All of the 1919A4 parts sets come to us with the right side plate missing. The only reference some of us have for l engraving is that used by semi side plate manufacturers, which often bears little resemblance to the original. For those wanting a reference for the real thing, I have put together a few images of an original Saginaw gun. Also, for anyone wanting the original markings to program their CNC milling machine, I have made a True Type font with the entire engraving in place of a lower case "a". All of the other keys are blank. You can also use the font in your word processor. I used it to add the engraving to the drawing of the side plate, above. True Type fonts are vector based and scalable, so the image will remain crisp no matter how large or small you make it.

This is yet another site made possible by the generous contributions of board members, and I would like to add more images of original engravings of privately owned 1919s if possible. If you own a live C&R gun with original engraving and would be kind enough to share it with the MG community, I would love to hear from you. I will digitally remove the serial numbers and replace the numbers with Xs so the positioning can still be seen, and your contribution will remain anonymous if you wish. Eventually I would like to have all of the manufacturers' engraving for the 1919A4, A6, and the 1917 & 1917A1. Please E-mail me.

Most images will enlarge

.50 cal. M2 C&R engraving
on a display gun from England
Source: Dr. Fixit


Unusual engraving on this 1919A4. There is no inspector's
initials, and the serial number is not in its usual position.

Buffalo Arms 1919 with charging handle.

Detail of engraving.

Engraving detail from the Buffalo Arms 1919A4 shown at right. Source: Private NFA collection of J.Willaert

M1919A4E1. It was basically a 1919A4 with a rear charging handle bar,
but was left feed only, early prototype during the Korean/Viet Nam era.
Thanks to Kevin Huff for this info.
Source: Aberdeen Proving Grounds via JD45

Source: Private collection

MG38BT? Hard to make out.
Source: Aberdeen Proving Grounds via JD45

.50 Cal. ground
This is a semi plate engraved and photographed by Sam Alvarez of T&S Manufacturing. I am including it here so you can see a nice clean rendering of the original style and layout of Colt's engraving.

.50 Cal. aircraft
Source: Steve in England

.30 Cal. Colt ANM2
Source: Tim Powell in Australia


Another interesting one from Dr. Fixit. A Colt side plate on a High Standard M2. Dr. Fixit adds that in Hard Rain, page 65, it says "Some of High Standard's .50 caliber M2 aircraft guns were assembled using receivers from Colt's commercial .50 caliber MG53-2 guns. These guns had serial numbers ranging from 15125 to 162799. The receiver markings were to be altered to read: Machine Gun, Browning Caliber .50 M2"


Left: A Remington manufactured 1917 converted and remarked to 1917A1.
Source: Photo courtesy of Rock Island Arsenal Museum,
Rock Island Arsenal, via Rollin L., aka Lucky#13

Above and left: Another 1917 converted to a 1917A1. The RIA stamp could mean Rock Island Arsenal did the conversion, or it could be from an even later arsenal refurbish. This weapon is on display at the California Military Museum in Sacramento.
Photo by Steve H.




Source: Photos courtesy of Rock Island Arsenal Museum, Rock Island Arsenal via Rollin L., aka Lucky#13

Source: Lucky#13

Source: Lucky#13

Above is a detail of the photo at left, this showing the roller engraving up close. You will need to enlarge the photo to see it clearly. It appears to be a Rock Island Arsenal rebuild of a 1919A4 into a 1919A6. RIA is stamped above the serial number, and the 4 has been Xed out and a 6 stamped slightly below and to the right of it. For the purposes of the drawing and the font, I included only the original Saginaw characters.

Above is an excellent roller engraving from a deactivated 1919A4 ( first production run 1941 ).
Thanks to Mike W. for sharing this fine example from his collection. Below is another example from Mike.

This is an original Saginaw demill. Thanks to Jim (msg1956) for letting me take photos and use them here. This photo shows the entire rear receiver. The distortion is caused by the camera lens.

Navy .308 conversion

Source: Mark (The Netherlands)
This gun came from Crane Naval surface warfare in southern Indiana, back when you could buy the "scrap" and it was lots more than ground up metal, you actually had parts of guns that were usable. This was a gun they "Demilled" but they had cut the left side plate instead of the right, the "scrap" was then registered by a class 2 before 1986. The opening for the links/belts was also enlarged to feed M60 links, unfortunately I didn't get those parts. Bob Landies rebuilt the gun for me and knew what it was the moment he saw it. Source: 30calmachinegunner

Savage Arms .50 cal. M2
Source: Dr. Fixit

Savage Arms ANM2. A bit hard to make out.


.50 cal. M3 aircraft C&R engraving
on a display gun from England
Source: Dr. Fixit


This is a Westinghouse 1917 plate reused on a 1919A4 with markings altered. This is the second such plate I have seen. Source: Rollin
Left: Here's an interesting one. Jason, the former owner of the gun, explained that the gun was manufactured as a tank gun, then the gun was converted to an A2, so the word "TANK" was crossed out and the "A2" added. Later the A2 was crossed out and the "A4" was added when the gun was converted to an A4. Quite a journey.
Photo Source: Kevin Huff

Model 1917

Model 1917A1

Above and right are from Hard Rain, by Frank Iannamico which can be purchased from BMG Parts


When the U.S. military made the dubious decision to replace the venerable 1919 with the M60, many of the out of service Browning 1919A4s were given to Israel. They were converted by the Israeli military to fire the new NATO standard, the caliber .308. Replacement or modifications were made to the barrel, bolt, sights, booster, cartridge stops, feed pawl, and feed lever pivot assembly. The weapons were engraved with an Israeli property mark and the 7.62 NATO round designation. Below is an engraving less frequently found. I am hoping to get a translation, and will post it here when I do.

Hebrew markings on left side plate
in front of the sight base.
Source: Ray C / Firearm Supply
The engraving reads:
"Browning 7.62
No. 2, Mark 1"
Thanks to Nick for the translation.

Another look at the Hebrew engraving showing location.
Source: MCP
1919A4 top cover with foil label in Hebrew.
Source: My own collection
Engraving Info
Where, exactly, did the engraving go?
The Saginaw engraving in a True Type font
Above is the font, actually just one letter on the keyboard. Right-click on the image at right and select Save Target As... then save to your hard drive or your Windows Fonts directory. The file size is 23.5k - it should download in a few seconds, even on a slow machine. I am making this font public domain - use it however you wish. Remember, only the lower case "a" works. Thanks to Mike (Hangman) for using a couple of font sets I made to build a CNC program and confirming for me that converting an image into a font was an easy way to input complex image data to a CNC program.
Above is a detail from the original Government drawings, these held by Rock Island. It shows GI specs for the location and size of the engraving. Thanks to Orin Harding (7.64X51) for allowing me to use this from his CD. I highly recommend this collection if you do not already have it. It contains the drawings for the 1919A4, 1919A6, and the M2 tripod. Orin went to Washington D.C. and scanned the originals If mine were a book, it would be dog-eared by now. You can contact him here if you're interested.

Thanks again to all who make these efforts possible.
I look forward to hearing from others who can shed more light on this subject.