As the sun began to set in the southern Nevada desert, Industry Day at the Range came to a close. The targets were taken down, the firearms stowed and the products started making their way to the SHOT Show floor. Most would call it in, go grab a bite to eat and maybe hit the casino floor after a long day of walking, talking and shooting but the TFB writers. For us, as the sun was setting on Industry Day at the Range, the TFB “Do it In the Dark” machine gun shoot was just about to begin.
The TFB “Do It In the Dark” Desert Machine Gun Shoot at SHOT Show 2020
As most vehicles were making their way back to the Las Vegas strip from the Range, a handful of TFB vehicles wandered off into the desert with several post sample machine guns. The TFB crew was able to acquire these post sample machine guns courtesy of a writer who is currently a responsible person of a Class 2 SOT (Special Occupational Tax) firearms manufacturer. This, in essence, allowed us to get our profusely sweating hands on these rare items legally – as long as the trusted party remained in possession of them. This is essentially how some firearms ranges can allow you to “rent” a post sample or transferrable machine gun.
Although this night machine gun shoot took place for only one night in the interim between Industry Day at the Range and the SHOT Show Expo, the planning, time and effort that went into making this rare and exclusive event happen began months before. Not only did the crew need time to gather the necessary firearms, ammunition, and magazines, but we also needed to pick out a select location where we could legally operate these machine guns without posing a danger to others. For this purpose, we opted to make use of BLM Property with our backstop being a large mountain.
We were able to secure two post sample machine guns but had several other Non-NFA firearms at the shoot with us. Along with the M16A4 clone we also brought to bear a quite unique FightLite MCR belt-fed upper combined in tandem with a Franklin Armory CSW spade grip for a truly odd-looking but fun machine gun – almost like a miniature M2HB.
- Franklin Armory CSW spade grip
- SOLGW Loyal 9 lower, form 2ed with a 3rd pin conversion
- FightLite MCR Upper
- Steel Rifle length buffer
- 458 SOCOM recoil spring
- Key-Mo Pattern Muzzle device
We arrived on-site in the late afternoon as the sun was just beginning to wane in the sky and began to unpack, set up and load up. When we arrived, a handful of unsuspecting fellow-shooters were wrapping up a concealed-carry certification class and were wholly unprepared for the cacophony of awesomeness that was about to erupt a mere 100 yards to their left.
In the video listed above, TFB Writer Austin R unleashes the first rounds of the FightLite MCR build while fellow writer Benjamin F readies the M16A4. This belt-fed beauty was a joy to shoot. The FightLite MCR upper gives the user the ability to feed the gun from either M27 linked 5.56 or directly from a box magazine. Obviously, the most fun was to be had from the belt-fed method as it allowed for longer strings of fire, but the magazines proved to be quite fun too without burning through too much ammo at once.
Seen above, we decided later on to add a DCL110AD-3X optic as well as a suppressor to the rig to give it a slightly different flavor. The Franklin Armory spade grip really worked well in giving you an authentic mounted belt-fed machine gun feel. Both the optic and spade grip was provided by resident night vision optic nerd Nicolas C of TFB and “Friday Night Lights” fame.
- M16A4 parts kit build.
- Sons of Liberty Loyal 9 lower, form 2ed with a 3rd pin conversion.
- Surefire OBC, but with a long stroke rifle length buffer that was custom made.
- Dead Air Key-Mo flash hider
- Mil-spec sling
Many of you readers here may have actually served with a weapon very similar to the one we brought to the shoot. This M16A4 build actually started with an authentic M16A4 parts build kit and was drilled for a 3rd pin conversion (No Dogs were harmed in the making of this rifle). Especially unique in this machine gun build is the Surefire Optimized Bolt Carrier. The OBC gave this M16A4 a buttery smooth cyclic rate somewhere around 650 rpm making it completely controllable. Below you’ll be able to see that it is incredibly easy to pull off short bursts or even single shots with the rifle in this configuration.
Do IT in the Dark
Normally, as the sun sets the guns usually have to be put away for safety’s sake. However, the TFB crew came prepared with several Night Vision optics and goggles to keep the fun going. Several pairs of PVS-14’s, as well as some monocles and goggles equipped with white phosphor tubes, were also available for us to try out throughout the night as the shoot went on.
Of course, no night shoot would be complete without adding a few tracer rounds to the mix. The combination of the tracers with the NVG’s made for some impressive visuals and to date, I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Writer Autin R showcases a full 30 round magazine with tracers placed in for every 5th round.
SHOT Show is a yearly test of endurance and your immune system. With very little sleep, miles walked every day and thousands of hands to shake it can be difficult to find time for any sort of recreation even while in the great city of Las Vegas. Fortunately, our planning paid off and we were able to have a great night out in the desert with a couple of full-auto rifles and some night-vision equipment – just as Eugene Stoner himself would have wanted. With SHOT Show 2020 over, I am eagerly waiting for SHOT Show 2021 as well as the second annual TFB “Do It in the Dark” desert machine gun shoot.
A big thanks to all who contributed and came out to the TFB “Do it in the Dark” Desert Machine Gun Shoot. Special thanks to Mike Pappas of Dead Air Silencers, Austin R of TFB and Nicholas C of TFB for helping us acquire some truly incredible hardware for the shoot.