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
Tier: 9-B, up to 9-A firing for a full minute
Name: Browning M2, Fabrique Nationale M3, various other designations in numerous military services (M2HB, M2A1, AN/M2, AN/M3, M3M, M3P, M296, M213, M218, GAU-15/A, GAU-16/A, GAU-18/A, GAU-21/A, L2/L6/L11/L21/L111, Mtr .50 M2 HB, M/50 TMG, M/2001 TMG, 12,7 RSKK 2005, MG50, Mitrailleuse .50 M2 HB, Ksp 88, and MG 64)
Origin: Real World
Classification: .50 caliber (12.7mm) Heavy Machine Gun
Wielders: American, Australian, British, Canadian, French, German, Israeli, Japanese, and at least 103 other countries' armed forces
Powers and Abilities: Launches .50 caliber bullets at supersonic velocities
Attack Potency: Wall level (15.87–21.81 kilojoules), 450–550 rounds per minute rate of fire (AN/M2 fires at 750–850 rounds per minute, M3 fires at 950–1100 rounds per minute); up to Small Building level firing for a full minute (up to 23.99 megajoules)
Speed: Supersonic to Supersonic+ (823–1220 meters per second)
Lifting Strength: At least Below Average
Striking Strength: At least Wall Class (bullets hit as hard as 21.81 kilojoules)
Durability: At most Wall level (comprised of up to 38 kilograms of steel with a fragmentation energy of 1 megajoule)
Stamina: Barrel life of up to 10,000 rounds
Range: Up to over 1500 meters point target, 2500 meters area target (AA ceiling of about 1250 meters)
Weaknesses: Prolonged firing can overheat the gun (especially for the AN/M2 and M3)
Note: Similar guns of about the same bore (.50 caliber) and period (like the GAU-19, CIS 50MG, XM312, XM806, DShK, NSV, Kord, Yak-B, Type 85, QJZ-89, Zastava M87, and Zastava M02) generally have performance equivalent to this one.