The 42 fires an intermediate level cartridge and was designed to be a man portable general purpose machine gun. The M2 was not. It fires a
large calibre round and was designed to be crew served. The MG42 is more accurately compared to the FN MAG or some such, which is designed for the
same role as the MG42, and is not the topic of the thread.
This is correct.
It [the MG42] cannot be used in the light [bipod] role
because of its high rate of fire.
This is nonsense.
The MG42 in its re-incarnation MG-3
firing the 7,62 NATO cartridge is still a very popular and
despite it's age and obsolete mechanism highly effective and relatively portable weapon, that is in widespread service around the world. I have used
it during my service in the German army and I hold it dear. It was the weapon I scored best with.
It can most certainly be very well fired from the bipod, and with very good accuracy, too. I can testify to that with my marksman lanyard.
Firing from the bipod I found the weapon to be very stable in firing thanks to it's weight (carrying it was a pain though, literally). I was easily
able to squeeze out short 3-to-5 round bursts despite the high firing rate of 1200 rpm. The keen observer might have noted that there is a missing
link in the talk of high rate of fire and ammo conservation. I read that for extended fire it is possible to change the firing rate to 800 by changing
a bolt, but we never did that. Barrel change is very easy and fast.
On target, the groups generally were pretty dense, which means that when you aim well, you can expect good effect. In view of what we did to the
targets on the range the high firing rate makes it utterly devastating at short range, with a relatively good hit probability against moving targets.
We were instructed to fire at short range of up to 200m from the bipod as on that distance the high rate of fire ensures high hit probability
The MG3 was always supposed to be crew served, with one shooter and one ammo and spare barrel carrier, who had the task to 'feed the weapon
and defend the machine gunner. The MG3 is the backbone of the fire group and the group leader's main asset.
For suppressive area fire at longer ranges you'd put the MG3 on a tripod, allowing for allocating firing arcs and sectors and the like, and use it
with a periscope type targeting optic
. In that role it would be a heavy machine gun and iirc
placed at company level.
What I have to say about the M2? It is a weapon that appears to be good enough for the intended purpose, and for many users that suffices. It is in
the inventory of many armies, and only costs the ammo. It is mostly vehicle mounted so the extra weight is much less a concern than the relatively
great weight initially suggests. It appears to be reasonably durable. There may be better and more modern weapons, but just as with the MG3, the point
is why switch when it works?
For instance, the only reason the Bundeswehr currently considers adopting the MG4 in 7,62 NATO as well is that the design of that weapons better
allows to mount targeting optics than the MG3. Which is a good point and it would allow the resulting weapon to be used more flexible than the MG3.
But even in that respect there appears to be room for growth
even in the 55 or so year old design
of the MG3.