.

          • “(…)wd4o/hammer(…)”
            What is this?

            “(…)north korean belt fed bren (…)”
            What do you mean under that term?

            “(…)fg42/pkm cross(…)”
            What do you mean by this?

          • @Daweo: With the second question I ccan help. pdb means the north korean type 73 machine gun, that was featured on here just a few days ago:


            The others I am slightly confused as well. Well WD40 is a water dispersing agent made from kerosene and often misused as a lubricant. I guess pdb wanted to casually describe creating a hybrid design of the mentioned pieces in a hammer swinging in the garden shed kind of way.

    • Believe it or not, we captured/confiscated a brand-new, still in the crate M1919A6 while we were in Iraq. If not for that, the closest I’d have ever come to one of these things was in the pages of a book or looking at one in a display case.

      I’d have liked to fire the thing, but .30-06 was in short supply, as were the links. Which is probably why it was still in the crate, in that cache. Handling it made me understand why people who’d only ever experienced it and the M60 as squad support weapons absolutely LOVED them some M60. The M1919A6 has a hard time qualifying as even a kludge; that thing is not only inelegant-looking, it’s a pain in ass to even handle.

      If the only two weapons you offered me were the M1919A6 and the M60? I’d take the M60, every time. If you gave me with a real choice of weapons? The M60 would likely be second-to-last, with the M1919A6 as dead last. Mostly based on the ergonomics, more than anything else.

      • “(…)If the only two weapons you offered me were the M1919A6 and the M60?(…)”
        Now I am wondering: what about Madsen LMG vs M60?

      • That is funny…never saw the M 1919 A6 in Iraq, but we captured 1955 dated 30-06 AP and tracer on links somewhere near Khadimiyah, Baghdad. I still have the repack label from the can.

        • You almost feel sorry for the insurgents…

          The really funny part about that story is that the M1919A6 was found by a unit of the Hawaii National Guard who earned a reputation for finding that stuff to a degree that had people from Department of the Army going down to watch and try to figure out the “how”. After weeks of observation, the DA gurus couldn’t figure it out, and just ascribed it to “good luck”.

          I heard that what the Guardsmen were doing was essentially driving up to some village, dismounting, and walking right up to the caches as if they knew where they were. The locals were seriously spooked by it all.

          And, frankly, when “experts” can’t figure out how you’re doing what you’re doing, there’s probably something essentially unknowable to it all. The stats those guys had for finding stuff were statistically improbable.

          Of course, knowing some Hawaiian and Samoan troops the way I do, I don’t discount the possibility that they were going out at night, finding people, and then beating answers out of them before showing up the next day to “find” the caches revealed through illicit interrogation. Do not fsck with the 6’5″ 350lb 18% body fat Hawaiian/Samoan. It so will not end well. Ask the Turks in Bamberg how that went, when they decided to beat up GIs–Local CSM was a Samoan, and he put out the call to his boys, who all got TDY under shady circumstances to go up to Bamberg. Cue a whole lot of business for local German ERs, and, eventually, a truce. Two Samoans are easily equivalent to about ten Turks, by the way that one played out. Doesn’t hurt, either, that the Samoans played up that whole “cannibal islander” thing–I was told by someone who was part of that they’d hauled off one of the Turkish gang leaders as a barbecue.

          Note wording there.

          They didn’t do it, but… Man, do they love to play that trope up, with outsiders.

  2. Was that taken from the mkb42 h the gas thingi… ? Anyway it is shorter, via the “mag” over the pistol grip; fg42 style.

    Fn mag is longer.

    Could have waxed the cardboard mag boxes…


    Danish version: oink… Surely we could “slimfast it” why do these things take decades; we should chop this and that off a pkm, this off such a thing and give it… Valo..wa something in French, essentially meaning “bingo” well within a decade.

    It is good that, but just wrong; but it is now 2022 that was in the 50’s why is it not right!

    Anyway Kirk, over to you; he he.

  3. I remember the previous M60 video where you explained that wear and tear on the gun meant fasteners would come loose, pins slip out, and the trigger module would fall to the ground and be lost.

  4. I’m looking forward to the small novel’s worth of hateful rant that will appear in these comments as soon as kirk sees this post

    • I hate to sharpshoot Ian, but… This whole video is FUBAR.

      Firstly… You NEVER, EVER use the spring guide to take these things apart, and you certainly never train the troops to use them. They will bend the tips, and you will be dealing with a spring guide that is unserviceable because bending that bastard back is basically a “not going to happen” thing. Use the cartridge tip, as the designers and God meant you to.

      Following critiques of the video:

      13:20–This technique for taking the weapon apart is something you can do, but it is not advised because of the fact that there is a catch on the buttstock which holds the buttstock onto that hydraulic buffer. If you take it apart as Ian shows, you won’t see problems for a very long time, but the reality is that you’re gradually distorting the catch, the buffer, and the recess into which the back end of the buffer goes into when you do it like this. Eventually, parts will be worn past the point of serviceability, and that buttstock will just pull off the back with minimal force applied. At about 13:50, you can see the hole for the take-down, where you should insert your cartridge or cleaning rod. Take the buttstock off FIRST, then the yoke, then the buffer. Any other technique? I catch you as a leader or trainer showing that to the troops, and I’m going to bitch-slap you on the back of the head, and take over the class. This is WRONG. Why? Because it causes excessive wear on that already half-ass recess/locking tab setup. If you’ve ever gone to sling an M60, and the buttstock has come off? That’s because a bunch of dumbasses before you have been taking the buffer out of the buttstock as Ian demonstrates here.

      15:10-ish–Ian’s whole description of how the mechanism works is in fundamental error. The sear releases the bolt/op-rod waaaaaay back before he is saying it does–The sear has nothing to act on to hold the bolt back from firing at that point. What Ian is describing is the semi-auto functioning of the FG42, where what he is saying would be correct. This is not how this weapon works–The sear releases the op-rod, the bolt is carried forward, the cartridge is stripped off the belt, into the chamber, and the firing pin is then driven forward by the op-rod to detonate the primer. There is no pause, and the positioning of the sear at this point is far to the rear on the op-rod.

      The other issue here is that the bolt is mis-assembled; the order going into the bolt is firing pin, sleeve, spring, plug, then the feed system pawl followed by the locking pin. You can see that this is mis-assembled right from the moment Ian removes the bolt, when the spring is visible. Were I critiquing a subordinate conducting training, this bit would get another whack to the back of the head–Mostly because if he were my guy, he’d have already gotten this from me, personally, and if he’s putting out BS, he’s getting whacked. Aversive conditioning, see?

      Additionally, re-installing the bolt on the op-rod tower is pretty simple; you don’t need to have that thing 100% perfect, just slide it in once you’ve hooked the right part of the firing pin.

      A thing I’d like to point out is that all along here, you can see some of the tell-tale signs that this gun is worn and being run by people who don’t really know what they’re doing. The rivets on the receiver bridge are flush, and the fact that you can see the outlines of them indicate that this receiver has started to stretch. Those rivets should be totally invisible on a new-ish gun built to the original spec. As well, you can see the beginnings of peening on the front op-rod tower at about 15:43. This has just started to happen with this weapon, but that’s a sign they’re using too light of a lubricant and there’s insufficient “cushioning” effect from whatever they’re using. LSA or a light grease is what I’d use on an M60. Break-Free is straight out, and I don’t give a damn what the Army might say on the matter. If you look at the other side of the op-rod tower, there’s light finish wear, which is really all you ought to see if you’re doing it right. Which I will point out is nearly impossible; there’s a damn reason we had a set of stones in the Armorer’s tool kit, along with aircraft safety-wire pliers: The M60 would be that reason.

      20:10–Ian describes the safety wire as being used on both the front and the rear gas plugs. This was never done–You’d have to safety-wire the front plug, or it would vibrate loose. The rear was held in by the gas tube, and might loosen, but never actually come apart. The other thing that had to be safety-wired was the little nut you took off to access the gas port for cleaning, down on the bottom. You can see the hole in it for doing so, and if you didn’t…? It’d vibrate itself out. No matter how caked with crud it might be, it’d back out and go walkabout.

      Overall, Ian gets a lot right about the weapon, but… I’d really hate for someone looking to do training for real operations with this weapon to find it and use it as a resource. It’s a good overview, but…

      Ian didn’t get into the ergomonics of the feed system, either. The real reason we didn’t often carry the ammo around in the box/bandolier setup was that with the weapon slung, that box and fragile little bandolier took a beating, and you’d find yourself having issues with it after about a day or two, usually from the box disintegrating and the stitching pulling out of the bandoleer. You also had the problem of “WTF do I do with this shoulder loop, when I’ve got this thing on the gun…?”. There are reasons that most of the Vietnam-era pictures show guys carrying their ammo a la the Frito Bandito, and those chintzy-ass bandoliers are why. I don’t know why they never procured a decent ammo box for this gun, but they did not. I saw numerous prototypes over the years, including a plastic one that was just about perfect, but they never bothered to buy any of them. This is a serious weak link in the system–The Aussies put a metal semi-circular box on theirs, and I heard good things about it. We never bothered, which also goes to show you how little attention we really gave the MG.

      The other part of the system, because it is one, that Ian didn’t touch upon was the tripod–Which is still the one we’re putting under the M240, and which came down to us from the M1919. The M122 is an excremental product, only fit for use in prepared defensive positions. You can’t adjust command height, you can’t adjust the legs to irregular terrain, and you’re basically forced to excavate every single time you go to use it tactically. It is, especially compared to the MG42’s Lafette, an entirely unsuitable thing to still have on issue. Instead of adapting the tripod to the terrain, as the Lafette is capable of, you have to adjust the terrain to the tripod–Which ain’t always possible.

      Overall, the M60 is a somewhat serviceable weapon for duties as an LMG, so long as you’ve got the maintenance support trail behind it. Limited support? LOL… Yeah, you’ll be like the US Army in the 1980s, having to remove the squad MG from the readiness reports, because if you left it there, there’d be a horrendous blot on your stats… By the end of the time we were stuck with the things, I don’t think I ever had more than maybe about three in each company that really should have been described as “fit for duty” on a deployment. It was that bad–The aviation guys kept the guns as a reportable item in their readiness reports, and that sucked all the money and life out of the rest of the fleet. I literally had a serviceable gun that had been turned in for annual headspacing (idiots had lost the tags on it… Another M60 foible, in that the barrels all had to be headspaced to the individual gun/bolt combination…), and the nice people at 3rd Shop cannibalized it for parts to get an Aviation weapon back up. I was livid, but what are you going to do…?

      • I should maybe mention that the feed system is yet another sign that the drooling idiots responsible for the M60 did not understand how it would be used.

        Most of the force is right-handed, yes? How do you carry a weapon, particularly a heavy one like an MG, with a sling? Oh; right… You have the LEFT side of the gun up against your body. So, being the Wiley E. Coyote super-geeeenioouuis types that they were, instead of hanging the bandolier off the RIGHT side, and feeding from the right, they did the exact opposite. And, I’m here to tell you, on a long patrol with the weapon charged, carried at the ready? That don’t work so well.

        The M60 was a weapon that could have been great. It was a weapon that deserved a hell of a lot more attention, development, and thought. It didn’t get any of that, and what resulted shows that. They could have done better, and should have.

        I lay that off on the post-WWII Army attitude that combat was what happened to other armies, and that the atomic bomb plus all those neato-keeno supporting weapons we bought ourselves would make the lowly MG an irrelevancy. That mentality shows in everything we’ve done with machineguns since about the 1930s, and is with us to this day.

        Trouble is, there are times and places (Afghanistan) where your small arms are important. There are still little pieces of your vaunted force who have to rely on their organic small arms to do the things that they did before we had all those nifty Bradleys and what-not, like Engineers. Which was why I was such an asshole about our MG systems–It was all we bloody had to defend ourselves with, and we were usually out in front of the flippin’ Infantry without access to the fire support network, ‘cos some fscking geniuses decided we didn’t need it.

      • dear 20:10,
        i dont know what army, friend you were in, but wiring front and rear gas nuts to gas assembly on the bottom of the main barrel assembly was safety wired to the gun.
        that was standard on the M60’s in my time in the army.(1972-1975)

        • To my knowledge, that rear gas plug was never safety-wired. It certainly was not done in any of the manuals I worked out of between 1982 and 2007, and if you had safety-wired that rear gas plug on any weapons going through maintenance inspections, they’d have gigged you so hard your grandchildren would feel it.

          I cannot speak for what you were doing at the time you were in, but I never saw any pictures from Vietnam-era materials showing a third safety wire. Only the gas plug, and the expansion chamber at the front. I would love to see cites on this practice, because so far as I’m aware, they don’t exist. I’d like to point out that the TMs I worked out of during the early 1980s dated back to the late Vietnam period, being dated (I think… Memory isn’t fresh on this) 1968-69ish.

          Also, the Vietnam-era guys I was trained by did not ever mention such a thing, and the warrant officer that taught me the most about maintaining the M60 was the kind of anally-retentive detail freak who would have. Bastard mentioned about every other minor change to the gun and the maintenance procedures, so I’d be surprised if he missed that.

          As I recall, it wasn’t supposed to be done, anyway, because the gunners had to be able to undo that rear plug in order to get the piston out for cleaning. The front plug and the nut on the gas port were only supposed to be done by organizational maintenance, the armorer who had the aircraft safety-wire pliers.

  5. Knock off this “Pig” nonsense. I spent a quarter century in the US Army (74-99), serving in both Infantry and Armor battalions and Cavalry squadrons and nobody EVER called it a “pig”. It was just known as the M60.

    As for parts falling off, never happened to me and never met anyone that claimed it happened to them. If it happened in earlier years, it was quickly fixed.

    The whole general purpose machine gun idea is an example of the Good Idea Faerie. It was supposed to replace both the light and medium machine guns and it did neither. Armies that adopted them, ended up re-adopting LMG’s later and relegated their GPMG’s to the MMG role.

    • If you never had parts fall off your guns, then they never left the Arms Room. Period.

      I’d wager good money you never knew about it, as an officer, because you’d never, ever see the grief the armorers went through, and you likely didn’t know about the secret stashes of parts they kept hidden away from prying eyes during inspections. Short of a receiver and extra barrels, I could have built entire guns out of what I had in my Arms Room before the idiots came up with the SARP program and made everything be kept up at the same level where they’d been selling them from in the first place. That was a total travesty, one that the commissioned idiots in charge of everything came up with–The reason behind taking all repair parts away from units was that they’d caught guys selling parts down at the gun shows in Texas. Thing was, though? Those “guys” weren’t company-level armorers; they were the same people who retained control over the parts system with SARP, the post third-shop and depot-level repair guys. Before SARP, we went to a range and I could fix most everything that went wrong with our weapons, because I had the parts. Afterwards? LOL… “Yeah, this thing’s borked… I’ll have to order parts…”, which meant that training did not occur that day, and it would generally be six weeks at a minimum before those parts showed up.

      If you think your gunners didn’t lose M60 parts, then… Well, I hate to tell you this at this late date, but you did not know what was going on in your units. Period. I replaced lost parts on our M60 fleet after every exercise, and was resigned to doing it every time the things went out of the arms room. It might be something minor, like a bolt plug pin, but they lost shit ALL the damn time. You just didn’t know about it.

      • Kirk, did any of the later versions of the M60 actually fix the issues that gave you so much trouble? Would a new M60 work well for a certain amount of time before it began giving trouble, or would they pretty much suck from the start.

        • The Army never bought any of the new-style guns. That was strictly the Marine Corps and the Navy, for the SEAL teams.

          I think I mentioned it before, but I took a brand-new late 1960s production M60 out of its factory wrappings circa 1985. Took it out for one field problem, which included qualification on the M60 for all crews, including the backups. Due to my company having the only competent armorer, we had the only guns in the battalion which were in firing condition, soooo… We qualified at least two crews for every gun we were authorized. My brand-new M60 fired roughly 10,000-15,000 rounds during this process, which was done at your typical range cadence, nothing particularly abusive. Upon return from the exercise, that gun went straight to third shop with the rest of our company’s weapons, and got coded the fsck out because the receiver had stretched and all the rivets holding the rear receiver bridge in place were so loose that you could shake the damn thing and watch it move.

          The M60 was a gun that had some good points to it, when it was maintained and cared for properly. The problem was, the money and parts were not there to do that. If the M240 was a Kevlar handkerchief, the M60 was a particularly cheap grade of one-ply knockoff Kleenex that’d get the lawyers at Kimberly-Clark coming at you with extreme prejudice for just making the allusion.

    • “(…)Armies that adopted them, ended up re-adopting LMG’s later and relegated their GPMG’s to the MMG role.”
      What LMG models were adopted after wide issue of GPMG?

      • The Brits, for one, went back to a 7.62mm version of the BREN for their LMG-role squad support, leaving the sustained fire role to the L7s. I think they were carrying the 7.62 BREN guns up until the Falklands, but I could be wrong.

        The rest of the world did the same things… South Africa had a bunch 7.62 BREN guns. The Indians also retained the BREN in the LMG role, along with the Australians.

        The whole thing is hard to trace out, but the GPMG is really a concept that only the Germans bought into wholeheartedly. The US did it out of necessity, but they still kept Automatic Rifle-role M16s on paper even when the M60 was in every squad. Which was more of a kludge than anything really intentional or designed, in my opinion.

        • “The Brits, for one, went back to a 7.62mm version of the BREN for their LMG-role squad support, leaving the sustained fire role to the L7s. I think they were carrying the 7.62 BREN guns up until the Falklands, but I could be wrong.(…)”
          In this case LMG is older (earlier adopted) or it is not?

          • Mmmmm… I think the path was “Let’s try a Heavy Barrel FAL”, which was unsatisfactory, then “We got all those BREN guns left over, let’s convert them…”. So, it was kinda “Try the new hotness, get disappointed, go back to the old slag we know so well…”.

            If I’m not mistaken, there was an attempt to use the L7 as an LMG, and that foundered on the weight issue, thus even more enthusiasm for the BREN in 7.62 NATO. Somewhere, I have seen a fairly detailed layout of the whys and wherefores of British post-WWII machinegunnery, but the MAG58 is aching for a Collector’s Grade magnum opus. Or, for that matter, anything at all.

            FN successfully managed to produce a gun so good that nobody thinks much about it, at all–It’s just “Get the MAG58, that’s a good boy…”, and you’re done. Kinda like IBM, back in the old days–Nobody gets fired for buying FN MAG58s as their machineguns.

          • Now I am extremely confused as I always though British L-numbers for machine guns were sequential with ramification being that L7 was adopted after L4.

          • If I remember right, the sequence was “convert BREN” as an interim, buy HB version of FAL for squad support, L7/L8 for medium/sustained fire support. Then, they figured out that the HB FAL didn’t work, and the interim BREN conversion was reverted to. Which is why the confusion. The L4 was kinda like the conversion to 7.62 NATO for the Lee-Enfield–A fall-back design they thought they’d use for the Territorials, if I remember right.

            That’s from memory, and I don’t have time to find the cites. I am probably wrong in that memory, to some degree.

  6. moooo! Sir.

    General… oinky, oink… Moo.

    That thing is just wrong Colonel look at it; Kirk aside “who does have some good points in regards the mg42”

    • Yes it was an improvement on the 1919…

      An improvement on the 1919; now I will just stop here and say; mg42.


      Right… So that is unsatisfactory.

      • The only thing worthy of keeping from the M60 is the light weight, some aspects of the ergonomics, and the barrel liners. The rest is poorly thought-out and badly produced shiite.

        It could have been a great weapon. The bits and bobs they copied off other weapons that were actually great were good features. Where it fell down on was the cheap-charlie way they went about it, with no understanding of why. You could have made the feed system a lot better by having two sets of pawls on the feed arm, vice the one they went with. There was a reason the MG42 had that, just like there were reasons that the FG42 had those bits on the front of the bolt cam track milled out. They copied none of it with any real understanding of what they were doing, and it showed all over the course of the M60’s service life.

        • Kirk, were any of the major issues with the M60 fixed in later versions? Were new M60’s good for a while or did they tend to have problems from the start?

        • Did you ever get out to US Ordnance to see the M60E6? I remember Steve Helzer from US Ord offering to give you a tour of the manufacturing facility and some range time back in March 2014 (in the comments of the SoldierSystems article).
          Sorry for the double posting of the earlier questions. There was a long delay between the time when I submitted the comment and when it was posted.

          • I never saw that post over at Soldier Systems. I would have taken him up on it in a New York minute, if I’d seen it.

            I don’t think the M60 is really fixable, TBH. Especially when you have to work within the constraints of backwards compatibility and the Technical Data Package. The whole complex of problems with it is what makes it the POS that it is.

            The other problem is that the few virtues it possesses are interlaced with the things you’d have to change–The weight would undoubtedly go up, were you to build a receiver that wasn’t built up out of all those flimsy little plates and rivets. All in all, I think that what you’d have to wind up doing would be to take the basic principles, and then rework the entire gun such that it was actually a brand-new weapon, and I can’t think of a single damn reason to be doing that when Knights and other people have built much better guns using other principles. The M60 as it sits is basically irredeemable, a dogs breakfast of a weapon.

            It could have been a stellar machine gun, and should have been. Design execution by the idiots who kludged it together, however? Unfixable. About all you can do is nibble the edges off, and make it a little better, and as I say, there are better guns out there–PKM, SS-77, Negev, the Knights offerings…

          • FWIW, here is the comment in this article from 2014: https://soldiersystems.net/2014/03/11/u-s-ordnance-m60e6-wins-royal-danish-army-gpmg-replacement-program/#comment-467771
            I am sorry that you never saw it (maybe it’s still not too late?).

            “Steve Helzer says:
            March 12, 2014 at 19:40

            The Danish program is for the US Ordnance M60E6 not the old M60 you are familiar with.
            With your extensive experience I’m sure you will then recognize how addressing each of points has resulted in the battle tested AND IMPROVED M60E6.

            Here is a list of the issues we have addressed that I have culled out of your comments above

            1. On the M60E6 the weapon can be loaded and top cover opened and closed with the bolt forward or with the weapon charged and bolt to rear. In addition we redesigned the feed cam so the system has 30% improved belt pull to overcome miss aligned ammo, debris in the links, and twisted belts. In fact we test our M60E6 models to the same belt pull standard as the US M240.
            2. Our M60E6 features and improved OPERATING ROD and TRIGGER to PVT Dumbass proof the system
            3. We corrected several areas where the system could be assembled incorrectly
            a. Soldier Proof Reversible gas piston
            b. Simplified gas system with fewer parts and eliminated they need for safety wire
            c. Trigger retaining pin can only be inserted from the RIGHT correct side
            d. I joined US Ordnance after a 15 year carrier in the technology sector so I was not “chosen to be anyone’s successors”
            4. We have an extensive collections of transferable machine guns in our reference library and we are constantly going back to these models to check on field expedient improvements that were implemented. We also have 14 years of continuous user feedback regarding the systems we supply around the globe.
            5. Likely unknown to you as the Company Armorer was an extensive list of Product Improvement Programs (PIP) that occurred in the late 1970s and 1980 on the M60. Some were obvious like the change from triple wire drive spring to the single wire and the change to double sear notch instead of one (see PVT Dumbass again).
            a. One such improvement that had little external evidence was a change in the receiver assembly. Certain chamfers in the receiver channel were redesigned and the riveting procedure was changed. This did away with most of the receiver stretch you reference.
            b. On our M60E4, E6 and M60D Enhanced models our channels our heat treated to modern standards and receiver stretch is an issue I have never seen in my 12 years at US Ordnance.
            6. Our system still has the stellite barrel which you agree is a great feature.

            Not mentioned in you comment but also addressed are the following improvements.
            1. Improved Barrel Design
            a. Improved bird cage flash hider
            b. Improved CAM PATH in barrel socket to address barrel/bolt issue of the original M60
            c. Carry handle moved to barrel to facilitate barrel changes without heat mitten
            d. Adjustable front sights to allow for zeroing primary and spare barrel
            e. Stellite lined for one of the longest lasting barrels in the industry
            f. Improved accuracy to facilitate use of optics and lasers
            2. Improved one-hand operated bipod moved from barrel to receiver.
            a. Lightens load as machine gunner is not carrying second bipod on spare barrel
            b. Keep weapon on target and off ground during barrel changed
            c. Unlike E3 bipod ours is simple, strong and designed with interchangeable legs
            d. Allows for a more natural pivot point for the weapon system
            3. M1913 Rail handguard
            a. Open at top to allow unrestricted access for barrel changes
            b. Rails for mounting lasers and grips
            c. Positive locking system to maintain zero of lasers
            4. Receiver mounted bandolier bracket (ammo hanger)
            a. This isolated the ammunition hanger from the feed tray and provides a stable mounting point
            b. When operator lifts feed tray to confirm chamber clear it does not dump his ammo like on previous model
            5. M1913 Rail Top Cover
            a. M1913 rail for mounting optics, thermal and sensors without additional brackets
            b. Improved feed cam with 30% improved belt pull and allow for ability to load the weapon in multiple conditions. Bolt forward or to the rear.
            c. Eliminates the old tin cover design that dented and wore thru
            6. Improved buttstock
            a. Lighter and stronger
            b. More ergonomic
            c. Does not detach due to wear like the older models
            7. Trigger Group
            a. Improved trigger re-design to facilitate use of gloves
            b. Improved retaining system with positive lock like top cover.
            i. Replaces flat spring design that was problematic with the old M60
            c. Trigger Housing redesigned to prevent incorrect assembly of the trigger pin
            d. Reinforced sections to prevent breakage when using in WINTER/NBC mode with heavy gloves
            e. Ergonomic grip with cargo space

            US Ordnance supplies M2HB weapons to the US Military and produce our version of the M240/Mag58 for NATO and foreign customers.
            Both of these systems have Stellite lined barrels as well. We do not limit our improvements to just our M60 systems and have figured out how to economically incorporate these into our M240 product line.

            Like my offer to DB you also have an open invitation to visit us in Reno Nevada, see our operations, and test fire our equipment.

            BR, Steve Helzer, Sales and Marketing Vice President, US Ordnance”

          • @JFess,

            I think I’d thrown up my hands at the arguments in that thread the day before that post was made. Or, I missed it in all the dreck that was being argued.

            The improvements listed are things I’d have fixed if I had to keep the M60; I think that the length of that list points to the basic issues with that entire system as experienced by the poor bastards saddled with it after the Vietnam era of largesse in the maintenance budget ended. The guns simply were not ready for prime time, at all. Anything where the gunners have to be extensively trained not to put things back together backwards…? That should NEVER have made it out of fielding. It needs safety wire on parts, to keep them from coming off the weapon…? WTF? How’d that ever get through fielding?

            The M60 is testimony, alongside the M73/219 and M85, to the substantive and very clear incompetence and sloth of the American small arms procurement system. Key and critical weapons, all three, and yet… None of them were really satisfactory in their roles. The M60 was perhaps better than the M73/219, but that’s not much of a comparison to make.

            Frankly, I think that between the fielding non-process for the M16, which is documented to have killed soldiers, and the whole series of machine gun fiascos? They should have shut that whole part of the military down, sown salt on the facilities, and then started over with entirely new people who were brought in to attend the executions-for-cause of their predecessors. It’s that bad.

            Other people will say I’m going overboard, but they never sat in Field Dispersal Areas after being alerted, knowing that their primary firepower for their squad was tits up and not going to be there for them. That’s the legacy of the M60, the fate that a lot of us dodged because the balloon never went up in either Germany or Korea, and that’s why I have such loathing for the M60. You sit there, knowing that the guns on your left and right flank don’t work? That yours isn’t even there, because your anally-retentive maintenance habits got it deadlined, the way the other should have been…? Oh, and that the people in the chain of command above you have been lying about readiness in this regard for literal years, due to the unserviceability of this excremental weapon…?

            I could not possibly express my loathing for the M60 in mere words. Give me a time machine, and I’ll happily go back and start breaking kneecaps on all the responsible parties. They could have done better; they should have done better. There is no possible excuse for this weapon to have been on issue as the primary MG for the entire United States military for nearly thirty-plus years. NONE.

          • That is a comprehensive list of improvements to the M60. They might make it into a good gun, but it is too late for that now. Instead, this list shows just how poorly thought out and manufactured the original M60 was. I think Kirk’s belief that the men who designed the M60 did not know what they were doing has merit.

      • “Pkm. ”
        Explain immediately why you elected to write 2 letters in lowercase. Should I understand this is show of disdain to designer of said weapon?

  7. It can and should be improved; don’t throw the baby out with the bath water to use an old adage.

    It is wrong; the barrel change, wrong.

    Should not take 50 etc yrs to make it right, simply not good enough; the Chinese I doubt have that problem.

  8. And I put it to you all, colonels or otherwise; that is the future, not taking 50 yrs. Aye in hypersonic missiles or anything else.

    • Absolutely. Especially from the maintenance and longevity standpoint. Possibly the happiest day in my life was the one where we took our M60s over to turn in over at the Logistics Center, and got the new M240s.

      M240 is not the ideal weapon for carrying around on foot, but it is a real machine gun, and you can do real machine gun things with it. It will also still be working when you need it. The M60 was a fussy little POS to keep working, the money was never there to buy the parts, and the people running Big Army never gave a damn about the fact that most of them were unfit for combat most of the time I was on active duty from early 1980s until we finally got rid of the damn things in the early 2000s.

      The weapons sucked, pure and simple. The M240 is a far better weapon in every way, except weight. Of course, that is a large part of the reason why it’s a better weapon…

  9. I was a Small Arms Repairman in the Army from 1966 through 1969 and had quite a few M-60’s come through my shop. Most of the problems were minor, one re-occouring problem was the tabs which were on the ammunition holding plate to keep the ammo bag lined up. It seemed like they got broken off frequently. I noticed the one in the video had a longer plate and didn’t have the tabs.
    Also, while we were using the M-60 in the field, they still used the water cooled Browning30’s to fire over the troops in basic training. Did they convert these to 7.62 nato? When they trained us on the Browning I don’t remember any mention of it. It was 58 years ago

      • Bunches of people did the conversions–South Africans, Koreans, Israelis… I think it’d be easier to list the number of users besides the US who didn’t.

        It’s really too bad the US abandoned the Browning in .30 caliber. I think it would have done very well, kept in the vehicular role, but… There ya go. Gotta have the latest and greatest, even if it really isn’t the greatest.

  10. In absence of my own experience with this gun, purely on basis of its engineering solution, structural arrangement and mfg. technology I like this design. It looks to me as being more modern than M240 (I know this will sound like a heresy to some). The Danes probably knew why it was their choice of LMG.

    • Well it strikes me as being outright fraud; and yet more money being given by taxpayers to cunts.

      Mind you I could accept someone saying; your a bit cynical. A bit mind… He he.

      Who’s got the deepest demockery’ist fuckin pockets. Not shitkraine clearly.

      Trans rights! Or some lgbtq… Shite… Those Ukrainians are going to get flattened because of this bollocks you know.

      Democracy means bearded ladies: or nothing at all. A big statue of Boris as Abraham Lincoln. Wearing a fucking skirt.

      • He he, anyway bollocks; I am sticking with my opinion it explains Afghan, they could not even be bribed to make man women “Pakistan” for democracy.

        Anyway, meh; politics I suppose. Burp, I am not going the comedy president can kiss my ass.

    • Admittedly that was random; linked in the sense of the military industrial complex and fraud, but somewhat random.

      Anyway I am seeing double, goodnight.

    • The Danes show their very light, short barreled M60 variant being used from the shoulder like a sort of belt-fed automatic rifle. They are not at all using it in the classic LMG role, if the Danish Army promotional material reflects the intended use.

      • JP: Yes, the M60 in Danish service IS used in the classic LMG role. The videos of Danish soldiers using the M60 while standing is because it’s a (small) part of qualification and training on the M60 to fire a few shots while standing. Probably just to prove it can be done in a pinch. Most firing, by far, is done prone.
        I had difficulty hitting the target while firing the M60 from the shoulder, but I saw other guys hitting their targets just fine.

        • For what the Danes are using it for, it should probably work. Where it will kill them is with the maintenance… The M60 is basically a disposable machine gun; once it’s reached the max rounds on everything, throw it the fsck out, because trying to keep it going will bankrupt you in very short order. It’s the MG equivalent of the LAW; they should issue it with a pallet of 10,000 rounds, and when you’ve fired that off, you’re done, get another.

    • @dp,

      To some degree, you are correct: The M60 is a more modern design than the MAG58, the basis for the M240. The MAG58’s receiver, for example? It’s essentially a Browning M1919 with modifications to work with a Browning BAR operating system, turned upside down, and with the MG42 feed system slapped on top.

      The key difference is that while FN knew what it was doing when it copied the various features, the morons responsible for the M60 did not. Many things in the design point to that fact–They kept the firing pin spring, for example. Which was in the FG42 to provide more energy to the firing pin for the semi-auto feature. On the M60, that part was totally extraneous, and could easily have been left out. I know that because one of my gun crews lost the spring, the sleeve, and the bolt plug retaining pin and somehow managed to keep the gun running through an entire exercise that included live fire ranges and a ton of blanks going through the gun. When I found all that missing during post-exercise recovery, they were all like “Uh… Yeah. See, we lost that stuff right after we got the weapon issued, and we didn’t want to have to tell anyone…”. That was during the height of the SARP stupidity, and we had no parts down at the company level, soooo… The gun would have been down for about six-eight weeks.

      There are all sorts of things on the M60 that point to massive, arrogant idiocy. They didn’t wonder why the extra cuts were there, on the FG42, which were meant to prevent the bolt from peening on the op-rod tower. They didn’t wonder why the Germans had had two sets of pawls in the feed tray cover, and that’s why the M60 can’t pull the belt in against the slightest resistance, and the M240 will rip said belt out of your hands if you try to impede it. You’d really be shocked at the difference between the two guns. The other thing is when that happens, the M60 will sometimes rip into the cartridges because the energy is going into those single pawls; they’ll literally tear into the cartridge case, while the M240 with the energy spread across two cartridges will pull it in and not damage the cartridges on the feed tray.

      I’d term the M60 a more modern design, but… There are a lot of things that they did with it that were very ill-conceived and which should not have been done on a weapon meant to fit the roles it was being designed for. Sometimes, modern and more advanced ain’t really a good idea, all things considered.

    • Well its right, all be coming over here next; be worse than Poles “Your country is full of Pakis” coming over here moaning, he, he.

  11. As has been said before, when new, and before it got too worn out, people loved it.

    A lot of the reason for that was, that like the M-14, most users never used anything else! It was “The best in the world”. How did they know that? Because their DI in basic/Infantry school said so. How did the DI know? Because HIS DI had said so.

    Most of all, compare it to what it was replacing at the time. Imagine a grizzled WWII/Korea vet SGT, (plenty still serving in the ’60’s), and he gets a brand new M-60. What is it replacing? It is replacing an M1919A6, which is really just a more modern take on the MG-08/15, and equally a sub-optimal stop-gap. It is also replacing the B.A.R., which, as has been said, was not really a proper L.M.G., and by that time, all of them would have been worn out except for a few Korea era re-builds. Given that, of course the M-60 was well received and loved initially.

    For a master class on the flaws of the M-60, go on dig up any of the old articles on the subject written by the late Peter G. Kokalis. Particularly describing his time trying to keep the M-60 going in El Salvador.

    A couple of asides:

    -I am surprised that the South African SS-77 didn’t get more attention and sales, as one of its best features is that for the most part, it is just as good as the MAG/M240, but lighter and handier.

    -As dp said, Canada kept the M1919, but did a conversion to 7.62 NATO. Instead of just changing the barrel and putting a feed stop in, we re-designed it and built it in such a way as to feed from push-thru M13 links. We replaced it with the FN MAG, initially, if the rumour I have heard is true, by “borrowing” war stock spare guns meant for our Leopard tanks.

    -Both Canada and the UK use the FN designed tripod for the SF (Sustained Fire) role. While not as heavy and complicated as the German equivalent, it can be set to two different command heights, for prone use, of sitting/kneeling when shooting from high cover or in tall grass etc. Combined with the C2 dial sight, you can still do classic machine gun things, like indirect firing, and firing on fixed lines, and firing blind on pre-registered targets, far better than you can with the old Browning MG tripods.

      • The way the Army got the M240 is an indictment of the entire small arms procurement system. It never should have happened the way it did, and if it had been left to the morons running the small arms program, they’d have bought more M60s, probably not even the product-improved versions the Marines bought.

        The Rangers and Marines did an end-run around the system, basically ripping off the war stock M240s after the post-Cold War drawdown. FN had been shopping what they called the Ground-mount Kit around, and the Marines and Rangers saw that and said “Hey… They got all those extry coax thingies for the M1 in storage, why don’t we get those…?”.

        Which is what happened. The M240 was in the system, and that’s why we got it. Thankfully, the guys at FN had left the receivers stock for the M240 buys, and they were easily adapted.

        There was never any competition or examination of other options. The M240 happened because it was in the system, and thus, no need for an expensive Big Army program to procure the Next Generation Machine Gun. There wasn’t even a notional program to do that, either–The Rangers and Marines had gone to the people responsible for machine guns and said “Hey, what’s in the pipeline…?”. Answer they got was “Nothing.”.

        As an aside, I talked to one of the Ranger officers about this whole deal, and asked him “Hey, why did you guys do the M240 for an LMG, when everyone else who has done that complains about the weight…?”. His answer was “Huh…?”.

        That particular dude did not even know that the M240 was the MAG58/L7, and had an extensive user history in Israel, South Africa, and the UK as an LMG, where all three found it excessively heavy for the role. He literally thought that the M240 was its own thing, unique to the United States.

        That’s how we got the M240 in the ground role. Stone ignorance, and an incompetent small arms procurement system that didn’t ever bother to do real fielding tests with it for the light infantry role.

      • I suspect N.I.H. syndrome and the hangover of anti-Apartheid sanctions.

        The genesis of the SS-77 is an interesting case study. This also follows on what Ian said at the beginning of the video about how the US DIDN’T convert and use their leftover Brownings.

        South Africa had bought the FN MAG, but unlike with the FAL rifle, they did not have a license to build it. They lent a bunch to (then) Rhodesia as well, and those were used hard, and a bunch of them never returned when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. That, and hard use on “the border” by South Africa, meant that the South Africans had the problem of running out of them.

        Their solution was in several phases. Keep in mind that a GPMG is not just for use by the Infantry at the squad level. It is also used as a support weapon by the weapons company (tripod mounted), and as a coaxial gun and flex mount gun on armoured vehicles, and a door gun on helicopters and so on.

        The first step was to try and maximize the number of guns available to the front line Infantry in the LMG role.

        South Africa had lots of leftover M1919s from WWII and Korea, so step one was to convert these to 7.62, and use them for all vehicle related applications (Co-axial and flex and AA mounts on vehicles). Weight and the lack of a quick change barrel is not in issue in that role.

        They also had lots of Vickers guns and .303 ammo still in reserve stocks. These were gradually converted to 7.62, but a lot were initially left in .303 for training and to use up the stocks of surplus .303 ammo. .303 guns for training back home, 7.62 guns for use in the guard towers of FOBs and so on.

        The Rhodesians did something similar for the same reason. They had leftover .303 Colt-Browning aircraft guns in inventory from WWII. These were aircraft guns with a very high rate of fire, so they were used as helicopter door guns, and the FN MAGs that were originally used in that role were given back to the Infantry.

        The South Africans also converted some Bren guns to 7.62 (A number of these also ended up in Rhodesia). Unfortunately,they didn’t have any examples of the British 7.62 Brens or even Canadian made 7.92 Brens, and their in-house conversion was not as good or reliable as the British ones.

        The last step was the development of the SS-77, with the intention of using it as a universal (GPMG), but with the initial intention of it being primarily an Infantry section/squad level gun first, hence the emphasis on lighter and more portable. (I don’t think there is any other 7.62mm MG with a folding stock, for example.

        • Honestly, I don’t think that anything outside the already-existent US procurement system was even on their radar. The Ranger officers I knew who were involved in the whole thing were not what I’d term “small arms experts”, or even, at all knowledgeable. As I mentioned, at least one of them had no idea that the M240 was in use in that role elsewhere in the world.

          One of the root problems with the machine gun in terms of “use within the US military” is that it is seen as a quaint and entirely unimportant weapon. The only people who really have to rely on using it in all the old-school ways are those few schlubs who’re left without all the new support weapons, which boils down to the Engineers, the MPs in the rear areas, and anyone who might have to deal with things like air assaults on the rear areas. The Infantry had de-emphasized the MG to the point where it was just doing the most very basic tasks, and not really trained for anything other than direct-fire roles off the bipod. The idea of using the thing off the tripod, in dynamic tactical situations, in order to get the most range out of it? Why bother? We have mortars, 25mm on the Bradley, tanks… A plethora of fire support assets. Yet, what happened when all that was taken away by the ROE in Afghanistan? Really, a lot of nothing. Most M240 gunners did not take their tripods out of the perimeter, because that thing is useless out on the ground. Which meant they were answering PKM fires from 1200 meters with guns that could not effectively fire beyond about 800 meters off the bipods… No wonder they had a “firepower disadvantage”, even though the M240 is more than capable of reaching out and touching someone very effectively out to 1800 meters. You need a decent tripod to do that off of, however…

          • This I think, is the crucial difference between the US and a lot of other armies. (Or it used to be).

            Back in the day in Canada, we had FN C1A1 rifles (FN FAL), and C2A1 Automatic Rifles (FN FALO) at the section (squad) level, no LMG, and the C5 (M1919) above that. The only other support weapon was the .50 on the M113 if you were mechanized, and nothing else organic if you were light Infantry. Even after we switched to the C7 (M-16A2), we didn’t field the M203 until quite recently, so we didn’t even have grenadiers. So you got a lot of emphasis on tactics at the low level. Section (Squad) attacks involved left/right flanking and using ground intelligently. You had to use technique and tactics to make up for the lack of lavish support fire.

            Today, we do it the American way, lots of 25mm support fire and so on, and frontal attack under the cover of same.

            Same for machine gun use. Peter Kokalis used to lament the phenomenon you described, MG gunners not even trained to do anything other than direct fire off the bipod. Most US MG gunners couldn’t even define the difference between grazing and plunging fire, or defilade vs. enfilade.

            As you said, “Yet, what happened when all that was taken away by the ROE in Afghanistan? Really, a lot of nothing. Most M240 gunners did not take their tripods out of the perimeter, because that thing is useless out on the ground. Which meant they were answering PKM fires from 1200 meters with guns that could not effectively fire beyond about 800 meters off the bipods…”

            The first time I saw the so called “overmatch” concept/deficit on a PP slide I laughed. British or Canadian MG teams would also laugh, as they were trained to use the MG off the tripod to (IIRC) 1200m, and possibly to 1800m if the ground was dry enough to see the bullet strike thru binoculars, and had a tripod, and indirect fire sight suitable for the purpose.

            For real life examples, I recommend the book Excursion to Hell, Death in the Falklands by Vincent Bramley. He was a Para in the MG platoon in the Parachute Regiment in the Falklands, and describes providing support fire during night attacks. They fired off the tripod, indirectly, at night, getting corrections from a senior NCO who had the only NVD they were issued, silencing Argentinian bunkers and MG nests.

          • I started reading your reflections on the fundamentally incurious attitude the US military has towards the machine gun around the same time I put on enough chevrons to be put in charge of a 240 or three, and being able to take a point you bring up— say, the M122 sucks but why do we only conceive of using it in the static role?— and bounce it off some khakis only to get blank stares and bemusement has been a real eye-opener.

            Not to oversell it, but following your work in these comment sections has probably made me more effective at employing my guys and their guns than all the times I’ve been through that CSW course I get sent to every year or so.

          • @Jian,

            It’s a fight I fought throughout my career. I think the major reason for it is that the MG is simply not seen as an important weapon, with all the lavish supporting arms we have available to the Infantry. When you can call on the Artillery gods to drop an MLRS salvo on top of your objective, who the hell needs an MG?

            Unfortunately for a lot of the “rest of us”, that access to fires is not a universal thing. As an Engineer, whenever we were out in front of the Infantry and Armor outfits putting in obstacles or preparing demolitions, we were pretty much on our own. It was a rare unit that I supported that even paid attention to us, or cared enough to stay in touch and keep us under the fires umbrella that they operated under. As such, we were limited to organic weapons, and that meant that we had to learn how to wring the most out of them.

            Which is what led to my career-length obsession with the MG: That was 90% of our firepower, and if it didn’t work? We probably weren’t coming back. Unlike a lot of the Infantry guys, the MG wasn’t a trivial pursuit question for the promotion boards–It was survival.

            Trying to convince anyone we had issues with things like the M122 tripod was a fool’s game, though. They just couldn’t see it–If I’d ever been able to actually demonstrate the things that could be done with a Lafette, maybe I’d have made some headway. In general, it was like trying to describe sex to some entirely asexual alien that reproduced by fission.

            The thing that really just annoys me is the sheer amateurishness of it all. I mean, you can do so much with the guns, why not do better and more effective training with them, for those times when you don’t have all that fire support?

            The Marines used to be better than the Army, but I’ve recently had cause to wonder about them, as well. Acquaintance of mine wanted me to write up a “how to” for using the tripod in conjunction with the binoculars, using them for fire control and corrections. Now, I’d been trained on that back in the dark ages by a former Marine who had us dancing fire all over the hillside, down range, but I’d never really had the opportunity to ever train anyone on that, so I wanted to check the manuals on the technique. Army? Useless; not even discussed in the manual. Marines? Looked at theirs, and when I dug into it, I discovered that their manual basically repeated everything out of the old M1919A4 manual, right down to the illustrations which showed a bino reticle that went out of the system in the mid-1940s. Still in the current manual, believe it or not. I called the proponent; told them what I’d found, even pointed them at the manuals to prove it. Zero interest in it, didn’t care about the error, and as far as I know, it’s still there. Obsolete reticle in the illustration telling you how to do what I think is a pretty vital technique.

            Machinegunnery is a lost art, across the US military. All we use ’em for is bullet hoses on the assault, or from vehicles.

    • That’s always been my question. Little known fact–When they were testing for the coax MG back in the early 1970s, they had an Israeli-captured PKT and a bunch of ammo to use as a control in the testing.

      As a lone example, without factory support, the PKT walked away with the competition. It had a mean rounds between failure that made everything else look sick, and did better on nearly every criteria. I met one of the guys who’d been involved in that testing, and his comment was “If we coulda gotten them to go with the PK, that would have been the best thing they could have done… It did the best on everything, even worn out and with Egyptian ammo…”.

      I still think we’d do well just to glom onto the PK and call it good. The Poles have a 7.62X51 NATO version that people have said good things about, and I think we ought to at least look at the damn thing…

      • I had in fact heard that the PKT used as a control actually “won” the competition.

        As I understand it, aside from the N.I.H syndrome, and anti “commie” gun prejudice, the issue would have been the ammunition and feed mechanism.

        The whole feed system is designed around the rimmed 7.62x54R. Adapting it to rimless 7.62 NATO with push-through rather than pull-out belts is the problem. I have heard that the Polish 7.62 NATO versions of the PK do not work nearly as well as the original in the original calibre.

        That said, I don’t see why an MG3 or FN MAG topcover and feed tray couldn’t be grafted onto a PKM.

        Also instructive to note that South African SF and Executive Outcomes mercs always liked to use PKMs whenever possible. Partly for logistics, but mostly because it was lighter than the MAG, and so reliable.

        • I honestly think the PK series was Kalishnikov’s master-work. The AK-series individual weapons are decent, but due to the design parameters he was given, they’re very limited weapons. Great, in the 1950s and 1960s context, but without real potential for easy growth paths. The AK12 is almost a totally different weapon, while the Pecheneg is still identifiable as a PK with a fixed barrel.

          The genius thing about the PK is that they made it virtually indestructible. That receiver is a work of stamped metal art, and it’s all one damn piece. I think someone learned a hell of a lot about design between the AK and the PK, and it shows. I really have to respect that design, and I’m more than a little jealous of it–They turned what should have been a crippling disadvantage, the 7.62X54R cartridge, into a positive characteristic. I can’t think of anyone else who managed that, designing a truly modern weapon to work with a cartridge which was initially designed to go into a black-powder single shot. It’s almost as if someone designed something modern around the .45-70…

          • While some Berdan 2s were rechambered to 7.62x54mm, the cartridge and the Mosin 1891 were in development simultaneously for each other. C&Rsenal has a good video on the Mosin’s development.

          • As I understand the 7.62X54R development, they kept the rim so that it would work in the older single-shot weapons they had. Might be the sources I read were wrong, but who knows? Othais knows his stuff, and I kinda use his videos as sleep aids sometimes, so I sometimes miss what he’s saying.

            Othais has such a wonderfully soothing voice–He really ought to do a sideline as a storyteller for kids. They’d go right the hell out, based on my experience with using him as a sleep aid… I find I often have to watch his videos two or three times for full content comprehension, because he lulls me to sleep so effectively. And, what’s bad? It’s not boredom, it’s just his tone and his delivery that does it for me. Wonderful remedy for insomnia, and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

          • “(…)the 7.62X54R development, they kept the rim so that it would work in the older single-shot weapons they had(…)”
            No exactly that, Russian Empire was to first introduce small-caliber (as compared to Berdan 4,2-line) single shot rifle and then later introduce repeating small-caliber rifle. Keep in mind that many revered old generals were against such thing as repeating rifle. S. I. Mosin in fact was developed simultaneously single-shot rifle and magazine file. For image of 1st see 3rd image from top https://iz-article.ru/article/286/istoriya-vintovki-mosina-nagana
            If you want to know more about development of fire-arms inside Russian Empire in 19th century read Эволюция стрелкового оружия by В.Г. Федоров

    • I don’t think there are many of those in private hands–They’re all in museums or scrapped. Much like the M85, a weapon of similar provenance. And, with a very similar reputation.

      Never worked with either, nor did I ever fire them in any context. However, I did hang around with the guys who did the maintenance on them, and some of the armor bubbas who’d been stuck with them. All universally loathed them, with the only exception being a National Guard tanker out of Idaho who claimed that if you knew what you were doing, the M219 wasn’t all that bad–It was just that the gun was very finicky about its feed, and you had to do some things like put in a non-standard part to ease the feed pathway.

      I’d love to see a video on one, too, but I think Ian would have a hard time just finding one, let alone fire the thing. The kits to tripod-mount them have got to be virtually impossible to locate, these days, and unless you’ve got the odd M48 or M60 with the right bits and bobs inside, that kit is going to be mandatory.

      • In conversation with Nick Moran (AKA the Chieftain), the M-85 was discussed, and the consensus was that the only advantage was the shorter receiver.

        The Chieftain mentioned that he had come across people who liked the M-85, but you needed to do that “one small trick”, or follow the TM to the letter and it was OK, whereas one timed and head-spaced correctly, the M2 “just worked”.

        Goes back to the M-60. If you assembled it correctly, safety wired the required parts, used enough lube (not CLP), and had an armorer who could stone the chipped locking lugs correctly and so on, it would work fine. As opposed to an FN MAG or PKM, which really didn’t care.

        • The internet ate the beginning of my previous comment. It should have started

          “Ian, in coversation with….”

        • The real problem with the M60 was with the maintenance money they were willing to spend on it. During Vietnam, it was a “do or die” thing for the guys who’d procured it, so they lavished money on it. Once Vietnam was over, and the M60 kinda faded into the background, they could get away with half-assing the support for it. Had they kept the maintenance going at Vietnam levels, I don’t think you’d hear half the complaints my generation had about it. It would have been a pain in the ass to keep going and train on, but…

          The big thing was, they weren’t replacing the major components when they should have, the way they did in Vietnam. My old Warrant Officer small arms repair specialist described the way they used to do it, and it was awe-inspiring. The units would come in from the bush, go into refit mode, and then the maintenance guys would descend on their guns, and usually coded them out after only one or two operations. If you ever ask a guy who was an M60 gunner how many guns they went through in their tours, they’ll usually be unable to answer, but the maintenance guys would tell you that a gun staying in serviceable condition beyond one or two operations was really unusual. They got shot out, they got replaced–And, a lot of the time, the gunners never noticed. Particular with the rotation policy, because it was a rare gunner that stayed on his gun for his entire tour. The maintenance issues were largely invisible to the users.

  12. The bolt was assembled wrong when you disassembled it. The firing pin spring plug (the tube around the firing pin spring) should be on the front of the spring so it is visible through the cam slot. Hence the hole in the front of it. Please notify the owner.

  13. Stupid question: If you had an entrenched position that was at risk of being overrun by a mass infantry rush (500 enemy soldiers), which weapon would you man in a pinch, assuming that you had a lot of ammunition, a full support kit, and a crew to go with it?

    1. M60E6 (Kirk will still hate it, I assume)
    2. M240G
    3. MG42 with tripod
    4. HK MG5
    5. PKM
    6. Browning M1921 (water-cooled .50 HMG)
    7. Bofors L/70
    8. 8.8 cm Flak 18

    • Multiple M167 Vulcan Air Defense Systems. The only way to deal with human wave attacks, along with lots and lots of Claymore mines.

      Ya got 500 screaming (ethnic pejorative of your choice) coming at you, the only thing you want to have is a set of multiply-redundant M61 Vulcans. With plenty of ammo.

    • WWI liquid cooled HMGs were made for that. Those things were built like the industrial tools of their time. So massively overbuilt to not care about dirt or mud. No problem of overheating and barrel change. The energy of the cartridge couldn’t really wear them down. As long as they had water and ammos, they simply kept going.

      • Exactly. For that kind of s#!t show, if I can’t have a half-dozen M163s on the perimeter bunkered in for mutual supporting fire plus mortars (M106 mounts for preference) for backup, give me a dozen of the M1921 50s, or twice as many water-cooled M1917s in .30-06.



    • We could have, but the MG42 would have been a conceptual bridge too far for at least the US Army. We’re actually lucky they were willing to do the M60 and M240, because I think they’d have been way more comfortable keeping the Brownings in some circles.

      • MG42 is not w/o it’s own faults.
        Funny thing, Yugoslavia had a loads of problems with MG42s and domestic copy (M53), so much that at one moment in ’60s M60 was trialed and actually declared to be “better” (IOW had more “points” in the tests than MG42/M53). Only thing that has prevented adoption was that M60 could not be easily converted to 7.9x57mm. AA-52 was rejected for same reason. In the end PKM was adopted in the mid-80s and finally solved 40 years old problem with MG42/M53.

        • I’m surprised to hear that. I’d always heard good things about the M53 and the MG42 in Yugoslav service, but then again, I never really talked to anyone who’d been a gunner.

          Someone once had me convinced that the Germans had sent a production line and TDP to Yugoslavia during the late war period, but then I think you corrected me on that and the M53 was reverse-engineered from captured examples–Which could go a long way towards explaining why the Yugoslav examples were less than stellar. You have worn-out wartime German production and not-quite-right postwar Yugoslav reverse engineering, you’re likely to have problems. Weapons production is not the piece of cake a lot of people think it is–Even simple stuff like a bolt-action rifle has loads of esoterica when it comes to the design, production engineering, and actual production. Look at the grief the Brits had trying to get Lee-Enfield production going, here in the US, for example. And, that was with full British support…

          In the end, they got the best weapon for their purposes. The PK is a rock-solid MG, even if it is designed to Soviet MG philosophies.

          • Don’t get me wrong, it was a workable MG for WW2, but there were issues. Bolt bounce was particularly nasty one, and it depended on so many factors, including which oil and grease were used. In theory MG42 should use 3 types of oil and two types of grease, depending on the outside temperature. You probably realize that is a crack-pipe dream. In WW2 problems were not that large, since guns usually did not last long enough, but in the peacetime, when you had to train a lot of conscripts each year? Problems arouse.
            How it came to it:
            Technical documentation and part of production line for MG42 (but not most important part, stamping machinery) came from Czechoslovakia in about early 1948. They have also sent documentation for P-38 pistol, G43 semi-auto rifle and very incomplete one for StG44. P-38 competed with Tokarev and lost, G43 copy was trialed as M52 and sucked, just like originals did, and StG documentation was not enough even for a spare parts production.
            Problem was that in technical documentation for MG42 there was no metallurgical requirements, iow none knew to what hardness which part should be hardened, and what should be left soft. To solve that problem, hardness testing was done at about 100 MG42s and… results were all over the place, depending on the exact manufacturer of the part. So average results were taken, some were extrapolated from other MGs or experience of armorers… and problems begin.
            Bolt bounce problem became even worse. Stamping equipment used (acquired in the US…) did not agree with a German stamping method used, putting too much stress into metal during process, resulting in barrel shroud bending and cracking at a place it meets receiver (if you look carefully at the pics of M53s from ’60/70s you might just notice it). Firing pins broke due the improper hardening (later it was found out that was due the “average” hardness values used – they had to be either super hard or reasonably soft. If of “average” hardness they would break. Soft ones worked, through they did deform more quickly than supper hard ones. And so much more. It took until almost mid-60s to fix. I did an interview with a guy, methalurgist who worked at Military Technical Institute starting in 1960. M53 was absolutely hated by metallurgists, it was joked that you don’t need scientist to understand one, but an alchemist.
            Also, weight of MG42 was not liked that much, Yugoslavia favored “German” squad org, with main firepower coming from MG, riflemen being mostly ammo bearers, and SMGs for close-in defense/assault. 1954. squad had 1 x LMG + 5 x rifle (1 with grenadier with R/G attachment, 1 with LMG assistant/ammo bearer, 3 with riflemen) + 4 x SMG (squad leader + 3 x SMG gunners, one of which was squad 2inC). 1962. changed that to 1 x LMG + 4 x rifle (by deleting dedicated grenadier, leaving only 1 x LMG assistant + 3 x riflemenm all of which now had RG attachment) + 5 x SMG (squad leader + 4 x smg gunner, one of which was squad 2inC).
            Platoon was remarkably similar to US 1960s era platoon, with command section (Plt Cmd, his 2inC, medic and radioman), 3 x rifle squad and 11-men support squad with 2 x MG and 2 x AT weapon (either M20 Super Bazooka or domestic M49 or M57).
            1954. Company had 3 platoons + support plattoon with 1 x RCL section (2 x 75mm RCL), MG section (3 x MG), AT section (4 x AT weapon) and Mortar section (2 x 82mm mortar).
            This was very heavy org, especially compared to WP one, but was dictated by two ideas – that company must be able to function independently in emergency.
            This favored lighter MG, which was one of the reasons M60 and AA-52 were trialed.

            Back to a topic of MG42 – main reason for reducing RoF post war was reducing a problem with bolt bounce. That same problem was a reason Swiss changed locking to flapper one in their M51.

          • Oh, since hardness of the parts of the original MG42s varied so much, some combinations of parts created problems, meaning that parts were not really fully interchangeable.