<XMP><BODY></xmp>GAU-19/A .50 Gatling Guns

GAU-19/A .50 Gatling Guns

Halo Warthog firing

On several of my pages, I’ve mentioned the .50 GAU-19/A gatling-type machine gun, formerly known by the more catchy name of the “GECAL 50”.

This weapon has a lot to recommend it as an armament for aircraft and light vehicles.

The weapon even finds its way into the science fiction game HALO as the “M41 LAAG” (above).

The manufacture’s webpage has changed, and the new structure makes it difficult to link to the relevant sections, so instead I’m creating this page for quick reference.

The GAU 19/A can be mounted on vehicles, boats, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

It weighs a shade more than the M2 Browning HMG, but delivers 2½ to 3x the cyclic-rate.

Since it uses three barrels that are spun through the air, this rate-of-fire can be sustained for a longer time.

GAU 19/A Gecal .50 machine gun

Cyclic-rate of the GAU 19/A is given as 1,300 rpm, which is rather low for a gatlin-type weapon, but it should be remembered that this is still more than 20 rounds per second, and that each of these rounds is a .50 bullet capable of destroying light armour.

More recent sources give rate-of-fire options as 1,100 rpm, 1,300 rpm and 2,000 rpm.

I have a data table from an old copy of “Jane’s” which gives the cyclic-rate of the GECAL 50 as being up to 8,000 rpm for the six-barrelled model, 4,000 for the three-barrelled.

Old articles on the GECAL 50 claim that the weapon can be self-powered if there is no electrical supply, and that the weapon had a 10-round burst mode (Jane’s Infantry Weapons. 1989-90)

Such a ten-round burst would take less than half a second to fire: ie, the last round would be on its way before the effects of recoil are felt. One would expect a very tight grouping useful for attacking point targets such as individuals. In this mode the weapon may use ammo more economically than a conventional machine gun with a lower rate-of-fire.

At higher rates-of-fire, recoil may be perceived as a constant push rather than a staccato vibration. This permits more accurate shooting than with lower rate-of-fire weapons. A useful analogy here is comparing a fire-hose to a jack-hammer.

“Jane’s Infantry Weapons 2002-3” does not mention any self-powered capability but gives the weight of the weapon as 33.6kg (74lb) and cyclic-rate as selectable between 1,000rpm or 2,000rpm. Time to spin up to full cyclic-rate is given as 0.3 seconds and the weapon can fire 60 rounds in less than two seconds.

Dispersion is given as 80% of rounds fired as within 3 milliradians.

The data below is for a HMMWV-mounted version:

Weight without Ammunition409 Pounds Estimated (185.9 kg)
With Ammunition680 Pounds Estimated (354.5kg)
rate-of-fire 1,300 Shots Per Minute System
Reliability30,000 Mean Rounds Between Failure
Average Peak Recoil600 Pounds at 1,300 Shots Per Minute
Electrical (DC System) Electronic Control Unit Vehicle Batteries (24 VDC)
Field of Fire Elevation+40°, -20°
Azimuth± 40° (From Any Point on 360° Ring)
Available Sighting Systems Ring and Post, Laser Designator, Optical, Holographic
Ammunition Capacity 800 Rounds
Feed SystemLinked Belt
AmmunitionM-1, MK211, M-8 API, M-17 Tracer, M20 APIT, M-33 Ball, M903 SLAP, M948 SLAP Tracer


“Just read with some interest your article on the Gecal 50, I worked on the design of this in the late 80’s early 90’s and often wondered what happened to it. Now I know.

I must say I did have a lot of fun on that product, especially when mounted to Special Forces LSV’s. I obviously preferred the 6 barrel version for sheer power, but understand the move to 3 barrels. What I don’t understand is why they slowed it down so much as we used to run the 6 barrel at 12000rpm (rounds).

I only wish I could share with you the videos of when we demonstrated it to the US secretary of defence. The guys needed some targets, one was a wall made from telegraph poles, the second was dodge 1 ton truck.. The third, which was the best, was a customised van bought from a guy on the base (bit like an A team van!).

Like you say, for all these targets, being hit by 100 .50 calibre rounds every second ruined their day.”

US Machine guns
GAU-19/A at NavWeaps

By the Author of the Scrapboard :

Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence

Available in Handy A5 and US Trade Formats.

Crash Combat Second Edition with additional content.
Epub edition Second Edition with additional content.

Crash Combat Third Edition
Epub edition Third Edition.
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