Browning M-2HB

     Notes: Known affectionately by US troops as the “Ma Deuce” or just “The Fifty,” the M-2HB was originally introduced in 1923 as the M-1921.  Though when the M-2HB was first designed, shortly after World War 1, it was meant to be an antitank weapon, development of tank armor quickly made this idea obsolete.  However, since the M-2HB was still a fantastic antipersonnel, antiaircraft, and anti-light armor/soft-skinned vehicle weapon, development of what would become the M-2HB continued, and it has since become the primary commander’s machinegun on Western armored vehicles.  Especially during the World War 2 and the Korean War, it was also the primary armament for aircraft on virtually all US aircraft and many Allied aircraft as well.  The M-2HB is still manufactured in the US by General Dynamics (and formerly by Saco), in Belgium by FNH (where most are manufactured today), in Britain by Manroy, and to a limited extent by other countries around the world.  Many other companies and countries also make spare parts for the M-2HB.  Despite recurring rumors of its impending replacement by several newer designs over the years, and despite the fact that the M-2HB is one of the oldest small arms designs still in use in the world, it does seem that the M-2HB will be around for a long time to come.

     The M-2HB is tough, heavy, and robust; I’ve personally seen vehicles basically totaled in rollovers, but their externally-mounted M-2HBs were able to be put back into service after just a simple cleaning.  Operation is by short-recoil; feed is normally from the left, but a qualified armorer can reverse this.  Ammunition boxes can be mounted on a tray which attaches to the M-2HB or its tripod.  Originally, both air-cooled and water-jacketed models were made; the water jacket proved to be unnecessary, though that version was used until just after World War 2 as an antiaircraft weapon.  The heavy barrel is 45 inches long and though it does have a sort of crowned muzzle, there is no sort of flash suppressor or muzzle brake.  Sights are a simple blade at the front of the receiver and an adjustable folding leaf sight at the rear of the receiver; when the rear sight is folded, an adjustable aperture sight is used.  There have also been over the years a large amount of basically jury-rigged mounts for various sorts of optics and night vision devices.  (The famous Marine Scout/Sniper Carlos Hathcock, holder of the world record for long-distance sniping until recent years, made his longest shot with a scoped M-2HB set on semiautomatic.)  There is no stock or conventional trigger mechanism; instead, the M-2HB is fired using spade grips and a butterfly-type thumb trigger.  The M-2HB is designed only to be fired from vehicular, aircraft, tripod, or pintle mounts.  (I know many of you have seen war movies where the hero picks up an M-2HB and hip-fires it, but I assure you that this is quite impossible!)  Just under the trigger is a cylinder/dial; this is in effect a selector device.  One rotates it to the right and locks it to allow semiautomatic fire.

     However, the M-2HB does have a defect, and it can be a significant one: the variable headspace and timing, which must be adjusted perfectly to allow proper functioning and prevents any sort of quick changing of the barrel.  The headspace and timing can also go out of adjustment simply from the vibrations of the M-2HB as it fires.  Adjusting headspace and timing on an M-2HB is a difficult and, quite frankly, annoying procedure that takes a lot of practice (and continuing practice) in order to do quickly; a lot of troops literally never manage to do it quite right.  And if you don’t adjust the headspace and timing properly, you can end up with an M-2HB that may do anything from refuse to fire at all to one that jams to one that rips brass in half as it extracts.  (I have seen a lot of bizarre malfunctions in the M-2HB, virtually all related in some way to incorrect headspace and timing adjustments.)

     That said, several countries have been making (for a long time) kits which convert the M-2HB into a configuration that gives it a quick-change barrel and eliminates the need for the headspace and timing adjustments (the QCB, or Quick-Change Barrel kit, in effect provides the M-2HB with fixed headspace and timing which is optimized for the weapon and round).  Many nations using the M-2HB, including most NATO countries, have already installed these kits into their M-2HBs.  The US, however, as with many things, it a latecomer to the QCB bandwagon; the US military has only recently selected a kit made by General Dynamics (a kit originally designed by Saco Defense all the way back in 1978!) to update the M-2HBs already in service.  For the most part, this kit retains the configuration of the basic M-2HB (except for the modifications required to change it to a QCB configuration).  The new barrel’s bore, however, is Stellite-lined and chromium-plated.  The General Dynamics M-2HB QCB may use standard M-2HB barrels, but this requires removal of the QCB parts and effectively turns it into a standard M-2HB requiring headspace and timing adjustments.  The General Dynamics M-2HB QCB is slightly heavier, but its firing characteristics are identical to a standard M-2HB.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: Virtually all M-2HBs used by NATO, the US, and other US allies use QCB kits; the one mentioned above was in fact put into high-rate production by Saco Defense  as the request of the Pentagon when the winds of war began to blow.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

M-2HB

.50 Browning Machinegun

38.01 kg

105 Belt

$9773

M-2HB QCB

.50 Browning Machinegun

38.19 kg

105 Belt

$9820

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

M-2HB (With Tripod)

5

9

2-2-3

11

1

3

397

 

Browning M-1917

     Notes:  After experimenting for a while with gas operation, John Browning decided that recoil operation was far better for heavy automatic weapons and developed the M-1917 series of machineguns.  He had the design perfected by about 1910, but was unable to interest the US military until World War 1, when the Army suddenly placed a huge order with Browning. 

     The M-1917 is very similar in appearance to the Vickers and Maxim guns of the same time period, though the Browning gun can be immediately identified by the pistol grip at the rear.  More than 68,000 were made before the end of World War 1.  In 1936, the weapon was partially redesigned, with the feed mechanism being made more reliable, the sights re-graduated to be more accurate, the tripod made lighter, and other small changes were made.  This weapon became the M-1917A1. 

     The M-1917 is water-cooled, and therefore unsuitable for aircraft operation.  The water jacket was removed, and lighter components were used whenever possible, to create the M-1918.  The M1919 is similar to the M-1918, but was designed for use on tanks.  It also uses a heavier barrel than the M-1917 or M-1918. The M-1919A1 is the same weapon as the M-1919, but designed specifically for the Mark VIII tank.  The M-1919A2 is again similar, but with a normal weight barrel.  It was designed for horse cavalry, having a special small tripod and a special saddle for transportation.  (It cannot be fired from the top of a horse!)  The M-1919A3 was a prototype for the M1919A4 (below).

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

M-1917

.30-06 Springfield

14.97 kg (24.5 kg with water)

250 Cloth Belt

$2775

M-1917A1

.30-06 Springfield

14.22 kg (23.75 kg with water)

250 Cloth Belt

$2775

M-1918

.30-06 Springfield

13.92 kg

250 Cloth Belt

$2775

M-1919

.30-06 Springfield

14.28 kg

250 Cloth Belt

$2797

M-1919A2

.30-06 Springfield

14.23 kg

250 Cloth Belt

$2775

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

M1917

5

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

1

142

M-1917A1

5

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

1

142

M-1918

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

142

M-1919

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

148

M-1919A2

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

142

 

Colt-Browning M-1895

     Notes:  This weapon was based on an original John Browning design.  He was trying to see whether the muzzle blast of an automatic weapon could be put to any use.  The result was a weapon that was nicknamed by troops the “potato digger;” the weapon had a swinging arm beneath the barrel that connected to a linkage that opened the breech, and extracted the spent cartridge and loaded another.  This arm meant that the weapon could not be mounted too close to the ground unless a pit was dug for the arm.  It was a very clumsy arrangement, but the recoil was very mild and the action smooth.  In the 1890s, large numbers of the M-1895 were bought by the US Navy in .30 Krag and 6mm Lee calibers; the US Army used .30 Krag and later converted them to .30-06 Springfield.  The M-1895 was not used in large numbers in World War 1, though they were used in large numbers for training purposes until almost World War 2.  Note: The M-1895 cannot be fired without a tripod or vehicle pintle mount.  Tripod weight is 6.1 kg.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

M-1895

6mm Lee Navy

6.39 kg

250 Cloth Belt

$2107

M-1895

.30-40 Krag

9.64 kg

250 Cloth Belt

$2757

M-1895

.30-06 Springfield

10.34 kg

250 Cloth Belt

$2896

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

M-1895 (6mm)

5

4

2-Nil

6

1

1

149

M-1895 (.30-40)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

191

M-1895 (.30-06)

5

5

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

178

 

EX-34 Chain Gun

     Notes: This is an electrically driven 7.62N machinegun used on some US and British armored vehicles.  The weapon ejects spent brass overboard and incorporates a fume extractor.  This weapon can also be used on a pintle mount, and is installed on some light helicopters. 

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

EX-34 (Long Barrel)

7.62mm NATO

17.86 kg

100 Belt, 200 Belt, 1000 Belt

$2560

EX-34 (Short Barrel)

7.62mm NATO

13.7 kg

100 Belt, 200 Belt, 1000 Belt

$2410

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

EX-34 (Long)

10

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

3

192

EX-34 (Short)

10

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

3

151

 

FNH USA M-240

     Notes: This is the US variant of the Belgian MAG machinegun.  The first versions of the M-240 appeared in US service as early as 1976 as coaxial machineguns in US tanks, IFVs, and some other armored vehicles; however, the first personnel and pintle-mounted models did not appear until 1994, when the US Marines adopted the M-240G.  At first, these M-240Gs were excess US Army and Marine coaxial machineguns modified for ground and pintle use, but these were quickly superseded with purpose-built M-240Gs.  By 1996, virtually all M-60s in US Marine use had been replaced by the M-240G, as well as many M-60s in use by the US Navy.  The Marines quickly developed a fondness for the M-240G due to its reliability, ruggedness, and easier field-stripping procedures (and, I suspect, because the Marines rarely get first crack at anything new).  The US Army, noting these attributes, asked that a forward handguard be added and called it the M-240B; it is otherwise the same weapon. 

     That said, one of the few complaints about the M-240 is the size of the weapon; at 48.5 inches long, it can be quite the handful for smaller shooters and even a detriment in QCB.  Otherwise, the M-240 series has had remarkably few complaints for weapons in US military use.  The M-240 series does use a barrel a full 24.7 inches long, and is tipped with a somewhat different flash suppressor than is used by its MAG ancestor.  The polymer stock is also different; it actually looks more like the stocks used on current versions of the M-249 than the standard MAG polymer stock, and has folding shoulder plate to help support the weapon when used from the bipod.  Sights are also slightly different; the front sight is a protected blade, while the rear is an adjustable aperture sight, which may be flipped up to reveal a U-notch leaf sight.  Cyclic rate of fire has been slowed by about 50 rpm, primarily by use recoil springs and buffers which are modified to suit US manufacturing methods.  The pistol grip also has a slightly different shape.  The M-240G and B are otherwise essentially the same as the standard MAG, except that the M-240 is further modified to allow it to use M-60 tripods and pintle mounts.  The US military has also adopted their own version of the MAG’s helicopter door-gun, called the M-240H; this version has spade grips and a thumb trigger instead of the pistol grip and standard trigger group, no bipod, and no handguard.  This version can also be mounted on tripods and ground vehicle pintle mounts.

     In early 2000, improvements were made to lighten the M-240, resulting in a reduction in weight of 1.36 kg.  Starting in 2005, studies were undertaken to lighten the M-240 even further; this entailed replacing the receiver with one made from a titanium/steel alloy, and possibly in the future replacing plastic and polymer parts with ones made from advanced carbon-fiber composites, and even the bipod by one made from titanium/steel alloy. Currently (early 2006), some 20 examples of the titanium/steel receiver version have been procured for testing; designated the M-240E6, they are lighter than the standard M-240B and G models by some 1.81 kg.  Target weight reductions for further models call for a total lightening of the weapon by 3.18 kg.  It is not known whether this study will lead to a future operational version of the M-240, but the soldiers testing it seem to be enthusiastic about the reductions in weight, and one of the complaints coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan about the standard M-240 is the weight of the weapon.  There is a concern that these weight reductions may literally make the M-240 too light for controllability and adjustments may have to be made to the buffer system of the M-240E6 to provide sort of a recoil absorber system.  (For that matter, experiments are also being conducted with a lightweight titanium/steel alloy tripod, though this is not covered here.) If they do get fielded, it probably won’t be before 2008 at the earliest.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: This weapon did not have much of a chance to be adopted; the Marines only replaced about half of their M-60s with it, and the Army got almost none.  The post-2000 M-240 variants do not exist in the Twilight 2000 timeline, nor does the M-240E6 in any version (and in fact, is not even in service in real life as of early 2006).

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

M-240 (pre-2000)

7.62mm NATO

12.25 kg

100 Belt, 200 Belt

$3219

M-240 (post 2000)

7.62mm NATO

10.89 kg

100 Belt, 200 Belt

$3219

M-240E6 (Current)

7.62mm NATO

10.44 kg

100 Belt, 200 Belt

$3256

M-240E6 (Future)

7.62mm NATO

9.07 kg

100 Belt, 200 Belt

$3259

M-240E6 (Future, with Improved Buffer)

7.62mm NATO

9.07 kg

100 Belt, 200 Belt

$3334

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

M-240 (Pre/Post-2000)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

3

6/13

85

(With Bipod)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

3/6

110

(With Tripod)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

1/3

170

M-240E6 (Current)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

3

6/13

85

(With Bipod)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

3/6

110

(With Tripod)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

1/3

170

M-240E6 (Future)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

3

7/13

85

(With Bipod)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

3/7

110

(With Tripod)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

1/3

170

M-240E6 (Improved Buffer)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

2

6/11

85

(With Bipod)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

3/6

110

(With Tripod)

5/10

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

1/2

170

 

FNH USA Mk 48 Mod 0

     Notes:  US Navy SEAL teams like the light weight of the M-249; they also like the firepower of the MAG (M-240) and its 7.62mm NATO round.  What they don’t like is the relatively low hitting power of the 5.56mm NATO round of the SAW, nor do they like the huge size and heavy weight of the M-240.  They wanted a blend of the two.  They also didn’t like totally like the M-60E3s they were currently using in the role, feeling that the M-60E3 was essentially a compromise what didn’t work out.

     FN therefore designed the Mk48 Mod 0 specifically for them.  It is basically an M-249 scaled up to fire the 7.62mm NATO round.  (FN had sort of a head-start on this; it’s a little-known fact that the Minimi was originally designed in both 5.56mm NATO and 7.62mm NATO versions.)  The SEALs were also given a few other things they asked for in a light machinegun: Teflon coating for resistance to weather and salt water, a little extra weight to keep barrel climb down, a quick-change barrel, and a stronger build.  The entire machinegun is, in fact, only a little longer than the M-16 assault rifle.

     The Mk 49 Mod 0 is built largely of steel, with some light alloy components, and a polymer pistol grip, stock, and fore-end.  It’s rumored that the stock can be replaced with a collapsing one, but I have not been able to confirm this.  The standard stock has a shape similar to newer M-249s with fixed stocks, making it somewhat lighter. It uses standard NATO disintegrating-link belts, feeding from the left and ejecting spent rounds through the bottom of the receiver.  The Mk 48 Mod 0 can be equipped with a total of five MIL-STD-1913 rails: one atop the receiver/feed cover, three on the fore-end on the bottom and sides, and one over the barrel where it rests on the fore-end.  The folding bipod is adjustable for height and cant.  The 16.5-inch barrel is tipped with a compact flash suppressor and the bore is hard-chromed, as is the chamber.  The standard sights consist of a protected front post and a rear sight similar to that of the MAG, an adjustable aperture rear which may be flipped up to reveal an adjustable leaf.  Recently, a version of the Mk 48 Mod 0 with a suppressed barrel has been in use in Iraq and Afghanistan, the suppressor design is similar to that mounted to some versions of the Mk 46 Mod 0 automatic rifle, but larger and beefier.

     Though there are rumors of the deployment of the Mk 48 in Kosovo, the first confirmed use was in Afghanistan.  The US Army’s Rangers have used it in the recent fighting in Iraq.  Though an FN design, the Mk 48 Mod 0 is actually manufactured in FN’s US facilities in South Carolina.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: This weapon does not exist in the Twilight 2000 timeline.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

Mk 48 Mod 0

7.62mm NATO

8.39 kg

50 Belt, 100 Belt, 200 Belt

$2216

Mk 48 Mod 0 (Suppressed)

7.62mm NATO

10.56 kg

50 Belt, 100 Belt, 200 Belt

$2862

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

Mk 48 Mod 0

10

4

2-3-Nil

7

3

13

47

(With Bipod)

10

4

2-3-Nil

7

1

6

60

(With Tripod)

10

4

2-3-Nil

7

1

3

93

Mk 48 Mod 0 (Suppressed)

10

3

1-Nil

10

1

7

28

(With Bipod)

10

3

1-Nil

10

1

4

37

(With Tripod)

10

3

1-Nil

10

1

2

57

 

GE GAU-19/A

     Notes: This is an electrically driven .50 caliber Gatling gun, capable of delivering a massive volume of large-caliber fire. An optional gas drive may be added if external power is undesirable, and the GAU-19 can also be driven from an air compressor. It can fire both linked and linkless rounds.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: The GAU-19 is made in a 3-barrel short version and a 6-barrel long version.  The 6-barreled version is very rare. 

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

GAU-19/A (3-Barrel)

.50 Browning Machinegun

33.6 kg

1500 or 1500 Belt

$14371

GAU-19/A (6-barrel)

.50 Browning Machinegun

49 kg

1500 or 1500 Belt

$21839

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

GAU-19/A (3-Barrel, Normal Ammo)

30

9

2-3-4

7

1

5

275

GAU-19/A (3-Barrel, SLAP)

30

9

1-2-3

7

1

5

330

GAU-19/A (6-Barrel, Normal Ammo)

60

9

2-2-3

9

1

6

383

GAU-19/A (6-Barrel, SLAP)

60

9

1-1-1

9

1

6

460

**This weapon is always found on a vehicular or heavy mount, and in this state has negligible recoil.

 

US Ordnance M-60

     Notes: The M-60 (originally designed and manufactured by Saco Defense, but later built by the Maremont division of General Dynamics, and now built under license by US Ordnance) began as an attempt to “Americanize” the Nazi MG-42 for use by US troops.  The MG-42 and FG-42 assault rifle was then blended, and the feed system of the MG-42 was simplified, by essentially combining the two-piece feed pawl of the MG-42 into a single unit.  In addition, the much of the action was moved into the stock, making the M-60 into a compact, “semi-bullpup” design which is only 43.5 inches long in its basic form. 

     The M-60 has a mostly conventional, gas-operated firing system.  Feed is from the left, like most Western machineguns (though some versions of the M-60 have been made at the request of certain customers to feed from the left, mostly to fit in specific internal vehicle mounts).  The standard belt is a 100-round disintegrating link NATO-standard belt, but I have personally seen M-60s in demonstrations which could pull in a 400-round hanging belt.  The 100-round belt is usually contained in metal, plastic, or cardboard-lined canvas containers for carrying by soldiers, or it can be fed from boxes set beside the gun.  The M-60 has always had a quick-change barrel, but initial versions had no carrying handle, and asbestos mitts were issued along with replacement barrels and cleaning kits in order to allow the gunner or assistant gunner to change the barrel.  Later, a carrying handle attached to the barrel was added, but hot barrels on the M-60 can be a bit balky, often requiring two hands to unlock them, so the asbestos mitts continued to be issued.  Unfortunately, the front sight is a non-adjustable blade mounted on a triangular mount that is attached directly to the barrel; this means that when you change a barrel, the gunner loses the M-60’s zero.  The barrel itself is 22 inches long, tipped by a long flash suppressor, and chrome-lined.  The M-60 does not have any sort of gas adjustment device; the system adjusts itself to fouling.  Though there is no semiautomatic setting, the cyclic rate is so slow (about 550 rpm) that it only takes a minimum of practice to squeeze off single shots.  Though it is officially frowned upon (at least by the US Army), one can actually load a belt into the M-60 without raising the feed cover, though you have to insert and hold the belt in place, brace the stock against your shoulder, stomach, or hip, and cycle the charging handle twice instead of only once.  The folding bipod is also attached directly to barrel; it is a simple affair, built mostly of stamped steel (it looks like aluminum to me, but I was assured in the Army that it is made of steel).  The bipod is adjustable to a very limited extend for height and cant.  It can be mounted on a standard NATO Light Tripod, or on compatible pintle mounts.

     Reviews of the basic M-60 by the troops have been mixed – they range from those who think it is crap (some even call it “the Pig”) two those who like it so much they wish the M-240 hadn’t replaced it in the US military.  It is still used around the world by a lot of military forces.  (My personal opinion is that while changing hot barrels can be a bitch, I still love the thing.)

     Variants of the basic M-60 include the M-60C, which is electrically fired and was designed specifically for use on external helicopter mounts (especially early UH-1 Huey helicopters converted for use as gunships in Vietnam before the advent of the AH-1 Cobra).  It is no longer in production.  The M-60D is an M-60 with the conventional trigger group and stock replaced with spade grips and a thumb trigger; this version is designed for use as a helicopter door gun and from certain fixed positions and vehicle pintle mounts.  The M-60E2 is another electrically-fired model, for use in internal vehicle mounts.  It is no longer in production in the US, though some other countries (most notably Taiwan) still make it.

     The M-60E3 was designed in the early 1980s by Saco at the request of US special operations units (especially the SEALs), to provide them with a lighter, more versatile version of the M-60.  Saco also took the opportunity to fix some of the M-60s problems.  The standard barrel is the same length as the standard M-60 (22 inches) and is thicker than the M-60’s barrel, but it is also built from lighter and stronger steel, so it is actually lighter than the standard M-60 barrel.  The M-60E3 can also use two other barrels:  a 17.36-inch short barrel, and a 16.65-inch assault barrel.  All three use a more compact flash suppressor than the standard M-60.  All three have an extended lower handguard made from polymer, with a forward grip for control when firing from the hip; the upper part of the barrel jacket has been deleted.  The carrying handle remains a part of the barrel, but the locking mechanism for the barrel has been improved so one-handed barrel changing without mitts is assured.  The bipod has been moved to the front of the lower handguard, which provides better balance.  The bipod is also made from lighter but stronger metal; it is physically smaller than a standard M-60 bipod, but is not adjustable.  The M-60E3 retains the ability to be tripod or pintle-mounted. The M-60E3 is “officially” able to be loaded without raising the feed cover, and the charging handle requires only one cycling to do this.  Standard M-60s must be loaded with the charging handle locked to the rear; the M-60E3 can be loaded with the bolt open or closed. The M-60 feeds from the same belts as the standard M-60, though US special ops troops are known to often use 50-round belts during close assaults, and containers are made for these shorter belts.  The trigger guard is enlarged to allow the M-60E3 to be fired by a gunner wearing heavy gloves.  The front sight is adjustable for elevation and windage on the M-60E3.  A kit is also made, allowing standard M-60s to be converted to the M-60E3 configuration.  In addition to use by special ops units of the US military, the M-60E3 is listed as being in use by “several foreign countries.”

     The M-60E4 is essentially a further-modified M-60E3, adding many features requested by US and other countries’ special operations units.  The forward handguard is different; it has been replaced with one that wraps around three sides of the barrel and gas tube, and has three wide MIL-STD-1913 rails and two narrow ones on each side of the barrel itself.  The flash suppressor has been further modified so that it also acts as muzzle brake.  The bipod has been strengthened, and also has a limited amount of adjustability for height and cant.  The front sight remains the same as the M-60E3, but the rear iron sight has been moved to a position in front of the feed cover, to allow room for a MIL-STD-1913 rail atop the feed cover.  Belt pull strength is 35% greater, and in general, the M-60E4 is a much more robust weapon than the M-60E3 (user feedback brought complaints of the relative fragility of the M-60E3).  The M-60E4 can use the same barrels as the M-60E3; in a pinch, it can also use a standard M-60 barrel.  The pistol grip is more ergonomic, and the attachment of the pistol grip and trigger assembly has been modified, since some troops did complain that the pistol grip/trigger mechanism would fall off during sustained fire.  The M-60E4 can also be modified for use with a spade grip/thumb trigger or an electrical trigger for internal vehicle use.  US Ordinance also makes a kit to convert the M-60 or M-60E3 to the M-60E4 specification.  The primary users of the M-60E4 were the US Navy SEALs (who call it the Mk 43 Mod 0), though it has been largely replaced by the FN Mk 48 Mod 0 (see Belgian Machineguns) in SEAL use.  The M-60E4 is also listed by several sources as being used by “several unnamed parties.”

     Twilight 2000 Notes: The M-60 is still the primary US GPMG, as the M-240 (US version of the MAG) did not have a chance to be adopted in large numbers except as a vehicular weapon.  The M-60E3 is a fairly-common special ops weapon, especially in the US military, ROK Army, Taiwanese Army and Marines, and the Thai Army and Marines.  The M-60E4, a relative latecomer, is a much rarer weapon, and most of them are used by US special ops units; however, limited quantities are also used by the British and Australian SAS.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

M-60

7.62mm NATO

11.07 kg

100 Belt

$2330

M-60E3 (Long Barrel)

7.62mm NATO

8.8 kg

50 Belt, 100 Belt

$2333

M-60E3 (Short Barrel)

7.62mm NATO

8.53 kg

50 Belt, 100 Belt

$2189

M-60E3 (Assault Barrel)

7.62mm NATO

8.21 kg

50 Belt, 100 Belt

$2167

M-60E4 (Long Barrel)

7.62mm NATO

10.48 kg

50 Belt, 100 Belt

$2371

M-60E4 (Short Barrel)

7.62mm NATO

10.21 kg

50 Belt, 100 Belt

$2228

M-60E4 (Assault Barrel)

7.62mm NATO

9.89 kg

50 Belt, 100 Belt

$2206

Barrel Set (3 Lengths)

NA

4.27 kg

NA

$1709

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

M-60

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

3

6

64

(With Bipod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

1

3

84

(With Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

1

1

129

M-60E3 (Long Barrel)

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

3

7

64

(With Bipod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

1

3

84

(With Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

1

1

129

M-60E3 (Short Barrel)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

3

7

45

(With Bipod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

3

59

(With Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

90

M-60E3 (Assault Barrel)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

3

7

42

(With Bipod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

3

55

(With Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

85

M-60E4 (Long Barrel)

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

2

5

64

(With Bipod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

1

2

84

(With Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

1

1

129

M-60E4 (Short Barrel)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

2

5

45

(With Bipod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

2

59

(With Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

90

M-60E4 (Assault Barrel)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

2

5

42

(With Bipod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

2

55

(With Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

85

 

GE M-85

     Notes: The M-85 is a heavy machinegun designed for coaxial and cupola use; it equipped the commander’s cupolas of the M-60 series of tanks and the AAPV-7, amongst other vehicles.  Though still found on the AAPV-7 series and such older vehicles, it has largely been withdrawn from service in the US and in most other countries.

     The M-85 is a recoil-operated machinegun fed by standard .50 BMG disintegrating link belts.  Cocking is done by pulling back on handles on either side of the gun (connected by chains to the gun).  It is normally used on vehicles, and is in that case fired by solenoid connected to a firing switch (with a hand trigger backup).  It can also be mounted on a standard M-2HB tripod and fired from it, but in actual practice this was quite rare.  The M-85 has a dual rate of fire; normally, the gun is kept at the ground target cyclic rate of 400 RPM, but it can also be switched to a ROF of 1050 RPM for use against aircraft or a large amount of targets.  The fire selector is a dial-type on the rear of the gun.  No provision is made for semiautomatic fire, but when set for the lower ROF, single shots or short burst are easily squeezed off.  The barrel length is 36 inches, and the muzzle is tipped by a large flash suppressor.  No sights or sight mounts are provided, since its primary use is as a vehicle weapon.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

M-85

.50 Browning Machinegun

27.9 kg

105B

$13707

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

M-85 (Vehicular Mount)

5/10

9

2-3-4

9

*

*

276

M-85 (Tripod Mount)

5/10

9

2-3-4

9

4

11/21

276

 

GE/Dillon Aero M-134 Minigun

     Notes: The M-134 is basically an electric Gatling gun, a six-barreled machinegun with an electric motor.  Development of these modern “electric Gatling guns” started shortly after World War 2, and the first of these was the famous 20mm M-61 Vulcan series, but early in the US involvement in Vietnam, the Army realized that a scaled-down version of the Vulcan would be wonderful for providing massive volumes of fire when used as helicopter armament.  They were first mounted on the various ad hoc UH-1 Huey gunships deployed, and then on the first AH-1 Cobra gunships.  Quickly, mounts were designed to allow the M-134 to be used on pintle mounts as helicopter door guns, on patrol boats, in pods on light aircraft and helicopters, and of course, the famous AC-47 “Puff” gunships.  The cyclic rate of fire for the original M-134s was originally set at 4000 rpm, and the rotating six-barreled configuration kept the barrels from overheating because each barrel essentially had a much lower rate of fire.  Later versions of the M-134 could be set for later rates of fire, ranging from short 10, 50, and 100-round bursts to twin rates of fire of either 3000 or 6000 rpm; this is the rate of fire for most “current: GE-built M-134s, with the burst length essentially controlled by how long the trigger is depressed.  (A skilled gunner is capable of squeezing off 100-round bursts, and I’ve even heard of some gunners able to squeeze off bursts as small as 50 rounds when the Minigun is set on its 3000 rpm setting). 

     The reason I wrote “current” GE-built models because GE no longer builds the original M-134s (they built the last one in 1975) – in fact, parts for original M-134s are not even being made in the US anymore.  Some can be procured from countries still making these parts, but as far as I’ve been able to discover, complete M-134s in their original configuration are not being made anywhere anymore, and most countries that still make spare parts will not sell them to civilians or even directly to military forces – a country’s government has to ask for them.  Most parts available in the US these days are the result of cannibalization or their being made from scratch in machine shops.

     The GE-built M-134 is, as all modern Gatling-type guns, electrically powered from the vehicle in which it is mounted or an external power source; potentially any external power source may be used, from a battery pack to a generator, but it must be able to provide 28-Volt DC or 115-Volt AC power at 260 amps (though sustained fire requires only 130 amps).  If the length of an ammunition belt exceeds 1.5 meters in length, an additional electrical motor must be added at the top of the ammunition chute to provide more belt-pulling power.  In addition to their use as aircraft, helicopter, and internal vehicle armament, M-134s can be mounted on pintle mounts, used as helicopter door guns (a very common method of use), or even mounted on standard heavy tripods of various sorts, including those designed for use with heavy machineguns such as the M-2HB and Mk-19 automatic grenade launchers.  (I even have a picture of three Miniguns on a single ground mount.)  Feed may be from either side; belt length is effectively unlimited, but the normal lengths of belt used with manually-operated M-134s are listed below.  If special ammunition boxes and feed chutes are used, the M-134 can be fed from unlinked ammunition.  The length of each barrel is 22 inches; the barrels are normally parallel, but barrel clamps are available that allow a variable convergence point.  Individual barrels are heavy, designed to fire at least 40,000 rounds between failures (some say as much as 100,000 rounds).

     However, 1975 was not the end of US M-134 production.  US special operations units still loved the Minigun, but theirs were rapidly wearing out by the early 1990s.  There were still a lot of M-134s used as door guns, armament on foreign helicopters, and even by some variants of the AC-130.  GE was no longer tooled-up to produce the M-134 or its parts, and they were unwilling to re-establish the production line for the Minigun.  Parts could be obtained to a certain extent by cannibalization or by buying them from foreign sources, but this essentially reduced the supply of available Miniguns and buying parts from foreign sources was much more expensive than having a domestic supplier.  A company in Arizona called Dillon Aero stepped up to the plate, they essentially bought the complete rights to production and sale of the M-134 from GE.  At the same time, they took the opportunity to correct a number of small deficiencies with the M-134, as well as simplifying the design and improving its reliability.  The result was the M-134D.  Externally, the M-134 largely resembles the original M-134; internally, the M-134D is a very different weapon.  The original magazine hoppers and feed mechanism have been redesigned to allow slightly greater capacity, eliminate unnecessary parts, and the actual belt feed repositioned to the top so that weight of the belt pull is minimized.  A small electrical booster was also added to the feed mechanism, eliminating the need for a separate electrical motor if very long belts or feed chutes are used.  A common cause of jamming on the original M-134 was misaligned rounds (especially when unlinked rounds were used); this problem has been eliminated.  Spent rounds and duds are ejected from the bottom of the M-134D, where they can be ejected outside of the vehicle or aircraft or collected in an attached container (or simply fall on the ground).  A mechanism has been added which essentially spins the barrels backwards for a fraction of a second in the case of a stoppage, in order to eject the stuck round or case.  The M-134D uses coatings and other modifications to reduce friction and increase tolerance to dirt.  The bolt is strengthened by building it from a nickel-steel alloy instead of standard steel.  Further modifications to the M-134D’s bolt helps ensure that the firing pin consistently strikes the primer (another problem with the original M-134).  Variable cyclic rate mechanisms have been removed, and the M-134D fires only at 3000 rpm (mostly to stop wasteful ammunition usage).  Normally, manually-fired M-134Ds have no sights (aim is to be corrected by tracers), but sights can be added.  The amount of possible mountings for the M-134D (and other Dillon M-134s) are so vast that they cannot all be mentioned here; they have even modified a Chevy Suburban to fire a Dillon M-134 out of the rear!

     Dillon has recently designed a new version of the M-134D, called the M-134D-T.  Designed to reduce weight, the M-134D-T uses some skeletonized components where possible, but most of the weight reduction has come from replacing the rotor, housing, parts of the feed mechanism, and the barrel clamp/flash suppressor with versions made from titanium instead of steel. 

     In all cases, Dillon Miniguns can be had with three lengths of barrels: the standard 22-inch barrel, a heavy 22-inch barrel, and a short 18-inch barrel.  Currently, Dillon does not built tripods or soft mounts for their  Miniguns, but they can still use M-2HB tripods and soft mounts, as well as a large amount of pintle mounts, internal aircraft and helicopter mounts, pods, internal and pintle vehicle mounts, boat and ship mounts, and even on mounts like the new remote weapons stations.  It has even been used successfully with some of the experimental combat robots DARPA is testing.  Dillon also offers rebuild kits to convert existing M-134s to the M-134D or M-134D-T specifications.

     Statistics below are for Miniguns mounted designed for mounting on tripods or pintle mounts; Miniguns designed for internal vehicular, helicopter, or aircraft use are typically 4-6 kilograms lighter (depending upon the installation type).  The weight includes a typical power source and electrical motors (but, as usual, not a tripod).

     Twilight 2000 Notes: M-134D development and production was dramatically ramped up prior to the Twilight War; in addition, Dillon agreed to make spare parts for older M-134s in addition to making conversion kits.  The M-134D-T does not exist in the Twilight 2000 timeline.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

M-134

7.62mm NATO

33.76 kg

1000 Belt, 1500 Belt, 4000 Belt

$7945

M-134D (Standard Barrels)

7.62mm NATO

29.98 kg

500 Belt, 1000 Belt, 1500 Belt, 4000 Belt, 4400 Belt

$6622

M-134D (Heavy Barrels)

7.62mm NATO

31.07 kg

500 Belt, 1000 Belt, 1500 Belt, 4000 Belt, 4400 Belt

$6824

M-134D (Short Barrels)

7.62mm NATO

28.35 kg

500 Belt, 1000 Belt, 1500 Belt, 4000 Belt, 4400 Belt

$5889

M-134D-T (Standard Barrels)

7.62mm NATO

24.09 kg

500 Belt, 1000 Belt, 1500 Belt, 4000 Belt, 4400 Belt

$6681

M-134D-T (Heavy Barrels)

7.62mm NATO

25.18 kg

500 Belt, 1000 Belt, 1500 Belt, 4000 Belt, 4400 Belt

$6883

M-134D-T (Short Barrels)

7.62mm NATO

22.46 kg

500 Belt, 1000 Belt, 1500 Belt, 4000 Belt, 4400 Belt

$5948

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

M-134*

30/60

4

2-3-Nil

8

**

4/12

143

M-134D (Standard Barrel)*

30

4

2-3-Nil

8

**

4

143

M-134D (Heavy Barrel)*

30

4

2-3-Nil

8

**

4

154

M-134D (Short Barrel)

30

4

2-3-Nil

7

**

4

106

M-134D-T (Standard Barrel)*

30

4

2-3-Nil

8

**

4

143

M-134D-T (Heavy Barrel)*

30

4

2-3-Nil

8

**

4

154

M-134D-T (Short Barrel)

30

4

2-3-Nil

7

**

4

106

 

M-1919A4/M-1919A6

     Notes: This weapon grew out of John Browning’s experiments with recoil operation for automatic weapons.  He had the basic design for the M-1919 series finished by 1910, but wasn’t able to get any government interested until World War 1 became thick in 1917. 

     The M-1919A4 is a development of John Browning’s earlier M-1917 design; it is basically an M-1917 without the water cooling jacket around the barrel.  This allowed it to be made much lighter, and it became virtually the definitive support weapon for US troops during World War 2. 

     The M-1919A6 was an attempt to make the M-1919A4 into a squad automatic weapon.  The M1919A6 is fitted with a stock, pistol grip, and quick-change barrel and is made from lighter materials. It has a bipod and can be fired from a tripod (NLT). It was a poor attempt at a GPMG and was never popular. 

     When the SEALs first arrived in Vietnam, a commonly-available weapon was the ancient M-1919A4.  These weapons, while somewhat useful, were generally unacceptable to the SEALs, with their then-odd caliber ammunition (for military purposes) and rather worn condition.  The SEALs began a modernization program for the M-1919A4, for use on their patrol and assault boats.  The modernization consisted of a change to 7.62mm NATO caliber and other modifications to the gun necessary to fire this weapon and accommodate the belts; a long, slotted flash suppressor, and more modern sights.  This modified weapon was designated the Mk 21 Mod 0.

     In 2005, the company of Barrel X Change began offering a conversion kit for the M-1919A4 to allow it to fire 7.62mm Kalashnikov ammunition.  This enables it to fire the mounds of cheap Russian and former Eastern Bloc ammunition flooding the market.  This conversion makes no permanent changes to the M-1919A4. The kit itself consists of a barrel, a bolt, a booster nut, a front cartridge stop, a modified top cover extractor spring, a modified recoil spring, and 100 links for 7.62mm Kalashnikov ammunition.

     Twilight 2000/Merc 2000 Notes: Despite its age, these weapons (especially the M-1919A4) continue to soldier on, often converted to 7.62mm NATO.  The 7.62mm Kalashnikov conversion, however, does not exist.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

M-1919A4

.30-06 Springfield

14.05 kg

100 Belt, 250 Belt

$2775

M-1919A6

.30-06 Springfield

14.73 kg

100 Belt, 250 Belt

$2785

Mk 21 Mod 0

7.62mm NATO

16.33 kg

100 Belt

$2445

M-1919A4

7.62mm Kalashnikov

12.94 kg

100 Belt

$2045

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

M-1919A4 (.30-06, Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

142

M-1919A6

5

4

2-3-Nil

8

2

6

71

M-1919A6 (Bipod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

3

92

M-1919A6 (Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

1

142

Mk 21 Mod 0 (Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

8

1

1

163

M-1919A4 (7.62mm Kalashnikov, Tripod)

5

4

2-3-Nil

6

1

1

146

 

RAMO Lightweight M-2

     Notes: As implied by the name, this is an improved, light version of the Browning M-2HB.  In addition to a QCB barrel, the RAMO Lightweight M-2 uses a shorter, lighter barrel, an adjustable rate of fire, and some lighter components.  However, 75% of the parts of this weapon are interchangeable with the standard Browning M-2HB. 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: This weapon exists only in very small numbers.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

RAMO Lightweight M-2

.50 Browning Machinegun

26.72 kg

110 Belt

$13811

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

RAMO Lightweight M-2 (Normal Ammo)

5/10

9

2-3-4

10

1

3/5

275

RAMO Lightweight M-2 (SLAP)

5/10

9

1-2-3

10

1

3/5

330

 

Saco Fifty/.50

     Notes: This is one of several upgraded versions of the M-2HB. Improvements include an adjustable fire rate (from 500 to 750 rounds per minute), while retaining the semiautomatic fire capability.  The receiver has been strengthened by replacing most of the riveted construction with welding; this has also lightened the weapon.  The charging handle is much easier to pull back than on the standard M-2HB.  Most importantly, the need for the tedious headspace and timing adjustments of the standard M-2HB have been eliminated, making the weapon easier to maintain and more reliable.  There is a short muzzle break on the end of the barrel.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

Saco Fifty/.50

.50 Browning Machinegun

25 kg

110 Belt

$14136

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

Saco Fifty/.50 (Normal Ammo)

3/5

9

2-2-3

11

1

1/2

383

Saco Fifty/.50 (SLAP)

3/5

9

1-1-1

11

1

1/2

460

 

Stoner 63A MMG (M-207)

     Notes:  The M-207 was the only version of the Stoner officially type-standardized by the US Army, and was also used by the Navy.  It is basically a larger version of the Stoner 63A series that uses a longer barrel, belt-feed exclusively, and extra rails for vision equipment.  It has a provision for mounting on a tripod.  It is perhaps easier to find these days than other members of the family, but is still a museum or collector’s piece.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: As with other members of the M-63A family, improved versions showed up in the hands of SEALs and Marines during the Twilight War.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

M-207

5.56mm NATO

6.9 kg

100 Belt, 150 Belt, 250 Belt

$1492

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

M-207

10

3

1-Nil

7

2

8

62

M-207 (Bipod)

10

3

1-Nil

7

1

4

81

M-207 (Tripod)

10

3

1-Nil

7

1

2

124

 

Tippman Miniature M-1919A4

     Notes: This is a “novelty gun,” designed for collectors more than for any sort of serious combat use.  It is, as the name suggests, a vastly scaled down Browning M-1919A4, firing .22 Long Rifle instead of .30-06.  The Tippman Miniature breaks down and is cleaned almost exactly like the original, and fires just like the original.  It is not meant to be a serious firearm, just something to have fun with.  Because of its construction, it is very clumsy to fire apart from its tripod (-3 to hit). 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: This weapon does not exist.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

Miniature M-1919A4

.22 Long Rifle

3.9 kg

25, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250 Cloth Belt

$513

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

Miniature M-1919A4

5

1

Nil

3

2

4

70

With Tripod

5

1

Nil

3

1

1

139