The .50 BMG (12.7x99mm Browning Machine Gun) cartridge is arguably the most sucessful round in its class.
Orginally developed in 1918-1920 as a cartridge for a large caliber AA / anti-armor machine gun, it was standardised by the US Army in 1921 along with the fit for purpose Browning M1921 heavy machine gun (M2HB). The M2HB is now the eponymous weapon to fire this caliber ammunition. A few other machine guns have been more recently developed to complement or replace the M2HB but none have succeeded so far.
.50 BMG was widely used in aircraft during WW2 and in Korea. It is still in wide use today by various land and naval forces around the world, including the US armed forces and NATO, where it is designated metrically as 12.7x99mm NATO.
Since the 1980’s, the .50BMG has also become increasingly popular as a long-range sniping / anti-materiel round, and several specialised loadings were recently developed for this purpose, such as the Mk.211 Mod.0 Multi-purpose round by Raufoss.
Another specialized round is called SLAP (Saboted Light Armor Penetrator) with sub-caliber .30 / 7.62mm tungsten projectile inside a discardable plastic sabot. This round can penetrate about 34mm of steel armor at 500 meters range (with a 90° impact angle) and up to 23mm of the same depth of steel armor at 1200 meters.
|Designation||Bullet weight, g||Muzzle velocity, m/s||Muzzle energy, J||Comments|
|M2 AP||45.8||857||16 820|
|M8 API||40.4||888||15 900|
|M903 SLAP||23.3||1 220||17 360||Saboted Light Armor Penetrator|
|Mk.211 Mod.0||43.5||888||17 125||Raufoss Multi-purpose projectile (AP-I-Explosive)|