De-Farbing the Browning 30 Caliber: 7312973 Carrying Handle Assembly
Date Written: March 2015
Author: Chris Guska
Image from TM 9-1005-212-25
The Browning 30 Caliber machine gun had a long service life spanning well over half a century serving in many nations. The weapons system evolved from a water cooled heavy machine gun to be a multi role infantry, armor and aerial weapons platform. Because of its evolution and heavy production, there are many interesting parts and accessories that are available to us as a collectors and reenactors.
One of the components being used by reenactors is the folding wood grip carry handle for the 1919A4 and 1919A6 machine guns. In 2009 I did a piece on its equivalent handle for the BAR, showing that the concept was developed during the war, with drawings being made - but production contracts not let until too late in World War II to see service.
At that time my focus was on the BAR, but has shifted away to the Browning 30 caliber machine gun of the past few years. I believed that this carry handle had the same rules applied to it as the BAR, but didn't have the documentary evidence to back it up.
While researching an entirely different topic, I came across the first contracts let for "Handle, Carrying, Cal. 30 C7312973 (BMG, Cal..30, M1919A4 & A6)
Excerpt from Digest of Significant Ordnance Purchases, Page 733 - Click for Full Page view
I'd consider that to be a smoking gun. First contracts awarded for this item 7-21-45, with expected delivery between August 1945 and November 1945.
Remember, VJ Day was September 2, 1945 and VE Day May 8, 1945.
Just to make sure I'm looking at the right item - I reached out to the Rock Island Arsenal Museum to see if they had a print of C7312973 in their collection, which they did.
Looks like what I'm thinking of....
The drawing they had on file, dated 11-24-54 shows the revision history as well as original drawing date - April 23, 1945 - 14 days till VE day.
The common wood handled carrying handle, specifically part 7312973, is farb for use in ANY and ALL ETO wartime portrayal. It would not be at Normandy, It would not be at the Bulge, It would not be at Remagen. It is also extraordinarily unlikely that this handle saw any use during hostilities in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
If you have one, take it off and sell it as they are worth ~$35-$50 USD on the parts market.
This is pretty cut and dry. It is an item that was invented during the war that was not contracted for production until after VE Day. It began production in August of 1945, with it being not plausible that the items produced in August being accepted by Ordnance, transported and issued to combat troops in time to see the war's end on September 2, 1945.
Don't be a farb. Ditch the handle.
United States. Army Service Forces. Ordnance Department. Digest of Significant Purchase Actions. Print
United States. Department of the Army. Ordnance Corps. D7312973 Revision 9, Dated 11-24-1954 "Carrying Handle Assembly" Rock Island IL: Rock Island Arsenal, 1954. Print.
United States. Department of the Army. Headquarters. TM 9-1005-212-25, Organizational, DS, GS, and Depot Maintenance Manual including Repair Parts and Special Tools List. N.p.: Department of the Army, 1969. Print.
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