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Machine Gun, 7.62 mm, M219
M219 Machine Gun
Type Machine gun
Place of origin  United States
Service history
In service 1959 (M73)
1970 (M73A1)
1977 (M219)
Used by U.S., South Vietnam, NATO
Wars Vietnam War, Present day
Production history
Designed 1950s
Produced 1950s-1970s
Variants See Variants Section
Weight 31 lb (14.1 kg) (M73)
29.8 lb (13.5 kg) (M73A1/M219)
Length 48 in (1219 mm)
Barrel length 24 in (609 mm)

Cartridge 7.62 × 51 mm NATO (U.S.)
Action Recoil-operated/short-recoil operation with gas assist
Rate of fire 500-625 round/min
Muzzle velocity 2,800 ft/s
Effective range 1,500 yd (1,370 m) (maximum)
Feed system Belt Feed, left or right hand
Drawing showing the differences between the M73 and M73A1/M219.

The M73 and M219 were 7.62 mm NATO calibre machine guns designed for tank use. It was used on the M48 Patton and M60 Patton MBT series (including the M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle), and on the M551 Sheridan Armored Reconnaissance / Airborne Assault Vehicle (AR/AAV).


Design and Development

Designed primarily as a coaxial machine gun by the Rock Island Arsenal and produced by General Electric, the M73 was developed as a replacement for the M1919A4E1, M1919A5, and M37 machine guns that continued to serve in the immediate post-WWII environment.

The Machine Gun, 7.62-MM, M73 was officially adopted in 1959. It is an air-cooled, recoil operated machine gun, but also using cartridge gasses to boost recoil. Though designed as a simplified alternative to the M1919 series, was of almost identical weight. The weapon was fitted with a quick-change barrel, pull-chain charging assembly, and could be made to feed from the left or the right hand side (though the left-hand feed was more common).[1]

An attempt to make the M73 useful as a flexible infantry gun saw the weapon fitted with sights and a pistol grip trigger as the Machine Gun, 7.62-MM, M73C. Equally unpopular, very few of these weapons were produced. Sources claim that it saw limited use in Vietnam.[2]

The M73 suffered from numerous malfunctions and was prone to jamming. An improved M73E1 was eventually developed in 1970 with a simplified ejection system, being type classified as the Machine Gun, 7.62-MM, M73A1. In 1977, it was decided that this weapon was sufficiently different from its predecessor and was redesignated Machine Gun, 7.62-MM, M219. These weapons were eventually replaced by the M60E2 and M240 machine gun, and vehicles still in service using the M73 series were refitted with these weapons.[3][4]




  • Adopted in 1959


  • Flexible infantry variant with sights and pistol grip
  • Used a special tripod, the XM132[5]


  • Developed in 1970 as an improved version with simplified ejection mechanism attempting to reduce chronic jamming
  • Redesignated in 1977 as the M219



  1. ^ Cooke, Gary W. Gary's Olive Drab Page. 11 September 2004. M73, M73A1, M219 7.62mm Tank Machine Guns. Access Date: 30 May 2007
  2. ^ Ezell, 1988. p. 418
  3. ^ Ezell, 1988. p. 418
  4. ^ Cooke, Gary W. Gary's Olive Drab Page. 11 September 2004. M73, M73A1, M219 7.62mm Tank Machine Guns. Access Date: 30 May 2007
  5. ^ Cooke, Gary W. Gary's Olive Drab Page. 11 September 2004. M73, M73A1, M219 7.62mm Tank Machine Guns. Access Date: 30 May 2007


  • Ezell, Ed. Small Arms Today, 2nd Edition. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1988. ISBN 0-8117-2280-5.
  • Gervasi, Tom. Arsenal of Democracy III: America's War Machine, the Pursuit of Global Dominance. New York, NY: Grove Press, Inc, 1984. ISBN 0-394-54102-2.

See also


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