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The M2A1 .50 cal. -- Worth the wait?

It was much to my chagrin that certain Iraqi commando units had the M2E2 machine gun before we did in Special Forces. You, know, the new .50 cal with quick change barrels? With the project having gone through several incarnations over the years, soldiers are finally set to get their hands on what the Army is now calling the M2A1.

From PEO Soldier:

The M2A1’s fixed “headspace and timing” enhancement resolves the number one safety issue for Soldiers operating the weapon system. “Headspace” is the distance between the face of the bolt and the base of the cartridge case, fully seated in the chamber. “Timing” is the adjustment of the gun so that firing takes place when the recoiling parts are in the correct position for firing. The current M2 requires Soldiers to manually set headspace and timing before firing, after assembly, and after required barrel changes when the barrel becomes extremely hot from high volumes of fire. Improper adjustment can damage the weapon and cause serious injury to the user. Fixed headspace and timing reduces operator risk and eliminates the need for Soldiers to master and execute this time-consuming procedure.
While the head space and timing “problem” is also a training issue, I have no doubt that even veteran infantrymen -- or anyone else who has worn the asbestos gloves -- will appreciate the quick change barrels. And thus, it seems that the life span of the Ma Deuce is once again extended.

But General Dynamics might want to watch out, I've been told that behind the scenes there are a number of prototypes in various states of development that intend to knock the M2HB off it's throne once and for all...

Kit Up! contributor Jack Murphy is a former Ranger, Special Forces Soldier and is the author of the military thriller Reflexive Fire.

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