Breech-reloading firearms have specially-designed parts to streamline their reloading functionality. This includes the weapon’s locked-breech design, which slows down the breech’s opening as firing occurs and a new round is chambered. Slowing down the mechanism ensures smoother and more successful reloading. The breech lock is designed to draw power from the recoil of the firearm and requires no other force to operate.

 

Background

Warren Michigan Tanks Command contracts with the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide .50 caliber machine gun components. We were awarded a contract to provide Warren Michigan Tanks Command with breech locks for these weapons. The contract was for an indefinite quantity of breech locks that would be made to order, in any requested volume, over a five-year contract period. The order could consist of 16 different part numbers, each with slight tolerance differences.

As a certified government contractor and Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Brinkman Defense made the short list for this project. Once we passed a financial inspection to make sure we could uphold the contract for five years and our machinery passed a physical inspection, we were selected for the job and ready to begin working on the breech lock project.

 

.50 Caliber Machine Gun

Warren Michigan Tanks Command provides .50 caliber machine gun components for use in military and defense applications as part of a DoD contract. The .50 caliber machine gun is one of the most commonly-used machine guns across all branches of the military.

This gun is heavy—84 pounds when unloaded, and more than 100 pounds when loaded—so it is commonly but not only used in fixed or mounted applications, such as:

  • Helicopters
  • Tanks
  • Humvees
  • Other vehicles/turrets
  • Fixed infantry positions
  • Fixed gates and security checkpoint

 

Project Challenges

This project could be challenging given the unknown volume requirements, but this was not the only obstacle we had to overcome. The primary difficulties we had to address included:

As .50 caliber machine guns age and shoot more rounds, they require different versions of the breech lock that will match the level of wear the weapon has experienced. There are 16 versions of breech locks that may be used based on the age and wear state of the weapon. As one of the longest-running machine guns still in use by the military, determining the exact age and wear state for each .50 caliber machine gun can be challenging.

The machining for these parts turned out to be exceedingly difficult. While we possessed the capabilities to machine within the required tolerances, the required heat-treating process kept changing the dimensions of the final product.

 

Developing Solutions

The central issue with this project was selecting the right procedures for machining and treating the metal. Heat-treating, which makes the metal harder and more reliable, made small alterations to the shape of the locking, rendering it useless. We used one of our third-party vendor partners who could treat the parts without causing distortion. Our heat-treatment specialist vendor went above and beyond to identify and implement several process alterations until a method was discovered that would provide a reliable, properly-shaped breech-lock component.

One of the key advantages of working with Brinkman is our relationships with third-party experts. Since we’re a small business, we’re devoted to finding specialists who can provide the right high-quality services to meet the stringent needs and demands of our customers. We put a lot of work into maintaining and strengthening these long-term relationships, and in return, our vendors are always willing to help develop customized solutions to challenging requests.

 

The Outcome

The new heat treatment was a success, and the breech-lock components passed inspection. At Brinkman Defense, we carry out inspections in-house to guarantee quality and the fulfillment of customized regulations. Some assessments, such as calibration confirmation, were completed by third-party regulators. Regular testing ensures greater success during Department of Defense inspections.

Our quality inspections start with the project’s quality inspection plan. We go above and beyond the minimum requirements to ensure that our processes and facilities exceed the standard for even the most rigorous Department of Defense inspections. We understand the gravity of these projects—the parts we make must perform reliably in life-or-death situations. We don’t take that lightly, and it is the reason we always put quality first.

After inspections, Brinkman Defense ensures on-time delivery. This includes deadlines for standard contracts and irregular or surge demand contracts.

For more information about our capabilities for manufacturing firearm components or other designs, please contact us.