M-134, the new gun on the market... it is not yet available on sales, but still it happens to be a subject of many discussions... We know how it looks, we know some technical details, but still many information is a secret.
However, as I had a chance to meet Finn Clausen it seems that some of questions concerning Minigun can be answered. Finn has been working for past few years as the main technician in ActionSportGames – the company which distributes this replica to shops all over Europe. Finn is one of the first ones to see and touch the Minigun. Moreover, he is the first one (next to the manufacturers) who had the chance to look inside. It is a pleasure for me to present you an interview with Finn Clausen – the one that took the Minigun apart.
XiE: There are two models of Minigun available. Is it only the front part (longer barrels) that makes the difference?
Finn Clausen: The two that are available, are the long M-134A and the short M-134. The only difference between them is longer barrels in the M-134A. Components of the inside and of the outside are the same, the inner barrels are only as long as the short M-134.
XiE: The company CAW (Craft Apple Works) is not well known on European market. Could you please tell us few words about it?
FC: Unfortunately I do not know much about CAW as it goes for the company itself. The most known product which I have heard of is their revolving grenade launcher. The reason why we haven’t seen so much of the CAW products, I believe is because they stick mostly to grenade launcher, grenades, shotguns and a few sniper rifles. And for this reason it is not often that you see their product’s in a skirmish.
XiE: When you saw the gun for the first time…
FC: Looking at the M-134A Minigun, dreams start to become real. Who hasn’t seen Predator, when Painkiller was used to sweep the jungle of South America?! Or in a more realistic scenario in Black Hawk Down, where the Black Hawks had one M-134 mounted on each side producing a lot of empty casings when fired. Yes it is an impressive soft gun and having the firepower of 4-6 soft guns packed into one unit is incredible. And when I fired it the first time I was amazed about the amount of pellets which was collected at the other end of the shooting range after few seconds of bursts.
XiE: I’ve heard that Minigun is powered with gas and battery at the same time. Could you please describe the way it works?
FC: I have also seen the movies on the Internet with the gas powered M-134A and the barrels rotated by a motor. But this M-134A is driven by a motor only. Every barrel has its own cylinder and piston. As the barrels rotate a rail pushes back the piston and at a certain point the rail lets go the piston and the pellet is fired…
XiE: What kind of gearbox we can find inside?
FC: There isn’t any gearbox, but there are two gears, which move it all around: one on the small motor and a main gear, which is around the barrel assembly and makes it rotate.
XiE: What type of motor/engine is used in stock version?
FC: To the best of my knowledge since I’m not a mechanic it looks like a starter motor from a big engine. This motor does ask for a large power pack a small 12 V battery from a motorcycle.
XiE: What is the length of inner barrel?
FC: 320 mm
XiE: Is it possible to put a precision barrel inside? Is there any point?
FC: No it is not possible to exchange the inner barrels. It looks to me as the inner and outer is the one and the same - probably a wise choice since the barrels rotate, and then they will not be rolling around or come loss of their position.
XiE: What about spare parts – are they available on the market (hop-up chamber, barrels etc.)?
FC: The spare parts which you would need for repairing this piece of hardware can’t be bought straight through ASG’s workshop. But there is an exploded drawing from where you can find your parts and its number which can be sent to me and I will get them to the shop from where you have ordered the part.
XiE: How easily we can get to the internal parts of the gun (barrels, cylinders, hop-up chamber etc)? Do you have to take the whole gun apart to get to the springs or motor…?
FC: Some of the parts of the M-134 are easy to get to… the motor sits on the side mounted with 4 screws and the wiring is all-external. But while taking apart the main body of the M-134, the manual is needed for guides: reading it carefully following the pictures is the best thing to do, as the gun has to be taken apart accordingly to the manual. Trust I tried to do it the wrong way, and I had to look into the manual after several tries.
XiE: What if the gun brakes/ refuses to work… is it hard to fix it or replace parts?
FC: The fuse is easy to fix. It is a small piece of soft alloy. The fuse sits on the inside of the small box, which is the linking part between the motorcycle battery and the M-134. If you fire more then 6 sec. the fuse simply melt’s and it has to be exchanged.
XiE: What kind of accessories can we buy for this gun? Meaning: scopes, laser sights, mags, slings etc.
FC: Accessories for a soft gun like this would be a 4X4 or a Helicopter on which it is mounted. Using lasers might help you aim with it as you are firing from the hip, but you would have to fit the lasers on something using rail fitted to the large top handle piece.
XiE: Although 450 fps is quite a big velocity, what are the upgrade possibilities?
FC: Well… exchanging the spring in each cylinder would be possible.
XiE: What would be the price of upgrading it?
FC: Just… 6 times the price of one spring of your desire
USING THE GUN
XiE: How does it feel to handle it?
FC: Handling the M-134 is some cumbersome. It is heavy, the weight isn’t balanced, and you have to be aware of what I would call heli effect… the barrels moves anticlockwise which in turn tries to turn around the rest of the M-134 clockwise. (Now you know why Helicopter has a tail rotor).
XiE: And shooting with Mingun… can you describe the feeling?
FC: Shooting with the M-134 hmmmmmmmmmm sweet smile on a summer’s day, like the first time I had sex
XiE: What are the fire modes available?
FC: Firing modes: well there’s no semiautomatic I can tell you, but due to the bearings and the motor, the fuse burns over after 6 seconds of burst. So… short controlled bursts at the maximum of 5 seconds. With the M-134A that’s a lot of pellets.
XiE: The gun has 6 barrels that turns around while shooting. As I can see all are capable to shoot. Is that correct?
FC: All the barrels are being used while firing, so it is not a replica where only one barrel is firing from the middle and six pipes that are turning around it.
XiE: But still you shoot only with one at the same time?
FC: Yes, and all the barrels rotate. When the piston is released, the barrel moves position from 12 to 9 o’clock. It is about 9 o’clock position that the pellet is leaving the barrel.
XiE: Can you explain the way the pellet gets to the proper (shooting) barrel?
FC: There is a shovel wheel that picks up the pellet from a dispenser, and the pellet moves the opposite direction towards the middle, where a spring leaf then locks the pellet into position in front of the nozzle.
XiE: What about hop-up. Where is it settled – 6 chambers or just one for all 6 barrels?
FC: All the barrels have been fitted with a hop up chamber. When it needs to be adjusted, the barrel has to be removed from the assembly and the hop up can be adjusted. And you move on to the next barrel…
XiE: Does the hop up differ from the one we are used to?
FC: Well the hop up reminds me a lot of the one’s we see in GNB-systems.
XiE: What would be the cost of using the gun (in a one month period)?
FC: One word: expensive.
BUYING THE GUN
XiE: The gun seems to be quite expensive… do you think we will have many of them in Europe?FC: No I do not see the M-134 as the next M15 and its clone variants. But if a team had a Pick-up truck and the necessary founding, I could easily see it is as a team weapon. It is still fare to heavy to be carried around effectively and should be mounted on a vehicle.
XiE: Who do you think could buy it?
FC: Teams for the trucks for supporting the surrounding infantry and shops as a nice attraction.
XiE: If not the price, would you buy it yourself?
FC: Well, I was in a team where we had a Pick-up to fit it to, it would come up as an idea more then ones. But as a one man weapon it would be too heavy to carry around and for it to be effective you would need a lot of pellets.
The conversation with Finn came to an end. We’ve spent a while on this interview, but that was nothing compared to the time spent on taking the Minigun apart and making photos. That took about 5 hours! The photos which you can see in this interview, are only a small percentage of all our documentation. This choice was made on purpose, as we’ve decided to create together another article concerning Minigun. It will be a more technical text – a test/review of the Minigun. More photos will be presented in it, and you will have the opportunity of taking a look inside this gun.
At the end I would like to thank: first of all ActonSportGames and Finn Clausen for the opportunity to see Minigun and for the interview. Special thanks goes to Alex, Manfred and HighTower (vandermann) for their help in creating questions; to Yazard for last corrections and his questions as well. Finally.. to SiDi for his technical support and long explanations, not only in area concerning motorbikes.