It was a brisk morning at Fort Bragg and there was anticipation among the personnel en route to the range. Key leaders from the Pentagon and Fort Benning were going to get familiar with some of the newest weapons and equipment to be tested for future weapons to be fielded by the U.S. Army. A lot of excitement was attributed to the fact that one of these new weapons was the Light Weight .50, or “LW50.” This has been one of those highly anticipated projects in the works for a very long time. Some hands-on time was in order.

Future Weapon Test Fire
The weapon was on line at a range that stretched out to 1,200 meters. The soldiers were ready to get some time behind this weapon and send some rounds downrange.

The LW50 is one of the newest innovations designed by General Dynamics to lighten the load of the combat soldier while fighting the War on Terror. The only other heavy machine gun at this time of the same size and caliber is the tried and true M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun, affectionately termed “Ma Deuce.” Even though this weapon is by far one of the best workhorses the Army has, it is due time to consider new technology for a better system.

The LW50 started its life as a heavy machine gun that was caliber-convertible from .50 caliber to 25mm and back. The advantage would be a light platform with the ability to change and engage unique enemy targets at extended ranges. During this experimental period, it was classified as the XM307 Heavy Machine Gun.

After initial testing, the U.S. Army and engineers decided to focus on the capabilities of the weapons system using just .50-caliber ammunition instead of both the .50 and 25mm. Although there was initially a need perceived for dismounted 25mm capabilities, PEO (Program Executive Office) Soldier determined that the size of the round and the amount of stress the round created on the mechanism was counterproductive for the weapon system platform in the dismounted role.

The weapon’s unique app­­earance caught my eye. It didn’t have the standard look of an HMG. It looked better suited for a casting role in a Sci-Fi movie… and it shot like nothing I’ve ever come across before.

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