The Army has Misplaced a Ma Deuce Machine Gun…Have You Seen It?

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M2 Browning Ma Deuce machine gun
Cjp24, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You know that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you lose something important? You pat the pocket where you usually keep your phone and…it’s not there. You frantically search everywhere for the damned thing as your heart races and you start to panic.

That’s pretty much what happened to a bunch of the US Army’s finest over the weekend at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. The “Ghost Brigade” (AKA the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team) along with others on the base had their weekend cut short when an M2 receiver went walkies.

As reports . . .

The receiver assembly of an M2 .50-caliber machine gun went missing from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment’s staff duty area and triggered an all-hands search that, for most of the rank and file, lasted a little over 12 hours. But it resulted in an Army investigation that was still ongoing Monday.

The receiver assembly is essentially useless on its own but had not been found, according to 7th Infantry Division spokesperson Maj. Bryen Freigo. A judge advocate’s recommendation for a search of the base indicated the weapon component had likely been stolen.

D’oh! We can’t stand when we misplace our machine guns. It’s terribly inconvenient, not to mention expensive. And our friends at the ATF can get downright grumpy about these kinds of things.

Soldiers were getting ready for Expert Infantry and Expert Soldier Badge qualifications that includes firing the M2. Only the M2 was nowhere to be found.

“In preparation for testing, an M2 had been signed over to staff duty to allow soldiers to train for testing through the weekend,” [7th Infantry Division spokesperson Maj. Bryen] Freigo told over email.

A soldier allegedly took the receiver, which was out of the sight of the staff duty troops. This “created an opportunity for one awful person to create chaos,” one soldier involved in the search told It is unclear why or exactly when the soldier took the component.

Freigo said that staff duty discovered the component was missing and notified their chain of command. “Per policy, the brigade had been recalled to aid in the search for the sensitive item,” he added.

This really isn’t anything new for America’s GIs. The Army misplaced an M240B machine gun in August and an AP investigation uncovered what they say is a years-long effort to understate the problem of thousands of missing weapons.

M2 Browning Ma Deuce machine gun
Courtesy US Army

When the Ma Deuce was discovered missing, the brass got right on it, organizing a careful, systematic grid search designed to find the important piece of ordnance . . .

“A .50 cal is nuts to go missing,” the soldier told, though it was only the receiver. “The searching was silly. … The guidance was to go walk around and look for it like you’re doing an Easter egg hunt.

After much hunting, the miscreant who walked off with the receiver was found . . .

A culprit was identified that afternoon, according to a soldier involved in the search. By evening, the soldier had allegedly confessed to tossing the receiver into a dumpster. At some point, the trash bin had been emptied and its contents — including the machine gun part — had been hauled away.

Reports of hundreds of civilians combing through the garbage dumps of western Washington could not immediately be confirmed.


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      • ….”I got it one piece at a time…and it didn’t cost me a dime”….may have been what was at work here…seen this game played before….

        • ….”I got it one piece at a time…and it didn’t cost me a dime”….

          Still one of my favorite “story” songs.

          Don’t really know, I’m just thinkin’, someone’s stashed it in that hot rod Lincoln

    • Afghanistan, where more than a few things were “misplaced.”

      Can’t “misplace” something you INTENTIONALLY give away.

  1. The search did produce some positive results, however. SP4 Bud Head allegedly found ex-President W. J. Clinton’s senses of propriety, ethical standards, honesty, sexual decency and protection of minor females discarded in that same dumpster.
    Unfortunately, the Specialist was visiting the latrine when a platoon of newly hired IRS Tax Accountants were qualifying for IRS SWAT Team positions. Vigorously searching for the thief, they became excited and shot him in the head.
    No reprimands were issued or forthcoming.

    • SP4 Bud Head allegedly found ex-President W. J. Clinton’s senses of propriety, ethical standards, honesty, sexual decency and protection of minor females

      Bubba never had any of those things to lose in the first place.

      • Right. Out of curiosity does Trump have those qualities? I’m a lifelong (actual) conservative not the Fox News kind, life member of the NRA, and believe in the 2nd Amendment. I’m 51 and I think I’ve voted for one democrat, like…ever. But it’s comical and highly ironic to see pro-gun people on a gun website in 2022 harkening back to BILL CLINTON’s personal conduct!! That’s funny …

        • Our founding fathers visited houses of ill repute and drank themselves silly. St. Ronnie was part of the Hollywood scene and was involved with up and coming starlets.
          More presidents than not had mistresses, they were not outed because it wasn’t news, wasn’t talked about(did not really matter way after women got the vote) and was expected from men of power.

          Billy Boy got caught with his pants down, not very smart, but look at it from his point of view – The loud mouthed harridan or someone that tried to please.

  2. Ah, I recall my days as a HQ detachment commander in Germany. My armorer lost an M-16 during a mobilization exercise. He and I spent almost 48 straight hours visiting the armory of every fielded unit (there were a dozen). We finally found it. He had signed for a weapon in a batch of 20 or so, but had not inventoried the batch properly. Would’ve been an Article 15 for both of us.

    • That first photograph of an M2 looked a little rusty. Must have been an Army M2. I don’t think a Marine would allow such a poor condition to fall upon so noble a weapon.

      • I don’t think a Marine would allow such a poor condition to fall upon so noble a weapon.

        You are correct.

  3. I’m just going to say it. m2 is a fantastic weapon. For its purpose. I would not have one if it was legal and acceptable. Its heavy. The ammo is heavy. And I don’t have any villains in helicopters to fight off.

    Its just too much and that isn’t even throwing cost in.

        • not as far-fetched as it looks…those little “glock-switches” and the like are becoming all too common…and usually found in the wrong hands…

      • I’m not telling anybody what they need or don’t need.

        I’m saying I don’t need anything in .50bmg.

        • While cool, the logistics of shooting a .50cal would limit it for me. A big load to carry, assembly on site, and at least $5+ per round (not sure of actual costs). Then disassembly, cleaning, packing away, etc.

          No wonder LMGs are more expensive than many belt-feds. Not much more inconvenient than a rifle.

        • I get to shoot a neighbor/range buddy’s M82 A1 w/BORS (Barrett Optical Ranging System) around once a year. Just have to provide my own ammo.
          Anyone who has shot this combo is rightfully impressed.
          The BORS compensates for distance, temperature, barometric pressure, upward or downward angle aiming, rifle cant……
          Firing solutions are fast and SPOT ON (when the proper load data is input).

          After firing a few 50BMG round, switching to 308 Win feels like shooting 22LR.

          I’ve found shooting 50BMG before 308 Win (and 50AE before 9mm/45acp handguns) has me SAVING money on ammo costs. I shoot much less ammo overall on those range days.

      • Well, that didn’t work. Link was supposed to cut straight to the 3:20 mark where the scene with the helicopter starts.

        • a .60 is about as big as you want to go…but at my age taking off my shirt, tying it around my head and shooting out transformers is a thing of the past!…..

    • They are legal in states that allow Class III guns for private citizens…

      And there is a semi auto variants out there!!!

      There are a few full auto and semi autos in my state, ground and vehicle mounted by private citizens!!!

    • crew-served weapon…gonna’ need you and your buddies and a pick-up truck to haul it around…not to mention finding a place to shoot it…that said, I once had an opportunity to acquire one of these for about five grand from a buddy obviously hard up for cash…I hesitated when I should have jumped…would have had to form 4 it…(and kiss some butt)…as my license had expired…

  4. The Army loses a Ma Deuce, a couple orders some empty storage boxes and gets one with a dozen M16s, and the Army has hidden or downplayed the extent to which its firearms disappear.

    But that’s okay as long as the brass doesn’t find out that a soldier used the wrong pronoun.

  5. You can not paint USGI boots yellow.
    Your boots are on fire.

    ” Those are not my boots.”

  6. Before I read the article, I thought the result of the search was going to be that a soldier lost it in a tragic kayak accident in the Pacific Ocean.

    • So Private Snuffy signs out a M2 receiver which he throws into a dumpster?
      How many years at Leavenworth will this be?

      • zero
        field promotion to 2nd lieutenant plus hazardous duty pay. them dumpster lids are heavy might break a nail

  7. The “gun Community” would never support the repeal the NFA. They are content that only the police and military, are the only ones allowed to openly carry machine guns. The gun Community does not believe in the widespread ownership of machine guns in the law abiding General Public.

    It’s not necessary for the general public to buy a machine gun. They can simply have their existing semi-auto weapons converted. It’s much less expensive that way. Assuming the NFA was ever repealed.

    “Marion Hammer: NRA Never Wanted Legal Machine Guns, Bump Fire Stocks”

    • You keep saying this when the facts don’t back your side!!!

      If you told the people that are against it, like you claim, and told them the full auto’s would be around $100-$500 for the majority of the guns, they would immediately be on board with over turning the NFA laws!!!!

      • …the eighties are gone…never to be repeated…some actually were cheaper than the transfer tax….

    • JFYI, Wayne the traitor has constantly stated that the NRA supports “SENSIBLE GUN CONTROL” which is a direct conflict with the “SECOND AMENDMENT”!!!

      He compromises with the MARXIST DEMOCATS!!!

      So the NRA doesn’t represent me!!!!

    • legal machine-gun owners are a select group…some politicians among them…once upon a time a legal Joe could acquire one without too much hassle…now they’ve been priced out of the game…is it any wonder they continually search for alternatives?

      • The alternatives to a very expensive, real machine gun is the bump stock. Or a reset type trigger. And it’s the “gun Community” who keeps saying that owning a bump stock is stupid, and just a waste of ammunition. This is why I have come to believe that the “gun community” is simply uncomfortable with modern-day, 21st century weapons technology, that the ordinary civilian has access to.

        • lots of choices…but was there ever a more desirable firearm than a real, honest to God…Thompson sub-machine gun?….

  8. THe ARMY has NOT lost a bloody 0.5 machine gun.
    A PART of 0.5 Machine gun has been misplaced. Not the same thing at all.
    If you had any expedrience of the Armed Services you would know that gun parts go missing all the time.
    That’s why there is a PARTS LIST. When you are dealing with literally tens of thousands of Firearms on a daily basis often in the handcs of unskilled trainees is it that surprising that parts go missing. So don’t be daft and try to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    • Losing the whole thing except the barrel may as well be so, especially since the back half contains the serialized part. The same would happen if someone lost the lower half of an M4.

      • Exactly what I would have said to Prince among Kings Albert. The serialized part is legally the gun.

      • The Serialized part of a M2 is one of the side plates, everything else is readily available as a replacement part .

    • They lost the whole fucking receiver, all that is needed is a barrel to make it whole AND that is NOT impossible to come by… MORON.

      • That is correct, the only part that is available for legal purchase is one of the side plates, I would have to reference my copy of the Machine Gun Dealers Bible to refresh my memory about whether it was the right , or left plate.

    • The part controlled under the NFA, all other parts are readily accessible, I would guess that the only thing left behind was the barrel, and that the receiver never was never put into a dumpster.

      I also would guess that someone else already drove the receiver off post , or hid it on post.

    • Fokkin idiot. We don’t have 0.5 machine guns. I don’t care how much limey juice your mama caught with her vagina, it’s not a 0.5 machine gun. It’s a .50 caliber machine gun. You British and continental idiots use metric measurements, so a 0.5 might sound sensible to some of you – that would be a half-meter gun. Something like an 18 inch naval main gun. Idiot. Just plain idiot. ‘Muricans measure their guns in inches, which is what “caliber” means. Idiot idiot idiot idiot. You never served in any military capacity, here, there, or anywhere.

    • You COULD blow the operator out of whichever vehicle you care to be operating. ‘Specially if the vehicle is lightly armored – bullet goes in, can’t find it’s way out, so it just bounces around like a ping pong ball, destroying anything in it’s way.

  9. If “loss” of a machine gun component is a big deal, can you imagine the response to the “loss” of a nuclear weapon?

    I had to investigate such a loss, and the whole affair was comical. However, the “loss” of a nuke from Minot AFB, recovered at Barksdale AFB was washed away by senior officers by declaring to SecDef that seniors leaders didn’t actually know how it happened (but seem to have claimed that they were not responsible for subordinate units).

    OK, maybe this is all an “inside baseball” thing, but fun can be had by all.

    • If I recall correctly, the AF has dropped one on South Carolina, lost four in Greenland, and four in Spain. Plus one in Canada. (Maybe that explains the Canadians.) Six have never been recovered.

      • “If I recall correctly, the AF has dropped one on South Carolina,”

        The reasons for those losses, all in the “early” days of handling airborne nukes, were eliminated by time I became a bomber crewmember. Indeed, the pendulum has swung decisively the other direction. We even had a Soviet style informant system, and a perceived mistake by a family member could get you investigated, or, at best, placed under informal suspicion.

        When Strategic Air Command was dissolved, and bombers fell under command of the fighter mafia (Air Combat Command), things seem to have reverted.

        If you would like to continue discussing nuke safety, drop a note to “Stratofortress” at

      • “Yeah, nothing says “lets party” quite like a missing nuke…”

        Definitely isn’t a party for the faint of heart. But, “If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs…”

        • Telling me, I was part of a security team for a group of engineers who had to locate and destroy a B-52 load of 500 pounders that were not armed before they dropped them in the mountains of S Vietnam… Real fun times.

        • MADDMAXX, plane takes off and someone points at a crate of bomb fuses. “Hey guys, what were we supposed to do with these?”

        • Your comment is awaiting moderation
          “Hey guys, what were we supposed to do with these?

          Sounds about right, or some airman was pissed off because his AC broke down over night or the maid didn’t change his sheets.

          WTF? REALLY? How is THIS “moderation” jail material?

    • did they ever find that nuclear weapon lost in the southeast?…think about it every time I make a Florida run….

      • “did they ever find that nuclear weapon lost in the southeast?…”

        The one off the coast of South Carolina is still using escape and evasion tactics; operator operating operationally.

  10. He’s No Soldier Anymore, adios yah theiving coyote.
    .gov owes us taxpayers some money on the stuff they gave to the Towel eeBan. If DoD can give people they dont know gunms they can give them to me/us. We paid for them, so we should own any surplus.

    “…I was part of a security team for a group of engineers who had to locate and destroy a B-52 load of 500 pounders….in the mountains of S Vietnam… Real fun times.”

    Nope. That was just plain crazy. Even a full jettison would result in a trail several miles long.

    Did a tour at Da Nang. Some nights, you could feel the ground shake from B-52 bombings, miles and miles away. Actually, we heard the barracks doors shake.

    • Loved that arclight. And yes, several miles, took over a month to locate them all (64), not really sure they did get them all.

      • Depending on the year, and the B-52 model, you didn’t get them all. The B-52D carried 108 bombs, 84 500lb internally, and 24 750lb, externally. 1971/72 saw introduction of the B-52G model, which carried 27 bombs, internally. Best I remember was that for some reason, the G model carried either 27 500lb, or 27 750lb. The G had no external carry.

        • only told to look for 64 500 pounders apparently the 750s and some of the 500s were armed. Just a hired gun, not an engineer or a bomber jet guy…

  12. Not only did I not find the lost receiver, I did not bury it in a hayfield near Buxton Maine.

  13. That is correct, the only part that is available for legal purchase is one of the side plates, I would have to reference my copy of the Machine Gun Dealers Bible to refresh my memory about whether it was the right , or left plate.

    “only told to look for 64 500 pounders…”

    Understand. Could be a number of reasons for that, none of them good. Best part is/was that you and your team finished the job safely.

    Driving home after a mission, not long after bomb release, we heard a loud “thunk”. All the instruments, everywhere, showed “systems normal”. As a precaution, just outside home plate, we descended to 10,000ft, and sent the navigator into the bomb bay to make sure we we didn’t have any bombs still on board (even though the comb counter did not show any remaining on the racks).

    Nav came back, and said we had a bomb stuck between the bomb bay doors, and it was likely armed (the nose of the bonb was below the doors, in the slip stream). We declared an emergency. After landing, we vacated the bird, and ran about 2000ft, supposedly safe from a detonation. The nose of the bomb was about two feet from the runway.

    It was a strange episode; none of us really felt in danger, and the potential for disaster never seemed to affect our thinking. But we were flyers once, and young.

    • Had to take a three-day demolition course before the Op, blowing shit up is way cool, hoping you are far enough away from a 500-pound bomb before it is detonated not so much, many of them were really deep, left a lot of big craters on Charley Ridge…

      • “Had to take a three-day demolition course before the Op,…”

        Only three days? I would have wanted a master’s degree in de-bombing, first.

        • Unfortunately, Uncle Sams paid killers don’t get much say in what THEY want. Guess they felt putting big emphasis on the safety part of it was enough and being young and dumb had a lot to do with it as well. Engineers did the digging and detonation my job was to keep any bad guys from harming them or stopping the process. 500-pound bomb would have made a hell of a booby trap. .

  15. Gotta wonder what the guilty party was up to here. My first thought is he had some sort of deal with an outside party to sell the receiver.

    In any case, this guy is gonna be real popular with the folks who lost a 4 day weekend because of his dumbfookery.


  17. The US has managed to lose half a dozen or more nuclear weapons. An M2 receiver is hardly worth mentioning.

  18. @MADMAXX
    “my job was to keep any bad guys from harming them or stopping the process.”

    As if being in the jungle, anywhere, wasn’t just as hazardous.

    • Attracting attention with big booms in a free fire zone makes it pretty interesting, but we had two companies of Marines maintaining patrols in the area and on call air support, probably the safest month I spent there, a few minor skirmishes kept it interesting.

      • “we had two companies of Marines maintaining patrols in the area and on call air support,”

        Had three trips to the war; four incidents. Nothing like you experienced. Thanx for taking my place.

    • had a couple of buddies who were cousins…one in the 82nd one in the 101…one used to brag about how he would visit the other when they faced-off in maneuvers…”swift-strike” or something like that…steal a jeep then dump it in the river on the way back…..

      • In RVN, renegade jeeps were a thing; lost their way home.

        Then, one day at Da Nang, someone stole a fire truck. The resulting activities kinda took the fun out of it.

  19. As I said in a previous post on another article, it’s trivially easy to just pick up a weapon and walk away with it. Just about every other part can be found by other means but a receiver is a little harder to get.

    I kept my rifle inside my sleeping bag for a reason in MWTC, any civilian could walk right into our camp at night and take what they wanted if they knew where we were. Some people shoved theirs outside their tents since it was freezing and metal gets cold. If you didn’t sleep with your water, that was frozen too. It wasn’t cold enough to warrant a tent and too much effort to unpack and repack it so I used a bag.

    From what I hear from others, the army is even worse with weapons and leave them everywhere.

  20. LOST: one gray and black, female, .50 caliber heavy machine gun.
    Very outgoing, answers to the name of “Ma Deuce,” but her bite is even worse than her bark, so if found, do not pet her!
    She’s 65 inches long and weighs a svelte 62 pounds.

  21. The last time someone found a box of military firepower and tried to turn it in like a good citizen, federal agents secured a search warrant to paw through all their belongings instead of giving them a handshake and thanks.

    Something to keep in mind.

    • nothing like hunting in an area the army trains…found stuff (usually buried) all the time!…..

  22. @Southern Cross October 11, 2022 At 23:22

    SAC’s unofficial mottos:

    Bomber pilots do it longer, penetrate deeper, and deliver bigger loads.

  23. A few years from now, someone is going to open a military surplus storage case they got online and are going to find it.

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