Lot of M-2 .50 caliber machine gun 'traversing and elevating' mechanisms, $10.

I don't mind telling you that when I first saw these parts, I had no idea what they were. The guy at the estate sale was the son of the previous owner, and he didn't have any idea either. This entry serves as an example of how important it is to develop your sense of intuition in this business, because you never know what you're going to see.

I found this box languishing in an old workshop on a table with lots of worthless old tools. This box was not priced because, the seller told me, nobody knew what in the heck these things were! But I knew right off that they were worth a few minutes of interest, so I started to do a little thinking about them.

As I analyzed these things, I noticed that they were made from very carefully machined parts, and that each part had a number stamped into it. And what's with all the adjusting wheels and the scales with the numbers on them? It was obvious that these clamps, or whatever the heck they are, were designed to allow a very fine adjustment between two pieces of something. And as you're probably already aware, precision costs money. Think of the difference between a C-clamp and a micrometer.

But... the fact that these items are precision and cost money to produce still doesn't necessarily mean that anyone wants them nowadays, does it?

One very obvious thing I noted about these pieces was their very heavy construction. You could easily lift an automobile with one of them. Whatever these things were designed to hold in place must've had the potential for placing an incredible amount of stress on them, else the heavy construction wouldn't have been necessary. Of course, they were to hold their careful tolerances throughout whatever stresses they encountered. I found all of this very interesting.

And back to the precision adjustments on these pieces, notice that they adjust along two planes. In other words, not only is there an up and down adjustment, but there's also a side to side adjustment. Where and why would this kind of adjustment be necessary? Is there the possibility they're for windage and elevation adjustment?

Things were getting a little clearer now, but I didn't trust my thoughts just yet. So, I decided to take my chances with the parts. I asked the seller what he wanted for the box, and he asked me, 'Do you know what they are?' I told him that I did not. He admitted that he didn't either, and said he'd take $10 for them.

When I got home, I decided to do a little research on the internet. To start, I simply copied a couple of the numbers stamped into the different pieces: 6195550 and 6166997. I plugged them in to Google, one at a time, and as you can imagine, I got completely nonsensical results. Then, I added the term 'machine gun,' and the puzzle was solved. These are what are known as traverse and elevation mechanisms that go to a Browning M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun tripod. So, now that I know what these things are, it's time to think a bit on who would want these parts and what they could be worth.

As it turned out, one of the first web pages I found these mechanisms on listed them for $229 apiece, which was great news. But what if I hadn't found that page? Let's do a little thinking here and see if we can come to a conclusion of who would pay a couple of hundred dollars apiece for one of these things, and why.

You should already be aware that shooting is a huge industry in this country. Millions of Americans consider the right to own and shoot firearms an inalienable right. We Americans hunt, target shoot, defend ourselves and do all sorts of other types of shooting. We love guns!

Now, do you think the hardcore firearm enthusiasts are satisfied with the relatively anemic offerings of the civilian firearms world, when they know there's all that heavy military stuff out there to be had, which they can actually own and shoot? Don't you think that at least a few of those fanatics may want to own and shoot the biggest and most powerful firearms they can get their hands on? The answer is a resounding yes! There's an elite group of shooters out there (properly licensed, of course) who own and shoot these heavy military machine guns. That's right, they get together in places all across the country to shoot, swap guns and gun parts, and just have a great time. There are clubs dedicated to this sport, and their members are more fanatical about machine guns than you could possibly imagine! There places where shooters can even rent machine guns to shoot! As a matter of fact, a simple search for "machine gun clubs" in your favorite search engine will turn up dozens of valid entries!

But here's the problem. You do not generally find heavy machine guns, or their parts, at many yard sales, flea markets or even gun shops, because as you can imagine, the Government tightly regulates these weapons. These things are exotic rarities to most people, so we don't even know what we're looking at when we encounter parts for them in our travels. Heck, I've been shooting my entire life, and I certainly didn't know what these were at first.

As it turns out, each of these mechanisms sold on eBay for between $125 and $160. I suppose that eBay didn't have a problem with me listing these because they are technically tripod parts, not machine gun parts. Go figure.

Photo of Browning M2 .50 BMG machine gun traversing and elevating mechanisms