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Need some advice. Lewis Gun or a BAR


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#1 Hunterpeaks

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Posted 26 December 2017 - 10:49 PM

I am continuing to add to my collection and need some help with the next one.  Looking at either a BAR or a Lewis gun. 

I don't know much about the Lewis gun, so would like some help and thoughts. 

 

BAR -Pros-  lots of available parts, easy to purchase ammo, collectible, easier to find someone to work on that has experience with them.

 

Cons- Prices are just at the top of my price range, small mag capacity,   others? 

 

 

Lewis Gun-  Pros- Interesting design and believe it would be fun to shoot. Bigger mag capacity. 

 

Cons-  303 British - harder to get a hold of(?),  less parts available(?) , harder to work on/gun smith. 

 

Does this even hit the mark?   

To be honest, I am leaning toward a Lewis Gun. 

What things do I need to think about before buying a Lewis Gun?  Things you wish you would have looked at before you bought yours? 

 

thanks so much

Any websites to read? 

 

Hunter

 


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#2 jim c 351

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 10:22 AM

Hunter,

You obviously have a serious problem and are  in need of professional help.

In your favor I will say you have really good taste. Here is my take.

I have had a Lewis Gun for about 8 years. I recently paid for a BAR and waiting on paperwork to start.

Both guns are really neat and historically significant.

In my opinion both guns are to be babied, not abused. If you want a bullet hose get a M1919A4.

The parts and ammo problems can be solved with patients . Both guns require knowledge and work before and after shooting.

I will not shoot corrosive ammo in either gun. I reload both calibers and shoot mostly reloads in both guns. I reload 30 cal projectiles for the Lewis and accuracy is quite good.

I only shoot the Lewis about once a year. When I place it on the bench a small crowd forms and the cameras start clicking. People are fascinated by the rotating pan and the huge barrel shroud. Several of the ladies love shooting it.

Here is a short video of me shooting my Lewis. The pause between bursts is because of dust obscuring the steel plates.

Jim C


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#3 jim c 351

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 10:23 AM

Here is the video. Jim c


Edited by jim c 351, 27 December 2017 - 10:23 AM.

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#4 jl7422

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 11:23 AM

Hello Hunter,

 

I can't speak to the Lewis, as I have a 1918a2 BAR. Both are really cool guns, but in my opinion, they represent different approaches to our hobby.

 

The BAR is a workhorse. Well thought-out, robust, it just works. Plenty of NOS (and now excellent reproduction) parts, mags and ammo is no problem. Easy to field strip and clean. The barrel heats up fast. That's about it. (Knock-wood) mine has never broken a part or failed in any way from day 1. It's like my M1a1 Thompson--it just runs and runs.

 

I put the Lewis in the same category as an 08/15 Maxim I once owned --it's a 100 year old antique (give or take) and historically it's really cool, but the enjoyment of owning it revolved around the constant tinkering to keep the thing operational (given the limited supply of equally old used springs and parts--when available)  and not really about the enjoyment of shooting it.  That being said, I would love to own a Lewis. . . I'd just approach it with a different mind-set.     

 

(I may well be shot-down by scores of reliable Lewis gun owners. . . )

 

Both are good choices. . . just know what you're signing up for.

 

John


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#5 Sandman1957

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 12:39 PM

I had a 1918 Bar WWI set up.  Was glad it had 20 round mags.  Keeps the volume of fire a little more tame.  Easy to reload so I personally like 20 round mags.  Holds down ammo cost.  Each mag change give you a chance to smile, and start over.  


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#6 DougStump

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 01:29 PM

Hunter,

 

If you PM me your email I have some documentation on the Lewis I can send you.

Attached Files


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#7 Black River Militaria CII

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 02:12 PM

Find owners with one of each, or with both, by a few hundred rounds of ammo for each ask to shoot the guns. The experience must include thorough cleaning of both guns. There is no other way to gain a foothold on the performance of the guns. Firing the guns is mandatory......
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#8 DougStump

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 03:07 PM

What Black River said. If you're within a reasonable distance of Shreveport Louisiana, I've got a Lewis and a friend has a Group Industries BAR.


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#9 johnsonlmg41

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 08:44 PM

I'm partial to the lewis and have both.   A lot depends on which model you are looking at.  1918 BAR's correct parts are very difficult to find.   A2 stuff is plentiful.  British Lewis parts are common.

 

Best bang for a budget would be a British Lewis, with plenty left over for ammo.  Surplus popped up a couple years ago for low .20's a round.  The BAR or US Lewis is not cheap to shoot either in 30-06.

 

There is some tinkering in initial setup on the Lewis spring tension for me since I leave mine unwound, but after that they usually run fine.   The BAR is just a big heavy rifle with 20-30 rounds which doesn't do much for me other than look pretty in the collection.  The Lewis on a tripod with a pan, and they way the run, is an unusual experience in the MG world unlike any other gun.  If I could have only one it would be the  British Lewis.  I don't mind a little tinkering on a piece like that because the satisfaction and experience shooting it outweighs the hassle for me personally.


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#10 Hunterpeaks

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 10:39 PM

Wow,  great input guys.  Thanks so much.  I would probably shoot both 1-2x a year, as I already have 1919A4 and Mac for hosing down stuff.  I reload of course, so that's not an issue once I have the brass (303, as my 1919A4 is in 30-06, so have tons of brass already). 

 

They do appear to be completely different experiences and while I don't mind tinkering on stuff, I also don't want to feel like I am about to break something each time I get the gun out to shoot it.  I am pretty mechanically inclined and do plenty of tinkering on my cars, so that's not the worry, its more that the "tinkering" on the Lewis gun is hard to learn because there aren't resources out there to learn about how to "tinker".  True or not? 

 

Glad to hear Lewis parts are plentiful, as I did some looking around and found a couple of websites with spare parts, but not too many and didn't know exactly what are common part failures on them. 

 

Great video Jim C!   That is outstanding!

 

Still undecided.... hmmm. 

 

Hunter


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#11 jl7422

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 01:19 AM

Better just plan on buying both of them--then it's just a matter of which one you come across first. . .


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#12 ron_brock

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 07:30 AM

I would recommend getting books on both as well. The Belgian Rattlesnake is a good Lewis book but is getting a little tougher to find. A Rock in a Hard Place is a good book on the BAR.

Both are great guns. Good luck on your search and decision.

Ron
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#13 jim c 351

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 08:26 AM

Hunter,

While I have accumulated a bunch of spare parts for the Lewis, nothing has ever broken. I'll bet that Doug will say the same.

One thing that I always do with the Lewis is relieve the operating spring tension at end of shooting. This means it has to be reset before the next shoot.

For this you need a spring gage. The set can vary from 12 to 15 lbs, depending on ammo. Not difficult, but must be remembered. I don't load to max. A factory load gives 2450 fps with a 175 gr bullet. I load to 2200 fps with a 175 gr. Makes it easier on the gun.

Everyone here gave excellent advice.

If you are able to find someone who will let you shoot both guns that would be a great opportunity.

Getting the books that Ron recommended is a must.

John gave some advice worth noting. Lets say you decide to buy a Lewis and suddenly you stumble onto a BAR at a great price. I don't need to tell you what to do.

No matter which one you choose, its the right decision.

Jim C

 

.


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#14 jim c 351

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 08:52 AM

A nice Lewis video. Jim C


Edited by jim c 351, 28 December 2017 - 08:53 AM.

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#15 ron_brock

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 09:13 AM

Jim,

Thats a great video. If someone did not want a Lewis before that will give them the bug. Some rare accessories, I bet.

Ron
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#16 DougStump

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 10:16 AM

In the seven years I've had mine I've broken one extractor, I'd better be careful, I've only got 14 more spares. :lol:   Of course she gets babied.


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#17 MG08

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 03:12 PM

Well, both the BAR and Lewis are fun and historic guns.  Clearly you need one of each.  Failing that, I would not worry about ammo cost, or parts.  If you like to "collect" there are a lot more Lewis accessories out there.  As in "different kinds of stuff".  The BAR is probably a better combat gun. the Lewis is fun to tinker with .   I am a little partial to the Lewis just for all the neat doodads they made for the gun .  Personally, I got rid of my US BAR and went with the FN-D, as the quick change barrel made the gun better to shoot.  Still, nothing quite like laying down walking fie with the 1918A2.   I still like my Lewis guns, and really need to stop buying  stuff for them. 


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#18 DougStump

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 07:03 PM

I still like my Lewis guns, and really need to stop buying  stuff for them. 

>SLAP<  Have you come back to your senses?


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#19 Hunterpeaks

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 10:34 AM

Thanks again,  this has been super helpful.    Wish I could buy both, but think my wife wouldn't be too happy if I sold the house. "Honey, look, I sold the house and bought two guns and a bunch of ammo!"... lol. 

 

Doug sent me a ton of homework to read on, so I'll be reading this, over the weekend.  Sounds like both are great guns, but just like they were made for two purposes,  you need to go into the ownership of them with two different mindsets. 

Decisions, decisions....

 

Hunter


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#20 MG08

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 03:02 PM

I still like my Lewis guns, and really need to stop buying  stuff for them. 

>SLAP<  Have you come back to your senses?

I have stuff for them ( And sold some ) that is fairly hard to find- Drum/pan "bucket" with pattern room seal DSC07492.JPG

DSC00408.JPGRu

Russian Lewis "3Line" (54r) pan mag

 

Lewis gun Brass catching bag ( aircraft) DSC01087.JPG

Just for giggles - BREN Drums and mounting brackets, with brass bag

DSC08906.JPG


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