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M1919 Browning
Country of origin



John Moses Browning

Production began


Production ended


Weapon type

Machine Gun


.30-06 Springfield/.303 British/7.92 x 57 mm, 7.62 x 51 mm NATO (Cold War to Present Day)




31 lbs

Magazine/Cylinder capacity

250-round belt

Cyclic rate

400-600, 1200 (AN/M2)

The Browning M1919 machine gun is a .30 caliber Medium Machine Gun (MMG), chambered to utilize .30-06 Springfield rounds. It was belt-fed, with a normal belt containing 75 rounds; it also used a pistol-esque grip and odd, yet functional iron sights. Altogether, it weighed 31lbs.

The gun began production in 1919 (hence M1919), it was the resulting solution for a more portable machine gun than the M1917 whilst still being able to lay down heavy fire on enemies. When the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge began to phase out the .30-06 cartridge, the newer M1919s were chambered to utilize the newer rounds. It saw more prominent use in World War II, and it was mounted on river craft in the Vietnam War, during the 1960's and '70's. Although it is now phased out due to the arrival of the lighter M60 7.62x51mm NATO general purpose machine gun and the FN M249 SAW 5.56x45mm NATO light machine gun.

It is recognized as one of the precursors to the current 7.62x51mm machine guns, and one of the most prominent MMGs of World War ll.


M1919 Variants

In total there were six variants of the basic M1919 machine gun. The original M1919 was designed to use in tanks. It featured a relatively heavy barrel, attempting to match the sustained fire capability of contemporary water-cooled machine guns.


The M1919A1 featured a lighter barrel and a bipod.


The M1919A2 was another lightweight development specifically for mounted cavalry units, utilizing a shorter barrel and a special tripod (though it could be fitted to either the M1917 or M2 tripods). This weapon was designed to allow greater mobility to cavalry units over the existing M1917 machine gun. The M1919A2 was used for a short period between World War I and World War II after the cavalry had converted from horses to wheeled and tracked vehicles.


The M1919A3, an improved version of the M1919A2, was also developed.


However, by and large the most common variant of the series was the M1919A4. The M1919A4 was used in both fixed and flexible mounts, by infantry and on vehicles. It was also widely exported after World War II and continues to be used in small numbers around the world. Two variants were developed specifically for vehicular use, the M1919A5, with an extended charging handle, and the M1919A4E1, a sub-variant of the M1919A4 refitted with an extended charging handle.

The M1919A6 was an attempt to provide US forces with a more portable light machine gun, similar to the German MG 34 and MG 42 machine guns that they were facing. The M1919A6 had a metal buttstock assembly that clamped to the backplate of the gun, and a front barrel bearing that incorporated both a muzzle booster and a bipod similar to that used on the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). A lighter barrel than that of the M1919A4 was fitted. The M1919A6 was a heavy (32 pounds (15 kg)) and awkward weapon in comparison with the MG34 and MG42 and was eventually replaced in US service by the M60 machine gun in the 1960s.


The M1919A6 was used by Springfield Armory in the late 1940s and early 1950s as a testbed for an interim general purpose machinegun. It was rechambered for the experimental T65 series cartridges, culminating in 1951 with the T66 Machinegun chambered for the T65E3 cartridge (one of the forerunners to the 7.62mm NATO cartridge). It had a new barrel with a flash-hider attachment, a shorter action, and modified M1 disintegrating belt links to feed the new cartridge. It was deemed still too heavy for field use and was not adopted.


The AN/M2 was on occasion used as an infantry gun. Called the T33 it was fitted with a buttstock and bipod to allow for use without a tripod or other mount. The T33 consists of a butt stock from a M1919A6 and a rear sight and bipod from a BAR 1918. These conversions were based on field conversions carried out by soldiers in the Pacific Theater during World War II. A personally modified weapon of this type, using the butt stock from an M1 rifle, was used by Marine Corporal Tony Stein during the invasion of Iwo Jima. Stein would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle. It had a rate of fire in excess of 1,200 rpm and was nicknamed the "Stinger."[12] Barrel overheating and lack of control were the cause of its demise.


In the late 1940s and early 1950s the US military was looking for an upgrade to the M1919 that could feed from either side for use as an improved coaxial machinegun. Saco-Lowell developed a model that had the driving spring attached to the back plate (eliminating the need for a mainspring and driving rod protruding out the back of the bolt), a solenoid trigger for remote firing, a feed cover that could open from either side, a bolt with dual tracks that could feed from either side, and a reversible belt feed pawl, ejector, and feed chute. The experimental T151 had a flat backplate (?), the T152 had spade grips and a "butterfly" trigger like the M2HB, and the T153 had a pistol grip and back-up trigger like the M1919A4 and an extended charging handle similar to those on the M1919A5. The T153 was adopted as the M37 and was produced by SACO-Lowell and Rock Island Arsenal from 1955 to 1957. It was in regular service from 1955 until it was replaced by the M37E1 in the late 1960s and the M73A1 in the early 1970s. The M37 was used mostly on the M48 and M60 Patton medium tanks. The M37F was a trial variant fitted with special sighting equipment. The M37C was a variant without a sight bracket designed for use in aircraft armament (like the skid-mounted XM1/E1 helicopter armament subsystem). The M37E1 was a M37 machine gun converted by Rock Island Arsenal and Springfield Armory to chamber the 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge and feed the M13 disintegrating belt. They were designed for interim use until the M73 machine gun could be fielded.[13] The M37E1 was to be standardized as the M37A1 but development of the improved M73A1 precluded this.[14]

Mk21 Mod 0

The increasing American involvement in Vietnam created a demand for small arms, especially the new M60 machinegun. The Navy had surplus machineguns left over from World War 2 and Korea, but they were chambered for the earlier .30-06 Springfield cartridge rather than the new standard 7.62mm NATO cartridge. The Mk 21 Mod 0 was a US Navy conversion of the .30 M1919A4 to fire the 7.62mm NATO cartridge. This was accomplished by replacing the barrel, bolt, and feed cover and adding a chamber bushing, a link-stripper, and a second belt-holding pawl to allow it to feed and fire the new cartridge.[15][16] Spacer blocks were added to the front and back of the feedway to guide the shorter round and block the use of the longer .30-06 Springfield ammunition.[15][17] A six-inch flash hider was also added to the barrel to reduce the muzzle flash from firing the shorter cartridge.[15] The conversions were performed from 1966 through 1967. Modified M1919A4s had the designation "Machine Gun, 7.62mm / Mk 21 Mod 0" stamped on the receiver sideplate in 1/4-inch lettering. The replacement barrels had "7.62mm NATO-G" stamped on them in 1/8-inch letters to differentiate them from M1919A4 or M60 barrels;[18] the letter G indicated it used a grooved barrel bushing.[16] The refurbished feed mechanism was left-hand feed only. It was different from the one in the M-60 GPMG in that the open end of the belt had to be on top so it could be stripped out.[15][19] To prepare the ammo, gunners had to take out both of the 100-round belts from an M19A1 ammo can, had to link them both together, and then loaded the resultant 200-round belt back into the M19A1 can upside-down so it would feed correctly.[15] It used the standard 7.62mm NATO M13 link "strip-out" disintegrating link,[16] in which the bolt pushes the round out of the bottom of the two-part link and then forwards into the breech.[15] The old M1 link "pull-out" disintegrating links, which are pulled backwards out of the one-piece link by the extractor towards the bolt and then forwards into the breech, wouldn't feed through the new mechanism.[15] The M1 links, which were designed for the longer and thinner .30-06 Springfield, would also be too narrow to fit the shorter and thicker 7.62mm NATO round. The US Navy, because of their narrower inventory of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, used linked belts of either 7.62mm M80 Ball or a 4:1 ratio mix of 7.62mm M80 Ball and 7.62mm M62 Tracer.



Browning AN/M2 Stinger replica, .30-06 calibre

An aircraft variant of the M1919 was the AN/M2 which had a higher rate of fire. A few were converted to ground use by adding rifle stocks/grips/bipods with the "ANM2 Stinger" being the most noted conversion.

Mk1 & Mk2


Browning Mk2 machine gun, .303 British


Rhodesian Browning Mk2 machine gun convertd to GPMG role

The AN/M2 was also chambered in .303 as the Browning Mk1/M2 in the British Commonwealth forces and after WW2 were supplied to Rhodesia where they were twin mounted on Alouette III choppers during the Bush War. The Browning Mk 1 and Mk 2 were older-style Commonwealth designations for the .303 caliber Browning machine guns used on the vast majority of British aircraft of World War II at one point or another. The difference between the Mk 1 and Mk 2 versions is unknown, but the weapon visually is quite similar AN/M2 aircraft gun.


Browning fn30

Browning FN-30, 7.62x51mm NATO

An M1919 derivative was manufactured in Belgium as the FN30.

Colt MG40

Colt produced a derivative of the M2 aircraft machine gun, the Colt MG40. It shipped in a variety of calibers, including the basic .30-06 Springfield and popular 7mm Spanish Mauser, and was available in left- or right-hand feed. The MG40-2 Light Aircraft Machine Gun could be used in flexible- (pintle-mounted), fixed- (wing-mounted), or synchronized- (through the propeller) models. The Flexible mount machinegun came with grips and a "butterfly" trigger plate like the standard ground model. The Fixed model had a backplate. It used a cable connected to an operating slide connected to a stud on the bolt to fire it; tension in the cable causes the trigger to activate and slack in the cable causes it to stop. The synchronized variant of the Fixed model had a trigger motor for through-propeller, gun synchronizing needs.

Foreign variants

The M1919 pattern has been used in countries all over the world in a variety of forms and under a number of different designations.

Commonweath countries

The Browning Mk 1 and Mk 2 were older-style Commonwealth designations for the .303 caliber Browning machine guns used on the vast majority of British aircraft of World War II. The difference between the Mk 1 and Mk 2 versions is unknown, but the weapon visually is quite similar to the AN/M2 aircraft gun. The post-war designations for these weapons was L3, and they were used by the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia to designate the fixed (A1) and flexible (A2) versions of the M1919A4 in .30-06 caliber. L3A3 and L3A4 denoted sear hold-open conversion of previous L3A1s and L3A2s. The A3 is the modified version of the A1, and the A4 is the modified version of the A2. The Canadians later adopted a separate designation for 7.62×51mm rechambered M1919A4s for fixed (C1) and flexible (C1A1) applications. The C5 and C5A1 were product improvements of the previous C1 and C1A1 respectively.

The Rhodesian Air Force used twin Browning Mk 2 models, chambered in the British .303 cartridge, mounted on Alouette III G-Car helicopters as well as modified variants fitted with FN MAG bipods, pistol grips and stocks for ground use.


The Browning was produced by FN-Herstal in Belgium as well, being used in, among others, the Fokker D.XXI fighter. FN-Browning mle 1938 was the French designation for the FN-built derivative converted to 7.5×54mm MAS ammunition. Manufactured in the late 1930s. An M1919 derivative was manufactured in Belgium as the FN30.


MG A4 is the Austrian designation for the M1919A4.

South Africa

MG4 is a South African upgrade of the M1919 in current use with the South African National Defence Force. The MG4 upgrade was done by Lyttleton Engineering Works, Pretoria.


Mg M/52-1 and Mg M/52-11 were Danish designations for the M1919A4 and M1919A5 respectively.


The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) used vehicle-mounted M1919A4 guns converted to 7.62 mm NATO on many of their armored vehicles.


Ksp m/22 is the Swedish designation for license-built M1919s chambered for 8×63mm patron m/22 cartridges, for aircraft use.

Ksp m/39 is the Swedish designation for M1919A4 license-built by Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori chambered in 6.5×55mm and 8×63mm patron m/32, and from about 1975 rebarreled in 7.62×51mm NATO. Intended for use in tanks and armoured vehicles, it's available with both left- and right hand feeding, the former is used in CV 90.

Ksp m/42 was the Swedish designation for license-built M1919A6 used for infantry support, normally chambered in 6.5×55mm but occasionally in 8×63mm patron m/32, and from about 1975, mostly fitted with barrels in 7.62×51mm NATO. The Ksp m/42B was a lighter version with bipod and shoulder stock (used in a similar way as the M1919A6), chambered in 6.5×55mm and later in 7.62×51mm. Even the ksp m/42B proved too heavy, and was replaced by the ksp m/58 (FN MAG). In the late 1980s, most remaining ksp m/42 was rebuilt into ksp m/39 to be installed into the CV 90s.


The Poles developed a copy of the Browning M1919 chambered for 7.92 x 57mm Mauser, designated Ckm wz.32, similar to the earlier Ckm wz.30.



See Also