90 Year Old M2 Still In Service In 2015


This articles is from 2015 but I recently just saw it thanks to an old ‘Nam vet sharing it on facebook.

The .50 caliber M2 machine gun was designed in 1918, near the end of World War I by John Browning.

Production began in 1921 and the weapon was designed so a single receiver could be turned into seven different variants by adding jackets, barrels or other components.

Roughly 94 years after the first production run of M2 machine guns came off the assembly line, the 324th weapon produced made it to Anniston Army Depot for overhaul and upgrade.

Cody Bryant, left, and Corby Tinney inspect the 324th M2 receiver ever produced. The weapon arrived at Anniston Army Depot to be converted to a M2A1 in May. Photo: Army Materiel Command Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus

In more than 90 years of existence, the receiver with serial number 324 has never been overhauled.

“Looking at the receiver, for its age, it looks good as new and it gauges better than most of the other weapons,” said John Clark, a small arms repair leader.

Despite the fact that the weapon still meets most specifications, it may be destined for the scrap yard.

Modifications made to the weapon in the field mean part of the receiver would have to be removed through welding and replaced with new metal, a process which usually means the receiver is scrap.

Entire article link-


Hearing about this didn’t surprise me much. I was under the impression that until recently a lot of the M2s in service were that old or close to it. I think Howard maybe mentioned to me once that he saw M2s still marked from WW2 era while he was in the Marines.


  1. The question that’s really more important here is why in the hell it took so long for the Army to begin conversion of the fleet to a fixed-headspace model that did not require the gunner to re-do headspace every time they mounted a barrel. The first conversion kits were developed back in the 1970s, ferchrissakes… They’re available from Manroy (UK .50 manufacturer), FN (the one we bought… I think…), and even from the guys who built the M60, SACO-Maremont (or, whatever they’re calling themselves, these days…). We should have transitioned to this feature as soon as it was feasible, which would have been about the time precision manufacture of ammunition was really a “thing”, sometime in the late 1930s. I think that was about when we finally got to the point where you could really get away with fixed headspace MGs… Before then, there was enough variation in series manufacture that you almost had to leave that feature in place, or risk your guns not working.

    As to the “oldest receiver” thing? I saw that when it came out, and it doesn’t really surprise me–If you visualize the military supply system as a vast circular stream of water, there are eddy pools and back channels filled with things that would flatly blow your mind, when and if they ever come out into the opening. What causes it are things like little podunk armories for the National Guard somewhere in bumf*ck Eastern Oregon finally getting in a new guy who decides to sweep away the detritus of decades of shifting unit designations and unit types, and finally cleaning out the arms room by doing a mass turn-in of things that aren’t on the MTOE anymore, or someone poking their noses into a forgotten storage vault that’s been lost on paper since the 1950s.

    I’ll give you an idea of what it’s like–Circa 1989-ish, I’m assigned to recruiting in the Chicago area. In the course of things, I’m tasked with turning in the recruiting station’s G-jets, or GSA sedans for the uninitiated. To do that, you took the cars down to the GSA warehouse on the outskirts of Chicago, and you turned over the old one, drew the new one, and away you went.

    Complicating factors for this process, at least in one case, were that the folks at the GSA warehouse had “lost” one of the cars slated for us, and of course, I had to be the schmuck to go looking for the missing vehicle with the nice GSA manager. That f**king warehouse… Dear God, it was immense. Huge. Mostly empty. And, the two of us were driving around the damn thing like we were Diogenes with his lamp, looking for an honest man in Athens. Took about two hours to find that vehicle, and in the course of that period, we found stuff that the manager I was with didn’t even know about–He was constantly stopping, looking at his paperwork, and going “What the hell is that…?”, and we’d get out, look it over, and he’d get back in the truck with me and scribble furiously in his notebook. One of the stops was a little cyclone-fenced yard filled with decades-old unused earthmoving equipment that was covered in dust like some weird archaeological find, and he just sat there, staring at it, swearing softly to himself. Apparently, it was a near-legendary “lost item” in their inventory system that he’d been trying to track down for years, to clear off the books, and he’d never been able to figure out where the hell it had gone, until we blundered into it, deep into the catacombs of that warehouse.

    We eventually found the vehicle I was supposed to sign for, tucked away with another lot of new GSA cars slated to go to, I think, the Agricultural Department. The entire experience was just… Bizarre. You think those places only exist in Hollywood movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I’m here to tell you, they’re real. Some of the depots run by the Army make that place look positively tiny.

    So, yeah… When the current starts sweeping things up, all sorts of oddities fall out of the cracks. And, it’s not isolated to the US government, either–One of my greatest “lost opportunities” stemmed from a German situation, where a German gunsmith had happened on a surplus lot of consecutive pre-WWII Luger pistols, which he’d bought and then got screwed on because they changed the law on him, and he couldn’t sell them (something about the Nazi proof marks and who’d owned the damn things, back in the day–They were deemed verboten due to the provenance). I got wind of this through a friend who’d known the guy, and when I had written back to the BATF about what I’d need to do to import them, I was informed that they were not importable. Which, it later turned out, was either an outright lie, or a mistake. Five mint, unissued, consecutively serial-numbered, unused pre-WWII Lugers, complete with all the trimmings, which I could have bought for like $200.00 apiece. You don’t even want to know what those bastards would have been worth, because it would make you sick to learn that the guy who had them had to eventually turn them over for destruction, when he shut his business down to retire. Thank you, BATF.

    Anyway, the point of that bit of history was that the five pistols had been hidden away in a long-overlooked storage facility that finally got cleaned out when the Germans decided to do some work in a building that had been turned over for civilian use, and when they tore out the fittings, found what they took to be someone’s “secret stash” in behind a workbench. I’m not sure how they got into the hands of the gunsmith that had them, but the lack of records there about who’d owned the damn things from WWII onwards was what I think led to the BATF telling me “No, you don’t get to win the Luger lottery…”.

    I’m telling you, if you were able to turn the supply system upside-down, and shake it? You would be astounded at what all fell out.

    • Or just stuff that’s been sealed in VPI bags for decades in long term storage at some depot warehouse. We had brand new Colt 601s still with wicking tubes in the barrels that hadn’t been touched since the late 60s when we were doing the A2 conversion kits. War reserve material or whatever it’s called, we had cases and cases of them. All those uppers and other various parts got palletized and chunked back to depot in Anniston. If there wasn’t still more buried away somewhere even now I’d be surprised.

    • “I’m assigned to recruiting in the Chicago area.”

      I’m trying to picture all the Drill Sergeants shaking their heads as your recruits show up at Fort Dix for Basic.

      Jokes aside, how did this guy lose earth moving equipment that he just needed to get in the truck to go find? Five Lugers behind a workbench? Easily missed for decades. But earth moving equipment? That he was specifically looking for?

      • It was pretty simple, really. The guy I was with was one of the secondary-level managers who normally didn’t get out into the complex and usually worked in the office. That set of construction equipment had been “missing” on paper for about ten-fifteen years–Was supposed to have been signed for by either the Park Service or the Forest Service, and they’d never come to get it. Meanwhile, it showed as a still in the warehouse, but the way the locating system worked, it had been mis-filed. The slot in the warehouse where they had it recorded as being was empty, and there were so many different people working there that no one person was in charge of it all. They had paperwork showing the stuff had come in from wherever, but no paperwork showing it leaving, so it was still in the system–And, the people who were supposed to have come and got it denied ever having done so. The location record showed where it was supposed to be, but it was empty due to the misrecording, sooo… There had been a constant back-and-forth between GSA Chicago and the guys who were supposed to have picked this stuff up, and it would come back up to the top of the inbox about every six months, regular as clockwork.

        When we went to pick up our vehicles, they were short-staffed that day because of training and sick days being taken, so the manager types had to get out and do their thing. None of the lower level guys who’d no doubt driven past that storage cage had recognized it for what it was, so they never reported it, and since they didn’t use that part of the warehouse, the entire thing was basically a ghost in the machine.

        I don’t think I communicated the size of this place–It was like a gigantic covered parking garage with multiple levels that covered several city blocks, and was maybe up to a mile long on a side. You drove by it, and you were going for quite awhile–The whole complex was ginormous, and maybe only a tenth of it was in active use. The manager who took me out told me that there was stuff they’d found in there from when the place was built back during WWII and it was supporting all the Midwestern federal operations, including constructing all the bases for WWII. One of the things we drove by in the course of our search was a caged area filled with hundreds of porcelain bathroom fixtures still in crates from that era, and you could look through the crumbling slats at the same crap that was in our old WWII barracks at Fort Lewis when I was there.

        I think the average person would be completely mind-blown at the scale of logistics that the Federal Government has going, and is capable of punching out if need be. You just don’t get it, until you’re sitting Kuwait outside a container yard that’s over a mile on a side, stacked four and five high, and some smartarse wants you to find a specific set of twenty unmarked 20′ and 40′ containers… For which they’ve provided you with a spreadsheet that may or may not contain the correct serial numbers of. About then, you’re left going “Oh, f**k…”, and resigning yourself to driving around like a madman trying to find the damn things, because someone much earlier on (Ronald Dumbsfeld, not to name names…) had decided to cut key logistics personnel from the deployment roster to keep headcount in Kuwait below what the Kuwaitis mandated, and decided that the guys who were supposed to be there to accept and track all that cargo didn’t need to go…

        Yeah, there’s residual bitterness. I never got out of Kuwait on my first tour due to how f**ked up the logistics were, and I spent a lot of time running down stuff I shouldn’t have had to.

        • That GSA warehouse just had a broken process. I mean, it’s one thing to have screwed up logistics when you’re staging in Kuwait for a literal war. But doing an inventory on a warehouse that’s been there for decades is a very straightforward thing, if time-consuming.

          • The Feds don’t have a handle on that sort of basic process, though. Every time I dealt with GSA for stuff, you’d run into stuff like that. The Army depot system is similar–Things get stored, paperwork gets lost, and then it’s hey-diddle-diddle, found on installation to get it back on the property books.

            The guy running Range Control at Fort Lewis found himself out at one of the depots signing for brand-new (in the mid-1960s…) M60A1 tanks that had been sitting somewhere “off the books” somehow, and never issued to a unit. They basically went from the factory into storage and then became range targets when he went to sign for them. It was ‘effing surreal–These tanks still had all the OVM and OVE crated up on the back decks, exactly as they’d left the factory, and the odometers and clocks still had microscopic numbers on them, like less than ten miles and only a couple of hours. The really amazing thing was that they still ran, although a couple of them blew seals in the powerpack when they went to load them on the rail cars.

            Considering the condition of some of the tanks that were out there in the pre-M1 days, that was pretty damn amazing. I’d love to know the whys and wherefores of those things never being issued to anyone, and why they never got the A3 updates applied, but there you are.


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