M2HB (12.7 mm)

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This page is about the M2HB (12.7 mm) mounted on ground vehicles. For the aircraft-mounted variant, see M2 Browning (12.7 mm). For other uses, see M2 (Disambiguation).
The M2HB on top of the M1A2 Abrams


The 12.7 mm Browning M2HB is an American .50 cal (12.7 mm) heavy machine gun, a variant of the legendary Browning M2. It is by far the most ubiquitous machine gun in the game and used by every military branch: The Browning M2 on-board weapon can be found in every aircraft tech tree, the ground-based M2HB is used by the land forces of every nation, and the AN-M2 is found in the US naval tree. As a heavy machine gun, the M2HB has reasonable armour penetration and a higher damage effect than medium and general purpose machine guns. This makes it much more effective in engaging weakly armoured enemy vehicles as well as aircraft.

Vehicles equipped with this weapon

Vehicles equipped with this weapon
Light tanks 
LVT  LVT(A)(4) · LVT-4/40
M8 Greyhound  M8 LAC · ␗M8 LAC
M18 Hellcat  M18 GMC · M18 "Black Cat" · ␗M18 GMC · ▄M18 · Super Hellcat
M24 Chaffee  M24 · ▅M24 · ␗M24 · ▄M24 · AMX-13-M24 · M24 (TL)
M41 Walker Bulldog  M41A1 · leKPz M41 · ▅M41A1 · ␗M41A3 · M41D
M551 Sheridan  M551 · M551(76)
M1128  M1128 · M1128 Wolfpack
Type 16  Type 16 (P) · Type 16 (FPS) · Type 16
Other (USA)  M2A2 · T92 · XM8 · M8A1 GMC
Other (Britain)  SARC MkVI (6pdr) · VFM5
Other (China)  M64
Other (Italy)  Centauro I 120 · Centauro RGO · KF41
Other (France)  VBCI-2 (MCT30)
Other (Sweden)  CT-CV 105HP
Medium tanks 
AMX-30  AMX-30 · AMX-30 ACRA · AMX-30 Super
Centurion  Centurion Mk.5/1
Challenger 2  Challenger 2 OES · Challenger 2E
Leclerc  Leclerc · Leclerc S2 · Leclerc SXXI · Leclerc AZUR
M1 Abrams  M1 Abrams · M1 KVT · IPM1 · M1A1 · M1A1 HC · M1A1 Click-Bait · M1A1 AIM · M1A2 Abrams · M1A2 SEP · M1A2 SEP V2
M4 Sherman  M4 · ▄Sherman I Composito · Sherman Ic · Sherman IC "Trzyniec"
M4A1 Sherman  M4A1 · Sherman II · ▄M4A1 · ␗M4A1 (75) W · M4A1 (76) W
M4A2 Sherman  M4A2 · ▀M4 748 (a) · M4A2 (76) W · ▂M4A2
M4A3 Sherman  M4A3 (105) · ▄M4A3 (105) · M4A3 (76) W · ▅M4A3 (76) W · M4/T26
M4A4 Sherman  Sherman Firefly · ␗M4A4 (1st PTG) · ▄Sherman Vc
M-51  M-51 (W)
M26 Pershing  M26 · M26 "D.C.Ariete" · ▄M26 · M26 T99 · M26E1 · M26A1
M46/7/8 Patton  M46 · M46 "Tiger" · M47 · mKPz M47 G · ▅M47 · M47 (105/55) · M48A1 · ␗M48A1 · M48A2 C · CM11
M60  120S
Magach  Magach 1 · Magach 2 · Magach 3 · Magach 6A · Magach 6B · Magach 6R · Magach 6B Gal · Gal Batash · Magach 7C
Merkava  ▃Merkava Mk.1 · Merkava Mk.1B · ▃Merkava Mk.2B · Merkava Mk.2D · Merkava Mk.3B · Merkava Mk.3C · ▃Merkava Mk.3D · Raam Segol · Merkava Mk.4B · Merkava Mk.4M · Merkava Mk.4 LIC
OF-40  OF-40 (MTCA) · OF-40 Mk.2A
Sho't  Sho't · Sho't Kal Dalet · ▄Sho't Kal Dalet · Sho't Kal Gimel
Type 61  ST-A1 · ST-A3 · Type 61
Type 74  STB-2 · Type 74 (C) · Type 74 (E) · Type 74 (F) · Type 74 (G)
Type 90  Type 90 · Type 90 (B) · Type 90 (B) "Fuji"
Type 10  TKX (P) · TKX · Type 10
Other (USA)  T20 · T25 · T54E1 · T95E1
Heavy tanks 
M4A3E2 Jumbo  M4A3E2 · Cobra King · ▄M4A3E2 · M4A3E2 (76) W
M6  M6A1 · M6A2E1 · T1E1
T26  T26E1-1 · T26E5
T29  T29 · T30 · T34
T32  T32 · T32E1
Other (USA)  M103 · T14 · T54E2
Tank destroyers 
M8 Scott  M8 HMC · ␗M8 HMC
M10 Wolverine  M10 GMC · Achilles · Achilles (65 Rg.) · ␗M10 GMC · ▄M10 GMC
M36 Jackson  M36 GMC · ␗M36 GMC · M36B1 · M36B2 · ▅M36 · ▄M36B2
M109  M109A1 · ▄M109A1 · ▄M109G · M109 · Rochev
M113A1  Giraf · ␗M113A1 (TOW) · CM25 · M113A1 (TOW)
Other (USA)  LOSAT · T28 · T95
Other (Japan)  Type 60 ATM · Type 75 SPH · Type 75 MLRS · Type 99
Other (France)  AuF1
Other (Sweden)  VIDAR
SPAA  M13 MGMC · M15 CGMC · Staghound AA · CCKW 353 (M45) · CM52 · VTT DCA
M16  M16 MGMC · ▅M16 MGMC

General info

The M2HB is a fairly standard 12.7 mm heavy machine gun, with a decent rate of fire and a good belt capacity.

Available ammunition

In its most common role as a secondary (co-axial or pintle-mounted) machine gun, the M2HB can only be equipped with the default belt. The penetration statistics of the containing cartridges can be found in the table below.

The M2HB is also used as the primary weapon on some vehicles (predominantly SPAA, but also tanks such as the M2A2). In these cases, the M2HB can be equipped with a number of different ammo belts. While none of these belts contain a higher maximum penetration than the default belt (31 mm), they consist of different combinations of rounds.

The full belts are:

  • Default: API-T · I · AP · API-T
  • Common: API-T · I · AP · API-T
  • API: API-T · AP-I · API-T
  • AP: AP · AP · API-T
  • API-T: API-T

Penetration statistics
Ammunition Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
10 m 100 m 500 m 1,000 m 1,500 m 2,000 m
AP 31 29 21 14 9 6
I 7 7 6 5 3 3
API-T 29 27 19 12 7 5
AP-I 30 27 19 12 8 5
Shell details
Ammunition Velocity
mass (kg)
Fuse delay Fuse sensitivity
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
AP 894 0.05 - - - 47° 56° 65°
I 944 0.04 0 3 0 47° 56° 65°
API-T 929 0.04 - - - 47° 56° 65°
AP-I 929 0.04 - - - 47° 56° 65°

Comparison with analogues

The M2HB performs functionally identically to the M85 (12.7 mm) machine gun, the only other 12.7 mm machine gun used by the Americans. Like the M85, it has a slightly lower rate of fire than other heavy machine guns, but a larger belt capacity.

Usage in battles

Unlike lower calibre machine guns, the M2HB has enough penetration to be able to penetrate the armour of lightly armoured tanks (or the side/rear armour of some more heavily armoured tanks). Bullets can also sometimes make it through armour holes such as the turret ring or mg port of tanks, injuring crew members. Like all other machine guns, it can be used for incapacitating exposed crew members, as well as marking enemy vehicles and obscuring the view of enemy players (shooting at their gun sight). It also does more damage to enemy aircraft than lower calibre machine guns, and is usually mounted on top of the turret, making aiming at aircraft much easier than with a co-axial gun. Clearing trees and bushes is another use.

On most US tanks, there is a single pintle-mounted M2HB Browning machine gun mounted on the top of the turret. By using the "select machine gun" keybind, you can use it to shoot at enemies' gun barrels from behind cover. If they don't realize what you're doing, you will be able to destroy their gun and leave them defenseless.

Pros and cons


  • Enough penetration to damage some enemy vehicles
  • Good belt capacity
  • The rate of fire is average
  • 3/4 (75%) rounds in the belt have good penetration


  • Slower rate of fire than Soviet 12.7 mm machine guns


The M2HB is an American heavy machine gun in .50 BMG calibre (12.7 x 99 mm NATO); it is the "Heavy Barrel" version of the legendary Browning M2 series of machine guns. Machine guns used in the First World War tended to be of rifle calibre, however towards the end of the war it became apparent that larger calibre weapons were needed to defeat armoured vehicles and aircraft. In mid-1917, John Browning set about redesigning his M1917 machine gun (the same weapon the .30 cal M1919 was developed from) to chamber a .50 cal (12.7 mm) round. The new weapon was tested in October 1918 and was found to have poor rate of fire and inadequate penetration, as well as being heavy and hard to control. Further development work to improve the weapon's shortcomings resulted in the M1921, a .50 cal water-cooled machine gun, which entered testing in 1921.

The M1921 entered service with the US Army and Navy in 1929. The weapon was very heavy at 121 lb (55 kg) and concerns were raised about its suitability for the role due to its extreme weight and the rapid overheating of the air-cooled version. After John Browning's death in 1926, work on the M1921 continued, with a slightly improved M1921A1 version entering service in 1930. The M1921 was re-engineered with a new receiver design, and in 1933 it entered service as the M2 Browning.

The initial Browning M2s shared the same water-cooled barrel as the M1921 (and thus the same heavy weight of 55 kg). Like the M1921, the M2 proved to overheat rapidly without water cooling, and so the M2HB (HB standing for "Heavy Barrel") was developed. The M2HB had a thicker and heavier barrel to help dissipate heat, as well as featuring the weapon's iconic short perforated barrel support and carry handle. Despite featuring a heavier barrel, the ditching of the water cooling system meant that the weight of the weapon could be reduced down to 84 lb (38 kg).

The M2 family saw widespread usage by the Allies in WW2, being mounted on armoured and unarmoured vehicles, aircraft, and ships; the M2 was also mounted on tripods for use by infantry. After the war, a plan was made to replace the M2 with the M85; however, the new weapon turned out to be extremely unreliable and was withdrawn from service (ironically being replaced by the M2). Although the M2 Browning is mostly no longer used on aircraft (being replaced by the M3 and then by larger calibre cannons), the M2HB remains in service to this day with a wide range of nations. It is used on armoured vehicles, boats and by infantry. From 2010 on, the US army began replacing the M2HB with the upgraded M2A1 version, featuring a quick change barrel, a flash suppressor, and other improvements. The upgrade process is still ongoing, with the plan being for all 54,000 of the army's M2 Browning machine guns to eventually be upgraded to M2A1 spec.

The Browning M2 remains the most produced heavy machine gun of all time, with over 3,000,000 being manufactured.



See also

External links

Britain and USA anti-aircraft guns
7.92 mm  BESA
12.7 mm  M2HB
20 mm  GAI C01 · M168 · Oerlikon Mk.II · Polsten
25 mm  GAU-12U
30 mm  HSS 831L
35 mm  GA-35
37 mm  M1A2
40 mm  Bofors L/60 · Dual Automatic Gun M2 · M266
23 mm  ZU-23 (USSR)
35 mm  Oerlikon KDA (Swiss)

Japan anti-aircraft guns
20 mm  Type 98 Anti-Air Gun
12.7 mm  M2HB (USA)
20 mm  Rh202 (Germany)
35 mm  Oerlikon KDA (Swiss)
40 mm  M2 Dual Automatic Gun (USA)

China anti-aircraft guns
25 mm  PG87
35 mm  PG99-35-2
37 mm  Type 65
57 mm  WA318
12.7 mm  M2HB (USA)
20 mm  KwK30 (Germany)
40 mm  Dual Automatic Gun M2 (USA)

Tank machine guns
7.62 mm  M37 · M60D · M73 · M240 · M1919A4
12.7 mm  FN M3P · M2HB · M80 · M85
5.56 mm  MG4
7.62 mm  C6 · MG3A1
7.92 mm  MG13 Dreyse · MG34 · MG37(t) · MG42
12.7 mm  S.MG.50
7.62 mm  DT · PKMB · PKT · PKTM · RP-46 · SGMT
12.7 mm  DK · DShK · 6P49 · NSVT
14.5 mm  KPVT
7.62 mm  Browning MG4 · L3A1 · L8A1 · L8A2 · L37A1 · L37A2 · L94A1
7.7 mm  Vickers
7.92 mm  BESA
12.7 mm  L21A1
6.5 mm  Type 91
7.62 mm  Type 74
7.7 mm  Type 97
12.7 mm  Type 60 (B)
5.8 mm  QJT
7.62 mm  Type 55 · Type 59 · Type 86
12.7 mm  QJC88A · Type 54
14.5 mm  QJG02
7.62 mm  Beretta MG42/59 · FN MAG 60-40
8 mm  34/40M · Breda Mod. 38
13.2 mm  Breda Model 31
7.5 mm  AAT-52 · MAC 31
7.62 mm  A-A-F1N
8 mm  Hotchkiss Mle 1914
6.5 mm  ksp m/14-29
7.62 mm  ksp 39 C · ksp 58 · ksp 94
8 mm  ksp m/36 · ksp m/39B
12.7 mm  ksp 88