Submitted by Eric Daniel
I came across this the other day while looking for some other kit and I thought it might be worth mentioning as a potential training aid to all of you out there still using the M2 .50 cal.
What you're looking at is the breech lock out of the barrel extension assembly on the M2 machine gun. Those of you familiar with the assembly and disassembly of the M2 will remember that it is a fairly simple and forgiving weapon when it comes to taking it apart and putting it back together. If done correctly, all the parts will simply drop into place. If you have to force it, tweak it, coax it, or curse at it, you're doing something wrong.
The only exception I've found to this is the breech lock. The part itself is a forged metal square about 1.5" on a side and .5" thick. It has a hole through it on the bottom and a notch on the top. Most importantly, one side of the top is beveled, and the other is not.
THE LOCK MUST BE INSERTED INTO THE EXTENSION BEVELED FACE FORWARD.
Unfortunately, the lock will go into the extension facing either direction and you can put the weapon together with it inserted incorrectly, but you will only get the bolt to cycle once before the entire weapon jams up on you (and you bash the hell out of the "back" of the breech lock.
I came to acquire this piece of memorable jewelry courtesy of my 1st tank commander SSG William Bullock. SSG Bullock, a hard-charger from 2/2 CAV across the street, was as fine a TC as a new soldier could want. He was not imposing or intimidating, patient with new soldiers, and forgiving of their mistakes. So the 1st time I put the .50 back together wrong, there was no screaming, there was no yelling, there wasn't anything. SSG bullock knew immediately what the issue was and after finally getting the .50 broken down again, I was re-educated on the importance of attention to detail when it came to the breech lock.
After the lesson was over and the .50 up and running, SSG Bullock told me to get a piece of 550 cord, loop it through the ruined breech lock, and wear it around my neck every time we went to the field as a physical reminder to pay attention to the breech lock.
I found that trick to be so memorable and useful that I passed it on to every new member of my future crews when they made the same mistake as I had and it has been quite successful (except for one Lt. who picked up seven while he was on the tank and finally had to be ordered by our CO to leave the .50 the hell alone.)
Anyone have a similar story?