17 Photos That Show Why Troops Absolutely Love The .50 Caliber Machine Gun

The M2 .50 caliber machine gun has been in production longer than any other, and it’s easy to see why troops love it.

Since the 1930s, “Ma Deuce” has been serving troops on the ground, in vehicles, and in aircraft, and with its effectiveness and reliability, it doesn’t look like this weapon is going out of style any time soon. Originally developed during World War I by John Browning, the weapon is now in the hands of U.S. troops and a number of NATO allies.

Here’s why:

188th BSB Mounts Up for .50-Cal Range

The M2 .50 cal has served troops well in Iraq and Afghanistan as a fearsome automatic weapon usually mounted to vehicles.

1280px-Browning_M2HB_Normandy

But it was just as deadly in Normandy in 1944 …

1280px-Firebase_Phoenix_overlooking_the_Korengal_Valley

… As it is overlooking remote bases in Afghanistan today.

.50 cal lights up the night

With a belt-fed .50 BMG round, it packs serious punch that can effectively hit targets out to 1,800 meters.

.50-caliber machine gun

The weapon can fire a variety of ammunition types, such as standard ball, blanks, armor-piercing (AP), armor-piercing incendiary (API), armor-piercing incendiary tracer (APIT) …

.50 cal SLAP round

… And the crowd favorite: Saboted Light Armor Penetrator (SLAP), which can bust through steel.

Airmen provide show of force

Troops can find the .50 cal everywhere from the perimeter of the forward operating base …

Crommelin .50-cal qualification

… to the rails of U.S. Navy ships.

640px-Twin_M2HB_machine_gun

Of course, two is better than one.

.50-cal Training

Before they can fire it, soldiers usually learn how to disassemble, assemble, and adjust headspace and timing — tweaks made to the gun that allow it to fire safely. (The U.S. Army upgraded a number of their .50 cals to the M2A1, which doesn’t require headspace & timing adjustments).

6th Engineer Battalion M2 .50 Caliber Machinegun Qualification

Once it’s ready to go, soldiers place the rounds on the feed tray, make sure the cover is closed, and pull the bolt to the rear to load the weapon.

.50 cal at night

Then it’s ready to rock and roll. The .50 can fire in single shot or fully automatic mode.

Mounted up

At the rear, soldiers grab the “spade” handle and fire it using a butterfly trigger. They need to be careful however: There’s no safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge (Some variants have been fielded which feature a positive safety selector).

Mounted combat patrol

While it’s most often mounted to vehicles in a rotating turret …

ISAF soldier fires .50 Cal

… Ma Deuce can also be found on the side of helicopters.

11th MEU's AAV platoon shoots .50 cal

And with the use of a tripod, it can also be fired very effectively from the ground.

646522

Correction: This post was updated with new information to reflect the fielding of the M2A1 variant and other versions, which feature safety selectors, and don’t require the need for adjustments to headspace and timing.

TOP ARTICLES
These are the military traditions for deployed troops celebrating Thanksgiving

While you're deployed, weekends aren't really a thing — neither are most holidays. Thanksgiving, however, is a moment when the military slows down.

Forget multitasking, this Navy squadron has only one mission — rescue people

The Navy has an entire squadron for search and rescue, and it is the only squadron in the Navy that has an advance life-support helicopter platform.

How the Coast Guard intercepts half a million pounds of cocaine

For the last couple decades, the Coast Guard has pushed out further, taking more aggressive stabs at the flow of drugs that make their way into the U.S.

More remains of Special Forces soldier found in Niger

The Department of Defense announced that military investigators found additional remains that they have positively ID'd as Sgt. La David T. Johnson.

'Butcher of of Bosnia' sentenced to life in prison for genocide

"The Butcher of Bosnia" was handed a life sentence on November 22nd, 2017, for war crimes and the slaughter of 8,000 men and young children.

New engravings on the USMC War Memorial honor Iraq and Afghanistan Marines

On Nov. 22, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial was updated to include Afghanistan and Iraq in the list of campaigns that runs along the memorial's base.

ISIS may focus on a virtual caliphate after losing real-world war

As the Islamic State loses the in real life war they've waged against the world, they've moved their game online- waging war in the virtual world.

Everything you need to know about Zimbabwe's ousted dictator

The dictator of Zimbabwe announced his resignation on Nov. 21, 2017 after the county's army took of the capital and family, forcing the resignation.

Watch this Marine get pinned by his 3-year-old son

Watch this adorable little boy steal into the hearts of all the Marines and civilians present as he promotes his dad and pins on his promoted rank.

Watch a North Korean defector dodging bullets to cross the DMZ

A North Korean attempting to defect to the South, who was found to be full of parasites, was shot by his fellow soldiers. We Are the Mighty has the video.