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Old September 2, 2015, 10:09 PM   #1
Cutaway
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Bullpup Belt Fed Machine Guns

After seeing an image of the Pecheneg bullpup, the Vickers K land variant and some bullpup beltfed ak, i started thinking would a bullpup 5.56mm/7.62mm gpmg be a good idea?.

Pecheneg Bullpup:


Vickers K land variant:


I came up with this edited image of a bullpup machine gun. Would it be a good idea as machine guns have become treated more like rifles over the past decades?.
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Old September 2, 2015, 10:23 PM   #2
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Maybe, but I'll bet reloading a belt would be much trickier vs a mag fed rifle.

I think something like a 5.56 LMG/automatic rifle would be better. Something made specifically to fire on full auto, and feeding from say 40 round mags. Think RPK bullpup.
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Old September 3, 2015, 06:29 AM   #3
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I agree with Model 12. Something like the L86 maybe

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Old September 3, 2015, 08:44 AM   #4
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With drums that hold over 100 rounds of 5.56 or 7.62x39, and ultra-high capacity box magazines, I really don't see any purpose to a belt-feed, unless you will be shooting the gun from the prone position. Even if that were the case, I'd much rather someone develop a top-feed alternative.

To me, engineering belt-feeds for small machine guns is as fruitful as engineering scandium handled nylon buggy whips for electric cars.
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Old September 3, 2015, 11:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skans
With drums that hold over 100 rounds of 5.56 or 7.62x39, and ultra-high capacity box magazines, I really don't see any purpose to a belt-feed, unless you will be shooting the gun from the prone position. Even if that were the case, I'd much rather someone develop a top-feed alternative.
If you're setting up a prolonged base of fire, a machine gun can require thousands of rounds in a relatively short period of time. If the machine gun was magazine-fed, reloading would have to occur a lot more often (most belts start out at 100 rounds, but you can easily link belts together to multiply that). And the ammo would have to be loaded in mags first; if you ran out of serviceable mags in a firefight but still had ammo left, you'd have to stop and load up a bunch of mags, which wouldn't be very practical.

Belted ammo comes straight from the ammo can ready to go, and it seems to me that carrying multiple hundreds of rounds of belted ammo is a lot easier than carrying the same amount of ammo loaded into large-capacity mags. All the large-capacity mags I've seen are large, bulky things; I wouldn't want to figure out how to carry a bunch of those on my body for easy access. And those mags I've seen were just 5.56; 7.62x51 mags would be a lot bulkier.

And then you get to the design of the machine gun itself. The design of an open-bolt belt-fed machine gun like the M240 makes clearing stoppages really easy: Pull the bolt to the rear, open the cover, lift the feed tray, and at that point you have wide-open access to the chamber and to anything that may be causing a stoppage. Not to say you couldn't figure out a way to design a magazine-fed weapon to have similar chamber access, but it would be more difficult.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skans
unless you will be shooting the gun from the prone position.
That's a HUGE "unless" right there. Medium machine guns like the M240 are designed to be fired from the bipod or tripod. They're not designed to be fired in any other position and doing so is a rarity that's usually reserved for horsing around.

My Marine Corps MOS was machine gunner, and the machine gun we used for my entire enlistment was the M240G. I've never used a machine gun that used magazines (other than occasionally shooting an M249 SAW using M16 mags, which is terrible; they don't work well, and when they do, ammo runs out way too quickly), so I don't have a direct comparison between a belt-fed machine gun and a machine gun with large-capacity mags. But my experience with belt-feds makes me think that a medium machine gun like the M240 would probably be less effective and more difficult to deploy if it used magazines instead.
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Last edited by Theohazard; September 3, 2015 at 03:49 PM. Reason: I forgot that belts start off at 100 rounds, not 200
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Old September 3, 2015, 01:35 PM   #6
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Theohazard, if you are carrying your own ammo, it seems to me that magazines have the advantage over belts. You can carry the loaded magazines in a box if you want, same as belted ammo. The military can afford to dedicate a person to carrying belted ammo. However, outside of the military, belted ammo is very cumbersome for a single person to carry and manage.

Also, linking ammo is much more difficult than loading a magazine. if you ran out of serviceable belts in a firefight but still had ammo left, you'd have to stop and re-link a bunch of ammo! This is probably impossible in the field, except maybe with cloth belts - but still quite cumbersome. I suppose you are assuming that all ammo you are using is already linked. Still, the same can be said for magazines.

My point is that from an individual standpoint (not the standpoint of a squad), magazines are far more efficient and practical. I suppose it comes down to how you envision you might be using the gun in question. I always think in terms of "individual", because I can't even imagine a scenario (even in my wildest imagination) where I would ever be defending myself in a coordinated group of 8 guys.
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Old September 3, 2015, 03:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skans
Theohazard, if you are carrying your own ammo, it seems to me that magazines have the advantage over belts. You can carry the loaded magazines in a box if you want, same as belted ammo. The military can afford to dedicate a person to carrying belted ammo.
Actually, we couldn't afford to dedicate a person to carrying ammo. For most of my enlistment, I never had an ammo man; our three-man machine gun teams almost always consisted of two men. And with or without an ammo man, we always spread our ammo out among everyone in the squad. We carried our belted ammo wherever we could; in our packs, in the pouch it came in, or just draped over our shoulders. And it's fairly easy to carry several hundred rounds of belted 7.62 ammo on your body, ready for use. I definitely wouldn't want to have to figure out how to carry a whole bunch of 100-round 7.62 mags strapped to my body instead.

And if you didn't want to carry the ammo in loose belts, you didn't have to. Our 7.62 ammo came in 100-round belts that were in small cardboard boxes in small green pouches that had a cloth strap. So each 100 round belt had its own carrying strap and pouch (all disposable) if you wanted to carry it that way. That's a much easier way to carry 100 rounds than if it was in an oddly-shaped, bulky 100-round magazine. Here's what those pouches look like:




There's nothing showing the scale there, but trust me when I tell you that that's a LOT less bulky than a 100-round Beta mag for a 7.62x51 rifle:



I'd guess that a 7.62 Beta magazine is about double the size of a 100-round pouch of belted ammo. And it doesn't come from the ammo can already loaded in a magazine and with a disposable pouch with a carrying strap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skans
Also, linking ammo is much more difficult than loading a magazine. if you ran out of serviceable belts in a firefight but still had ammo left, you'd have to stop and re-link a bunch of ammo!
That would never happen because all our ammo already came pre-linked. Nobody in our whole company was ever issued un-linked 7.62 ammo, so every round we ever fired through our 240s was already linked to begin with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skans
I suppose you are assuming that all ammo you are using is already linked. Still, the same can be said for magazines.
I doubt the military could afford to issue all machine gun ammo pre-loaded in large-capacity magazines that were quality enough to be as reliable as a belt-fed machine gun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skans
My point is that from an individual standpoint (not the standpoint of a squad), magazines are far more efficient and practical. I suppose it comes down to how you envision you might be using the gun in question.
The OP specifically mentioned general-purpose machine guns, which are almost always belt-fed. The Marine Corps is transitioning to the M27 IAR (basically an HK416) as their squad automatic weapon carried by their automatic riflemen in a rifle squad, but it's not used in a general-purpose machine gun role because it's not designed for that. The M240B is still the general-purpose machine gun used by the Marine Corps, and it's used in everything from squad direct-support roles to platoon and company-level support.

And the role of a true machine gun like the M240 is very different than the role of a magazine-fed automatic rifle like what you're talking about. Our M240s were deployed in teams and were intended to provide sustained full-auto fire over a long period of time. And it did that by being belt-fed, by firing from an open bolt, by having a barrel that could be switched in a few seconds (at most), and by being extremely large and robust.
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Last edited by Theohazard; September 3, 2015 at 04:20 PM.
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Old September 3, 2015, 05:08 PM   #8
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To get back to the OP's question: I suppose the answer depends on what role the machine gun is supposed to fill. A magazine-fed beefed-up rifle like the M27 IAR fills the role of a direct-support fire-team-level automatic rifle more than it fills the role of a true general-purpose machine gun. Sure, an automatic rifle like the M27 can fill the larger support role of a general-purpose machine gun in a pinch, but it doesn't do it anywhere near as well as a medium machine gun like the M240 does. But if all you need is an automatic rifle, then there are plenty of magazine-fed bullpup designs out there.

But if you're looking for a machine gun that can fill a larger support role like the M240, you need it to be belt-fed (for the reasons I mentioned in my previous two posts). Now, I don't have any experience with bullpup belt-fed machine guns, but from my experience with regular belt-fed machine guns it seems like they could be problematic.

One advantage of the M240 is that the feeding occurs well in front of the shooter. This gives your assistant gunner (usually the team leader) easy access to the receiver for reloading, barrel changes, or clearing stoppages. Also, it makes ejection easier. On the 240, the belt loads from the left, empty brass is ejected straight down out of the bottom of the receiver, and the links are ejected to the right. So if it were a bullpup, not only would the belt have to feed from the other direction, but the design would need to put the links somewhere else other than the side of the shooter's head. That's not impossible, but it seems like it might make the design more complicated; the 240 works so well in part because it's a fairly simple design.

The M240 works so well because it's simple and because it's large and beefy. A bullpup would be more compact, but I would think you'd lose some of the M240s durability and reliability if it was made more compact, and it seems to me like it would be more difficult for a two-man team to operate efficiently. But I'm not as knowledable on the myriad of different machine gun designs as some other people on this forum are, so I'm curious to see what others say.
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Old September 3, 2015, 05:10 PM   #9
Skans
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I was assuming that the OP was talking about something like a belt-fed AUG or a belt-fed AK. He asked:

After seeing an image of the Pecheneg bullpup, the Vickers K land variant and some bullpup beltfed ak, i started thinking would a bullpup 5.56mm/7.62mm gpmg be a good idea?.

My response (magazines better than linked ammo) was geared toward guns of this size, not really general purpose machine guns. I can see the advantage of linked ammo for a much larger, heavier machine gun that aren't meant to be fired from the shoulder. Perhaps I misunderstood the OP's inquiry?
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Old September 3, 2015, 05:28 PM   #10
Theohazard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skans
I was assuming that the OP was talking about something like a belt-fed AUG or a belt-fed AK. He asked:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cutaway
After seeing an image of the Pecheneg bullpup, the Vickers K land variant and some bullpup beltfed ak, i started thinking would a bullpup 5.56mm/7.62mm gpmg be a good idea?
My response (magazines better than linked ammo) was geared toward guns of this size, not really general purpose machine guns. I can see the advantage of linked ammo for a much larger, heavier machine gun that aren't meant to be fired from the shoulder. Perhaps I misunderstood the OP's inquiry?
Yeah, I'm guessing we're talking about two different things here. He wrote "gpmg", which I can only assume means "general purpose machine gun". A general-purpose machine gun is usually belt-fed and chambered in a larger caliber like 7.62x51, and that's because it needs to be able to fill a multitude of roles, from direct infantry squad-level support, to company-level infantry support, to being mounted on a vehicle or helicopter.

Guns like the M240 and the older M60 are perfect examples of a general-purpose machine gun, whereas something like the M27 IAR is an automatic rifle that fills the role of a light machine gun in an infantry fire team, but doesn't come close to a 240 when it comes to the ability to provide large volumes of full-auto fire, which is why the Marine Corps and the Army both use the M240 for their general purpose machine gun.
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Last edited by Theohazard; September 3, 2015 at 06:02 PM. Reason: typo
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Old September 4, 2015, 07:57 PM   #11
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The idea is a bullpup GPMG chambered in 7.62x51mm. Its just that i thought of somthing that would be more ergonomic and more weildy for infantry usage (especially for Paratroopers, Special Forces etc) but with the same reliability as the MG3, FN MAG etc

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