The M2 Browning .50 is a Heavy machinegun created by John Browning in 1918 and still in use today.
The Browning is one of the most versatile weapons in combat because of its ammunition have multiple configurations: Perforating, explosive, tracer, incendiary and antiblindagem with antiaircraft positions, land and naval.
This weapon of incredible power is still used today but is inferior to its Russian counterparts; Kord 12.7, NSV heavy machine gun and DShK, which fire the more powerful 12.7x108mm (.50 Russian) round. Is underway for a portable version for this caliber, one assault rifle or pistol.
The Browning M2 is an air-cooled, belt-fed machine gun. The M2 fires from a closed bolt, operated on the short recoil principle. The M2 fires the .50 BMG cartridge, which offers long range, accuracy, and immense stopping power. The closed bolt firing cycle made the M2 usable as a synchronized machine gun on aircraft before and during World War II, as on the early versions of the Curtiss P-40 fighter.
The M2 is a scaled-up version of John Browning’s M1917 .30 caliber machine gun, even using the same timing gauges.
The M2 has varying cyclic rates of fire, depending on the model. The M2HB (heavy barrel) air-cooled ground gun has a cyclical rate of 450–575 rounds per minute. The early M2 water-cooled AA guns had a cyclical rate of around 450–600 rpm. The AN/M2 aircraft gun has a cyclic rate of 750–850 rpm; this increases to 1,200 rpm for AN/M3 aircraft guns. These maximum rates of fire are generally not achieved in use, as sustained fire at that rate will wear out the bore within a few thousand rounds, necessitating replacement. In addition to full automatic, the M2HB can be selected to fire single-shots or at less than 40 rounds per minute, or rapid fire for more than 40 rounds per minute. Slow and rapid firing modes use 5–7 round bursts with different lengths of pause between bursts.
The M2 has an effective range of 1,830 metres (2,000 yd) and a maximum effective range of 2,000 metres (2,200 yd) when fired from the M3 tripod. In its ground-portable, crew-served role as the M2HB, the gun itself weighs 84 pounds (38 kg) and the assembled M3 tripod another 44 pounds (20 kg). In this configuration, the V-shaped “butterfly” trigger is located at the very rear of the weapon with a “spade handle” hand-grip on either side of it and the bolt release in the center. The spade handles are gripped and the butterfly trigger is depressed with one or both thumbs. Recently, new rear buffer assemblies have used squeeze triggers mounted to the hand grips, doing away with the butterfly triggers.
When the bolt release is locked down by the bolt latch release lock on the buffer tube sleeve, the gun functions in fully automatic mode. Conversely, the bolt release can be unlocked into the up position resulting in single-shot firing (the gunner must press the bolt latch release to send the bolt forward). Unlike virtually all other modern machine guns, it has no safety (although a sliding safety switch has recently been fielded to USMC armorers for installation on their weapons and is standard-issue for the U.S. Army for all M2s). Troops in the field have been known to add an improvised safety measure against accidental firing by slipping an expended shell casing under the butterfly trigger. The upgraded M2A1 has a manual trigger block safety.
Because the M2 was designed to operate in many configurations, it can be adapted to feed from the left or right side of the weapon by exchanging the belt-holding pawls, and the front and rear cartridge stops (three-piece set to include link stripper), then reversing the bolt switch. The operator must also convert the top-cover belt feed slide assembly from left to right hand feed as well as the spring and plunger in the feed arm. This will take a well trained individual less than two minutes to perform.
The charging assembly may be changed from left to right hand charge. A right hand charging handle spring, lock wire, and a little “know-how” are all that are required to accomplish this. The M2 can be battle-ready and easily interchanged if it is preemptively fitted with a retracting slide assembly on both sides of the weapon system. This eliminates the need to have the weapon removed from service to accomplish this task.
At some point during World War 2 the Frankford Arsenal developed a squeeze bore version of the M2HB which reduced the bullet size from .50 to .30 caliber.
Variants and Derivatives
The basic M2 was deployed in US service in a number of subvariants, all with separate complete designations as per the US Army system. The basic designation as mentioned in the introduction is Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, with others as described below.
The development of the M1921 water-cooled machine gun which led to the M2, meant that the initial M2s were in fact water-cooled. These weapons were designated Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, Water-Cooled, Flexible. There was no fixed water-cooled version.
Improved air-cooled heavy barrel versions came in three subtypes. The basic infantry model, Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Flexible, a fixed developed for use on the M6 Heavy Tank designated Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Fixed, and a “turret type” whereby “Flexible” M2s were modified slightly for use in tank turrets. The subvariant designation Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, TT was only used for manufacturing, supply, and administration identification and separation from flexible M2s.
A number of additional subvariants were developed after the end of the Second World War. The Caliber .50 Machine Gun, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, M48 Turret Type was developed for the commander’s cupola on the M48 Patton tank. The cupola mount on the M48A2 and M48A3 was thoroughly disliked by most tankers, as it proved unreliable in service. An externally-mounted M2 was later adopted for the commander’s position on the M1 Abrams tanks. Three subvariants were also developed for use by the US Navy on a variety of ships and watercraft. These included the Caliber .50 Machine Gun, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, Soft Mount (Navy) and the Caliber .50 Machine Gun, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, Fixed Type (Navy). The fixed types fire from a solenoid trigger and come in left or right hand feed variants for use on the Mk 56 Mod 0 dual mount and other mounts.
A long overdue upgrade program for existing infantry M2HBs and other M2s currently in U.S. Army service, the E50 provides a: Quick Change Barrel (QCB) capability, a rail accessory mount, an improved flash hider and a manual safety.
The E50 designation initially appeared to be within the bounds of the normal U.S. Army designation system. However, it later turned out that the term was in fact a developmental project that stands for Enhanced 50, as in enhanced .50 caliber machine gun. Developed primarily as a conversion kit for existing weapons, it is likely that new production machine guns will be built to this standard. In later U.S. Army briefings, this variant has been referenced as the M2E2 or M2A1.
|Mass||38 kg (83.78 lb)
58 kg (127.87 lb) with tripod and T&E (Traverse and Elevation Mechanism)
|Length||1,654 mm (65.1 in)|
|Barrel length||1,143 mm (45.0 in)|
|Cartridge||.50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)|
|Rate of fire||450–600 rounds/min (M2HB)
750–850 rounds/min (AN/M2)
1,200–1,300 rounds/min (AN/M3)
|Muzzle velocity||2,910 ft/s (890 m/s) for M33 ball|
|Effective firing range||1,800 m (2,000 yd)|
|Maximum firing range||7,400 m (8,100 yd)|
|Feed system||Belt-fed (M2 or M9 links)|