Selling my Vickers HMG

Yes, it is a sad thing to do, but it must be done. I am selling my Vickers heavy machine gun. A few details…

The gun is an Australian WWII piece factory refurbished in 1952 and built on a Colt 1918 sideplate, registered and fully transferrable. It is currently set up to run 7.62x54R using steel Russian Maxim belts, and runs like a champ. Before I owned it, it belonged to a local dealer who kept it as a safe queen. It is in mechanically excellent consition, and aesthetically very good condition (the paint isn’t quite perfect anymore).

It includes:

  • Caliber conversion for 7.62x54R (chamber reamed 303 barrel, CNC-cut extractor, my own handiwork opening up the feedblock)
  • Caliber conversion for .303 British, plus a second .303 barrel (unmodified brass feedblock)
  • Caliber conversion for 8mm Mauser (Turkish feedblock and extractor, B.Blindee barrel)
  • Original tripod and pintle, both in excellent working order
  • Original Lithgow transit case (dual purpose, for Vickers and Lewis guns)
  • Spare parts chest with an assortment of spares (see photos below)
  • Original hose and condenser can
  • Flash hider
  • Steel optics mounting bracket (for an indirect fire sight, or mounting anything you can rig up into a dovetail)

I am asking $22,000, due on sales agreement (you pay the tax stamp). I would prefer Arizona pickup or delivery to avoid shipping all this iron, but the buyer and I can work that out.  Gun can be inspected at SAR West, if you would like me to bring it there in a couple weeks.

This is an excellent original gun, and will make an ideal investment as well as a wonderful shooter. Parts are easy to come by since the Vickers was in service essentially unchanged for 55+ years (leaving aside the parts you will already have and the fact that Vickers guns don’t break parts). I will happily defend the position that it is the best heavy MG ever built. If you want even more caliber options, South African kits in 7.62 NATO are out there, as well as Colt kits in .30-06. If you want the queen of machine guns, this is it.

I will consider serious offers, and would also consider partial trades for a good running Chauchat or a Type 99 Nambu (dewat would be fine). Email me at admin@forgottenweapons.com and let’s find this warhorse a new home! All NFA rules apply, of course. No sales outside the US.

Now, a gazillion photos:

Complete setup:

Gun:

Tripod & Pintle:

Spares:

Transit case:

38 Comments

  1. In my experience, just to provide a counter view, any Browning .30 WC MG, and the 1910 Russian Maxim, or Finnish factory version can claim that title. Won’t get into aircooled MGs. I’m a longtime, longtime fan of the Vickers, too.
    As an FYI, there are no Colt .30-06 Vickers kits available and haven’t been for many years. Registered Colt aircraft Vickers show up now and then, but they are in 11mm. Colt .30-06 internals pop up very rarely and there are some out there left over from the Brit Vickers guns in the Stembridge Movie Rental lot that had been converted to use .30-06 blanks using Colt internals. FWIW

    • “I will happily defend the position that it is the best heavy MG ever built”
      Wait, now I totally confused. Always though that in American parlance, this machine gun would be medium machine gun, when heavy machine guns are weapons of .50″ caliber or similar? Can anyone point me to ULTIMATE document clearing this (something like Russian ГОСТ 28653-90: http://piterhunt.ru/Library/gost_28653_90/index.htm )

      • Taxonomy aside, I am very dubious about:
        “best heavy MG ever built”
        I might agree about:
        Maxim (and derivatives) as it was widely exported/licensed
        Schwarzlose as it has fixed barrel (so no pain in making water-tight jacket-barrel joint), was simple in construction (compared to other machine guns of that era), was license-produced (see Kulspruta m/1914) and can be adopted to various cartridges (see Schwarzlose-Janeček, formally těžký kulomet vz. 7/24 firing 7.9×57 Mauser cartridge)
        not mentioned other air-cooled weapons like Goryunov SG

      • Originally, the definitions for light & heavy MGs were based more upon whether it was man-portable or required a team, and they were assumed to all be in rifle caliber. Once Browning invented the M2 in .50BMG, the American usage devolved into “light” being .30cal and “heavy” being .50cal, and anything over 3/4″ being considered “cannon.” But originally, “heavies” were the same rifle caliber MGs as the “lights,” only configured w/ tripods, water-cooled barrels, automatic fire devices, etc.

    • I have a Vickers aircraft machine gun with the prop timing, would like to sell due to my inexperience to this era and the law, would consider $12,00.00, pic available upon request.

  2. Can my daughter’s 529 fund wait?
    No, damnit.
    Ian, buy one lotto ticket (ONE!) and if the Gods smile you won’t have to sell this beauty.

  3. “This is an excellent original gun, and will make an ideal investment”

    An investment generally means that the buyer’s reason for buying it is to resell it for a profit. Unless there’s a guarantee from the seller that the value will go up in the future (a promise no sane seller ever gives in writing) then such a statement becomes essentially nothing more than a deceptive sales pitch — and potentially illegal in many instances.

    Gun collectors should only buy something because they like it and think it’s worth the price to them. Spending a huge sum of money on a machine gun as an “investment” is pure speculation, especially since its value is highly dependent on existing gun laws remaining unchanged. A repeal of the Hughes Amendment (unlikely as it is) would instantly crash the value of any existing machine gun, as would a nationwide California AWB-style legislation that prohibits transfers in ownership.

    It’s a good thing that securities dealers are legally required to include all sorts of disclaimers and caveats with anything sold as an investment, emphasizing the risks to the prospective buyer. But outside of that highly-regulated world, scam artists and flimflammers abound, and they can and do get away with saying just about anything.

    • In my lifetime I’ve seen the price of a nice used transferrable Colt M16 go from $236.00 (pre 1986 SGN ad price) to $29,995 (current price @ Ruben Mendiola’s NFA dealership).
      Being as no new civilian MG’s are coming, and the population (and thus demand) keeps growing, that fits the definition of investment pretty well for me anyway.

      • In my lifetime, I’ve seen, over and over again, in many diferent ‘investment’ categories, people jumping into the market at the peak of a long price boom, only to realize that they made a huge mistake in buying in too late (and paying outlandish prices) as they watched values plummet. It’s a part of human nature that, as a die-hard ‘value’ shopper, I’ve never been able to understand.

        1986 may have been the start of a 30-year boom in (civilian-owned) machine gun prices, but it was also a year when U.S. farmland –considered just about the safest investment in existence– dropped in value precipitously, spelling the end of a continuous price increase lasting over 30 years. (and just like post-’86 MGs, farmland can be considered an equally finite resource)

        https://www.minneapolisfed.org/~/media/images/pubs/fedgaz/99-10/6landvalues.jpg

        Will machine gun prices suffer a similar collapse? Once investors start getting involved in large numbers, you can be sure of it at some pont, since that’s what they do. While it’s hard to say at what point prices will peak out, it’s a near-certainty that there will be some bumps in the road ahead for anyone thinking that a machine gun at today’s high prices makes the “ideal” investment.

        Buy them for fun and adventure -or even peace-of-mind against societal breakdown- but people need to be beware of sinking their retiremant savings or children’s college fund into them without understanding the risks involved.

        • aa: There are several reasons why the price of rural land has fallen, mainly the urbanization of the U.S. This coincides with the increase of urban & suburban property values. Add in international trade, interest rates, etc., and you have your culprit.
          No investment is safe, and outside factors can affect values of anything. However, buying Class 3 firearms is seen as an investment, and many people already make a living trading in these weapons. An overpriced M16 that one will probably beat to death doing mag dumps may not be the ideal investment, but there will always be someone willing to pay through the nose for the registered receiver, even if they have to completely rebuild it. A firearm with historical significance, like the one Mr. McCollum is selling, while not as expensive as the M16 (which is due to the current popularity of the AR15), will only increase in value.
          Barring 1. Egregious neglect/abuse, 2. Catastrophic failure, 3. The outright ban & confiscation of fully automatic weapons or 4. The repeal of the ban on new class 3 firearms, one can be fairly assured that the value of their class 3 weapon will increase over time.
          Do you view gold as a good investment? What if geologists found a massive ore deposit of it? What if the price is artificially manipulated, like the recent raise then drop in oil prices? I lost a significant amount of money because several companies I invested in ceased to exist on September 11th, 2001. An acquaintance of mine buries money in his yard. What if there’s a national crisis or the state he lives in secedes – what will U.S. currency be worth to him then? Maybe you could suggest a completely risk free investment for us Forgotten Weapons viewers.

  4. The highest evolution of the Maxim, which is still a Maxim is, IMO, the Finnish made M32/33. Superbly crafted, totally reliable and robust. As an owner/shooter of one of these guns, and currently owning 22 various other Maxims for comparison, my experience has been nothing but pleasure and admiration.
    While the Vickers is a superb MMG, it is not a Maxim, and is in a different catagory all by itself. FWIW

  5. @ aa;

    The gun is an investment, because although regular wear and damage could occur to lower its perceieved value, it’s an incredibly rare and valuable part of history: not to mention it’s a literal machine gun. Assuming a buyer didn’t melt it down as an art project, or otherwise ruin it, it would only ever appreciate in value.

  6. You will never know how this sounds to us Brits, in a country that is pushing to licence low power airguns, no semi auto guns allowed, and draconian gun laws.

  7. I was looking and cant find a proper video of the Vickers on your site, have you done one?
    Would it not go nicely with the other WW1 MGs videos you have done?

    Surly the best sales advert ever would be a nice disassembly video or even shooting it?

    • A myth?

      Obsolete or not, there was strong attachment to the Vickers. Many felt, why get rid of something so good? As if to prove a point (and also to use up the Mk VII ammunition still in the inventory, which was no longer approved for Service use), the most exhaustive trial probably ever fired from a Vickers took place in 1963 at Strensall Barracks in Yorkshire, England. Five million rounds were fired from a single Vickers which was kept in constant use for seven days and seven nights.

      British Army Sergeant T.R. Ashley was one of nine armourers involved. At the time he was in an 18-day Vickers course at Strensall Barracks. As related by Sgt Ashley op Warren Wheatfield of Sudbury, Ontario.

      .. First day, gauging limits and setting the gun up. (We spent two days hand filing feathers [the square projection] on cross pins to close tolerances so guns and tripods could be assembled without play!) at the end of the day, the instructor told us to draw out one of the guns that we had been working on, [and] one of the lads pulled a gun out of the rack. We were told that this gun was to be fired for the remainder of the course, day and night.
      The gun, stores spares, etc, were put onto an Austin Champ and driven onto the range. We mounted the gun onto a tripod in a gun pit. A 4-ton Bedford had been unloaded with ammo. There were stacks of ammo, after cans and barrels. (We had to pack all the rear groove with asbestos oiled string!) The 2 man crew was relieved every thirty minutes. A third body shovelled empty cases from under the gun with a malt shovel and threw the empty belts clear of the pit. We never heard the gun not firing in anything but the shortest time while the barrel was replaced (every hour). The gun fired 250-round belts without stopping: not in 20, 50 or whatever bursts, but straight through: we could hear it rattling away from the lecture room/workshop, and went to see it between work.
      At the end the gunpit was surrounded by mountains of boxes, belts, cases, debris; a large cleft had appeared in the stop butts where the bullets had destroyed the butts. We took the gun off it’s tripod and back to the workshop. We inspected and gauged. No measurable difference anywhere. It had eaten barrels, they were changed every hour to 1½ hours, but mechanically [the gun] was unchanged. It had consumed just under five million rounds of .303″, non-stop (my notes were for Mk VII, not Mk VIIIz, so I presume zones etc were for Mk VII).
      That episode was to show nine armourers the ability of the hallowed Vickers. Only after an excellent course result did my Staff Sergeant boss let me work on our battalion guns, which had smooth waterjackets..

      Quoted verbatim from the first edition of “The Grand Old Lady of No Man’s Land” by Dolph L. Goldsmith (Part III, Chapter Seven, pp 188)

  8. What a true shame that you have to sell it Ian, I am certain you will find some enjoyment with new guns to come though!
    (Especially if you get your hands on a Chauchat!)
    Hope all goes well for you! ( :

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