The Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun is an automatic, belt-fed, recoil operated, air-cooled, crew-operated machine gun. The system is highly effective against light armored vehicles, low- and slow-flying aircraft, boats and enemy personnel. The M2 is crew transportable with limited amounts of ammunition over short distances. The gun is capable of being modified to fire in single-shot mode, as well as automatic fire. It may be mounted on ground mounts and vehicles as an anti-personnel and anti-aircraft weapon. By repositioning some of the component parts, ammunition may be fed from either the left or right side. A disintegrating metallic link belt is used to feed the ammunition into the weapon.
The M2A1 is the upgraded version of the original M2 heavy machine gun. It includes new modern features and design improvements that make it easier and safer to use including a quick change barrel, fixed headspace and timing. The upgraded weapon also has a reduced signature as a result of its improved flash hider, which reduces muzzle flash by 95 percent. This enhances the Soldier's ability to use the weapon with night vision devices by limiting "white-out" conditions caused by the brilliance of weapon firing. A quicker barrel change also reduces the amount of time soldiers are exposed to enemy fire and shortens the amount of time the weapon is out of operation.