It Can’t be Done” Factor Creates a Unicorn.
By JJ Sutton, C.P.S., C.M.A.S.
Editors Note: As part of promoting America’s small manufacturing businesses, AmmoLand’s ‘Made in the USA Series’will be featuring small, one owner shops, with unique products related to Firearms and Shooting Sports. To be featured send us a description of your product and an image to [email protected] Support these mom & pop entrepreneurs.
How many times as a kid where you told that something wasn’t possible and you tried it or did it anyway?
I mean if a “Double Dog Dare” isn’t jet fuel to the “It can’t be done” factor nothing else is.
So when former Marine (SGT) and competition shooter Ken Wittekiend, Owner of Witt Machine & Tool ( www.wittmachine.net) was told those words; it made him dig in.
Suppressed M1919A4 How it all Started
As an innovator and heavy thinker Ken strives to create, rather than just add a new spin to industry fads. Lets be real, plenty of brand name companies have big budget R&D with dedicated teams, yet often times the unexpected comes from the most unexpected places. So right after serving 10yrs in the US Marine Corps; three deployments to the sand box of the middle east and being stationed in Hawaii – all places HOT, this Texas native decided he was heading for the cooler Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
He went all in too, he built an off the grid cabin and when he finished that he built another room onto it, ordered a CNC machine and powered it off a propane generator. His ideas started to come to life, he started making pretty interesting clamp-on muzzle brakes for all kinds of rifles and that was just the start of things. His portfolio, and new ON-GRID shop now include muzzle devices that eliminate muzzle rise (the Muzzle Rise Eliminator), muzzle devices for shotguns, a revolutionary Integrally Suppressed AR-15 & AR-10 upper receivers using full length barrels, a cannon with a muzzle device (seriously), very quiet suppressors, and not the least bit surprising… a suppressed M1919A4.
Ken stumbled across a good deal one day while browsing thru a gun shop that he just couldn’t pass up. He found a dusty M1919A4 sitting on display that the owner said wasn’t functioning. It was a semi-auto .308 variant but it still called out to Ken. Forever the collector of cool things related to guns – Ken decided he had to have it and figure out why it wasn’t firing. A deal was made and he took it home. It was after he got it that the idea hit him – the industry’s biggest event was fast approaching. It would be something if he could get that dusty M1919A4 working and suppressed to draw attention to his new venture into creating suppression systems.
The self challenge was made and accepted, little did he know it was a bigger challenge than just with himself and that it had never been done before.
He stripped the whole thing apart and like a good Marine; gave it some serious attention. He cleaned it like it probably had not been done in decades, the M1919A4 and its parts drank up oil & lube from the years of neglect, reassembling it and function testing it he started to notice parts he would need to replace. There really is only a few good places to get parts for an old beauty like this (no names mentioned). When he called to order his parts the conversations turned to what he had in mind. Immediately he was told “that can’t be done” and the conversation and others later turned cold, even mocking. When he would order a part or parts he would also notice that they would either be delayed or some other issue would arise as an obstacle for him getting the parts he needed. He commented to me one day when discussing it that he was surprised that the firearms community (and Co.) could treat others this way and not be more supportive of new thinking or new ideas. Despite the obstacles and trouble shooting he did the old M1919A4 finally awoke from the dead and started eating links again!
Having solved the issues of why it wasn’t functioning and now that it was eating up the links – everyone loves a hungry belt fed beast don’t they? He set to the task of making it suppressed. With the mocking words of “that can’t be done” keeping him stubbornly on task. He built from scratch all the parts he needed to make it happen.
The Obstacles of the Suppressed M1919A4
For the well heeled firearms collectors and historians who are in the know… The M1919 has a few unique things about it that make applying the common principles of suppression a real challenge. First of all the barrel itself recoils into the receiver (the barrel moves back and forth and uses the recoil to cycle). When suppression is added it also dampens recoil and in this case that would cause immediate malfunctions and it did. So full recoil is a must.
There is also a booster screwed onto the end of the barrel shroud that had to be eliminated in order for the suppressor to be attached directly to the barrel.
The M1919 Browning was manufactured by numerous companies during World War II in the USA and UK. The earliest models or the original variant was a medium machine gun chambered in .30-06 caliber. Many where re-chambered for the new 7.62x51NATO caliber and some still are in service in corners of the globe to this day.
The M1919 variants have seen combat and a lot of service world wide. It may be obsolete in the USA Armed Forces but if it catches on that M1919s can be suppressed and deployed into service… not to mention the many that are in the hands of collectors and enthusiasts or even easily made by hobbyists. This could be big? It potentially could revive this beast in many new and exciting ways and it could allow for other similar designs and systems to get suppression too. Witt Machine & Tool will suppress other M1919s for clients. (click to contact)
Ken doesn’t generally share what he had to do to get the M1919A4 to function properly while suppressed. Since I have seen it and have a little inside information; I can tell you it was innovative! He manufactured from scratch the parts that had to be added to the system and did a few modifications to others. He used titanium for the suppressor and the modified parts to help keep the weight down and the result speaks for its self. Since this one is a semi-auto the cycle rate is lower but I have seen it run thru a belt as fast as anyone can pull the trigger again and again. A few more modifications would be needed he thinks if this was a full auto version that was going into combat but that really would just be reinforcements to his design to ensure the durability needed under those conditions.
The Suppressed M1919A4 Unicorn is Uncloaked
Witt Machine & Tool comes down off the mountain each year and ONLY attends the Live Fire – Media/Buyers Day at the world’s largest industry show – SHOT Show in Las Vegas. That is where they roll out their wares, show industry contacts, clients, and buyers their innovative products and then head back. The crowded exhibit floor just isn’t a cup of tea they want to swig from and besides, live fire is where the proof of concept is real.
The Suppressed and fully functional M1919A4 got its reveal to its key audience at SHOT Show 2016 and the crew at AmmoLand News(in a private showing). Mind you the public still has not completely seen or is aware of this marvel yet! (To my knowledge this is also the first article discussing this feat and accomplishment). Almost a double edged sword – Journalists, Bloggers, Writers, and Buyers all flocked to see a unicorn in the flesh. They ALL got to shoot it, fondle it, and marvel at it and no one; not a single person said – “Oh, I have seen one of those before.” They all pushed passed Witt Machine & Tool’s other products and shot the M1919A4.
For example – his TRUE Integrally Suppressed AR-15 upper in .300BO using a 16” barrel (not a short barrel with a pinned suppressor) got some attention and plenty of reviews and bloggery, it only got handled and live fired about 1,500 rounds. In comparison the M1919A4 threw down about 6,000 rounds in the same amount of time.
The second public appearance of sorts for the M1919A4 came by way of a special invite only event. LTC Robert Brown Founder & Editor of Soldier of Fortune Magazine, NRA Board of Directors, and NRA Whittington Center Trustee extended an invite.
I know the COL’s passion for all things powder burning and lead throwing and I knew he had never seen one of these suppressed M1919s.
We all met up at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. which at that time of year gave us the entire facility almost to ourselves – it was incredible and beautiful. Ken was my plus one and we got to show a very select group of industry names the Suppressed M1919A4, Witt’s Integrally Suppressed .300BO & 5.56NATO Uppers, and his new Titanium Suppressors. Once again the Unicorn ate belt after belt of ammo, provided some of the biggest smiles of the year yet, and was marveled at. It was an honor to be included among the names that where around us and some of those names or photos wont be said or seen. To date the Suppressed M1919A4 has fired over 7,500 rounds of ammo without fail.
Read more: http://www.ammoland.com/2016/04/suppressed-m1919a4-machine-gun/#ixzz46aIfmYEH
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
Follow us: @Ammoland on Twitter | Ammoland on Facebook