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General Electric M134 Minigun Vehicle-Mounted 6-Barrel Gatling Gun (1965)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 7/23/2014

The ferocious M134 minigun can be used to good effect on ground targets, firing from either land, sea or air platforms.

The US Army General Electric M134 minigun six-barrel 7.62mm gatling gun was a derivative of the original General Electric M61 20mm gatling system technology. The M134 was designed to fire 7.62x51mm NATO standard ammunition from a disintegrating link belt as opposed to the 20mm munition utilized by the larger M61 system. Like all other Gatling guns in the "Vulcan" project family, the M134 makes useof an external powerpack to deliver electrical service needed for the rotation of the barrels. The system was utilized in helicopter gunships and light aircraft throughout the Vietnam Conflict and noted for its impressive suppression effects, spewing out a cyclic rate of fire of up to 6,000 rounds-per-minute. The M134 saw action from both American helicopter gunships and armed patrol boats as well as some fixed wing light aircraft systems in the Vietnam War and sees continued use even today.

Ammunition for the M134 is in a belt-fed form originating from a 4,000-round ammunition box. The ammunition is held in a linked belt to which the firing action strips the cartridge from the belt and fires the round through the available barrel and ejects both casing and link belt components. The completion of the cycle brings the next barrel to bear and loads another round into the chamber to repeat the process. Each barrel is consecutively fed in this fashion, producing the impressively high volume of fire identified with this type of weapons system. "Cook off" is contained by design in that once the trigger is depressed, the feed is automatically shut off from the bolt and barrel assembly - keeping fresh ammunition from being brought into play - while the spinning barrels come to full rest.

Producers of the M134 minigun systems have included both General Electric and Lockheed Martin Armament Systems.

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Specifications for the
General Electric M134 Minigun
Vehicle-Mounted 6-Barrel Gatling Gun

Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: General Electric / Lockheed Martin Armament Systems - USA (among others)
Initial Year of Service: 1965

Overall Length: 800 mm (31.50 in)
Barrel Length: 555.00 mm (21.85 in)
Weight (Empty): 35.05 lb (15.90 kg)

Caliber*: 7.62x51mm NATO
Action: Six Bolt Rotating Unit; Electrically Operated; Belt Fed
Feed: 4,000 round linked belt
Muzzle Velocity: 2,850 ft/sec (869 m/sec)
Rate-of-Fire: 6,000 rounds per minute
Range: 3,280 ft (1,000 m; 1,093 yds)
Sights: Fixed Sights

* Listed caliber(s) for firearms may be model dependent if more than one model type/chambering was produced. Always consult official manufacturer's information or a licensed dealer.

"Vulcan" - General Electric Project Designation

M61A1 - 20mm cannon; initial GE gatling system to be standardized in US military service.

M134 - US Army designation; scaled-down version 7.62mm caliber version of the M61A1 for use in helicopter gunships; 6,000 fixed rate-of-fire.

GAU-2B/A - USAF Designation

GAU-17/A - US Navy Designation; crew-served version of the M134 with selective firing modes for 2,000rpm or 4,000rpm; pintle mounting.

GAUSE-17/A - US Navy Designation

United States