Ma Deuce questions

Discussion in 'Veteran's Forum' started by tslex, Oct 5, 2005.

  1. tslex

    tslex

    Messages:
    1,602
    Likes Received:
    38
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2002
    Location:
    Paradise
    I didn't serve in the military but had the opportunity, in my prior career, to fire and/or ride in and/or fly in and/or handle a lot ordnance, materiel and equipment. But I never had the chance to fire an M2. For a project I'm working on, I need to gather some information about the venerable .50 cal M2 heavy machine gun.

    I'm not looking for info to be found in the manuals, but would rather like to throw some questions at someone with experience firing the thing. I'm looking for first hand impressions and experience, the "feel" of the weapon, good and bad traits, what it smells like, what's the noise like on the operator's end, etc. etc.

    If you had occasion to fire the weapon in earnest, and would be confortable answering questions about that, that would be great. But if what you have -- or are willing to share -- are peacetime and training experience, that will also be very helpful and you'll have my gratitude.

    If you think you'd be willing to answer a longish list of questions, please PM me and I'll send the questions your way.

    Thanks.
     
  2. kawalerzysta

    kawalerzysta

    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    9
    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Mt Pocono, Pa
    I was in light scout platoon for most of my career and had Ma Deuce on my HMMWV, firts as a gunner and then as a TC. I would take it ove Mk19 any day:) If you have any questions, shoot, I hope that still remeber some things :)
     

  3. devildog2067

    devildog2067

    Messages:
    16,635
    Likes Received:
    1,888
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago
    The only thing I remember about them is that they're frickin heavy--one day, the machine gun section was short a man, and I was standing the closest... man, that was no fun.
     
  4. kawalerzysta

    kawalerzysta

    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    9
    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Mt Pocono, Pa
    It is not heavy. It is very well build :)
     
  5. devildog2067

    devildog2067

    Messages:
    16,635
    Likes Received:
    1,888
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago
    Yeah, but see, you were Cav, and I was a leg. :)
     
  6. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Messages:
    56,986
    Likes Received:
    12,307
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2000
    Location:
    Tejas, US
    You can easily cut your knuckles and fingers while handling the bolt and the bolt carrier pieces. They are heavy and have lots of sharp corners due to old school machining method.

    The Traverse & Elevation mechanism (aka T&E mechanism) tends to shake loose from the tripod bar.

    The muzzle blast is pretty darn fearsome and the gun when set on single-shot mode, even with the crude iron sight, is amazingly accurate.

    It is nearly uncontrollable while being shot mounted to the ring mount on a deuce-and-a-half or five-tons truck.

    Oh yeah, don't open the rear plate until you make sure that the bolt is at the forward position. Otherwise, the recoiling spring unit may slip out of its indentation, fly back and drill a clean hole through your body. Literally speaking.
     
  7. SCmasterblaster

    SCmasterblaster G17 carrier since 1989 Millennium Member

    Messages:
    21,060
    Likes Received:
    1,894
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 1999
    Location:
    Hartford, Vermont
    I witnessed one being fired at an abandoned school bus at 1993 Second Chance . . .
     
  8. tslex

    tslex

    Messages:
    1,602
    Likes Received:
    38
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2002
    Location:
    Paradise
    Thanks guys, esp. fnfalman. I guess I'll just post here and guys can feed in whatever info they like. A lot of my most basic question were answered in a very kind e-mail from another GT member.

    All of these questions arise in the context of an M2 HB, mounted on a pintel in a Jeep – not a Hummer, but a Jeep – so if that’s important to the answer, please explain how.

    Finally, any of my suppositions or preconceptions contained in the questions below may be total ignorant BS – that’s why I’m asking – PLEASE tell me if they are:

    1. If you are firing the gun cyclic and sustained – say trying to bust an ambush or in a last ditch effort to break an assault of infantry – what’s going on from the shooter’s perspective? Can you even SEE the sights at that point (remember, standing behind a pintel-mounted gun) or is the gun rocking and rolling so you can’t? Do you even LOOK at the sights, or are you looking down range, following where your rounds are landing, walking it to the next target? I can imagine, but what are the effects of the rounds on un-armored vehicles? On dismounts?

    2. Is the gun on the pintel mount easy to manipulate – i.e., it’s balanced and the mount swings easily? Or do you have to horse it around? Does it just swing up and down as well? As you swing the gun, is it an effort then to overcome the momentum of the big barrel and slow/stop it? If you are firing from the attitude I’ve described, are you leaning back against the grips? Leaning in?

    3. How long can you maintain cyclic firing? What happens as the gun starts to heat up? Can you feel the heat from the trigger end? What about noise and recoil as perceived by the shooter? What happens when it gets REALLY hot? Glowing, brick red barrel?

    4. But if you didn’t give a crap about the rules or barrel life and just wanted to save your ***, how long could you keep it up b/f the gun quit or failed? What would the failure look like?

    5. Are misfeeds or failures to feed at all common? What sort? How are they cleared?

    6. How quickly can a well trained, frightened soldier reload the gun?

    7. What is there about the Ma Deuce experience I haven’t asked about? What are the intangibles? What does it feel like in your arms? Chest? Legs? To fire one?

    Thanks
     
  9. Biscuitsjam

    Biscuitsjam

    Messages:
    1,002
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    First, the weapon is incredibly powerful. You really haven't experienced a .50 until you've seen targets just EXPLODE when shot. Rocks shot by the M240 machinegun (7.62) have splinters fly off and bounce backwards. Rocks shot by the .50 cal just aren't there any more. I haven't seen one hit a person yet, and I hope I don't. There are videos on the internet of bodies exploding with limbs flying off when hit by .50 cals. The cars shot by .50 cals are quickly destroyed, but the M240, putting rounds much quicker downrange, seems to do just as well. Similarly, for people, an M240 is going to hit a person enough times for every .50 cal round that they will be just as dead.

    These things are loud and pretty danged scary to the enemy. I especially like the incindiary rounds that make tiny explosions when they hit their target.


    Secondly, the.50 cal is often unreliable. Especially in the dust of Iraq, they have to be cleaned much more often than other weapons, and most of ours tend to jam every 1-2 rounds, whereas all of our M240s, M4s, M16s, MK19s, shotguns, SAWs, M203s, and M9s work every time. Only a handful of the .50 cals can fire their entire box of ammo without problems.

    Charging them is difficult if they get dirty, since you need to get the proper leverage. It is not uncommon for the cable on the charging handle to break and for gunners to break their noses or give themselves black eyes.

    When it jams, usually all you have to do is pull back the charging handle just a few inches before you can keep on shooting, but it disrupts you and makes it a lot harder to shoot accurately.

    Mounted on tanks, they are rarely used simply because they take so long and are so difficult to manuever. Tank commanders liken it to rubbing your belly and patting your head. The mounts might be better on other vehicles, but they are pretty lousy on the Abrams.

    Tank sights are easy to use.



    The .50 cal is hugely intimidating and can blast through almost any cover. For a stationary target, such as a parked VBIED or enemy dismounts behind cover, it is unsurpassed. For destroying debris in the road and shooting bomb craters, it is an unsurpassed. For terrifying your enemy, it's great. For spinning around when time is of the essence, I'd rather have something else, like an M240.

    To answer a few of the other questions: the barrel gets really hot, warps, and starts spinning the rounds in wild corkscrews after you've shot too much. Eventually, the rounds will cook off in the chamber. Spare barrels are kept on hand and can be changed with the use of heavy mittens.

    You're not going to feel heat from behind the weapon. You will be blinded and deafened by the rounds going off though. And the noise (and flash, at night) will be distinctive several miles away.

    Typically, the .50 cal is not reloaded during the middle of operations in Iraq, because crews do not use the whole box before it is empty. The boxes are pretty heavy, but it is easy to load. Tank crews have other weapons, though, so we'd probably just shoot those, since we'd have to climb up top to reload the .50 cal.

    -Biscuits
     
  10. tslex

    tslex

    Messages:
    1,602
    Likes Received:
    38
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2002
    Location:
    Paradise
    Thank you very much Biscuitsjam.

    Very helpful.
     
  11. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Messages:
    56,986
    Likes Received:
    12,307
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2000
    Location:
    Tejas, US
    The reason for the M2 to be unreliable is because they are externally mounted weapons and they collect up all sorts of sands and fine dusts when the vehicles are being convoyed about in the desert. There are dust covers, but either you don't have them or nobody uses them so that compounds the problem.

    I have never shot a Ma Deuce off the back of a Jeep, but frankly I shudder at the thought because shooting them off the five ton and deuce and a half ring mounts make for quite a bit of commotion on the vehicle's chassis.

    And once the weapon is being fired, you pretty much brace yourself and hold on and try to guide by watching the tracers and impact points.

    Properly timed, the gun should be firing around no more than 500-RPM (aircraft guns fire much faster but that's different), so if you take it easy on the butterfly trigger, the 100-rounds box should last for at least a little bit. Changing the box out is a pain though because the ammo is heavy as hell (I think that it's like thirty-something to forty-something pounds for a box of 100) but otherwise, charging the belt to the weapon is really easy. You either flip up the feed tray and slap in a belt or you push the first round in while the feed tray is down until it clicks and give the charging handle two yanks.
     
  12. phrogs forever

    phrogs forever

    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    All US Marine helicopters are fitted with the XM-218 M2. Ours have a shorter barrel and longer jacket. We have no sights so we guesstimate. In a CH-46E "Phrog", the right gunner generally aims right and high. The AO aims left and low. Usually end up walking the rounds. As a helicopter machine gunner, we are a little bit luckier with barrel cooling because of foward air speed.
     
  13. tslex

    tslex

    Messages:
    1,602
    Likes Received:
    38
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2002
    Location:
    Paradise
    thanks fnfalman and phrog for the conutnued responses.

    This is all very helpful.

    I agree that firing one off a piuntel mount in the back of a Jeep must have been, well, interesting.