An Inside Look at the Helicopter Machine Gun Build
August 30, 2011
I woke up the morning of the Universal Helicopter Mount and stabilizer test you saw last week on Sons of Guns in the helicopter machine gun build, feeling like I had razor blades coursing through my veins. We had a helicopter, a prototype mount, a MAG 58 machine gun, a gyroscopic stabilizer and enough rounds to blow some stuff up. We had a great range area, exploding targets and a combat trained pilot who really knew how to put you in front of the target.
Adrenaline? I felt like I had 20 gallons a minute pumping through me all day.
We were able to work with Paradigm, a really great outfit, getting their mount and gyro put together with our MG for full testing. The way the connection with the company came about was that Chris, who you saw on the show, had a custom gun shop out of Laffeyette, La., doing Class III and custom work .We've known him for quite a while, swapping parts back and forth until he shut down just last year to go over to Paradigm. When his new boss needed a GPMG and a little help with a custom MG mount, he knew where to go .
Paradigm had the universal base mount and the gyro-stabilizer, but they're not a gun company, so they didn't have a machine gun to mount, and they weren't quite sure how to set it up to take advantage of their gyro system. They tried something similar to this before with an AR-15 that worked out pretty good, but with a heavy .308 belt-fed, they needed a whole new way to get all the pieces tied together. The point of the mount is that you don't need a dedicated gunship.You can move it into any helicopter, strap it down and go. The point of the gyro stabilizer is that, once the gunner's zeroed in, it helps tremendously in holding the gun on target.
Our goal was to produce the same accuracy that the gun would produce on the ground, even if the pilot was executing tactical maneuvers during combat.
What I found in the air was that Paradigm was right. We were about 160 to 200 feet in the air going back and forth at about 20 knots, and I went through a 200 round belt and never left a torso-sized area of the target. We did straight on runs with the gun (at a much higher air speed), blew the hell out of some cars and pretty much put the set-up through every test possible.
I've shot out of a helicopter before, but that was the most incredible thing I'd ever seen in my life. Those boys wanted to test their system and prove their theory, by God, it worked with flying colors.
A few folks have said they've never seen me that excited--at least on camera--and I think they're probably right. Until you've dove in on a target, doing 60 knots at treetop level and just obliterated it, well, it's hard to describe :). Try it sometime, you'll know where I'm coming from.
One of the absolute best parts of the day was seeing Stephanie's face when she stepped off that chopper. She has heard me talk about it, she's seen pictures of me from my time in the Corps, but she'd never got to experience it. When she finally landed I said, "see, I wasn't crazy all these years."
One of the things that we never forget when we're out testing is our soldiers and Marines who are doing it for real, holding the line between us and those who would destroy us. When we're doing something like this, what we're thinking is "OK, how's this going to work when some terrorist is shooting at you?" End of the day, I think the stabilization system will help our men in their job of killing the suckers.
See you next week boys.