17 Photos That Show Why Troops Absolutely Love The .50 Caliber Machine Gun - We Are The Mighty
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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:

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

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

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

But it was just as deadly in Normandy in 1944 …

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

… As it is overlooking remote bases in Afghanistan today.

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

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

17 Photos That Show Why Troops Absolutely Love The .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) …

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

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

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

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

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

… to the rails of U.S. Navy ships.

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

Of course, two is better than one.

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

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).

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

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.

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

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

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

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).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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