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.22 Magnum mini-machinegun; Tippmann's latest "unSanforized" semi-auto MG model is a faithful recreation of John M. Browning's legendary "big .50."

We've all seen it in 1940s war films. The hero, hopelessly besieged by whomever he's fighting at the time, wrenches a Browning .50 machine gun off its tripod and proceeds, from the hip mind you, to lay waste to his fanatical adversaries.

Needless to say, this involved a bit of your basic cinema magic, as an M2 .50 Browning in full fighting trim (sans tripod) hefts a substantial 84 lbs., and the recoil attendant to shooting the 2,930 feet per second, 750-grain .50 hardball (in full auto, yet) would be a tad over prohibitive.

Still, it serves to illustrate the aura that this very successful heavy machine gun has. It's been used on everything from tanks and PT boats to jet aircraft. This is precisely the reason that Tippmann Arms, 14402 New Haven Ave., Fort Wayne, IN 46803, has chosen it to be the second major half-scale replica machine gun in its line.

You may remember some months back that G&A reported on Tippmann's recreation of the Browning M1917/19 MGs. The response was such that the firm was encouraged to go ahead with plans for the .50 and, as you will see, I think you'll be glad they did.

To begin with, Tippmann's Model .50 HB (the original was dubbed "Browning Machine Gun, Caliber .50 HB, M2") is an almost screw-of-screw shooting scale model of the original ground-mounted .50 MG. It includes an M3-style tripod, replete with traversing and elevating mechanism and front and rear leg locks.

Unlike Tippmann's .30 replicas, which have to be treated as pistols (and as per BATF had to be permanently affixed to their mounts), the .50, with its 18-1/4-inch barrel, is considered a rifle and can be removed from the mount pintle just like its big brother.

While we're talking specs, the Tippmann .50 HB weighs in at 13 lbs., fires from a closed bolt and measures 26-1/2 inches overall. In its full auto mode, it apes the original's cyclic rate of fire of 650 rounds per minute. As our test gun was a semi-auto version, however, the "cyclic rate" depended on the agility of my trigger finger.

The gun has a 100-round cloth belth (150 is available), covered blade front sight and flip-up "ladder"-type rear sight. While the overall finish of the gun is parkerized, the spade grips and cocking lever handle are of polished walnut--again, like those of the original.

The gun is of straight blowback design (where the original was recoil operated), but given the differences in pressure between .50 and .22 Magnum, this is totally understandable. As might be expected, this entails a bit of internal modification--though not as much as one might expect.

The gun comes packed in an iron-bound oak military-style chest. To ready the Tippmann .50 for firing, it is first necessary to screw the barrel into the receiver. Our test gun was a semi-prototype, so we had to actually grip the barrel and turn it until it was completely seated. In future production models, however, the barrel handle will have a retractable lug that fits into a collar slot to help turn the tube. I found, by the way, that it was easier to fully insert the barrel if the bolt was retracted slightly to the rear.

To the load the Tippmann .50, first insert the .22 Magnums is the belt, being careful to align the belt just a tad above midpoint on the case. Then simply open the cover group and lay the belt along the guide with the first cartridge positioned in line with the chamber. The cover can now be closed and a round chambered by pulling back and releasing the operating handle twice. Because of the bottom ejection, in which the next round pushes out the spent case, the initial double operation is necessary for the first shot.

Tippmann has incorporated a rear-mounted safety, fashioned after the original's buffer system. The trigger is the standard "butterfly" pattern familiar to GIs from World War II through Vietnam.

As the gun can be virtually clamped down so that it moves very little on the tripod, we all felt that accuracy should be superior.

We were not disappointed. The trigger "pull" (actually it is pushed down with both thumbs while one grasps the spade grips) was pretty crisp and lock time good.

While the gun did jump a might, little readjustment was necessary to keep the gun on target. Our initial five-round, 50-yard group measured in at a very satisfying 1-1/8 inches.

When we tried rapid-fire, however, the flexible cloth belt had a tendency to twist, thus altering the angle of the cartridges as they entered the feed port. This resulted in jams every three or four shots. When the belt was fed by hand, though, functioning was perfect, and the Tippmann chambered and chucked rounds as fast as I could pull the trigger. We mentioned this problem to Dennis Tippmann, who did a bit of experimenting on his own and found that a weak feed pawl spring has been beefed up and that his .50 now feeds with alacrity.

Ammunition type was no hindrance either. We tried a mixed bag of Winchester, CCI and Federal solid and hollow points, and the mini-.50 digested them all without problems.

Like its other diminutive machine guns, Tippmann has done John M. Browning's .50 proud. As a shooter or display piece, the gun is hardly to be faulted. Now we all know that quality doesn't come cheap, but considering the amount of handwork and attention to detail, the tariff of $1,895 is not really out of line. In fact, the .30s, which are priced at between $1,400 and $2,000, are selling like hotcakes, so others must agree with me.

As noted earlier, the .50 comes in a fitted box with a brace of scaled-down ammo cans and two 100-round belts. Spare ammo cans and 100 or 150-shots belts are available as options.

Once the .50 is in full production, Tippmann plans to introduce another MG to its line. Watch this space.
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Author:James, Gary
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Oct 1, 1985
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