Updated M2A1 to increase lethality, survivability
The US Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) has detailed how the updated M2A1 .50-caliber machine gun will increase marines' survivability and lethality on the battlefield.
The M2A1 is an upgrade to the legacy M2 machine gun currently used by the US Marine Corps. The new weapon has a number of enhancements to improve usability and safety, including a quick-change barrel, fixed headspace and timing, and a flash hider that reduces the weapon's signature by 95 percent at night.
The current M2 requires the user 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.
Headspace and timing – the distance between the face of the bolt and the base of the cartridge case when it is fully seated in the chamber; and the adjustment of the gun so that firing takes place when the recoiling parts are in the correct position for firing – need to be correctly adjusted for the weapon to fire accurately and correctly. Improper adjustments can lead to malfunctions that could potentially injure the user or damage the weapon. With fixed headspace and timing the user no longer needs to execute this procedure, and the risk of injury is reduced.
The fixed headspace and timing also enables the use of a quick-change barrel.
Maj Harry Thompson, team lead for general purpose weapons at MCSC, said: 'M2s are the most reliable heavy machine gun.
'The improved M2A1 makes marines more lethal because they're able to get rounds down range quicker. Marines will have better mobility because of the fixed headspace and timing—it's much quicker to move the gun from position to position and put it back into action. Because they're less exposed, marines will have better survivability too.'
General Dynamics is supplying kitsfor the upgrade of the existing .50cal M2 heavy machine gun to the M2A1 configuration, as well as supplying new weapons.
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