The Big Sandy Shoot took place in Arizona this past weekend. It saw dozens of machine guns, a live-firing tank and howitzer, and a few hundred spectators all having a great time.



Thumper, the twin .50 cal Ma Deuce, was thumping as usual. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

It's been the first big event since the Coronavirus set everything into lockdown. The fact that it's an outdoor event certainly helps. Having been locked up for the past year, I noticed shooters shooting with a little more fervor than usual. Bursts were a little longer. Much of their ammo was purchased pre-pandemic, and they were itching to turn it into noise.



A sign of the times: .50 cal ammo and hand sanitizer. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

The firing line was a little lighter than usual. The spring shoot is in general a little smaller than the fall shoot. Some of the regular shooters I spoke to prior to the event said they were waiting for the fall in hopes that ammo might replenish and prices might come down a bit. Don't forget, many of the shooters are dealers who also get deals on ammo. But it's still not as cheap as usual.



Battlefield Vegas' Israeli M-50 Super Sherman tank that was used in combat and bears many battle scars. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

The line saw only a few big guns. Not like in years past when there can be a few dozen on display and firing. Battlefield Vegas was out with their new Israeli M-50 Super Sherman tank and a Russian 122mm D-30 howitzer. Both were functioning and shook the earth, rattling the bones of onlookers throughout the weekend.



A spectator poses with Mary Lou. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

I counted well over 200 spectators who came during the weekend. Their numbers peaked for the famous Saturday "night shoot." I spoke to a few spectators who flew in from Connecticut and New York and were glad they made the trip. There were quite a few locals as well, spending a night or two camping at the event.

It's clear that people are eager to start enjoying themselves again. Now, if we can only get ammo supplies back to normal, this summer should be a good one.

A good-looking Vickers machine gun with a leather wrap over the water jacket. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Twin .50 caliber Browning M2s with a custom mount ready to rattle some bones. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


How fast can you burn ammo? Twin MG 34s on a custom mount. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


A .50 cal Ma Deuce and an M249 atop Battlefield Vegas's M-50 Super Sherman tank. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Anyone up for a ride? A minigun mounted on the back of a Polaris four-wheeler belonging to Battlefield Vegas. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


The Russian 122mm D-30 howitzer belonging to Battlefield Vegas. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


A few rounds for the Russian 122mm D-30 howitzer. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Nice touch. The firing lever on the Russian 122mm D-30 howitzer. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


The Super Sherman about to kick up some dust for a group of spectators. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Scott Rickard from Battlefield Vegas sits atop the Super Sherman next to an M1919. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


True to spec, inside the Israeli Super Sherman is an UZI, just in case. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


The Lord of War himself, Ron Cheney, owner of Battlefield Vegas. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


An M1919A4 on the firing line. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


A U.S. flag made up of guns flies above the firing line. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Edward M. Houston with his M16. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


A good-looking and fully functional M3 Half-Track. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Who says machine guns don't make you happy? Cameron Hopkins with his MP5 and MP40. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


A Browning M2 .50 cal Ma Deuce with an interesting sighting setup. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Cameron Hopkins with his sweet suppressed MP5SD. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


This skeleton was enjoying the shoot as much as everyone else. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Tracers fly during the main event: Saturday night's night shoot. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Bullets ignite fireworks during the night shoot. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Remote-controlled aircraft strapped with lights fly down the range at night attracting a lot of tracer fire until they're shot down. (Photo: Ben Philippi/
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