Manta M2 Operator Protection System
Manta's Super Cool M2 Operator Protection System


One of the real dangers faced by those running crew-served weapons are their super-heated barrels. With sustained fire comes the need to change barrels, and that can become a dangerous undertaking. With temperatures reaching 600-plus degrees, the M2 barrel has claimed its share of hands and fingertips. The solution lies in a new product from the brain trust at Manta. The company has created the M2-OPS (Operator Protection System) to help mitigate heat and protect operators and gear from burns.

The M2-OPS eliminates the need for barrel handles and the old school mitts that have been a constant companion of the M2 since its first introduction in battle. Made of a proprietary material, the flexible, rubber-like design slips firmly onto the barrel and is designed to become a permanent fixture.

TEST FIRE: With these impressive claims TW felt it needed some closer attention. My first thought was that this lightweight polymer would quickly melt and become a gooey mess on the barrel. I have tested other “suppressor covers,” but many ultimately fail under the heat of sustained automatic fire. The M2-OPS went on with little effort and seated well. Not one to slowly ease into things, I unleashed a 100-round belt of .50 BMG. The heat on the barrel was evident, as mirage and light smoke from fresh oil rose up. The barrel cover was unmoved and still maintained its shape and texture, which brought me to the reason I was there. With caution reserved for members of a bomb squad, I lightly brought my hand near the cover. While I could feel the heat from the surrounding barrel, the covered area was drastically cooler. A quick tap of the sleeve revealed that it was cool enough to touch without any danger of burning. Ultimately, the barrel change took place wearing a pair of light tactical gloves—not because of any burn danger from the sleeve, but because the surrounding barrel was still pushing 500 degrees. This creates a huge advantage for the crew running this gun. There is no need to switch to clumsy mitts in order to change the barrel. Wearing the gear you have on, you can facilitate the change out and bring the gun back online.

FIGHTING ON: With a gun as old as the Browning M2 heavy machine gun, innovations are rare. But this is the case with the M2-OPS, however. It is a real game changer for the gun, and it helps the crews running this beast be more efficient. This ingenious design is a solid improvement to one of the most iconic weapons in the U.S. arsenal.

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