American Rifleman | ARTV Preview: Browning M2 and MG42, EAA Girsan Regard Gen 4 and 1803 Harpers Ferry Rifle

On this week’s American Rifleman TV episode, we’re going through our picks for the top 10 machine guns of all time. We’ll start with # 4, the Browning M2 .50-cal. heavy machine gun and No. 3 the German MG42 general purpose machine gun. In “Rifleman Review” we take a look at the EAA Girsan Regard Gen 4 pistol made in Turkey as a modified Beretta 92 design. On “I Have This Old Gun” we examine the early American flintlock rifle Harpers Ferry from 1803.

Reenactors disguised as WWII-era US Marines fire the Browning M2.


Continue with American shooter Picks for the top 10 machine guns of all time, with the Browning M2 heavy machine gun in fourth place. The M2 family chambered in .50 BMG is based on John Browning’s M1917 machine gun design that has just been enlarged. It was adopted by the US military in 1933 as an air-cooled heavy machine gun and was to be used in several roles as armament for buried infantry, ground vehicles, naval ships and aircraft during World War II. The M2 and faster burning ANM2 derivatives were produced by numerous manufacturers over a period of eight decades. It is also used by various nations around the world, including many NATO countries. It is still used today by the US military as armament for infantry, vehicles, aircraft, and even naval ships. The Browning M2 is one of the longest-serving and most widely-used heavy machine guns in history, and it tops the list.

Firing MG42.

Firing MG42.


In third place is a machine gun, so terrifying to Allied soldiers in World War II that the US Department of War made educational films about counteracting it and published propaganda
dissipating their power, the machine gun 42. Known by nicknames of Allied soldiers like “Hitler’s circular saw”, the MG42, which was chambered in 7.92 x 57 mm JS, was a continuation of the German general purpose machine gun concept launched by the MG34.

During the course of World War II, the Germans tried to simplify and improve the MG34 while keeping its core concepts. Milled parts have been replaced with stamped parts as much as possible, and the rotating recoil pin has been replaced with a roll retarded recoil pin. As a result, the MG42 was cheaper to produce and fired at 1,200 rpm than the MG34 at 850 rpm, making it the fastest-firing machine gun of World War II. The design was so successful that it lived on after the war and is still used today by Germany as the MG3.

The EAA Girsan Regard Gen 4 pistol.

The EAA Girsan Regard Gen 4 pistol.

The Girsan factory in Turkey has been producing copies of the Beretta 92 series for many years since 1994, initially under license. These Girsan pistols are now being imported into the US market by European American Armory. The latest of these Beretta 92-based pistols is the Girsan Regard Gen 4, which includes several features that the regular Beretta 92 and M9 pistols don’t have.

Firing a reproduction 1803 Harpers Ferry Rifle.

Firing a reproduction 1803 Harpers Ferry Rifle.

During the American Revolution, the smooth-barreled musket was generally the most common weapon used by both sides. The Americans, however, had used muzzle-loading rifles like the Pennsylvania and Kentucky rifles to great effect with their increased accuracy over standard muskets. Therefore, the US military tried to adopt and manufacture a standardized rifle to hand out to the shooter in a subordinate role.

A request was sent to the superintendent of the Harper’s Ferry Armory, Joseph Perkin, who worked with several armourers to design a rifle to meet the needs of the War Department. The design they submitted in late 1803 was accepted and adopted as the Harper’s Ferry Model 1803 rifle, the first rifle made and issued by the U.S. military. The M1803 had a shorter overall length than normal muskets and was chambered in .54 caliber.

Visit americanrifleman.org/artv for full sections of past episodes of American Rifleman TV. For brand new episodes of ARTV, tune into Wednesday nights 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST on Outdoor Channel.

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