General Dynamics are the current manufacturers of the M2 Browning machine gun for the U.S. military, as well as many other awesome gadgets for the modern warfighter. This year they are showing off a brand new never before seen machine gun chambered in .338 Norma Magnum. Which is pretty awesome, but the question is: why? (Video after the jump)

The main answers they gave us were the standard “new gun” answers: its lighter, smaller, more reliable… the whole nine yards. But why .338 Norma Magnum? According to GD, the machine gun was designed to fill a gap between 7.62 NATO machine guns and .50 BMG machine guns, which in terms of firepower is like jumping straight from a Vespa to an Aventador.

Interesting features include the use of an open bolt design to prevent rounds cooking off in a hot chamber and an ejection / extraction system that is closer to the Snayperskaya Vintovka Dragunova’s brass-punting tendency than the existing M2’s gentle push out the bottom.

Joe Grine actually fired the thing, expect a range report soon.


  1. Since the .338 Norma cartridge is even more expensive than the .50 BMG, I can see why the military absolutely must have them. We need another military boondoggle.

    • It’s probably not that expensive when the government orders a few million. It’s not like it takes anything special to make this ammo (at least non-match ammo for MG use). Once demand reaches military magnitudes and the facilities for mass production produced, the price will go down. As far as the military is concerned there is just the setup costs, raw materials, and labor.


    • I have a rifle chambered for .338 Norma Mag, and it’s not anywhere near as expensive to shoot as a .50 BMG. It’s about 70 cents for a bullet, 3 cents for a primer, 31 cents worth of powder, and $1.80 for the case.

      • Peter,
        I’ve been looking for a semi-automatic rifle chambered .338 NM for a while and was only able to find SWORD International’s MK-18. Have you heard of any other manufacturer that sells this type of rifle?

  2. It’s a great idea, but I expect that it will only rarely be used by dismounted troops who have to carry it over any appreciable distance. The best use for this would be as a replacement for the M2 currently mounted on every other gun truck in Afghanistan, or as a fixed emplacement at the far flung observation posts the Taliban like to shoot at from a mile away. Despite my love and nostalgia for the 50 BMG, my experience with M2s is that they are a pain in the ass to maintain in a desert environment, heavy, finicky in the moon dust, and inaccurate at range during automatic fire (even with T&E and optics). The ammo also takes up a huge amount of space and is unnecessarily heavy, even when carried in a gun truck. There are many times I wished we just had more 240Bs and MK19s to replace them. This seems like it combines the best parts of the 240 (lighter crew serve, accurate, similar manual of arms, smaller ammo burden), and M2 (longer range, oomph).
    Hopefully it lives up to the potential, and is immediately produced and sent to where it could be useful.

    • The MK19 is a beautiful thing. My unit back in the early 90s replaced all of the M2 guns with MK19s.

    • Agreed on all points. Plus the M-2 is just generally finicky to service, and requires some significantly different skills from the 240. Plus the ability to man carry, if required, gives you more flexibility.

  3. Got a briefing on this down in Tampa at an event last weekend.. it was mounted on a new General Dynamics highly mobile vehicle platform. Very Cool.

  4. It’ll never happen.Just thing about the nightmare of logistical problems to introduce a freaky,one-off type of ammo. Forgetaboutit.

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