To Anyone Interested In A Browning 1919 Semi-Auto
I've been bitten by the 1919 belt-fed bug and have been researching what I want to buy for about 3 months. For anyone interested in getting into semi-auto Browning 1919 ownership, I thought you may like some tips on what I've learned from my research.
--Browning 1919 semi-auto
From $1200 to $2400. The cheaper guns usually have issues and shoddy quality. If you don't mind sending a gun back for repair a few times and replacing parts every 500-1000 rounds, then the $1200 gun is for you. The high quality guns (about $2000) from TNW, Black-Bear and Ohio Ordinance have the best reputation, with Black Bear being the most highly regarded. Some owners are reporting 40,000 round through their Black Bear without any issues or parts breakage at all. Black Bear guns also reportedly have perfect welds and rivets exactly like GI guns. Most all the guns are made from Israeli .308 1919A4 parts kits.
Guns are available in 30.06, .308 and 8mm. Caliber can be easily changed on the high-quality guns by changing the barrel, recoil booster, cartridge stops and rear feed guide in the feed mechanism. Some of the cheaper guns weld the rear feed guide in place, which forces you to start cutting metal to change calibers.
Many shooters love the 8mm variant because the ammo is really cheap (about $100 or less per 1000), but all the surplus ammo is corrosive and this makes the gun a bitch to clean. Alot of the 8mm surplus ammo on the market is garbage from the 40's and 50's, and may blowup your gun. Select ammo carefully. Most of the 8mm barrels available are aftermarket, so it's a crap-shoot on barrel quality. If you like to shoot 1000's of rounds a year, the 8mm is probably the best choice. Barrels run about $150.
.308 seems to be the best choice for the occasional shooter and is the caliber I selected. With .308 you have original Israeli IMI 98% condition barrels that can be purchased for about $60 each. Ammo is mostly non-corrosive and can be bought for about $150 per thousand.
Hardly anyone goes with 30.06 due to the price of ammo.
Important note about ammo: Low quality ammo can do serious damage to your gun. Whenever purchasing surplus ammunition, always verify the quality before purchasing. Posting a question on a gun message-board about the ammo in question is usually sufficient enough to get some insight from other users into the quality of the ammo.
--Belts/Links, Linkers and Loaders
The Israelis designed their 1919 to run on disintegrating belts. These Israeli 1919 links can be purchased for $70 per 1000 and are available in new/unused condition (M60 links won't work in the 1919). The Israeli 1919 links work with all three calibers. If you go with links, you'll need a "Linker". A Linker is a device that you put 10-20 links and 10-20 rounds into a tray, and pull a lever to push the rounds into the links. These go for about $100-265. The $265 units are made from real US GI Issue .50 cal linkers that have been modified to work with .308/8mm/30.06. These will last a lifetime. The other units are aftermarket and quality varies. However, most people report that the $185 aftermarket unit from Ohio Ordinance works really well. Some units you have to change the tray plate in the linker to change calibers (extra cost). Other units will load all three calibers.
If you're using links, it's probably a good idea to purchase a "trunnion protector" to protect the trunnion feed-way from wear/scaring. The trunnion protector keeps the links from directly rubbing on the feed-way. They snap-on and cost about $14 from Guiette Mfg. http://www.guiettemfg.com/catalog.html
You can also use cloth belts. Cloth belts run about $15-30 each (most are 100 or 250 round). No change of parts is required to go from links to cloth belts. Cloth belts tend to be a little more finicky, as rounds tend to shift around and fall out of the cloth belt. Cloth belts can be hand-loaded, but owners report this as being very tedious and painful to the fingers. You really need a "GI Issue 1918 belt loader" if you want to use cloth belts, and these go for around $1000-$1200 and only work with 30.06 & 8mm (after-market conversions to .308 are available). The only real advantage to the cloth belt is you don't have to pick up links when you're done. Most people agree that links are the way to go due to the high cost of a 1918 belt loader.
There are numerous options here. The M2 tripod is original to the 1919 (WWII era). Original US GI Issue units go for between $550 and $850 (depending on markings and condition). This includes the T&E and pintle. There are aftermarket copies of the M2 that go for around $400-$550. The original GI Issue M2 has nice looking reference numbers on the adjustments for the transverse mechanism, most aftermarket M2 tripod are unmarked.
If you want a full size tripod, there are numerous aftermarket adapters to mate a 1919 to a MG3 tripod, Bren tripod or a MAG58 tripod. You're talking 40-70 lbs for these bad boys, unless you're lucky enough to find a titanium MAG58 tripod. The MG3 surplus tripods can be found in near new condition with awesome optics and remote firing for about $650. If you really want to go vintage, you can go with a WWI era 1917 tripod at around $1000-$1500. I think these weigh about 90 lbs or so.
You can order your 1919 in the A6 configuration (shoulder stock, carrying handle and bi-pod) and avoid a tripod altogether.
There you have it. That's some of the important highlights of what that I've learned from reading 1000's of posts about owning 1919's. I hope this post helps you in your pursuit of this wonderful hobby.
In case you're interested on the final choices that I made, I went with the Black Bear 1919A4 .308 with Ohio Ordinance Spade grips, a refinished WWII era 1942 marked M2 GI Issue tripod (http://www.coledistributing.com/ ), the Guiette Linker ( http://www.guiettemfg.com/catalog.html ), and 2000 links from Ohio Ordinance ( http://www.ohioordnanceworks.com/index.htm )
For reference, here is the 1919 forum: http://www.1919a4.com/
Now that you've got the 1919 out of the way, get busy on your MG42 Sporter build!
Great review! I would love to see your whole rig. Did anybody ever use a crank on the 1919. I bet that would be a blast.
My gun will be here in about 2 weeks. I'll posts some pics when it arrives.
Tons of 1919 owners use a hand crank. After practice they are able to get a smooth 450 rounds minute. Check out the www.1919A4.com forum for details.
Here's a review on the crankfire adapter:
Thank you Sir for a very informative, factual & interesting post.:biggrin: :angel: If no-one else has said this, Welcome to the FAL Files!:rofl: Stay awhile & enjoy the wide & varied tastes of our wonderful membership.
Some of 'em might not be so polite at times but they are generally harmless & after all, "it's only the internet".:rofl:
I built mine. Easy for someone with a little skill. Parts and machining done through group buys on Weaponeer.net.
.308 1919 kit.............................$400
right side plate and rivits...........$120
machining of bolt and trigger......$110
misc. welding rod, etc..................$18
chemicals for parkerizing..............$30
MG 42 tripod.................................$100
COOL FACTOR WHEN YOU TAKE THIS OUT AT THE RANGE...........PRICELESS!!
This is my 1919; it started life as an ORF gun from the CDNN $999 sale. I've added a few accessories...
Also now have everything I need to build another 1919, just have to drill the holes in the 80% sideplate and blast and refinish all the other parts, then rivet it together. I'll be putting it together as an A6, complete with flash hider. Should be interesting.
I'm in the process of getting stuff together to build one up. I've got everything ready to go, just need to get my internals machined. Tripods are too pricey for me, so I am going with an Israeli A6 set up.
I had on briefly for 4 months. Bought an ORF one and a A6 kit. Shot it once at the range and didn't see the point in having a 40 pound semi auto.
I'll stick to my lightweight Para anyday.
Now a full auto 1919 would be a different story. :biggrin: :biggrin:
I'd buy a FA belt-fed, but literally have no place to shoot it within a 4 hour drive. At least with the semi I can set it up at the local "hunter and shotgun snob" range and it fits their rules and gives them apoplexy :)
I've built two of them for a little over $700 each. The groupbuys are the only way to go for parts and machining. I too LOVE pissing off the "sporting clays" type of people at the local range. It was a blast showing my first one to my grandfather. He carried one all over France during the BIG one. Really neat stories.
My two on their mount.
Go figure:rolleyes: :rolleyes:
Very good and thorough report. The only thing I take slight issue (very slight issue, BTW) on is the 8mm. You can get 8mm manufactured as recently as the 1980's. There was linked Yugo 8mm available recently that was super, at $100/k. The 1970's Romanian is also top notch. With the cleaning, once you are familiar with the gun, taking it apart for cleaning is a breeze. It takes a little longer, but hey, it's a bigger gun. I have mine set up for '06, .308 and 8mm. I mostly run 8mm because....you guessed it, cost. Anyway, good luck and happy shooting.
Last night my WWII dated M2 from Cole Dist arrived. I am thoroughly please with it. They did a great job refinishing it, and it appears to be in excellent condition (nothing bent or dented and it's real tight). I think they only charged $50 extra for the refinishing, which is well worth it IMO.
Also I ordered 2 "98% .308 IMI 1919A4 barrels" from Cole. One was brand new still in the wax paper wrap and bore filled with grease. The other was 99.9% condition. Overall I am very pleased with Cole Dist.
I agree. Nice concise information for anybody beginning to look into these things. Thanks.
I have been researching and was about to order a kit and 80% plate to do. I want to do it in 30-06. Then I got a look at the 50cal and thought about doing that one instead.
In either case I am going to do it. I just want to finish two FAL's first.
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