Built since the 1920s, the reliable, powerful, air-cooled .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning Machine Gun (aka. “Ma Deuce”) is still one of the world’s most effective heavy machine guns. It can be carried by a team of soldiers, or mounted on vehicles and aircraft. Despite its age, its combination of reliability, durability, and kick-butt firepower has made it one of the most requested weapons on America’s front lines, and it remains popular around the world. Modern alternatives like FN’s M3M/GAU-21 have been introduced, and so have R&D efforts like the XM307/312 and XM806, but the M2 remains, as one of our correspondents put it, “the mounted lance of the US cavalry.” The USA has even had to ramp up .50 cal ammunition production, in order to keep up.
This article covers the venerable, and valuable, M2 machine gun, and associated contracts. The US government is still buying more, using both a multi-year contract, and a small business secondary supplier contract. They’ve also broadened the product line.