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Ex Historiam: The M60 Machine Gun

This installment of Ex Historiam is an early educational film discussing the earliest incarnations of the M60 Machine Gun (or “Pig” as it has been called since the Vietnam War). It does more than just explain the weapon specs and basic cycle of operation, beginning about 9 minutes in it starts going into close mechanical detail. Want to know about the actuating cam roller in the feed tray? Curious about the relationship between the feed cam lever, chambering ram, op rod and actuating cam roller? Well, you're in luck.

The film is several decades old, but they do a great job of breaking it down Barney Style.

Developed in the 50s as the T-161, inspired by the M-42 and adopted formally to replace the BAR and M1917 in the late 50s, the M60 became a mainstay of US military units. It has long since become ubiquitous in Vietnam movies. In fact, according to a survey by the Army Times it was the most recognizable weapon of its era and was carried on jungle patrols from Vietnam to the Panama Canal and into the desert of the Arabian peninsula. Despite its widespread use, it was not without substantial criticism.

Some argued it wasn’t the best machine gun compared to foreign models, such as the FN MAG. But the U.S. could manufacture it at home, something that made congressmen with defense industries in their districts very happy.

“Still, the M-60 had its problems.

For one, no one designing the M-60 remembered to put a wire-carrying handle on the barrel. That made changing the barrel an agonizing affair during firefights in Vietnam. To swap out the red-hot steel, an assistant gunner had to don asbestos gloves that looked like oven mitts.

The guns were prone to jam. Ammo belts would sometimes bind to the weapon. Then some G.I. got a brilliant idea — just lash an empty C-ration can to the left side of the receiver so the belt would flow smoothly over the curved surface.

By the 1980s, the military adopted the M-60E3, an upgraded version that fixed many of its shortcomings.”  War is Boring

Read previous Ex Historiam and watch their videos right here on RECOILweb.

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