November 18, 2023
Machine guns for rent. Only in America would you see that advertised on a billboard. Such signs might scare the pants off of our European friends when they come visiting from across the pond. However, machine gun rentals are not necessarily what they seem. For starters, you obviously can’t take it home. Automatic weapons are some of the most regulated consumer items in the country. Recreational tactical nuclear weapons might demand more supervision but not by much. In the case of machine gun rentals, it is all about tasting the forbidden fruit. We Americans are indeed an independent lot. The quickest way to get an American absolutely addicted to something is tell him he cannot have it. So it is with machine guns.
Private ownership of transferable automatic weapons is legal in 37 of the 50 states. The ATF claims that there are 175, 977 transferable machineguns made before the 1986 ban. As that number is fixed, and the demand steadily goes up, this makes these rare weapons insanely expensive. For normal folks who want to taste that world without hocking a kidney to get there, machine gun rentals are the way to go. Everything about machine guns is expensive. The cost a fortune to buy, they are spendy to feed, and the liability associated with renting them out to the public is astronomical. However, running a couple of magazines through a rental MG is nonetheless still within financial reach of the typical American. Amassing a world-class collection of transferable iron is not. You can access rental machine guns via one of several paths.
The E-Ticket Ride: Drivetanks.com
The top of the heap in America is Drivetanks.com located on the Ox Ranch outside Uvalde, Texas. I can honestly say that Drivetanks.com is the coolest place in the world. The Ox Ranch is a working exotic game preserve replete with generous herds of giraffe, hippos, watusi, zebras, and dozens of other extraordinary beasts. The onsite food and lodging are five-star and resort grade. Sitting out and watching the sun go down in this magical place is like chilling on the African savannah. And then there are the tanks. Two different Shermans, a Russian T-34, a World War II vintage German StuG III assault gun, a British Scorpion, an American M-41 Walker Bulldog, a German Leopard, a British Chieftain, and a Russian T-72 are on the menu along with several others. In addition to being fully operational, these tanks also have live weapons. Perhaps the Ma Deuce on the top of the Sherman is your bag. Or maybe you’d like to throw a main gun round or two downrange. Drivetanks.com is where you go to do that.
Drivetanks.com is the only place I know of where you can exercise live artillery. Options include a World War II German PAK-40 75mm antitank gun, an RPG-7 rocket launcher, a 152mm Soviet D-20, a variety of mortars, and an American M2A1 105 mm cannon. They make the projectiles and load the ammo from scratch. In addition to all the working armor, they also maintain a simply breathtaking arsenal of machine guns for rent. Subguns include the Russian PPSh, the American M-3 Grease Gun, and the German MP-40. An AK-47, M-4 carbine, and vintage German MP-44 are also on the list. If you have deep pockets, you can also run the Ma Deuce .50-cal, the M-249 SAW, or the M-134 minigun. Their extensive outdoor range facility has plenty of old derelict cars to ventilate. Drivetanks.com is a totally immersive experience. They have superlative lodging on the ranch and offer packages at several price points. For about the cost of a decent family trip to Disneyworld, you can become the first guy on your cul de sac to crush a car with a British main battle tank and run a belt through an electric Gatling gun.
Machineguns for the Masses: Battlefield Vegas
Battlefield Vegas is likely the most famous machine gun rental facility in the country. Their business model caters to vacationers passing through Sin City who are looking for an epically memorable experience and don’t want to bring home some difficult-to-eradicate disease in the process. They offer a wide selection of machine guns a la carte. They also sell packages that orbit around various themes. In modern first person shooter video games, the player grabs guns on the go. You can do that at Battlefield Vegas as well. Video game packages include Call of Duty, Ghost Recon, Black Ops, and Counter Strike. These guns include such rarefied stuff as the AK-74, the HK G-36, the M-4 carbine, the FN SCAR, and SIG MCX to name but a few. They also offer weird pieces like the Kalashnikov Vityaz, the Polish PM-6, and the Australian Owen.
Historical packages let you shoot the guns used in the D-Day invasion, the German Blitzkrieg across Europe, Stalingrad, Hamburger Hill, and Iwo Jima. Choose the Cold War package and you can exercise your trigger finger as either a member of NATO or the Warsaw Pact. Thompsons, M-16s, AK-47s, vz-61 Skorpions, Sterling SMGs, and many more populate this space. They even have one package titled “Time Soldier” that lets you pick and choose from military weapons spanning a century or more. You can crush a car with a tank here as well. Battlefield’s tank is also a British Chieftain that is Hollywood surplus. This movie-used track has been transformed into a splendid rendition of an American M-1 Abrams. This is the only way you can take the controls of an M-1 clone that doesn’t involve signing your name on some enlistment form.
While Drivetanks and Battlefield Vegas are major national attractions that demand travel and some proper resources to enjoy, lots of small local ranges offer machinegun rentals to help draw in customers. A splendid outdoor range right down the road from where I sit typing these words called TGC Outdoors is fairly typical of the genre. They offer an Uzi, an MP-5, an AKM, a MK-18, and a Browning M1919 belt-fed machinegun along with several others. TGC is right on the highway and easily accessed. Normal folk can drop in and burn a few rounds without breaking the bank in the process. TGC is owned and operated by friendly Southern folks who sell guns for a living. They offer basic firearms training as well as rental examples of a variety of common rifles and handguns. That way you can try before you buy. Several buddies have held birthday celebrations for their kids at TGC. I guarantee running a full auto MP5 under carefully controlled conditions will beat out Chuck-E-Cheese for your typical fourth-grade boy every single time. You’d be surprised how many ranges across the country offer rentals, though they won’t have the selection you’d find at Drivetanks.com or Battlefield Vegas.
If you just want to appreciate some machine guns, consider visiting the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, located in Cody, Wyoming. The quite literally have samples of practically every machine gun ever to exist, and it’s an experience the equals and arguably surpasses renting a real machine gun. If you still have the itch to shoot a machine gun, head next door to the Cody Firearms Experience and shoot an 1862 model Gatling gun. While not strictly speaking a machine gun, it’s a lot of fun, and they do have a limited selection of real machine guns to shoot, too. The point is, you might be closer to a machine gun rental range than you’d think. It just takes a little research.
General Costs to Rent
These weapons are, by design, profoundly dangerous. As a result, all machine gun rentals are closely supervised by trained range staff. Machine gun rental facilities will typically mandate that you use their ammo in their weapons. This decreases liability and also minimizes the risk of damage to some potentially very valuable firearms. So what does it cost to rent a machine gun? That depends upon the weapon, the facility, and the experience. At our local range, renting an Uzi, AK, or MP5 is $40. You can shoot these guns for as long as you care to so long as you buy the ammo at the range. The belt-fed M1919 costs $200, and that includes a starter belt of 100 rounds.
At Battlefield Vegas, most SMGs run $55 and assault rifles are $60. Exotic stuff like an HK MP7 or MP44 are $95. A full-auto German FG-42 will set you back $100. In each case, the experience includes eye and ear protection along with one magazine of ammunition. You can add on more ammo as desired. Most belt-fed guns are $80 with 20 rounds. The M-2 .50-cal is $350, while Battlefield’s M-134 minigun is $300 with 100 rounds. The selection at Battlefield Vegas is frankly breathtaking. They have examples of most everything that shoots.
Drivetanks.com is the pinnacle. The Grease Gun is $60 for 20 rounds, while the MP40 is $80. Make that $85 for the MP44. The belt-fed MG34 or MG42 are $95 for 20 rounds. The M249 SAW is $75 with the same number of bullets. Running the Drivetanks minigun is $450 for 100 rounds and $800 for 200. Drivetanks.com offers flamethrower rentals as well. That’s $350 for a tank of fuel. Subsequent tanks are $250 apiece. At Battlefield Vegas you can exercise several 40mm grenade launchers at $35 per training round. One unique opportunity at Drivetanks is high explosives. You can blow stuff up with shaped charges or gasoline-enhanced bombs. Once you’re done you get to take the big chunk of steel with the new hole blown through it home as a souvenir.
Many to most rental machine guns in America are actually what are called post-86 dealer samples. The licensing required to obtain and maintain these weapons is extensive. However, this does give you access to some advanced hardware. Battlefield Vegas includes such stuff as the British L86A1 SAW, the M60E6, the Word War I vintage Lewis gun, the Ultimax LMG, and the Combloc DSHK. You won’t find exotic iron like that anyplace else. So, what are the must-rent guns the next time you pass through Vegas, Uvalde, Texas, or Oxford, MS? That’s driven by your personal tastes and the state of your credit card. Old or new, big or small, loud or not so much, as with so many things in America, variety is the spice of life.
Owning the Read Deal: Ruben Mendiola NFA Dealer
While it's fun to rent, there is nothing better than owning your own "real-deal" machine guns. Without doubt, it takes considerable financial means to purchase a pre-ban machine gun. As unconstitutional as the ban is, it did not make owning machine guns illegal, and there are great resources out there to help make it happen. Dealernfa.com, run by Richard Mendiola, has one of the most impressive collections of machine guns for sale. With more than 80 machine guns, dealernfa.com boasts Thompsons, HK MP5s, Colt M-16s, UZI machine guns and much more. For those interested in purchasing a machine gun for the first time, the price tag is probably going to be shocking. For example, HK MP5s on Mendiola's have a price tag in the $40K to $60K range. You can get an UZI in the $15K to $20K range, and a M60E6 has a price tag at a whopping $110K. There are lots of great reasons to own a machine gun, and if it's within your means, you'll definitely want to check out Dealernfa.com.
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