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 (  USA
' (   1938
1-4 (crew leader, gunner, assistant gunner, ammunition

  0.50 in (12.7 mm)
   .50 Caliber Browning (12.7 x 99 mm)
)(  Recoil
 84 lb (38.1 kg)
& 65.13 in (1,654.3 mm)
c  24 lb (10.9 kg)
c & 45 in (1,143.0 mm)
c  R.H., eight grooves, pitch 1 in 15 inches (381 mm)
c & *+), 400 rounds
%)) 100 rounds in ammo can: 35 lb (16 kg)
-  ) 
Single shot
Sustained: Less than 40 rds/min, in bursts of five to
seven rounds
Rapid: More than 40 rds/min, fired in bursts of five to
seven rounds
Cyclic: 450-550 rds/min
 /))  7,440 yd (6,800 m)
Area Target: 2,000 yd (1,830 m)
Point Target (single shot): 1,640 yd (1,500 m)
!1" )  
44 lb (20 kg)
#!   12 in (304 mm)
 144 lb (65 kg)
# 42 in (1,067 mm)
 /))"+  85°
 /))'  29°
 /))! +  360°

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The M2 .50 caliber machine gun is an automatic, belt-fed, recoil-operated, air-cooled, crew-
operated machine gun. This gun may be mounted on ground mounts and most vehicles as an
anti-personnel and anti-aircraft weapon. The gun is capable of single-shot (ground version M2),
as well as automatic fire and was used to a very limited degree as a sniper weapon during the
Vietnam war. The weapon provides automatic weapon suppressive fire for offensive and
defensive purposes. This weapon can be used effectively against personnel, light armored
vehicles; low, slow flying aircraft; and small boats. The M2 machine gun uses the M3 Tripod.
The principal night vision sight used with the M2 is the AN/TVS-5.

By repositioning some of the components, the M2 is capable of alternate feed. Ammunition can
be fed into the weapon from the right or left side of the receiver; however the U.S. Army uses
only left-hand feed.

The M3 tripod is the standard ground mount of the M2 machine gun. It is a folding tripod with
three, telescopic, tubular legs connected at the tripod head. Each leg ends in a metal shoe that can
be stamped into the ground for greater stability. The two trail legs are joined together by the
traversing bar. The traversing bar serves as a support for the traversing and elevating mechanism,
which in turn supports the rear of the gun. The tripod head furnishes a front support for the
mounted gun that is further supported by the short front leg.

When the tripod is emplaced on flat terrain with all extensions closed, the adjustable front leg
should form an angle of about 60° with the ground. This places the gun on a low mount about 12
inches (304 mm) above the ground. To raise the tripod farther off the ground, extend the
telescopic front and trail legs enough to keep the tripod level and maintain the stability of the

The traversing and elevating (T&E) mechanism is used to engage preselected target areas at
night or during limited visibility conditions. The T&E mechanism consists of a traversing
handwheel, locking nut, scale, and yoke. The T&E mechanism is attached to the traversing bar of
the M3 bipod.

Direction and elevation readings constitute the data necessary to engage preselected target areas
during limited visibility. These readings are measured by and recorded from the traversing bar
and the T&E mechanism. To obtain accurate readings, the T&E must be first zeroed with all
measurements recorded in mils.
The gun is connected to the M3 tripod mount by a pintle. This pintle is semipermanently
attached to the machine gun by a pintle bolt through the front mounting hole in the receiver. The
tapered stem of the pintle seats in the tripod head. It is held secure by a pintle lock and spring. To
release the pintle, raise the pintle lock, releasing the cam.

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The M63 anti-aircraft mount is a four-legged, low silhouette, portable mount used for anti-
aircraft fire. Its use against ground targets is limited because the mount tends to be unstable when
the gun is fired at low angles.

4"# &%($!302! 5$($!

This mount consists of a cradle with a roller carriage on a circular track. The cradle can be
rotated in the pintle sleeve of the carriage and can be adjusted for elevation. The carriage is
guided on the track by rollers. The track is secured to the vehicle by supports.

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Pedestal mounts are component assemblies designed for installation on the 1/4-ton vehicles to
support a machine gun mount. They are composed of a pintle socket, pintle clamping screw
column, and braces.

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This vehicle mount was primarily designed for the M2. However, because of its versatility, the
MK64 will accept the MK 19 also (using the M2 mounting adapter assembly). The MK64 can be
mounted on the following vehicles: M151 series, M966 HMMWV armament carrier, and the
M113 series.
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A dual purpose cradle mount that replaces the MK64 mount. Allows for quick and accurate
traverse and elevation, further range (elevation) for the MK 19, recoil attention of the M2
machine gun and capability for range card preparation.

M2HB, Flexible (NSN 1005-00-322-9715)
"Machine Gun, Cal .50, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, Flexible". Ground version of the
M2HB. See data above.

M2HB, M48 Turret Type (NSN 1005-00-957-3893)

"Machine Gun, Cal .50, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, M48 Turret Type". An air-cooled,
recoil operated, alternate-feed, automatic, crew-served weapon mounted on the Abrams
main battle tank commander's station.

M2HB, Soft Mount (NSN 1005-01-343-0747)

"Machine Gun, Cal .50, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, Soft Mount". A belt-fed, recoil
operated, air-cooled, crew-served machine gun mounted on the U.S. Navy's MK 26 Mod
15, 16, and 17 gun mounts.
M2HB, Fixed Type (Right hand: NSN 1005-00-122-9339, Left hand: NSN 1005-00-122-9368)
"Machine Gun, Cal .50, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, Fixed Type Right Hand Feed",
"Machine Gun, Cal .50, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, Fixed Type Left Hand Feed".
Belt-fed, recoil operated, air-cooled, crew-served machine guns mounted on the U.S.
Navy's MK 56 Mod 0 and 4 gun mounts. They are primarily fired by solenoid and
requires a 24-28 Volts DC power source.
M2HB (Enhanced) .50 Caliber Machine Gun (E50)
The E50 machine gun kit adds new features and design improvements to the M2HB:

`p Closed bolt system with a manual trigger block safety: Allows movement of the
weapon with a chambered round.
`p Fixed headspace and timing: Eliminates safety concerns based on exposure time
associated with barrel changing.
`p Common barrel thread: Interchanges with existing HB barrels; eliminates logistics
concerns during fielding; and simplifies conversion of existing barrels to the
Quick Change Barrel (QCB) configuration.
`p Positive barrel engagement: Patented J-slot barrel retention system assures that
the barrel is securely locked and aligned.
`p Flash hider: Reduces muzzle flash, making the M2 night-vision friendly.
`p Robust removable barrel handle: Simplifies hot-barrel changing.
`p Picatinny Optics rail: Quickly adaptable to existing sighting systems.
850x370, 99K, JPEG
M2 Aircraft Gun
A .50 caliber M2 machine gun that is modified for use as an aircraft gun that can be fired
remotely by the pilot or gunner of a helicopter or light fixed-wing aircraft. The M2
aircraft gun has a rate of fire of 750-850 rounds per minute. The M2 aircraft gun is
classified Standard A.

Experimental twin .50 gun mounts on CH-21 Shawnee.

M3 Aircraft Gun
The Browning M3 aircraft gun is a .50 caliber M2 machine gun modified for use as an
aircraft gun that can be fired remotely by the pilot or gunner of a helicopter or light fixed-
wing aircraft. The M3 machine gun has a rate of fire of 1150-1250 rounds per minute.
The M3 aircraft gun is classified Standard A.
M3 mounted in XM14 gun pod.
XM296 Machine Gun
The XM296 is a pod mounted, automatic, recoil-operated, link-belt fed, air-cooled
machine gun used on the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter. The weapon has a
maximum rate of fire from 750-800 rounds per minute. The XM296 machine gun
functions in the same manner as the M2 machine gun, except it is fired remotely using an
electrical solenoid and does not contain the bolt latch which allows for single-shot

The cycle of functioning is broken down into basic steps: feeding, chambering, locking, firing,
unlocking, extracting, ejecting, and cocking. Some of these steps may occur at the same time.

1.p . . Feeding is the act of placing a cartridge in the receiver, approximately in back
of the barrel, ready for chambering. When the bolt is fully forward and the top is closed,
the ammunition belt is held in the feedway by the belt-holding pawl.


As the bolt is moved to the rear, the belted ammunition is moved over and then
held in a stationary position by the belt-holding pawl. At the same time, the belt-
feed pawl rides up and over the link, holding the first round in place. When the
bolt is all the way to the rear, the belt-feed slide moves out far enough to allow the
belt-feed pawl spring to force the pawl up between the first and second rounds.


As the bolt moves forward, the belt-feed slide is moved back into the receiver,
pulling with it the next linked cartridge. When the bolt reaches the fully forward
position, the belt-holding pawl will snap into place behind the second linked
cartridge, holding it in place. The extractor will then grasp the rim of the first
cartridge, preparing to release it from the belt on the next rearward motion.

As the bolt then moves to the rear, the extractor will pull the cartridge with it,
releasing it from the belt. As it moves to the rear, the extractor is forced down by
the extractor cam, causing the cartridge to be moved into the T-slot in the bolt
face, preparing the cartridge to be chambered. It is connected under the extractor
switch on the side of the receiver until it is repositioned by the forward movement
of the bolt, and pressure of the cover extractor spring forces it over the next


3.p  ) . Chambering is placing the cartridge into the chamber of the weapon.
During this cycle, the bolt moves forward, carrying the cartridge in the T-slot in a direct
route to the chamber of the weapon. At the same time, the extractor rides up the extractor
cam and when the bolt is fully forward, the extractor grasps the next linked cartridge

4.p &:. The bolt is locked to the barrel and barrel extension.
1.p Initially, the bolt is forced forward in counter-recoil by the energy stored in the
driving spring assembly and the compressed buffer disks. At the start of counter-
recoil, the barrel buffer body tube lock keeps the accelerator tips from bounding
up too soon and catching in the breech lock recess in the bolt. After the bolt
travels forward about 5 inches, the lower rear projection of the bolt strikes the tips
of the accelerator, turning the accelerator forward. This unlocks the barrel
extension from the barrel buffer body group and releases the barrel buffer spring.
The barrel buffer spring expands, forcing the piston rod forward.

2.p Since the cross groove in the piston rod engages the notch on the barrel extension
shank, the barrel extension and barrel are also forced forward by the action of the
barrel buffer spring. Some of the forward motion of the bolt is transmitted to the
barrel extension through the accelerator. As the accelerator rotates forward, the
front of the accelerator speeds up the barrel extension; at the same time, the
accelerator tips slow down the bolt.

3.p Locking begins 1 1/8 inches before the recoiling groups (bolt, barrel extension,
and barrel) are fully forward. The breech lock in the barrel extension rides up the
breech lock cam in the bottom of the receiver into the breech lock recess in the
bottom of the bolt, locking the recoiling groups together. The recoiling groups are
completely locked together three-fourths of an inch before the groups are fully

5.p . . The firing pin is released, igniting the primer of the cartridge.
1.p As the trigger impressed down, it pivots on the trigger pin, so that the trigger cam
on the inside of the backplate engages and raises the rear end of the trigger lever.
This in turn pivots on the trigger lever pin assembly, causing the front end of the
trigger lever to press down on the top of the sear stud. The sear is forced down
until the hooked notch of the firing pin extension is disengaged from the sear
notch. The firing pin and firing pin extension are driven forward by the firing pin
spring; the striker of the firing pin hits the primer of the cartridge, firing the

2.p For automatic firing, the bolt-latch release must be locked or held depressed, so
that the bolt latch will not engage the notches in top of the bolt, holding the bolt to
the rear as in single-shot firing. The trigger is pressed and held down. Each time
the bolt travels forward in counter-recoil, the trigger lever depresses the sear,
releasing the firing pin extension assembly and the firing pin. This automatically
fires the next round when the forward movement of the recoiling groups is nearly
completed. The gun should fire about one-sixteenth of an inch before the recoiling
groups are fully forward. Only the first round should be fired with the parts fully
forward. The gun fires automatically as long as the trigger and bolt latch are held
down and ammunition is fed into the gun.
6.p :. The bolt is unlocked from the barrel and barrel extension.
1.p At the instant of firing, the bolt is locked to the barrel extension and against the
rear end of the barrel by the breech lock, which is on top of the breech lock cam
and in the breech lock recess in the bottom of the bolt. When the cartridge
explodes, the bullet travels out of the barrel; the force of recoil drives the
recoiling groups rearward. During the first three-fourths of an inch, the recoiling
groups are locked together. As this movement takes place, the breech lock is
moved off the breech lock cam stop, allowing the breech lock depressors (acting
on the breech lock pin) to force the breech lock down, out of its recess from the
bottom of the bolt. At the end of the first three-fourths of an inch of recoil, the
bolt is unlocked, free to move to the rear independent of the barrel and barrel

2.p As the recoiling groups move to the rear, the barrel extension causes the tips of
the accelerator to rotate rearward. The accelerator tips strike the lower rear
projection of the bolt, accelerating the movement of the bolt to the rear. The barrel
and barrel extension continue to travel to the rear an additional three-eighths of an
inch, or an approximate total distance of 1 1/8 inches until they are stopped by the
barrel buffer assembly.

3.p During the recoil of 1 1/8 inches, the barrel buffer spring is compressed by the
barrel extension shank, since the notch on the shank is engaged in the cross
groove in the piston rod head. The spring is locked in the compressed position by
the claws of the accelerator, which engage the shoulders of the barrel extension
shank. After its initial travel of three-fourths of an inch, the bolt travels an
additional 6 3/8 inches to the rear, after it is unlocked from the barrel and barrel
extension, for a total of 7 1/8 inches. During this movement, the driving springs
are compressed. The rearward movement of the bolt is stopped as the bolt strikes
the buffer plate. Part of the recoil energy of the bolt is stored by the driving spring
rod assembly, and part is absorbed by the buffer disks in the backplate.

7.p "/ . The empty cartridge case is pulled from the chamber.
1.p The empty case, held by the T-slot, has been expanded by the force of the
explosion; therefore, it fits snugly in the chamber. If the case is withdrawn from
the chamber too rapidly, it may be torn. To prevent this, and to ensure slow initial
extraction of the case, the top forward edge of the breech lock and the forward
edge of the lock recess in the bolt are beveled. As the breech lock is unlocked, the
initial movement of the bolt away from the barrel and barrel extension is gradual.

2.p The slope of the locking faces facilitates locking and unlocking and prevents
sticking. The leverage of the accelerator tips on the bolt speeds extraction after it
is started by kicking the bolt to the rear to extract the empty case from the
8.p ";. The empty cartridge case is expelled from the receiver.
1.p As the bolt starts its forward movement (counter-recoil), the extractor lug rides
below the extractor switch, forcing the extractor assembly farther down until the
round is in the center of the T-slot of the bolt.

2.p The round, still gripped by the extractor, ejects the empty case from the T-slot.
The last empty case of an ammunition belt is pushed out by the ejector.

9.p :. The firing pin is withdrawn into the cocked position.
1.p When the recoiling groups are fully forward, the top of the cocking lever rests on
the rear half of the V-slot in the top plate bracket. As the bolt moves to the rear,
the top of the cocking lever is forced forward. The lower end pivots to the rear on
the cocking lever pin. The rounded nose of the cocking lever, which fits through
the slot in the firing pin extension, forces the extension to the rear, compressing
the firing pin spring against the sear stop pin (accelerator stop). As the firing pin
extension is pressed to the rear, the hooked notch of the extension rides over the
sear notch, forcing the sear down. The sear spring forces the sear back up after the
hooked notch of the firing pin extension has entered the sear notch.

2.p The pressure of the sear and firing pin springs holds the two notches locked
together. There is a slight overtravel of the firing pin extension in its movement to
the rear to ensure proper engagement with the sear. As the bolt starts forward, the
overtravel is taken up and completed when the cocking lever enters the V-slot of
the top plate bracket, and is caromed toward the rear; pressure on the cocking
lever is relieved as the bolt starts forward.

Ammunition is issued in a disintegrating metallic split-linked belt (M2 or M9 links). The
preferred combat ammunition mix for the M2 machine gun is four API (M8) to one API-T (M20)
with M9 link. Click here for more information.

M2 ammunition is packaged in a metal box containing 100 linked rounds. Each box of 100
rounds weighs approximately 35 pounds (16 kg).
`p M1 High Pressure Test.
`p M1, M10, M17, M21 Tracer.
`p M1, M23 Incendiary.
`p M1A1 Blank.
`p M2 Dummy.
`p M2, M33 Ball.
`p M2 Armor-Piercing (AP).
`p M8 Armor-Piercing Incendiary (API).
`p M20 Armor-Piercing Incendiary Tracer (API-T).
`p M903 Saboted Light Armor Penetrator (SLAP). Lined barrel only.
`p M962 Saboted Light Armor Penetrator Tracer (SLAP-T). Lined barrel only.

The     are prone, sitting, and standing. They are assumed in the following

1.p The   is used when firing from the tripod that is set in a low position. It is
assumed by lying on the ground directly behind the gun. The gunner then spreads his legs
a comfortable distance apart with his toes turned outward. His left elbow rests on the
ground, and his left hand grasps the elevating handwheel of the T&E. His right hand
lightly grasps the right spade grip with his right thumb in a position to press the trigger.
The position of his body can then be adjusted to position his firing eye in alignment with
the sights of the weapon.
2.p The  can be used when the tripod is set in a high or low position. The
gunner sits directly behind the gun between the legs of the tripod. He may extend his legs
under the tripod or cross them, depending on his physique. The gunner then places both
elbows on the inside of his thighs to get the best support. He grasps the elevating
handwheel of the T&E with the left hand, and lightly grasps the right spade grip with his
right hand. He must ensure that the right thumb is in position to press the trigger

3.p The    is used when the gunner is firing from a fighting position. This
position is assumed by standing directly behind the gun with the feet spread a
comfortable distance apart. The gunner grasps the elevating handwheel of the T&E with
the left hand. He lightly grasps the right spade grip with the right hand, ensuring that the
right thumb is in a position to press the trigger. Adjustment of the body is allowed in
order to align the firing eye with the sights on the weapon
The +   for the M2 is standing. It is assumed by constructing a solid
platform to stand on, using sandbags or ammunition boxes; or, in the case of the M113 APC,
using the commander's seat. The gunner must then ensure that his platform is high enough to
place the spade grips of the gun about chest high. He grasps the spade grips with both hands and
places both thumbs in a position to press the trigger. The gunner holds the gun tightly to his chest
for stabilization; his elbows should be locked tightly to his sides. He sights over the weapon and
adjusts his position by flexing his knees and leaning forward to absorb any recoil.

The 3     uses a standing position when firing from the M63 mount. To
assume the position, the gunner stands with his feet spread comfortably apart with his shoulders
squarely behind the gun. When the gunner is engaging aerial targets, he grasps the upper
extension handles with both hands. When engaging low-level aircraft or ground targets, he
grasps the lower extension handles with both hands.

The kneeling position may be used; it has the advantage of presenting a lower profile of the
gunner and also aligns the gunner's eye closer to the axis of the barrel.

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In the urban environment, the M2 machine gun provides high-volume, long-range, automatic
fires for the suppression or destruction of targets. The M2 provides final protective fire along
fixed lines and can be used to penetrate light structures. Tracers are likely to start fires.

The M2 machine gun is often employed on its vehicular mount during both offensive and
defensive operations. If necessary, it can be mounted on the M3 tripod for use in the ground role
or in the upper levels of buildings. When mounted on a tripod, the M2 machine gun can be used
as an accurate, long-range weapon and can supplement sniper fires.

When shooting at ground targets from a stationary position, the gun is fired in bursts of 9 to 15
rounds. When firing at aircraft, a continuous burst is used rather than several short bursts. When
firing on the move, long bursts of fire are walked into the target. Enemy ATGM gunners, lightly-
armored vehicles, and troops can be suppressed with a heavy volume of fire until a force can
destroy or bypass the opposition.

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U.S. Army Photo

1130x330, 66K, JPEG

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U.S. Air Force Photo
2100x854, 312K, JPEG
Vehicle mounted M2HB
Amphibious Ready Group Exercise 2004 (ARGEX 04)
U.S. DoD Photo by CPL Gregory A. Russell
1500x1000, 360K, JPEG

12th Marine Regiment, Combined Marine Forces, Cobra Gold

Live fire practice, Thailand
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Karim D. Delgado
1024x683, 157K, JPEG

Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Firing range, Camp Pendleton
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke
1024x683, 240K, JPEG

MP stands guard near village of Haji Raza Kalacha, Afghanistan

Operation Enduring Freedom
U.S. Army Photo by PFC Hugo A Baray-Vasquez
1024x746, 149K, JPEG
M2HB loaded with M8 API and M20 API-T
Exercise Tandem Thrust
U.S. DoD Photo by SSGT Jeremy Lock
1024x1540, 586K, JPEG

Last updated: 29-DEC-2006

Copyright ©2006 Gary W. Cooke
To the best of my knowledge all military data and images presented in these pages are
UNCLASSIFIED, NON-SENSITIVE, and approved for public release.

FM 3-06.11 Combined Arms Operations in Urban Terrain.
FM 7-7 The Mechanized Infantry Platoon and Squad (APC).
FM 17-12-8 Light Cavalry Gunnery.
FM 21-75 Combat Skills of the Soldier.
FM 23-65 Browning Machine Gun Caliber .50 HB, M2.
MCWP 3-15.1 Machine Guns and Machine Gun Gunnery.
TRADOC PAM 600-4 Initial Entry Training (IET) Soldier's Handbook.
U.S. Air Force "Airman: The Book" web edition, Winter 2006.
U.S. Army website.
U.S. Army Cannon Caliber Ammunition Branch website.
U.S. Army PEO Soldier website.
U.S. Army Picatinny Arsenal website.
U.S. Army TACOM-RI Small Arms Group website.
U.S. Marine Corps website.