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The M2 machine gun or Browning .50 caliber machine gun is a heavy machine gun designed toward the end of World War I by John Browning. Its design is similar to Browning's earlier M1919 Browning machine gun, which was chambered for the .30-06 cartridge. The M2 uses the much larger and much more powerful .50 BMG (12.7 mm) cartridge, which was developed alongside and takes its name from the gun itself (BMG standing for Browning machine gun). It has been referred to as "Ma Deuce", in reference to its M2 nomenclature. The design has had many specific designations; the official US military designation for the current infantry type is Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Flexible. It is effective against infantry, unarmored or lightly armored vehicles and boats, light fortifications, and low-flying aircraft.
The Browning .50 caliber machine gun has been used extensively as a vehicle weapon and for aircraft armament by the United States from the 1930s to the present day. It was heavily used during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War, the Soviet–Afghan War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan in the 2000s and 2010s. It is the primary heavy machine gun of NATO countries and has been used by many other countries as well. The M2 has been in use longer than any other firearm in U.S. inventory except the .45 ACP M1911 pistol, also designed by John Browning.
The current M2HB is manufactured in the U.S. by General Dynamics Ohio Ordnance Works, and U.S. Ordnance for use by the U.S. government, and for allies via Foreign Military Sales, as well as by foreign manufacturers such as FN Herstal.