Infantry weapons / Heavy machine guns / M2HB

M2HB

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Heavy machine gun

  • ORIGIN
    United States

  • NICKNAMES
    Ma Deuce (popular nickname)
    Browning heavy machine gun
    Fifty-cal (popular nickname)
    GAU-21/A (USAF designation for M3M)
    L2A1 (UK designation)
    MG50 (German designation)
    T90 (Taiwanese designation)
    Tung kulspruta / Tksp (Swedish designation)

  • DESIGNED
    1920's

  • DESIGNER
    John Browning

  • PRODUCTION
    1933 - present (M2HB)

  • PRODUCERS
    Belgium - Fabrique Nationale
    United Kingdom - Manroy
    United States - Saco

  • QUANTITY
    About 3 million

  • UNIT COST
    About $14.000

  • CHARACTERISTICS
    Rugged and reliable
    Very powerful
    Accurate
    Very heavy
    Expensive
    Headspacing issues

Introduction

The M2HB is heavy machine gun of US origin. It was developed after World War 1 and is the most widely used heavy machine gun in the world.

Design

The M2HB is a development of the earlier .30-06 Browning M1919 machine gun. Early versions of the M2 were water cooled but the heavy barrel M2HB became the standard version. Over the last decade the M2HB has been fitted with various day and night optics to increase its effectiveness.

Firepower

The M2HB fires the 12.7x99mm round at a cyclic rate of fire of about 550 rounds per minute. Depending on the mount the maximum effective range is 1.8 km. A variety of ammunition types can be fired. The barrel can be changed in case it becomes too hot.

Users

The M2HB was widely used by US forces during World War 2. During the Cold War the M2HB became the NATO standard heavy machine gun and was widely exported to South America, Africa and Asia. It remains in production and is in active use.

Variants

M2HB

The M2HB was derived from the original M2 model that was water cooled. The M2HB features a heavy barrel instead of water cooling. It is belt fed and is operated by spade grips and a butterfly trigger. The M2HB has a changeable barrel but some care and asbestos gloves are needed to replace it. Recent models have been fitted with rails for mounting optics.

  • Specifications:
  • M2HB
TypeHeavy machine gun
Caliber12.7x99mm NATO
MagazineBelt fed
OperationShort recoil, closed bolt
Fire selector0-1-F
Rate of fire450 - 575 rpm
Barrel length1.143 mm
Rifling8 grooves, 381 mm twist
Muzzle velocity887 m/s
Stock-
Length1.650 mm
Width?
Height?
Weight38.0 kg without tripod
SightsIron sights
Remarks-

M2HB-QCB

The M2HB-QCB is similar to the M2HB but is fitted with a quick change barrel. It can be identified by the carrying handle on the quick change barrel. To change the barrel no asbestos glove is needed and there are no headspacing problems during reinstallation of the barrel.

  • Specifications:
  • M2HB
TypeHeavy machine gun
Caliber12.7x99mm NATO
MagazineBelt fed
OperationShort recoil, closed bolt
Fire selector0-1-F
Rate of fire450 - 575 rpm
Barrel length1.143 mm
Rifling8 grooves, 381 mm twist
Muzzle velocity887 m/s
Stock-
Length1.650 mm
Width?
Height?
Weight38.0 kg without tripod
SightsIron sights
Remarks-

M3

The M3 is a variant of the M2HB that fires at a higher rate of fire and is fitted with a heavier barrel. The M3M is a manually operated variant that is used on ships and helicopters. The M3P is a solenoid fired model that is often used in gun pods and other remote controlled environments.

TypeHeavy machine gun
Caliber12.7x99mm NATO
MagazineBelt fed
OperationShort recoil
Fire selector0-F
Rate of fire950 - 1100 rpm
Barrel length915 mm
Rifling8 grooves, 381 mm twist
Muzzle velocity?
Stock-
Length1.689 mm
Width?
Height178 mm
Weight48.2 kg mounted
SightsIron sights
Remarks-
TypeHeavy machine gun
Caliber12.7x99mm NATO
MagazineBelt fed
OperationShort recoil
Fire selector0-F
Rate of fire950 - 1100 rpm
Barrel length915 mm
Rifling8 grooves, 381 mm twist
Muzzle velocity?
Stock-
Length1.689 mm
Width?
Height178 mm
Weight36.3 kg
SightsIron sights
Remarks-

AN/M2

The AN/M2 is a variant of the M2HB that was used on aircraft, mainly during World War 2. It is exists in a fixed and flexible model. The AN/M3 is a similar aircraft model with a much higher rate of fire.

TypeHeavy machine gun
Caliber12.7x99mm NATO
MagazineBelt fed
OperationShort recoil
Fire selector0-F
Rate of fire750 - 850 rpm
Barrel length0.940
Rifling8 grooves, 381 mm twist
Muzzle velocity?
Stock-
Length?
Width?
Height?
Weight27.7 kg
SightsIron sights
Remarks-
TypeHeavy machine gun
Caliber12.7x99mm NATO
MagazineBelt fed
OperationShort recoil
Fire selector0-F
Rate of fire1.150 - 1.250 rpm
Barrel length0.940
Rifling8 grooves, 381 mm twist
Muzzle velocity?
Stock-
Length?
Width?
Height?
Weight27.7 kg
SightsIron sights
Remarks-

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