M15A2 .50 BMG links

Never saw this link type for the .50. It was for the M85 machine gun, an apparently unsuccessful replacement for the M2. Found a FOR SALE listing of a complete set of machinery for manufacturing these links. The gun is no longer used and doubt any ever made it to the Class 3 market. After some intraweb searching, I recalled seeing these guns mounted in tank cupolas. The muzzle break being the noticable variation. Don’t recall having seen these on the forum, so this is for all you link freaks out there that probaly have ammo cans full of them. Now I got some.

Although the original stubby Gun which used these links is now long gone ( a technical failure), the Link lives on in the US and other nations, for use in Rotary guns and also in the Singaporean developed gas operated .50 gun.

I regularly get quantities after the Singaporeans come over for their Field training exercises at Shoalwater Bay ( central Qld., Australia)…the training area is about ten times the size of the Singapore Republic…they can actually fire their 105s there. If they did that at home, they would hit either Malaysia or Indonesia ( not a nice thing to do!!!).

Doc AV
AV Ballistics

I would not call the M-85 a “failure”. Not the best design maybe, but it served in the US military for decades. It was the MG used in the commander’s cupola of the M-48 and M-60 series of tank. I saw lots of these in use during my time in the service. Never heard any complaints from the crews or armorers. We made do with whatever we were issued and if something jammed or broke, well, that happens sometimes and you move along… Nothing is perfect.

Funny story. We were having a platoon sized MG shoot at the desert training base in 29 Palms California. M-60, M-249 and M-2 machine guns were all on-line. The ammo truck arrives with our issue for the day. 20,000+ rounds of each caliber, but all of the .50 cal. was on links for the M-85, not the M-2!
I was very sad. I loved that ol’ Ma-Duece…

Then there was the time that the ammo truck brought us all blank ammo for a live-fire by mistake…


Thanks Doc, AK

With one exception, all the internet hits I read on the M85 mention its less than stellar performance. As AK said, it was used for at least a couple of decades. Gun Parts sells these links in 10 packs, apparently for the US collector market.

So if it was in use for a few decades, could some have reached the Class III market?

Having played in that arena for a few years, I never saw one, but that doesn’t mean one or two didn’t make it into civilian hands. Dillon probably has one.

As mentioned, the MG was designed for use in the tanks, there was never ground mount for it, so it’s not a popular design in the Class III community, unless you happen to have a tank to mount it on. I suppose there are some out there, but the M2 is far and away more popular.

The design came from AAI, but was modified, as the Army was wont to do with things. The resulting modifications, allegedly, caused all the problems.

Been readin’ up on this. Found this pic. Would imagine it was only an accessory for tank crews. Considering it’s high rate of fire, the assistant gunner would be runnin’ his arse off keeping it fed.

Hopefully, these weren’t all turned into museum pieces. Or worse.

These M15A2 links don’t fit in the M2, but do the normal M2 and M9 links fit in the M85? And why uses the M85 a different type of link? Is that because of the higher rate of fire?

The M85 used a “push-through” link, while the M2 uses a “loop”-style link that requires a round to be pulled out of the links in a rear-ward direction, then fed into the chamber when the bolt returns forward, so no, they are not interchangeable to any degree. The “push-through” links are more conducive to a high rate of fire, but the M2 has been in service for long enough that pretty well any problem that can happen, has happened, and a fix put out for it.

Clear answer, thanks!

I think that the push through design in this case was to allow for a shorter receiver, not a higher rate of fire. The aircraft version of the M-2 had a high rate of fire, at least as high as the M-85, while still using the “pull-out” type links. The M-85 does have a distinct sound when fired…


AKMS, the ability for applying a shorter receiver with this kind of links makes much sense! Especially with the kind of application of this machine gun.

In case of interest; the “pull out” links are commonly designated as “Prideaux Links”.