The Browning M1919 became a classic machine gun after its introduction following World War 1 (1914-1918). It was eventually featured as a dedicated infantry machine gun and an aircraft machine gun and went on to see combat action in a myriad of conflicts spanning the "Banana Wars" and the modern Syrian Civil War. Over 5 million of the type, in one form or another, have been made by various manufacturers. The prolific reach of the M1919 series inevitably meant that the machine gun found its way into the inventories of many national armies, among those the South African Army where it continues in service as the "M4".
The M4, born from the M1919A4 production model, is a modernized version of the same gun forged through work handled by Lyttleton Engineering Works of Pretoria. A major portion of the work was in rechambering the original weapon, which fired the .30-06 Springfield rifle cartridge, to the ubiquitous Cold War-era 7.62x51mm NATO rifle cartridge. During this time, components of the weapon received reinforcement to better serve the Army in its expected fighting environments. The feed was also reworked at this time to incorporate an open bolt function and the gun could now support disintegrating link belts common to modern machine guns.
The machine gun is cooled via air-cooling with the barrel jacket being perforated with many holes for air circulation. The operation is recoil-based (short-recoil).
In both form and function, the MG4 is the M1919A4 with a modern flair. Typically showcased on a durable tripod assembly for stabilized firing from fixed positions, the MG4 can also be used as a trainable vehicle machine gun (pintle mounting) or a stationary Anti-Aircraft (AA) machine gun.
The gun now falls under the Denel Land Systems brand label.