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The Five Worst Light Machine Guns (LMGs)

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5. Browning M1919A6

There was nothing inherently wrong with the Browning M1919A4 .30-caliber medium machine gun. It was effective, reliable, and popular with the troops, but it was slow to set up and, mounted on its tripod, had a high profile that endangered its crew. The .30-caliber Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was much handier, but more of a heavy assault rifle, with an inadequate 20-round magazine and incapable of sustained high-volume fire.

Browning M1919A6 LMG

A Browning M1919A6. IFDB.org photo

What the Army and Marine Corps needed was a true light machine gun that could be carried by one man.

At 32 ½-pounds unloaded, calling the M1919A6 a light machine gun was a cruel joke to the poor grunt who had to carry it.

What the Army and Marine Corps got was the Infantry Board’s bright idea of simply scabbing a butt stock, pistol grip, carrying handle, flash suppressor, and bipod on to the M1919, giving it a slightly lighter barrel, and declaring it a light machine gun (LMG).

Soldiers with M1919A6 LMG Korea

Soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division armed with an M1919A6 LMG hold a position north of the Chongchon River during the Korean War in November 1950. The M19191A6 continued in service until replacement by the M60 LMG. National Archives photo by Pfc. James Cox, U.S. Army

The M1919A4 was a crew-served weapon, with two or more soldiers or Marines dividing the chore of carrying the 14-pound tripod and 31-pound gun. At 32 ½-pounds unloaded, calling the M1919A6 a light machine gun was a cruel joke to the poor grunt who had to carry it. The M1919A6 gunner was on his own, lugging around a weapon that weighed more than the M1919A4. While the Germans and British had LMGs 10 pounds lighter and five to 10 inches shorter, the poor G.I. was stuck with the Browning, mainly because the Army had failed to see the shortcomings of the BAR until it was too late to procure a true, effective LMG for service in World War II.

At least it was reliable.

Browning M1919A6

Type: Light machine gun
Operating System: Short recoil
Weight: 32.5 pounds
Length: 53 inches
Barrel length: 24 inches
Cartridge: .30-06 Springfield
Muzzle velocity: 2800 fps
Cyclic rate: 400-500 rpm
Feed system: 250-round belt

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