According to a new Request For Information posted by the Department of the Navy on the government’s official contract solicitations website FedBizOpps, the service could potentially find itself picking up a large order of suppressors for none other than its M2A1 heavy machine gun arsenal.
The M2, affectionately known to its various users as “Ma Deuce,” has been in continuous service with the US military since the 1930s, tracing its design history back to the years following the World War I.
Since then, Ma Deuce has seen considerable action in a variety of incarnations, including as an aerial weapon slung on military aircraft, a close-in defense gun on naval vessels, and as portable or mounted heavy machine guns for infantry elements.
Firing the .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) round, one would rightly surmise that the M2 does tend to be quite loud when in use, which seems to be a problem the Navy is dead-set on tackling. To that end, the RFI on FedBizOpps requires that any proposed suppressors need to come with a standard noise reduction to at least 145 decibels or below.
According to Army documents, the M2 averages 161 decibels, an M16 clocks in at 156db.
The new suppressors also need to pump out a 50 percent reduction in flash from what the M2 would normally produce while firing without a muzzle device of any sort. Additional requirements include a stipulation that the suppressors cannot reduce the cyclic rate of the gun, which is ideally pegged at around 450 to 600 rounds per minute, with a much smaller frequency of fire with shorter controlled bursts.
While the notion of a suppressed Ma Deuce may seem outlandish to some, it’s actually not all that new to the military. In fact, in 2017, the Marine Corps made history by deploying a company equipped entirely with suppressed small arms as well as heavy machine guns (i.e. M2s) to Norway. This was the first major step in a long undertaking by the Corps to diminish the signature impact of small arms in its infantry forces.
Delta P Design is one company that has made waves in the .50 cal suppressor market with a 3D printed product, featured among its BREVIS II line. The former OPS Inc. was also known to have produced a suppressor for the M2.
Whether or not the Navy will actually go ahead with buying and equipping its sizable arsenal of M2s with suppressors still remains to be seen. The Navy presently uses M2s in a number of roles including shipboard defense on its surface warships, and in special operations with its SEAL and special boat teams.