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M134 Minigun: The Modern Gatling Gun

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In this video by The Forgotten Weapons, Ian features a General Electric M134 “Minigun”. The Minigun is a six-barrel rotary machine gun with a high rate of fire. It is essentially an electrically-powered Gatling gun, in the sense that the conceptual operation of the gun is identical to Richard Jordan Gatling’s original creation. What has changed with the Minigun, however, is the chambering. The Minigun is in 7.62 NATO.

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There are other distinct features of the Minigun that makes it different from the Gatling gun. Its power source is an electric motor, and the feed mechanism is a belt-feed that uses M60 links instead of the Gatling’s Accles, Broadwell, or Bruce feeds. The Minigun’s multi-barrel design helps prevent overheating, but also serves several other functions. The multiple barrels of the gun allows for a greater capacity for firing rate, because the serial process of firing, extraction and loading takes place in all barrels simultaneously. As a result, when one barrel fires, two other barrels are in different stages of shell extraction, and another three barrels are being loaded at the same time.

The Minigun was a scaled down version of a 20mm rotary powered cannon which was devised for aircraft armament after the Second World War, hence the term “mini”. The Minigun was primarily used as a helicopter armament, but it was also utilized on the ground by being attached to land vehicles.

Firing between 3,000 and 6,000 rounds per minute, the Minigun is ideal for aerial engagements where the shooter has only a brief moment on target and needs to fire as much rounds as possible in a short span of time.

Ian notes that the Minigun is a truly awe-inspiring weapon, and that it was quite an experience to fire. The video features footage of Ian targeting and destroying a truck using the Minigun.

Ian also delved into the assembly and functioning of the Minigun. He comments that the delinking mechanism is the most complex part of the weapon, and is a very interesting device.

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