M2 is nothing more then an upscale Maxim gun, it being the first automatic machine gun in History.
Maxim gun was first made in 1884 by a British guy named Hiram Maxim.
Maxim fire standard 7.62 rifle ammo at 500 to 600 round per menute.
M2 Browning is just an inlarged version of the Maxim and fires a larger 12.7 round and 550 round per minute, and was first made in 1921.
The desing of M2 has not changed since, thus making it the oldest standard issue weapon in the world, totaling 87 years in service.
Technologically M2 is an OBSOLETE RELIC even back in the WWII, with its only positive of being chambered for a heavy 12.7 round.
M2s action is a vertically sliding locking block operated by short short-recoil. Even by 1930s recoil operated guns were considered
“last-century”, and gas operated guns of all kinds were the standard, starting from rifles all the way to heavy auto-cannons.
Other major draw back of the M2 is its immense weight, making it hard to “swing” on target, especially manually.
As far as I know M2 is the only vhicle mounted manully operated HMG, putting aside those pickup mouted gurilla fighter setups.. Since the 50s, most
12.7 HMG were assisted or remotely operated.
Its this simple.
WWII M2 weighs 84 pounds.
WWII Soviet DShKM 12.7 weighs 75 pounds.
M2 is recoil operated 19th century, while DShKM was a gas operates 20th century design using a flat belt feed system and firing at 600 rounds per
Only much later was the M2 upgraded to a M2HB model with a disintegrating steel belt.
DShKM served until the late 60s, and a need for a much lighter HGM was realized into the excellent NSV-12,7, the replacement for DShKM, making it a
second Soviet generation HMG.
NSV-12.7 weights only 55 pounds, while firing at much higher 800 rounds per minute, compared to only 550 of the M2 Browning.
As with any weapon, its quality is measured by its reliability, fire rate, fire accuracy, fire sustainability, system mobility, serviceability, cost
and easy of manufacturing.
M2 has been HOPELESSLY outclassed since the end of WWII, and it’s the only gun still in service which operating principle is based on technology
over a CENTURY old.
Even Singapore retired their M2HBs for their own designed CIS .50 MG, a 66 pound tripod mounted, gas operated, dual feed selectable HMG firing between
400 to 600 rof.
With a tripod M2 weighs in at massive 127 pounds, while tripod mounted NSV pulls in at 90 pounds LOADED with 50 round ammo box.
It’s painfully clear that Singapore CIS completely outclasses M2 in every way possible, and also gives the Soviet NSV a run for its money.
In any case, when comparing WWII recoil operated HMGs such as M2, the real heavy hitter in this category would be the awesome Soviet 14.5 KVPT.
Weighing in at 108 pounds if fire a MASSIVE 14.5X115 rounds at 600 rounds per minute, it was regularly used to destroy light German tank and half
tracks from up to a 1000 yards, since the 14.5 round has TWICE the power of the .50 cal.
14.5 mil round punches through a 1 ¼ inch steel slab from 1700 feet, and a ¾ inch slab from 3300 feet.
WWII era 14.5 AP rounds are even deadlier, and only M2A0 up-armored version of Bradley fighting vehicle is said to be protected against it, bit from
undisclosed distance and penetrator model.
A 1000-yard burst at a moving target from KPVT is a stretch in any case, but I seriously have to doubt that from under 500 meters even the M2A0 will
take a 14.5 AP round.
What’s eve worse, is that while our boys had to scramble to up armor their soft HUMVEES and swing around a heavy and hopelessly obsolete M2,
here’s what the Soviet idea of the armored 4X4 was since 1962;
Not only it was designed grown up as armored, mine resistant 4X4 with a 14.5 KVPT turret, but also the damn thing is amphibious!
Further more, KVPT turret can be replaced with banks of various ATGM and SAM missiles!
Putting all this together, currently our boys are driving around in military transport class vehicles which constantly break down since they were not
designed to take the extra weight of the added armor, and have fight with a manually operated and unsighted HMG which has been technologically
obsolete since the end of WWI, all while Soviets had the pleasure of enjoying a fully armored, amphibious 4X4 with the firepower of a HEAVY 14.5
turret mounted and sighted HMG, with the option of missiles to take out tanks and aircraft.
That means that a small BRDM convoy can lay down heavy and accurate HGM fire against soft and light armored targets (including engaging infantry
behind heavy in urban structures), while AT-5 armed BRDMs can engage enemy armor at long range and also engage infantry taking cover in hardened
If that’s not bad enough, SA-9 Gaskin BRDM version provides low altitude SAM cover.
Here are BRDM specs;
Getting back to HMG topic, the real HMG contenders of the current century, are the American XM312 and the Russian (not Soviet) Kord 6P50.
XM312 sounds really good on paper, even though it’s a stopgap measure until the XM307 is realized.
Interchangeable barrels will allow conversions from 25mil grenade launcher to a .50 cal HMG mode.
25mil grenades are BUNK. They’re just to small to be effective, and the minimum effective grenade caliber is 30 mil, it’s as simple as that.
The major advantage of the XM312 is the use of modern materials that give it an outstanding weight of only 41 pounds WITH a tripod, thus making it
extremely portable with a two-man team.
It is gas operated, and based on the recoil reducing action designed for the XM307.
In order to manage massive recoil of both the 25mil grenade and .50, especially giving the reduced weight, the entire mechanism including the barrel
recoil inside the gun housing.
While this concept does significantly reduces recoil, and has been played with through out the 20th century, until now it was rejected because it
significantly reduced the rate of fire.
XM312 only fires at 260 rounds per minute, thus not allowing it to engage fast moving targets both on the ground and in the air, and that by default
makes such a concept useless.
As of now, the most effective 12.7 (.50 cal) HMG is Russian Kord 12.7 6P50.
The emphasis of the Kords design was aimed at recoil reduction with out the sacrifice of rate of fire, while making the system one man portable.
Fire accuracy and recoil reduction was stated to be twice that of NSV.
In a bi-pod configuration, the Kord is used by a single troop in urban environment to provide the level of firepower that previously could only be
provided by mounted systems.
The idea is to allow Kord armed troop to put short fast bursts of HMG fire on targets taking cover in buildings while the rest of the infantry
advances. Then grenadiers and machine gunners can provide enough cover fire to inter enter and clear the building.
50 round box is just enough for a 3-4 good bursts.
While XM312 sure is more portable then the Kord, its low 260 rpm fire rate just doesn’t cut it.
As far as firepower goes, Kord fires +/- 12 rounds per second, while XM312 fires only 4.
A one second, 12 round burst from Kord fired at a building wall will turn it into rubble, and if it that doesn’t kill everybody inside the room,
grenadiers will finish the job.
While XM312s 4 rounds will damage the wall, it’s simply not enough to bring overwhelming damage.
Two snipers with self-loading .50 rifles can do better, from a much longer distance and with higher precision.
Since these days it’s all about shoot-and-scoot, in this vital category Kord also comes up on top.
For the Kord shooter it will take about 12 seconds to accurately put out 4 well aimed 1-second bursts (at 2 second interval), for the total of 50
rounds on target.
For the XM312 it takes 3 seconds to put out a 13 round burst, and with 2-second interval, it will take 20 seconds to put 4 bursts for the same total
of 50 rounds.
In short, XM312 gunner will always be forced to use up TWICE the time to put down the same amount of fire as Kord.
To sum up;
“.50 cal inefficient for Iraq, Afghanistan conflict?”
M2 has been obsolete since the end of WWI, but hey, a black powder muzzle-loading musket will kill just as well if you put the lead ball where it