Emma Gees was a nickname given to Canadian machine gunners in WWI. Oddly enough the principles developed in that war can still be seen today and adapted for modern warfare, however many of the fundamentals remain the same. A machine gunner can be the difference between locking down an enemy group in a beaten zone or overrunning a position with a volume of fire that can’t be matched. Similar to the real counterparts in the world of airsoft machine gunners can be a large deciding factor in owning the battlespace, but this inherently comes with its shortcomings and overshooting complaints because you run the MG properly. So let us explore how to render high caps invalid effectively and start “talking guns” on the field with some force to be reckoned with.

In the context of airsoft, LMGs can attribute a large amount of control over an area and effectively increase a small man detachment (short: det/squad) with amplified firepower more than the average det/squad of riflemen. The ability to send out long uninterrupted bursts of fire with a volume unmatch is intimidating and combat effective to enable your det’s increased freedom of movement.  An LMG is 60% of your det’s firepower at any given time this is effectively your ticket to move with authority and control hardpoints and overpower opposing forces in any given engagement so long as you use an LMG to good effect. Let’s explore and follow up with some principles of employment.

The Platform
Moving to something more direct in nature to the application of LMGs is the gun itself. Now lucky for us we don’t have to deal with feed pauls, belt link, or gas affected parts. In airsoft, we only have the mechanism of fire, hop up, and feed system. The most common issues occur between the gearbox and the feed system. While HPA is a more direct and deliberate system with less moving parts, it can be considerably more expensive than upgrading the internal parts of a gearbox. One thing to consider is the parts going into the gearbox. LMG’s by nature are expensive to upgrade and the parts going in need to be of good quality, the goal is longevity and efficiency in the system. While doing so, it’s important to note that having a blistering rate of fire isn’t necessary, or productive for this – sounds counter-intuitive. Still, a level rate of fire is good for two things, consistency, and economy of fire. I generally run my stoner and previous 249 around 23-25rnds per second and no more. This will allow you to keep heads down, prevent premature wear & tear, it allows the magazine feed to keep up (most box magazines are slow to feed), and expend ammunition at a conservative rate.

The build of the platform should consist of an efficient feed system with a box magazine that can keep pace with the gearbox or HPA system. Bullgear has some of the best aftermarket solutions with a much simpler design than the average box magazine; however, they’re not compatible with every LMG on the market. This is crucial to keep the fire up and prevent miss feeds, or jamming in the hopup system. A strong solution is having the box magazine feed directly off the gearbox power source. This can alleviate some of the issues. This assures a more consistent feed vs the sounds activated, or pressure switch activated magazines allowing for more hands-free movement at any given time and less to think about on the fly.

Lastly hop-up & barrel; Remember accuracy through the volume of fire. This is the final component to keep the gun on target and keep the fire up. Most hop-up systems as a standard are poor in make, but having a flat hop or R hop is a good solution along with a strong nub to add adequate pressure to the bb as it passes through. Replacing some poor units with aftermarket CNC units is also a great way to improve the performance. We’re not aiming for one shot one kill, but rather getting 20 rounds or more on a target with a decent spread. With this in mind, a proper cone of fire, creating a tight beaten zone can devastate a target area.

You are the backbone.
The light machine is the backbone of the detachment. As stated in the concept, your 60% of the firepower and your ability to get the gun up and rounds down is crucial to the survival of the det/squad and wining any given engagement. Despite what many may think this doesn’t mean you’re the guy who leads or takes control. By principle, it means your the guy setting up a firebase to hose down an area to allow friendlies to manoeuvre. Accuracy through a volume of fire is your friend in this instance; the goal is to keep heads down and kill the ones that pop up. To facilitate this, you should carry a considerable amount of ammunition and the means to get the gun up as quickly as possible or else buddy gets hit. Better yet, each det/squad should have a minimum of 2 guns and no less for the greatest effect. This, however, doesn’t mean as a support role your stuck in the rear or emplaced at all times, no no, if anything this means you need to be mobile, fit and have the ability to get upfront and online faster than the others. The machine gunner is the key to fast infantry movement, and much like in the real world since WWI, machine gunners, are what keep you and your det/squad alive in prolonged engagements.

*Two Key Principles of Machine Gunnery*

*One- The Beaten zone
This a concept of indirect infantry small arms fire, specifically for MG’s. It describes the area between the “first catch” and the “last graze” of a round’s trajectory. this is crucial when you’re employing an LMG in any given scenario; accuracy isn’t so much the goal as it is to use a cone of fire to create a beaten zone. (an oval of death) This is something that can come to great use with a good light machine gunner. It’s effectively locking in a position and denying enemy movement. To achieve this, LMGs should be used on the flanks of a det/squad or sent to a flank to for this purpose. You’ll want to avoid engaging directly to your front as portrayed in the movies far too often with machine guns; this is the role of your rifleman as you shift into position quickly. Using the flank allows you to cover a great area with a large volume of fire and shooting at targets from the side, in contrast, to head-on allows you to suppress more and cause chaos in there ranks – this can be used to great effect.

*Two- “Enfilade” & “Defilade” 
These are two common terms used in the infantry to describe being in cover and exposed in a kill zone. Enfilade is what you want to avoid, but get your enemy locked into. For a machine gunner, this is the ideal kill zone for your beaten zone and will inflict the largest amount of damage to your enemy. Defilade is what you and your friendlies should be in when you decide to open fire. It is cover that protects 80-90% of your body only giving a small level of exposure to the enemy, making you harder to hit. For you riflemen out there this is key to surviving an engagement, as for LMG guys you should get on the flanks creating interlocking fields of fire while in Defilade. When you’re on the flank and fire into enfilade it known are enfilading fire. this is devastating for any one group caught in the open.

Talking guns
Talking guns is a tactical application of machine-gun fire being used to keep a consistent volume of fire on a target area. This generally, as a rule, involves more than two matching gun in separate positions – note separate positions is important. Using this method, you use interlocking fields of fire, creating multiple beaten zones over the desired area, creating a challenging target to defeat. This is also an effective way to conserve ammunition stores as you share the burden of putting out a burst of fire. The idea is simple; MG1 fires a short of long burst, then MG2 fires one of the same volume, and you continue to trade off each burst. This is very effective when on the offensive or defensive and is what machine guns arguable do best. This is what creates area denial and is an extremely effective tactic to employ as a small det/squad or a larger element. This is and should be a go-to tactic in a det/squad with two LMGs or more.

Fight Light
This concept is one that is used in small man Recce (recon) let’s and was seen a lot in SOG in the ’60s and ’70s. It is still practised to this day, lucky for us airsoft has embodied it with a new twist. Lightening the LMG platform by ditching the bipod shortening the barrel can prove to be a game-changer. This can be a cumbersome task depending on the platform you choose to base your LMG off of. If you’re like me, VCC does great work on stoner platforms. Some of the more ideal systems for this, range from Stoner 63’s/98’s, RPD’s, RPK’s, Para M249’s, and Shikes (depending on if you consider them be LMGs at your local field).

This increases your freedom of movement and ultimately lowers the profile of the LMG – making it easier to blend in with the det/squad. Because of the nature of airsoft engagements being roughly withing 100m mobility is king. For a machine gunner to get up and move as quickly as you average riflemen, it helps aid in the flow of movement and keeping the aggression on with the fire raining downrange. From what others have shared, this is the most viable idea for freedom of movement and should be capitalized on for increasing offensive capabilities. This can also be applied liberally in defensive gameplay allowing quick transitions between positions giving you an edge and keeping you mobile. Mobility makes you harder to hit, and can keep you in the fight longer. This concept can be applied liberally, to both the weapons system and kit. You don’t necessarily need to carry 3 to 4 box magazines, maybe 2 perhaps with a large capacity or easy to reload on the fly; along with 3-4 bags of bb’s in the pack, with extra batteries or HPA tanks. It’s important to note you need to keep mobile for this so have your kit squared away thus you’re not fighting with your gear.

Get a grip and ditch the bipod.
The bipod is a signature staple of machine guns, in the real world we use them to stabilize the gun allowing recoil mitigation to keep rounds in a tighter grouping. Bipods are fantastic for adding extra support when needed; however, there is a common view in airsoft that you need to post up on a position and stay stationary. This is not the case- and never should be, and even in the military context, you’re aggressive and generally as a rule mobile at all times or you end up getting dinged. The bipod however airsoft wise is unnecessary weight and often is misused, altogether it’s a feature that can be ditched for a vertical grip or a grippod if you wish to retain some of the benefits.

Being aggressive comes with the nature of running an LMG. By default, your aggression should be focused on pushing back or forward into the enemies position. Being able to put the lead out is important for suppressing a target or locking an area down, creating that beaten zone. This comes with the inherent issue of overshooting – though I believe this should be an afterthought because you’re using a machine gun. Compared to your fellow players running rifles, your goal should be to layout the largest volume of fire. Controlled aggression is going zero to sixty in a few seconds and getting the gun up, but being able to dissolve back into the det/squad after the engagement is complete. I’ve broken some of the best principles down from both the real-world and input from other players. There are three things in common; 1- Be Aggressive, 2- be mobile, & 3- be Generous with your bursts.

Machine gunnery is a skill set that can take some time to adjust to however it’s important to acknowledge the importance of it among a det/squad. It is easily the best force multiplier on a field along with the grenadier. If you’ve ever encountered an OP-For with an LMG of two it’s demoralizing to come up against if the players running them are switched on. If you’re pondering on whether to get one, I highly encourage you do.

– Schoolboy out

Thank you to those who’ve shared and given input for this post from the X group.