|November 6, 2000, 06:30 PM||#1|
Join Date: May 31, 1999
Location: Exiled, Fetid Swamp, DC
When Texan Paul Piper called to say he had developed a BB Gatling gun I could not wait to see it. The concept of a BB mini gun with an electric motor spinning the barrels had been floating around
in my head for over a year although it had not gone further than some rough sketches on paper. But five hundred miles away in Lampasas, Texas, Paul had a real mini gun up and shooting. He stated
over the phone that it would shred a tin can in nothing flat and was so accurate and easy to control he could write his name in a thin sheet of aluminum.
Well, all this sounded great over the phone so I, being the gracious host of the Airgun Expo, invited Paul up to Little Rock to display and demo this mechanical marvel. The day finally arrived for the
show and Paul was right on time. He set up on a corner table with a very nice display. The table had a nice tablecloth and some big black-and-white photos of his first generation Mini Vulcan gun. The
gun looked quite impressive in the pictures but was nothing compared to the centerpiece of Paul's display: a brand new, polished, second generation mini gun standing proudly on the table. There is no
mistaking a mini gun. With six exposed barrels, breech block, cam ring, feed hopper, and of course the electric motor, this particular setup looked just like the one seen in Predator and Terminator Two.
Paul explained that these two movies had really set him on fire for a General Electric 7.62 mm mini gun. The real deal. But after doing a little checking, he found that there were some genuine
obstacles to owning one of these. First they are class III full automatic machine guns and require a ton of paper work just to be considered for approval. Then upon approval you must pay a fee and
leave a pound of flesh. Next, you need to find a functional GE mini gun for sale (not easy). And arrange the funds to pay for it (they are not cheap, about $30 grand). And last but not least you need to
feed it. At full rock and roll (6000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammo per minute), this monster eats money faster than a New York law firm.
Well, Paul decided there must be an easier, more practical way. He looked at antique Gatling guns but again the purchase price and size kept turning him off, plus he dreamed of the hum of an electric
motor doing all the cranking for him. So after discovering that the ATF does not regulate airguns, the seed was planted. "I'll build a Mini Vulcan that shoots BBs. I'll model it after the hand held guns in
the movies." This seemed easy enough, but the reason there are not any on the market now is that there are some real engineering problems that must be overcome. For example, if the gun is to have a
high rate of fire you must design a feed mechanism to load the BBs in a positive way. When you try to insert 2000 BBs a minute into six barrels that are rotating at 350 rpm, you begin to see what the
challenges really are. The next problem is that at such a rate of fire, a single valve would quickly frost over and seize up. And one of the final problems is, where do you put the air tank?
Paul spent many hundreds of hours working out each issue. Using just about every trick in the book he solved the feed problem. The feed hopper sits on top of the spinning breech block. It uses
gravity, centrifugal force, and magnets, all designed to make sure each barrel picks up a single BB as it spins by. The real secret lies in the special ram grooves machined into the breech block. These
optimize the centrifugal force of the feed mechanism acting on the BBs. Once the BBs are inside, a high power magnet holds them in perfect alignment until the blast of CO2 launches them down the
The firing valve problem was comparatively much easier to fix. Paul designed his mini gun to use six valves. This gives each one a defrost cycle between firings (just the opposite of a Gatling gun
which cools the barrels between firings). This decision mandated the use of a hammer behind the valves, and it let Paul machine the cam ring along the outside of the receiver just behind the breech block.
When the gun is spinning at full speed it seems like the parts are just a silver blur.
The last major obstacle was where to put the CO2 bottle. A number of places were considered – under the gun, hanging it on the shooter’s belt, incorporating it into the tripod -- all of these were shot
down in favor of the last place you would ever guess. In the center of the barrel group. That’s right, the 7-oz. CO2 tank spins with the barrels inside the barrel group. This adds visual appeal as well as
helps balance out the gun.
Up top, just behind the feed hopper, is a single pistol grip with a red button on top. This is the hot button. One microsecond trip of the trigger will send a stream of BBs downrange. On the very rear
of the mini gun are two round pulleys and a toothed rubber belt. This connects a small cordless drill motor -- situated below and under the breech block -- to the drive sprocket for the barrel group. This
pulley is set up with an underdrive ratio like a transmission in a car (the barrels spin at a slower rpm than the drill motor), and lets the motor work near its top speed without draining the batteries or
unduly stressing it.
Again, when it is revved up to full speed it is really a sight to see. To make ready to shred, you need a full 7-oz. CO2 tank installed with the valve open. Slide the clear cover off of the feed hopper and
fill with BBs (about 2000 will do the job). And unless you would like to see the BBs doing their best impression of a swarm of killer bees, remember to replace the cover. Next, place the master switch to
the armed position, turn the laser sight on, pick your target, and depress the firing button. In less time than it takes to blink, the motor has spun up to full speed and with the first revolution it has loaded
all six barrels with BBs. As the last barrel is being loaded, the first is firing its BBs downrange. This load, rotate, and fire cycle will be repeated until you let up on the firing button or something runs
out. Like BBs, or most likely CO2 (after lots of BBs), or finally the batteries after several hours. In action the Mini Vulcan is very well behaved. It did not bounce around or vibrate, making it very easy
to hold on target.
The really astonishing thing about the shooting experience is that there is a steady stream of BBs going downrange. Like a stream of water from a garden hose, there is a line of BBs flying
downrange spaced just inches apart, all rushing to get to the target. This kind of firepower lets you demonstrate some really cool tricks. Paul would hang a Coke can from a string and proceed to shoot at
one side of the can. The impact of the BBs would spin the can like it was on ball bearings, and all the while it looked like metal eating termites were at work on the can. After a few seconds the lower half
of the can would just fall off, shot completely through, while the top continued to spin. Then I watched Paul's trademark trick of shooting his name into a sheet of aluminum. He made it look really easy.
And then there were the Coke cans full of water -- this really opened my eyes as hundreds of tiny leaks seemed to magically appear in the cans.
Well, the buzz of the show was how much it would take to get Paul to part with this marvel, and there were a number of offers made. But Paul did not come to the show to sell his own mini gun, he
came to judge interest and see what the future may hold. And if I have lit your fire about owning your very own Mini Vulcan, there is good news to report. Paul has teamed up with a Texas entrepreneur
and they have agreed to build 20 Mini Vulcans. The price will be in the neighborhood of $2000 but you had better act fast, because I just put my name on the #8 gun which means only 12 are left for
public consumption. All guns will be built on state-of-the-art CNC machines to the highest standards, and are scheduled to be ready in late 1999 or early 2000.
|November 6, 2000, 09:51 PM||#3|
Join Date: May 31, 1999
Location: Exiled, Fetid Swamp, DC
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>the ATF does not regulate airguns[/quote]
DU bbs anyone?
|November 6, 2000, 10:05 PM||#4|
Join Date: March 17, 1999
At an ADPA convention, I tried to talk the GE salesman into putting a hand crank on their mini gun and selling it through the home appliance division. Unfortunately, no luck.
|May 15, 2002, 08:41 AM||#7|
Join Date: January 17, 2002
Location: Wichita Falls, TX
Oh, that is just so gloriously WRONG!!!
I WANT!!! I WANT!!!!
If ignorance is bliss, why does stupidity hurt me so?!?