Forgotten Weapons
December 23, 2016 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Ever wondered how a minigun works? Professional gun nerd Ian McCollum shows you how. And again in slow motion. There is not usually so much mayhem in his videos, Early Automatic Pistol Cartridges or Development of the Luger are more typical.
posted by Bee'sWing (40 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
You have just thoroughly taken care of the question of what I'm going to do today (instead of working).

Luckily, I have some use-or-lose leave I can burn, and I'm on telework over the holidays anyway.
posted by mystyk at 6:50 AM on December 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Not a big gun guy but damn that mini gun would be fun to shoot
posted by ShawnString at 7:10 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think Forgotten Weapons might be the best gun channel for MeFi. Host Ian is very knowledgeable and happy to share that knowledge, and he's mostly interested in the most esoteric stuff, like early Chinese self-loading pistols and South American Garand clones and whatever.
posted by Harald74 at 7:29 AM on December 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

I'd just gone on a Forgotten Weapons kick this week.
posted by wotsac at 7:35 AM on December 23, 2016

Some of the really strange stuff from the channel: OSS "Bigot" 1911 dart-firing pistol
Sedgley Glove Gun
Nazi Belt Buckle Pistol
Pancor Jackhammer
FP-45 Liberator Pistol (made in bulk by GM to be spread over France for the resistance)
Gyrojet Rocket Pistol
posted by 445supermag at 7:44 AM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

wtf? I was just watching this yesterday after a year of not looking at the youtube channel due to me forgetting about it. Should I start looking for cameras pointed at my monitor?
posted by I-baLL at 7:45 AM on December 23, 2016

Not a big gun guy but damn that mini gun would be fun to shoot

And that is why Super Mutants and the Brotherhood of Steel love them so.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:11 AM on December 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

Harald74 : I think Forgotten Weapons might be the best gun channel for MeFi.

I was going to make a similar observation. The great thing about the FW channel is that there is essentially no politics - which if you watch almost any other gun channel you will quickly realize how unusual that is.

It really is simply a detailed history lesson and look at the inner workings and engineering of firearms- mostly old, but with a surprising number of modern examples that were made and simply fell of the radar almost immediately - or are so prohibitively expensive and rare as to make them worthy of inclusion.

This channel was like catnip for me - I've been an avid firearms collector for years, but I absolutely loath what gun-culture has become so it's a delight to find a guy talking about all my favorite aspects without feeling the need to insert the least desirable ones.

I find it truly to be a best-of-the-web kind of experience. And there are /so/ many. It's easy to lose hours if you aren't careful.
posted by quin at 8:14 AM on December 23, 2016 [12 favorites]

I think Forgotten Weapons might be the best gun channel for MeFi.

During the election Ian was wearing a "Make Everything Terrible Again" hat in some videos. Also he and his buddy Karl made this video in response to some of the nuts that comment on YouTube.

There is much more mayhem on his other channel which is mostly about action shooting matches.
posted by Bee'sWing at 8:18 AM on December 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ian firing the 1877 version of the min-gun at 880 rpm. Warning: steampunk enthusiasts may overdose on the display of brass mechanisms.
posted by 445supermag at 8:33 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Speaking of the "other channel", they also go over historical engagements, one the most interesting is that time Chicago Pentacostalists got in a rumble with rural Arizona cops: The Miracle Valley Shootout: Rural Cops Vs Chicago Cultists
posted by 445supermag at 8:40 AM on December 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

From Bee'sWing video - "Stupid freakin' cretins".

posted by quin at 8:49 AM on December 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the "Race War" video was pretty great.

Also, the AK vs. Sturmgewehr vid was cool and informative!
posted by tobascodagama at 9:38 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

During the election Ian was wearing a "Make Everything Terrible Again" hat in some videos.

How very meta.
posted by Dysk at 9:40 AM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

The video on the Pancor Jackhammer fascinated me, as I remember seeing that gun in one of the Palladium RPG system source books. I'm not saying that Palladium catered to gun nuts, but the source book had a lot of real guns in it, with very detailed subscriptions, and while the people that I knew who played Palladium weren't gun nuts (at least openly), they tended to be more conservative. The implication of the Jackhammer not actually being produced was that it wasn't just because it was too awesome or something, but this guy does a good rundown of the actual circumstances, not to mention the technical problems that would have had to have been overcome if it had been produced, such as having to disassemble it halfway to change the magazine. (He also mentions the option of using the magazine as a land mind, which would have fired all twelve shells at once straight up at whomever was unlucky enough to step on it.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:06 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Someone should make the reference to running gags in Robert Rankin books - it's a tradition or an old charter or something.
posted by stanf at 11:14 AM on December 23, 2016

If I recall the documentary Predator correctly, miniguns are shit at stopping alien hunters, which is my primary day-to-day safety concern.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:27 AM on December 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

.308 Winchester runs about a dollar per round. So, it is $50 per second to shoot this thing.
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:49 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

What, the amazing rotatory gun from Predator?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:50 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

.308 Winchester runs about a dollar per round. So, it is $50 per second to shoot this thing.

For factory hunting ammunition. For military surplus/overun and target ammunition it is approaching $0.50 a round so only $25 a second. If you reload the fired brass on your own it can be under $0.10 a round. Back in the glory days of the late 90's for guns and ammunition prices you could get some cheap India surplus for about $0.05 a round which is what 22 rimfire went for at the time. I still have a couple of hundred rounds of it in my stash.
posted by bartonlong at 12:00 PM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

What, the amazing rotatory gun from Predator?

That's the one. They forgot to show the two truck batteries you would need to power it and the weight of 1 100 round belt of ammo (two seconds worth) would be about 5 and a half pounds.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:08 PM on December 23, 2016

I wonder what that sort of recoil feels like to a helicopter pilot, it sounds enough that you'd have to compensate for it.
posted by lucidium at 1:32 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

All that because none of the materials we're able to use for barrels can withstand the heat of continuous operation at 5000 rounds per minute?
posted by jamjam at 2:39 PM on December 23, 2016

Actually, considering that the M134 fires 7.62mm NATO rounds, the recoil effect on the chopper as a whole might not be that bad. What makes firearms such effective weapons is that the target has to worry about kinetic energy -- mv^2 -- whereas the shooter only has to worry about momentum -- mv.

But, hey, math is a thing! Each 7.62 projectile weighs ~10 g and travels at 853 m/s at the barrel of the minigun, for a total impulse per shot of 8.53 kg-m/s. Say we fire it for a full minute at 4000 rpm, that gives us 2047200 kg-m. Pretty big number! The Huey, arguably the most famous platform for this weapon, has a gross weight of 4100 kg. So, after a full minute of firing the M134, your Huey will have moved 500 m, assuming it was in perfect equilibrium, so that's a speed of about 8.33 m/s. Or, in American units, about 20 mph.

That's actually more than I was expecting, about equivalent to a pretty strong crosswind. So, definitely something the pilot would need to compensate for. But, then, the gun definitely wouldn't be fired for a full minute at a time in practical use.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:48 PM on December 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

I don't think a conventional single barrel machine gun can fire 5000 RPM. The (famous for its extraordinary rate of fire) German MG42 of WWII fires about 1500 RPM and part of the reason for its success was that changing overheated barrels was simple and quick. The minigun is a special application gun. It's for shooting at a target that is only going to be visible for a few seconds. Like when you are flying past a target very quickly in order to not give that target a chance to shoot you. You don't need to worry about overheating it because you won't be shooting it for long. Plus you are going to use all your ammo very quickly.
posted by Bee'sWing at 2:58 PM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Did anyone here ever go on a long time ago? I use to spend a weird amount of time on there as a child memorizing facts about weapons and looking at photos and reading about the guns. Not a big gun fan except I enjoy shooting them.
posted by gucci mane at 3:57 PM on December 23, 2016

i don't follow the maths above (in particular, the gun will accelerate the helicopter, not give it a particular speed - i may be missing some assumption?).

anyway, starting with impulse per shot of 8.53 kgm/s per shot: 4000 shots per minute is 67 per second so total impulse change in a second of shooting is 570 kgm/s. in other words, the force is 570 N (impulse is integral of force over time, and i think i have units right). so the acceleration on a 4 tonne helicopter is 0.15 m/s (newton 2), which is significantly less than 1G (i'm using capitals because otherwise it looks like a gram!). so it's not a big deal (for a helicopter).
posted by andrewcooke at 4:13 PM on December 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

I didn't work that out on paper, so it's extremely likely that I multiplied something I should have divided or otherwise just set up the dimensional analysis incorrectly.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:22 PM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Gatling guns share an intriguing property with some other machines, in particular steam engines, in that they can be scaled smoothly up and down with virtually no changes to the actual design, and they are both visibly identical and (with some efficiency limits) totally functional. And like steam engines, building working scale replicas of Gatling guns is a reasonably-common machinist's hobby project, typically requiring only a lathe and Bridgeport-style vertical mill. (At least, if you're willing to cheat a bit and buy pre-made gears. Hobbing gears is a pain.)

Here's an exceptionally nice model (M1895?), including a scaled-down tripod and crate. Build photos of the same design.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:42 PM on December 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

sweet sexy deathtech
posted by Sebmojo at 7:45 PM on December 23, 2016

Here's an exceptionally nice model

That is absolutely lovely.

The problem of scaling up is that increased gunpowder/propellant force and tolerances/resiliance in materials don't scale evenly.
posted by porpoise at 8:52 PM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd pay money for a Wauser logo T-shirt.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:04 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just watched one of the Minigun episodes. Damn!
posted by wotsac at 9:07 PM on December 23, 2016

I assume there is a machine that takes a bucket of ammunition and a bucket of links and turns out a belt of ammunition? Or is belt assembly reserved for some poor sap who incurred the anger of their CO? Or is it done at the factory and if ammo isn't in a belt, it tends to stay not-in-a-belt?

I assume links are often re-used, but I also assume that in the field, no-one cares and they stay wherever they fall?

(I kinda feel like the ammunition feed is the most interesting/difficult part of a 4000-rounds-per-minute device)
posted by anonymisc at 9:19 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Linked ammo comes that way from the factory (unless you're hooking belts together in the field). The military doesn't care about spent brass OR links; it falls where it falls.
You CAN unlink ammo for use in magazine-fed weapons, but it's a pain in the rear.
posted by mrbill at 9:35 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

There is an ingenious machine for loading belts shown in his video about the Vickers heavy machine gun. There are all kinds of gadgets for loading magazines, I'm sure there are many for loading belts.
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:58 AM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ian is selling his Vickers machine gun converted to shoot 7.62x54r if anybody is interested in a late Xmas present for a loved one. Only $22k!!!
posted by nestor_makhno at 10:04 AM on December 24, 2016

That's a surprising amount of acceleration. It sounds like your numbers agree accounting for slightly different example helicopter weights, if a minute of 0.15 m/s2 gets you 540m away going at just over 20mph. ("This helicopter comes with a secondary, solid fuel propulsion system.")
posted by lucidium at 2:56 AM on December 26, 2016

US M2/M2A1 Flamethrower

15:35 "These run for about 8 seconds- the original military manual says they ran for 11. And now I've lit the ground on fire, so excuse me one moment..."

18:50 [giggle] "So the biggest thing you notice shooting one of these is the flame/ head coming back at you.. It's... hot. That a really... really impressive experience. [giggle] I think my knees are actually wobbling a little bit. This is really cool! [cackle]"

19:55 on: Slow motion capture of how a flamethrower stream actually looks. It is, in fact impressive.


Flamethrowers are unquestionably terrible and frightening things, I can't even begin to imagine the sheer nightmare that would come from being anywhere near the receiving end of one.

But Ian manages to take the historical aspects, make them deeply interesting. The engineering and make it profoundly cool, and the actual -not shooting at people but playing with the thing of the thing- /awesome/.

That giggle is probably the most honestly great thing I've heard all day. It speaks volumes of someone who has handled hundreds of firearms and shoots competitively that he can be perfectly upfront about how exciting and awe striking something can be and why we should find it neat too.

I've understood for years the intricacies of how the US flamethrowers worked- with the rotating ignition system and the safety valves and the like, but seeing one meticulously explained and then fired is a totally revelatory experience. If for no other reasons than to admire the discipline of the people who had to haul those absurd things into terrifying places and stand out in the open to use them.

Also, to remind me to stay the way the hell away from anything approximating downrange of one, because damn. Damn.
posted by quin at 12:21 PM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh my god, you guys, do not miss this Bren Ten video.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:49 PM on December 30, 2016

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