Skip to comments.Ma Deuce Replacement Stumbles
Posted on 08/06/2007 5:37:38 PM PDT by Renfield
July 31, 2007: Two years ago, field testing of the XM-312, the replacement for the eighty year old, .50 caliber (12.7mm) M-2 ("Ma Deuce") machine-gun, began, in the United States and overseas. Then, nothing. That's because the test results were not encouraging, the biggest shortcoming being the low rate of fire (about 260 rounds per minute). This is about half the rate of the M2, and was believed adequate for the 25mm smart shells the XM312 was originally designed for (as the XM307). But for 12.7mm bullets, it didn't impress the troops. There were some reliability problems, which could be fixed. The rate-of-fire issue, however, has proved to be more difficult. Meanwhile, a new upgrade for the M2 has been fielded, and Ma Deuce still rules the battlefield. The new M2E2 has a quick change barrel, flash hider and lot of small improvements. It is much in demand.
Originally, the M2 replacement was going to be the M-307, which was designed so it could fire either the computer controlled 25mm "smart shell" of the XM-25, or (by changing the barrel and receiver), .50 caliber ammo. But it was felt that a straight replacement for the M-2 was needed quickly. The original plan was for the troops to begin getting the XM312 in 2008, or sooner.
The M-2, nicknamed "Ma Deuce" by the troops, has been around so long because it was very good at what it did. Accurate, reliable, rugged and easy to use, many of the M-2s currently in use are decades old, and finally wearing out. The army doesn't want to build new ones, and wasn't sure it could do without the venerable, and very useful, Ma Deuce. So it ended up going ahead with the plan to build a new .50 caliber machine-gun (the XM312). Actually, the new Ma Deuce is basically the XM307, but without the ability to fire 25mm rounds. The XM312 weighs 36 pounds (compared to 50 for the M-2), even with the addition of the electronic fire control stuff from the XM307.
The fire control system, especially the range finder, makes the XM312 much more accurate with first shot hits, than the M-2. American troops have been testing the XM312 in the United States and Germany, and have also reacted favorably to the lighter weight of the XM-312. The lighter XM312 will be easier for infantry to manhandle into position (along with its tripod mount.) But the lower rate-of-fire on the XM-312 was particularly disappointing to the many troops who had used the M2 in combat recently.
It would be hard to improve on the near perfect designs of Moses Browning.
I got to use the M-2 in theater, but this new monster is something I have yet to see.
The only thing that wasn't fun about the M-2 was carrying it. ;-)
I saw the test firing of the M2 on a cable show and that thing is steak and fire. I can only imagine what the new model will do once our guys accept it.
I sometimes wonder why the rush to scifi type weapon systems for infantry.
The more geewhizery applied to a weapon system, the more potential for disruption of function for that system.
If it’s to be carried on foot, then lighter is always good, but will that overly reduce its stability while firing?
If the current MG systems carried by foot infantry aren’t powerful enough then a lighter weight heavy gun system would be appropriate. But if this is to be a vehicle mounted system, then heavier might mean more tolerance to long sustained use.
A bad day and/or an inexperienced gunner can run a MG real hot, real fast. A heavy gun system that can stand up well to abuse and remain reliable would seem to be of more importance.
But, then again, I hated it when MRE replaced C-rats. The idea that I’d have to carry even more water, just to be able to eat chow, really seemed counter competent. I guess I was wrong then. Might be wrong now too.
One of the most dramatic “pucker factor” sounds in combat is the M-2. It is a morale booster on the firing end of it and a morale breaker on the other. Will the new 50 have that same distinctive tsook, tsook, tsook? And, in spite of what John Kerry says - you know he served in Vietnam - I never saw anyone “wounded” by a .50 cal.
Hmmm....over 4 rounds a second is inadequate?
Seems to me like a good idea. If you aren’t hitting it with 4.3 rounds/second, you just aren’t hitting it. And if you are, wouldn’t that be enough?
I have.... oh that's right. He was hit and wounded in the forearm..and his hip got blown out after the bullet went through his arm and out the other end...
You're right, he died. Nevermind.
A father of a friend of mine was hit with six rounds and lived to tell the tale. He spent several months in VA hospitals learning to walk again, years of surgery, and then years more kicking the painkillers that allowed him to survive the above. .
He was a Marine hitching a ride on an Army Huey. One of his fellow passengers was a VC colonel being taken for interrogation. The prisoner, his hands still shackled, managed to seize the wait gun and turn it to the inside of the chopper.
The VC colonel wasn't ever interrogated. From what I hear, it wasn't the fall that killed him so much as the abrupt stop at the end of it.
Ah geez, I’m a 58 year old reservist and I fired the M2 in May at Ft McCoy WS for the first time in 15 years. WTF do they mean the “replacement” is slower than good ol’ Ma Deuce? She just chugs along at 400 rpm or so as it is.
But, I now like my cars and my heavy weapons the way I like my women:
Built for comfort, not speed.
Simple rule - it has to be better than its replacement. That’s setting the bar incredibly high, which is just where it ought to be.
That is, it has to be better than what it’s replacing. Sheesh.
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