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.50 BMG

From Academic Kids

Missing image
M2Round.jpg
A .50 BMG from a WWII M2

The .50 Browning Machine Gun (12.7×99 mm NATO) or .50 BMG is a cartridge developed for the M2 machine gun and is now also used in high-powered sniper rifles. The actual bullet diameter is .51 inches, depending on what caliber rating system is used.

A wide variety of ammunition is available including ball, tracer, armor piercing, incendiary and saboted sub-caliber rounds. The availability of match grade ammo has increased the usefulness of .50 caliber sniper rifles by allowing more accurate fire than lower quality rounds. Matching the availability and price of the higher-quality .50 ammunition is an impediment to producing large caliber sniper rifles using a different round such as 20 mm or another custom size.

History

During World War 2 it found its usage in penetrating lightly armoured vehicles, including aircraft. An upgraded variant of the Browning machine gun used during World War 2 is still in use today as the well known M2 machine gun. Since the mid-1950s, armoured personnel carriers and utility vehicles have been made to withstand 12.7 mm machine gun fire, thus making it a much less flexible weapon. It still has more penetrating power than lighter machine guns, but is difficult to maintain and aim in field conditions. Its range and accuracy, however, are superior to light machine guns when fixed and water cooled, and has not been replaced as the standard caliber for western vehicle mounted machine guns (Soviet and CIS armoured vehicles mount 12.7 mm DShK or 14.5 mm NSV machine guns, which have superior armour penetration).

During the early 1980s a short lived craze for high-speed, high-mass, and low-size semi-automatic rifles proved that the only way to kill multiple targets at ranges of up to 1,500 metres is to use heavy ammunition fired accurately. The Barret M82 .50 Caliber and later variants were born and have upgraded the military sniper from a heavy nuisance to a threat. A skilled sniper can effectively neutralize an infantry unit by picking off several soldiers at a very long range, without revealing his precise location, then spend a few hours moving to a new position (whether they decide to hunt down the sniper or to retreat), before firing again. However, due to the high cost of deploying them, such heavy-caliber sniper rifles are considered anti-matériel weapons.

.50 BMG ammunition has even been used in some handguns such as the Maadi-Griffin handgun and Thunder 50 handgun. They have much shorter barrels than rifles firing the round, so do not have the same power.

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