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"If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it, or else you're going to be locked up." Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Ma Deuce

Greetings Me Droogs and Droogettes
Crews Served Thursday!  An oldy but updated goodie!
The Browning M2A1 Heavy Machine Gun.
Now... pay attention because this ain't yer Pappy's Ma Deuce
Believe it or not, they managed, miracle of miracles, to improve it
WITHOUT fucking it up
First thing, please notice the barrel.
It, outside of the nomenclature located on the side plate and feed tray, the easiest way to identify the M2A1 from the M2HB.  That is, the 'flash guard' (heh) and the handle on the barrel.  The new A1 has a really burly metal and plastic handle that doesn't move much at all.  The old HB (below)
has the old style (since WW1) wire-and-tube free-swinging barrel handle.

The new and improved M2A1 does NOT need to be headspaced and timed.
<queue veterans having heart attacks>
Yep.  No more gauging the headspace and timing.  To whit:  the M2 series requires the barrel to be screwed in separately.  They're stored that way because together, the system when put together rings in at 84 pounds on it's own.  As see above on tripod w/pintel?  Try 140 pounds.

Crew Served.

Heavy motherfucker.  Now you know why I'm called Big Country.  OK, now, down to brass tacks so to speak.  The M2 Series, both A1 and HB Flexible Heavy (.50 cal, or 12.7X99 if'n yer a Eurofag) Machine Gun has been, well, the most prolific and one of the oldest continually used Machine Guns in History.  John Moses Browning outdid hisself with this 'un.  It's an air-cooled recoil operated beast. The M2 has an effective range of 1,830 metres (2,000 yd) and a maximum effective range of 2,000 metres (2,200 yd) when fired from the M3 tripod. In its ground-portable, crew-served role as the M2HB, the gun itself weighs 84 pounds (38 kg) and the assembled M3 tripod another 44 pounds (20 kg). In this configuration, the V-shaped "butterfly" trigger is located at the very rear of the weapon with a "spade handle" hand-grip on either side of it and the bolt release in the center. The spade handles are gripped and the butterfly trigger is depressed with one or both thumbs.

Now, the A1, this's the one we'll be going over as it's the newest issue toy that everyone got over the past 12 years.  They started fielding it (by me) in 2006/07 in the Reserves, and the reserves usually get it after Big Active Army, so this's what they're more than likely gonna be riding around with.

OK:  This thing is officially the 
This thing has very specific assigned barrels. Per the user manual:

"The M2A1 kit contains unique parts that are used to convert an M2HB to the M2A1 configuration. M2A1 unique parts should NEVER be installed on M2HB weapons at the operator level. The
Barrel Extension Assembly and Bolt have been serialized to remain together as an assembly with serial number of receiver. If a new Barrel Extension or Bolt is required, servicing the headspace and
timing will be necessary. Headspace and timing adjustment is performed at field maintenance."

How different?  Anyone who's fucked around with Ma Deuce knows the barrel has a giant set of threads that go and get screwed in into the barrel extension assembly in the weapon.  Literally screws in.  Then it needs to be headspaced.  Might do a write up on that 'un later, but this 'un?  Nope.  Plug n'Play.
The A1 has the following completely different, unique and NON-interchangeable parts.
The key thing is that the barrel gets pushed into the barrel extension assembly, and then the barrel gets "locked" with the barrel handle by rotating it to the left (if yer behind it) or to the right if your in front of it.  Either way, it's intuitive as the barrel support will only let the barrel 'mount' one way.
Now, as stated above, it's a two man job to install this unless you have LONG arms like me.  I've done it but it's a pain in the ass.  You have to pull the charging handle back about 1/2 an inch, insert the barrel, and lock it into place.
The Threads look like this:
Its an older pic from when they were first developing it.  But it works.

So: Loading and firing this fucker.
Its a bit different from the Old HB
First: with the feed tray closed, 
1. Ensure the bolt is forward and the correct front and rear cartridges are installed.

2. Make sure the weapon is on S (Safe) with the cover closed.

3. Select single shot or automatic fire.

4. To select single shot, ensure the bolt latch release lock is in the unlocked position, turned to the right. The bolt latch release must be in the up position (not locked down).

5. To select automatic fire, depress the bolt and lock by turning the bolt latch release lock to the left. Ensure the bolt latch release is held down completely with no movement.

6. This where it's wildly different... Insert the double loop end of the ammo belt in the feedway until the first cartridge is held by the belt holding pawls.
7. If firing automatic with the cover closed, pull the retracting slide handle all the way back until the bolt is completely to the rear. Release the handle. This half loads the machine gun.

8. Repeat Step 7. This completes loading in automatic.

9. If the M2A1 is set for single shot, the bolt will remain in the rear position, so move the slide handle forward before releasing the bolt with the bolt latch release.

10. With cover closed, pull the retracting slide handle back until the bolt is all the way to the rear. Push the retracting slide handle to the fully forward position. Depress the bolt latch release. This half loads the machine gun.

11. Repeat Step 10. This completes loading in the single shot setting.

12. Place the weapon on F (Fire).

13. Press the trigger to fire.
Git some.
So, the dot-mil for the most part utilize this on the top of their HMMWVs and MRAPS.  Most of them are mounted in the CROWS system
Robot Remote gunnery
So, Since they're on da roof, the Tripod and Pintel mount -should- be on the vehicle.
Probably stashed somewhere inside with the BII (basic initial issue equipment)

Keep it in mind if'n ya got the time to loot after the shoot before you scoot

The tripod looks like this and is thus:
The pintle locks in to the tripod and is bolted to the receiver of the Ma Deuce.
The front leg is friction-locked into position.

So, any questions?
Reference TM 9-1005-347-10 if'n ya can find it.
I got to go, been a long un, hope y'all enjoy.
Head on a Swivel
Shoot Loot n Scoot
Shoot Shovel Shut Up
Be the Gray Man
Meatspace Baby
I Remain The Intrepid Reporter
Big Country


  1. Mentioned before that I'm an old MOS 45B, so intimately familiar with the old M2HB. Just curious, did they make any barrels like this for the M2?--

  2. I hauled the barrel of that heavy fucker up a mountain for fun one time. And then we didn't get to shoot at anyone.

  3. As unit armorer with an M-60 tank unit, I got a lot more time on the M85 than I did on the M2 since there was only 1 on the M88 tank retriever. Always had to have my headspace and timing keys with me. An old trick a Korean War Marine taught me was crank the barrel in and back it off 2 turns (in combat situations) you'll be close enough for gov't work.

  4. At 140lb 5'9" I was given the M2. By the end of the year 170lbs, it wasn't heavy anymore, and a simple one man job taking a few minutes. I didn't try to take short cuts like everyone else. Other soldiers wouldn't break down the M2. A pair would remove the weapon from the mount and store it assembled. Just to avoid having to check H&T. Not that much of an issue short term (couple days). Problematic long term (couple months). I do wonder how this A1 heresy works out.

  5. I was wondering when the 240 quick-change barrel system would be adopted on other weapons...

  6. Good times. I've spent a lot of time behind one of these things in various truck turrets. When I first met the new one, I was more than a little shocked to to see both the SAFETY! and that I didn't need my headspace and timing gage. Which, to this day, is still setting on my shelf with its dummy cord. In Afghanistan we somehow got our hands on a pallet of ammo meant for the helicopter mounted .50 cal. That stuff was hot. It was like using a laser cannon compared to the API/APIT. We burned out our sears pretty quick though. Probably pissed off every maintaince crew from the Pech river valley to Kabul with that one.

  7. So what happens when you need to change a barrel? Do you need to change out the whole matching set? Send it back to the depo? Targets are waiting...