50 bmg - what gear does the military carry with them?


December 2, 2012, 05:39 PM
This thread comes off of a discussion I had with a friend. We all know that military folks carry a good amount of ammo and gear with them. Military snipers who use a .308 bolt action will quite obviously carry extra ammo, a sidearm, and whatever other supplies are necessary for the mission.

However, some of this load might change when you go from carrying a 10 pound rifle to carrying a 30 pound rifle.

For those of you who know and have the experience, what do military folks using a .50 bmg typically carry with them? How many rounds are carried on average? Do they still have simple two-person shooter and spotter teams, or is a third individual required to help lug the stuff?

Inquiring minds want to know...

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December 2, 2012, 06:32 PM
I don't think you'll find long distance strolls with a 50. Prob more deploys from a vehicle.

December 2, 2012, 07:19 PM

December 2, 2012, 08:21 PM
Ours were mounted on trucks with a turret. I wouldn't want to carry the ammo cans very far. Or the ma Duece for thar matter.

December 2, 2012, 08:25 PM
There's s few different .50 guns the military uses. Are you asking in general, or certain types, ie- sniper rifles or truck mounted guns. Obviously you can haul more ammo in a truck than you can carry.

December 2, 2012, 08:31 PM
I seriously doubt any of our guys are "marching" with a 50 BMG.

December 2, 2012, 09:44 PM
I'm specifically thinking of a sniper rifle. Meaning, bolt action or semi automatic, such as a McMillan or a Barrett. The kind the guys in Afghanistan were making 1.5 and 2 mile shots with.

Basically, I wanna know what kind of stuff the guy laying in the grass making the 1.5 and 2 mile shot is carrying in addition to the rifle.

December 2, 2012, 10:13 PM
1970: no Barretts or McMillan sniper rifles. We had M-14's for that. We didn't shoot at anything further away than 1-200 yds unless we could put our 81mm ( or, even better: 105mm's) on them.
The .50 was for breaking brush.

One of our sister companys kind of mutinied prior to deploying from RVN to Cambodia in 1970. The battalion CO came out and asked "(***!) is the matter here."

Resolution was: ditch the 81mm tube (which was useless in the triple canopy) and provide a .50 BMG. Problem solved.
One guy carries the receiver (had the biggest load), then one for the barrel, one for the tripod and 2 for the ammo cans (200 rnds). I bet there were volunteers carrying additional.
No worse than carrying the 81mm tube (1) , baseplate (1), tripod(1), plotting chart and sight (1) RTO (that would be me) and 2 rounds per grunt (let's say 6 =12) max.

They "marched with it" back then for the 2 months of 1970 Cambodia anyway.
Wasn't exactly TO&E but got them by.

Pretty good trade off in my opinion. My company DXed our tube as soon as possible for two extra M-60s that the 4th platoon carried and were happy to get them. (and happy to carry additional M-60 belts)

December 3, 2012, 01:39 AM
The Barrett is rarely used in situations where the M24 or M100? can be used. When the Barrett is used the sniper gets in position as close as possible with a vehicle. Our sniper certified on the .50 carried 50-100 rounds with him entirely dependent on how long he was going to be out, who was going with him etc. The spotter usually turns into a "pack mule" for equipment since the sniper is carrying a larger weapon. Some snipers remove excess equipment to make long shots. So they carry as little as possible in case they have/want to take some off. I was spotting for our .50 once and I was holding his helmet, water, and one of his armor plates to help him focus on an 1100 meter shot.

December 3, 2012, 05:31 AM
I read somewhere that back in WW2 weapons teams sometimes hauled .50 cal MGs on road marches -- my recollection is that guys rotated carrying the .50 itself every 15 minutes or so.

I don't envy those guys and imagine that got real old real fast.

December 3, 2012, 08:04 PM
Everything about the .50 is heavy. One hundred rounds weighs 72 pounds.

The Lone Haranguer
December 3, 2012, 09:47 PM
They aren't carrying them around in the field, at least not for any distance on foot. I always saw these rifles being deployed from fixed positions under or behind cover (e.g., a building).

December 3, 2012, 09:52 PM
Guys, if you read the OP's first post, he's clearly talking about long range rifles, and does not mention the M2HB machinegun.

I was a designated marksman in Afghanistan for two deployments with Marine Recon. I carried the Barret (M107) probably about half the time. It all depended upon what type of terrain we were going into otherwise I would just carry a .308 (M110). I like to joke that my fifty cal did more harm to me than it ever did to anyone else. Big, heavy, and LOUD!

Loadout-wise, I normally carried the rifle itself, fully assembled on my shoulders. I also carried 5 magazines loaded with a total of 50 rounds of Mk.211 "raufoss" ammo which is a high explosive, armor piercing, incendiary round.

I carried two spare mags in a SAW-pouch on my left side, so at any time I had access to 30 rounds.

I also put 2 sets of ear plugs on the rifle itself by jamming them into the sling attachment points, as well as having some in my pocket anytime I carried it.

Beyond that, I carried a personal radio and whatever food/water was required for the mission, as well as an incendiary grenade in case any enemy weapons needed to be destroyed. With a 35 pound rifle (loaded, with optic) I was definitely one of the heavier guys, but not my as much as you would think. Our machinegunners carried tons of ammo as well as anyone with a grenade launcher, especially the 6-shot M-32's. Those things go though 40mm in a hurry.

Only once did I split up my gear and that was when I broke the rifle down and "T-boned" it on my ruck so that I could carry my M4A1 as well. The only thing I gave to someone to carry for me were 3 magazines of ammo. I'm not even a very big guy. 5'10" 170lbs. It did help that we normally ran shorter duration missions <7 days but as long as you ingest enough "can-o-man" then you'll be fine.

It actually sits on your shoulders quite well, and with the bipods extended you have a nice grip and shoulder support for carrying it. It does start to dig into your neck after a while.

The reason that I never carried a sidearm is that at any time there are 7 other guys with me, and the only use for a sidearm out there is for the wild dogs and searching tight spaces. I stayed away from both.

I also never had a dedicated spotter (our unit snipers don't have them either) but whenever possible we tried to have someone on glass if we were taking a shot. With the ROE's today, rarely did we get to shoot anything until the enemy was firing first anyway.

The rifle comes apart into 2 halves kinda like an AR and some guys will split the upper and lower. It is also an unwritten rule that whoever carries the .50 gets to shoot the .50 as long as it is tactically prudent to allow him time to get on the gun.

Hope this answers some questions!


That's me with the rifle fully assemble on my ruck. I only had it that way for the pic and carried it broken in half as I described before on this particular mission. Note the ear plugs on the stock.

December 3, 2012, 09:54 PM
I imagine some of the sniper teams have to cover some ground at times, but I expect most of their payload is not .50 ammo. I really have no idea, but I don't imagine they're carrying more than 20 or 30 rounds of .50 BMG with them. They're already having to hump a 35 pound rifle, enough food & water for however long they'll be out there, probably an M4 in addition to the .50....

December 3, 2012, 10:16 PM
Also, current operational doctrine restricts any fewer than 8-man units from leaving the wire by themselves. Our recon teams are normally 6 guys but we upped it to 8 to get around needing special permission anytime we wanted to patrol.

The idea of a 2-man shooter/spotter team alone and unafraid in a remote area really doesn't apply to Afghanistan, or much at all to current conflicts. The only time I've heard of a small sniper team was a 4 man one in Iraq where someone was able to sneak in and kill them all I believe and to steal their precision rifles to later use against other Americans because the guy on watch was asleep. To maintain adequate rest and security you need at a minimum 6 guys for anything more than a day.

December 3, 2012, 11:07 PM
Man that's a heavy loadout. I own a Barrett M95, lighter than the 107 but still a beast. (Originally, the M95 was slated to BE the M107 but they changed their minds and went with the M82).

I sure as hell wouldn't want to carry it for any length of time.

December 3, 2012, 11:26 PM
Rifle: 35lb
Extra mags x4: 15lb
Vest with soft armor and front, back and side ballistic plates, radio, grenade: 35lb
Ruck with water, batteries, binoculars/thermals, food, etc: 40-60lb depending on mission duration.

Knowing that you have the most devastating firearm on the battlefield: Priceless

So yeah, well over 100 pounds of gear generally. It sucks, now the heaviest thing I lug around are text books ; )

December 3, 2012, 11:34 PM
Thanks for the education Rugerdude! Very interesting.
And more importantly
... thanks for your service.

December 3, 2012, 11:52 PM
Thank you, rugerdude, for the informative posts. That was exactly the information I was looking for, along with an excellent photo of you carrying your stuff. Again, thanks so much!

December 4, 2012, 12:33 AM
Knowing that you have the most devastating firearm on the battlefield: Priceless

Haha! Having a 50 BMG doesn't hurt morale much. On YOUR side. :)

Sounds like you made some good memories.

Thanks for your service, glad to have ya back. :)

December 4, 2012, 08:43 PM
Well thank you gentlemen (and ladies if applicable) for your tax dollars. They are what allows me to pay rent, buy food and go to school debt-free. : )

I say we all got a deal.:D

December 5, 2012, 12:44 PM
Well thank you gentlemen (and ladies if applicable) for your tax dollars. They are what allows me to pay rent, buy food and go to school debt-free. : )

I say we all got a deal.

The Gratitude is appreciated, but not necessary; You earned those things (more than most).

The people who should be grateful are those receiving our money from the government for doing nothing. As it were, they seem to be the least appreciative of who pays for the things they have. Funny how that works, isn't it?

December 5, 2012, 08:44 PM
and if anyone doubts the validity of the pic being in country just direct their attention to the Chigo in the background.....

December 6, 2012, 12:18 AM
Yes Rugerdude, thank you for your service. Of all the things that the government uses my money for, paying for your education, food, and housing is the one that gets my full support. Heck, I don't even mind throwing away a couple dollars every time that you pulled the trigger on that .50 ;)

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