The M2 Machine Gun or Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun is a heavy machine gun designed towards the end of World War I by John Browning. Its design is similar to Browning's earlier M1919 Browning machine gun, which was chambered for the .30-06 cartridge. The M2 uses the much larger and much more powerful .50 BMG cartridge, which was developed alongside and takes its name from the gun itself (BMG standing for Browning Machine Gun). It has been referred to as "Ma Deuce", in reference to its M2 nomenclature. The design has had many specific designations; the official designation for the current infantry type is Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Flexible. It is effective against infantry, unarmored or lightly armored vehicles and boats, light fortifications and low-flying aircraft. The M2 machine gun has been produced longer than any other machine gun.
The Browning .50 caliber machine gun has been used extensively as a vehicle weapon and for aircraft armament by the United States from the 1930s to the present. It was heavily used during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan in the 2000s and 2010s. It is the primary heavy machine gun of NATO countries, and has been used by many other countries as well. The M2 has been in use longer than any other firearm in U.S. inventory except the .45 ACP M1911 pistol, also designed by John Browning.
The M2 machine gun was widely used during World War II, and in later postwar conflicts, as a remote or flexible aircraft gun. For fixed (offensive) or flexible (defensive) guns used in aircraft, a dedicated M2 version was developed called the .50 Browning AN/M2. The "AN" stands for "Army/Navy", since the gun was developed jointly for use by both services. The AN/M2 had a cyclic rate of 750–850 rounds per minute, with the ability to be fired from an electrically operated remote-mount solenoid trigger when installed as a fixed gun. Cooled by the aircraft's slip-stream, the air-cooled AN/M2 was fitted with a substantially lighter 36-inch (91 cm) length barrel, reducing the weight of the complete unit to 61 pounds (28 kg), which also had the effect of increasing the rate of fire. The official designation for this weapon was Browning Machine Gun, Aircraft, Cal. .50, AN/M2 (Fixed) or (Flexible).
During World War II, a faster-firing Browning was developed for aircraft use. The AN/M3 features a mechanical or electrically boosted feed mechanism to increase the rate of fire to around 1,200 rounds per minute. The AN/M3 was used in Korea on the F-86 Sabre, F-84 Thunderjet and F-80 Shooting Star, and in Vietnam in the XM14/SUU-12/A gun pod. Today, it can be found on the Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano. The M3-series is used by the U.S. military in two versions; the M3M and M3P. The fixed, remote-firing version, the FN M3P, is employed on the Avenger Air Defense System, and is currently used on the OH-58D, augmenting the XM296 .50 cal. machine gun. The M3M flexible machine gun has been adopted by USN under the designation GAU-21/A for use on helicopters. The Air Force is looking to replace the GAU-18 on the HH-60G Pave Hawk with the GAU-21 because of its higher 1,100 rounds per minute rate of fire, longer 10,000-round barrel life, and lower recoil through use of a soft mount.
The current M2/M3 is manufactured in the U.S. by General Dynamics and U.S. Ordnance for use by the U.S. government, and for allies via Foreign Military Sales, as well as foreign manufacturers such as FN Herstal.
Powers and Stats
Name: Browning M2, Fabrique Nationale M3, various other designations in numerous military services (M2A1, M3M, M3P, M296, M213, M218, GAU-15/A, GAU-16/A, GAU-18/A, GAU-21/A, MG50, K6, L2/L6/L11/L21/L111)
Origin: Real World
Classification: .50 caliber (12.7mm) Heavy Machine Gun
Wielders: United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Israel, Germany, France, Greece, Hungary, Mexico, and at least 110 other countries
Attack Potency: Wall level (.50 BMG rounds have a minimum muzzle energy of 17,000 joules), Wall level+ in short bursts (The M2HB has a fire rate of 450–600 rounds per minute; the AN/M2 has a fire rate of 750–850 rounds per minute; the M3 has a fire rate of 1200–1300 rounds per minute)
Speed: Supersonic to Supersonic+ (.50 BMG rounds generally have a muzzle velocity between 820–1220 meters per second)
Durability: Probably Wall level (Consists of roughly 38 kilograms of sheet steel)
Range: 1500 meter point target, 2500 meter area target, 6800 meter maximum range
Weaknesses: None notable
Note: Generally speaking, other machine guns of similar caliber like the CIS 50MG, XM312, XM806, DShK, NSV, and Type 85 should be comparable performance to this one.