Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is about the rimfire firearm world and its many guns, ammunition types, and history! Last week we looked at the antique $5 Mossberg Brownie .22 caliber rimfire pistol. Despite advancements in handgun technology, many of you seemed to be interested in owning one of these pistols, even if it were a modern reproduction. However, most of you noted that the current pricing of original Brownie pistols, even heavily used ones, was far too expensive for all but the most hardcore collectors to consider paying for. This week we’re taking a look at another relatively obscure rimfire firearm with the Tippmann Arms 1919 belt-fed full-auto pistol. This year I was fortunate enough to be able to see one of these things in action at the first annual All American Machine Gun Shoot. Today we’ll take a closer look at the Tippmann Arms 1919 as observed at one of the most entertaining firearms events I’ve been to all year long.
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The Rimfire Report: The Miniature Tippmann Arms 1919 Belt-Fed Pistol
In stark opposition to a lot of other miniatures, the Tippman Arms 1919 pistol is a fully realized 1/2 scale model of the famed Browning 1919 .30 caliber machine gun. Speaking of the full-scale version, plenty of those were around and sending lead down range at the All American Machine Gun Shoot and it was a treat to be able to see both the miniaturized and full-sized versions of the 1919 machine gun in action at the event.
The Tippmann Arms 1919 was first produced in the 1980s before 1986 when the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act went into effect and effectively banned the production of transferable machine guns. This is important because the Tippmann Arms 1919 comes in two variants. The first variant produced was a full-auto version, of which 123 were made and can be differentiated by the post-1986 ban versions via their “FA” or “F” serial number prefix which obviously stood for “Full Auto.” Tippmann Arms 1919s produced after the 1986 ban carries an “AL” serial number prefix standing for “After the Law” and were semi-auto-only variants.
Each new Tippmann Arms 1919 came complete with fully functioning and adjustable sights, a half-scale adjustable tripod, a cleaning rod, manual, as well as two miniature ammunition cans each with a 1250-round cloth ammo belt and two plastic ammunition belts. All of this came inside of a scaled wooden crate made from oak and custom fit for each firearm. The construction of the miniature 1919 was accomplished mostly by CNC machining, however, earlier models of miniature 1919s were made from investment cast parts, and thus finding off-the-shelf parts from newer models that can be used to repair older models is rare and newer parts will often have to be hand-fitted.
Operation and Reliability
The Tippmann Arms 1919 belt-fed pistol had a nearly identical operation procedure to the full-size 1919. Everything from the style of belts, internal mechanisms for feeding and extraction, as well as how empty casings were ejected were all basically the same with one specific exception – the .22LR version does not use a locked action. Because .22LR is already a fairly anemic cartridge, the locked action was omitted in favor of a blowback design. According to various forums, some modification is needed to allow 1919 to run reliably using standard velocity ammunition.
Loading the firearm is a fairly simple affair and anyone who has operated a belt-fed machinegun won’t be out of their depth when encountering the micro-sized 1919. Simply lift the top cover, retract the bolt to the rear, place the first round in the tray and then drop the bolt onto the first round, close the top cover and you’re off to the races. The mini 1919 uses a simple safety mechanism mounted on the rear of the receiver and flips only from fire to safe. On full-auto versions like the one I was able to snap pictures of at the All American Machine Gun Shoot, there is no semi-auto mode, only full-auto.
Of all the versions I’ve seen both online and in-person, the one that was at the machine gun shoot seemed to be having a few feeding issues to start with but by the night shoot portion of the event, it seemed to be up and running smoothly using some red .22LR tracers its owner brought along with it. I’ve also seen these being shot at the legendary Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot and the models I watched being fired there all seemed to operate very well. The only limiting factor to the amount of fun being had was that the “cutest” machinegun on the range was being outclassed by monstrosities like short-barreled M2s and M134 miniguns.
Closing Thoughts / Where can I get one?
If I ever win the lottery, this is one oddity that will certainly be at the top of my list. Full-auto is almost always fun and rimfire full-auto is not only fun but insanely controllable and much less harmful to the pocketbook than any centerfire full-auto. Finding one of these rare belt-fed half-scale rimfire firearms is already hard enough, to begin with, however, at the time of writing, there is one up for auction on GunBroker.com with a starting bid of $14,999.99. Keep in mind that this is for the semi-automatic version of the firearm and any transferrable Tippman Arms 1919 found for sale or auction is likely going to get a much higher asking price.
I find it quite sad that the Hughes Amendment all but killed affordable machine guns for citizens as the obvious intention of creations like the Tippmann Arms 1919 was just for fun. NFA (full-auto) versions of the mini 1919 were sold for about $9,000-$14,000 on auction sites but today they cost about as much as a new car and as a result, are more or less unobtainium for everyone but the rich or fortunate. I’d like to hear if you’ve had any experience with the Tippmann Arms half-scale 1919 machine gun or even its semi-auto variant. As always thanks for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report and we’ll see you all again next week!
If you’d like to check out cool machine guns like this, you should consider attending next year’s All American Machine Gun Shoot. Thanks to Rachel Stroud for media access at this year’s event where I was able to get lots of close-up pictures of the Tippmann Arms 1919 and lots of other full-auto firearms!