After arriving into the Knoxville area around 1AM last night, and not being totally sure of what kind of event Lucky Gunner had in store for us, I arrived to the event this morning not knowing quite what to expect. Turns out Lucky Gunner got us into an invitational machine gun shoot event known as Bullet Fest, and I think it worked quite well. I quite enjoyed myself for the first day, getting to shoot a wide variety of machine guns. As far as entertainment events, there were World War II and Civil War re-enactors present, and some of them brought fun toys like a half track all decked out in machine guns, and two World War II era tanks shooting live ammunition. You can tell this type of event is basically an excuse for rich guys to bring out their favorite toys. The organizer was getting frustrated with one of the tanks turned loose on the range, and wanted to get him out of there, but he was having a good old time. I guess if you own a tank, there’s not much opportunity to drive around a ranges smashing cars and shooting live ammunition, so you get as much in as you can. The Knox County Sheriff’s department also brought their UH-1 “Huey” helicopter and landed it in a parking spot for the amusement of spectators. That was pretty neat too, though I’m probably not the only one who is disappointing they didn’t rake downrange with machine gun fire from the helo. Turns out they only use the Huey for search and rescue.
Anyway, back to the important stuff, machine guns. What did I shoot?
- M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR. Anyone who’s a World War II history buff knows of this weapon. I had figured being a 30-06 full auto, it would be murderous to shoot, but given the gun’s weight, the recoil is quite manageable. I have a lot of respect for the guys that slugged these things around Europe. At 22 pounds, I’d hate to be that guy.
- M1919 Browning Machine Gun, .30 caliber. This is a water cooled model, and runs about 40 grand if you want one for yourself. Before I shot it, a round cooked off in the chamber indicating the water reservoir was empty. I had heard you can piss in the water reservoir in a pinch, but happily, a jug was handy. I was supposed to limit myself on ammo, but got a bit carried away. They had to tap me on the shoulder to get me to stop. I feel bad about that. But damn, it was a lot of fun.
- MP40 9mm submachine gun, predecessor to the MP5, of World War II vintage on the German side. I would have believed this gun was firing blanks. It’s highly controllable with very little recoil or muzzle climb.
- M3 submachine gun, .45ACP. Much like its German counterpart, highly controllable and tame. A joy to shoot.
- M14 battle rifle, 7.62x51mm NATO. This is a gun that should never be used except on semi-auto. Full auto fire is brutal and essentially spray and pray. An AK-47 is considerably more controllable.
- HK91 battle rifle. More controllable than the M14, but still pretty brutal on full auto.
- AK-47, the real thing. More controllable than I would have thought. The cyclic rate is slow enough the muzzle has time to come back down under its own weight. You don’t have to fight it as much as I would have thought.
- M16A1. You would think from firing an AR that the M16 would be relatively tame. It’s quite controllable, but it definitely pushes back a bit more than you would think.
Tomorrow Kriss is going to let us demo some of their new toys. They have representatives that have flown all the way from Switzerland. I didn’t even know they were a Swiss company, but it looks like they are. The Kriss is Swiss technology.
I thank Lucky Gunner for generously supplying us with ammunition and putting all this together. It’s not every day when beautiful women come up, hand you a menu of ammunition that’s available, and bring you whatever you want to the firing line.
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