Since 1921, the .50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine-gun has served the U.S. military essentially unchanged right up to the present day. A testament to its designer’s genius, numerous attempts at a replacement have fallen short, especially in recent years.
However, the weapon is not without its shortcomings. One of the most annoying and time consuming fixes occurs when changing out the barrel. Upon fitting, the operator must adjust the headspace and timing in order to ensure proper function. This is a sometimes fatal flaw, as when engaged in battle, soldier is exposed to enemy fire for several minutes
Enter the M2-E2. This latest upgrade significantly increases the effectiveness of the standard .50 caliber design without altering the operating system. Most importantly, changing barrels has been reduced from several minutes to mere seconds
The Army’s Maneuver Battle Lab recently conducted testing at Fort Benning, Georgia allowing soldiers to conduct live fire exercises with both the standard weapon and the enhanced version. Times were taken to judge the barrel change feature and feedback recorded from troops
Other aspects of the M2-E2 are a four pronged flash hider, a common barrel thread that simplifies logistics and allows conversion of existing M2 barrels to the Quick Change feature, a removable barrel handle, patented J-slot retention system for aligning barrels, closed bolt with manual trigger safety, and a picatinney rail on the receiver for optics.
Testing in hot and cold environments is underway with a fielding date yet to be determined. -- Mike Perry