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Light machine gun

M249 SAW

The M249 machine gun provides squads with heavy firepower

Caliber 5.56 x 45 mm (.223 Rem)
Weight (unloaded) 7.5 kg
Weight (loaded) 10 kg
Length 1 041 mm
Barrel length 521 mm
Muzzle velocity 915 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 700 - 1 000 rpm
Practical rate of fire 100 rpm
Magazine capacity Belt-fed or 30-round box magazines
Sighting range 1 000 m
Range of effective fire 600 - 800 m


   The M249 is a modified American version of the Belgian FN MINIMI. It was adopted by the US Army in 1982 as the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). This machine gun is produced in the United States by a division of the Belgian Fabrique Nationale. It has seen service during the Persian Gulf War, and recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

   This weapon is extremely effective yet surprisingly light. It is chambered for a standard 5.56x45 mm NATO round. It provides squads with heavy firepower and using the same ammunition as their rifles. It can even use standard M16 magazines.

   The M249 is a gas-operated, air-cooled, open bolt design, capable of automatic fire only. Its feeding system is derived from the Belgian FN MAG machine gun, which in turn owes its feeding system to the World War II era German MG42.

   There is a carrying handle towards the middle of the weapon. It is used to carry weapon on the battlefield and also aids for quick replacement of hot barrel. So there is no need for protective gloves. A trained soldier can switch the barrel in 6-7 seconds. The barrel is chrome lined for sustained fire.

   The M249 can accept disintegrating-link belts of various lengths, sometimes in boxes or pouches, along with standard M16 assault rifle magazines. The original M249 used plastic ammunition boxes, however modern versions use 100- and 200-round fabric pouches.

   Early versions of the M249 had a fixed skeletonized aluminum stock. Later it was replaced by a solid synthetic stock. As a result, it is slightly heavier than the standard MINIMI. Also there is a lighter version of M249 fitted with a folding metal stock or with M4-style telescopic stock.

   Newer versions of the M249 have a Picatinny-type scope rail and accessory rails on the foregrip.

   This weapon has a folding bipod with three different height settings. The M249 can be also used on a tripod, or vehicle mounts. Although this weapon is usually used in the close range fire support role.

   This weapon has an effective range of 600 m against point targets, 800 m against group targets and 1 000 m for neutralizing fire.




   M249 Product Improvement Program (PIP). An improvement kits were developed for the M249 machine gun. Over the years various upgrades and modifications were implemented to this weapon. The original fixed stock was replaced by a solid M240-style stock. A hydraulic buffer system was added to reduce recoil. Dual gas port settings were reduced to only one (improved variants can no longer fire at higher rate of fire). A handguard was added above the barrel. Fixed carrying handle was replaced by a folding one. Bipod, pistol grip, flash hider and sights were improved. Picatinny-type scope and accessory rails were added. Plastic ammunition boxes were replaced by 100- and 200-round fabric pouches.

   M249 Paratrooper or Para is a compact version of the M249 with a shorter barrel and collapsible metal stock. Also it is considerably lighter and weights only 7.1 kg. Originally this version was intended for airborne troops, however it is also used by other soldiers who need a more compact weapon. Currently the original collapsible stock of this weapon is being replaced by an M4-style telescopic stock.

  M249 Special Purpose Weapon (SPW). It is a lighter and shorter version of the baseline M249. It was developed to meet US Special Operation Command (SOCOM) requirements. It lacks carrying handle and vehicle mounting lug. These were removed in order to reduce weight. It also lacks magazine insertion well and can not use standard M16 magazines. This weapon weights only 5.7 kg. It has a shorter lightweight barrel, hence shorter effective range than the baseline model. This weapon has Picatinny-type scope and accessory rails. It also has a detachable bipod.

   Mk.46 is a further development of the M249 SPW, intended for special forces. This weapon was adopted by the US SOCOM. It is similar to the M249 SPW, but has a polymer stock instead of collapsible stock, used on the M249 SPW.

   Mk.48. It was developed for special forces alongside the Mk.46. It is a scaled-up version of the Mk.46 chambered for a more powerful 7.62x51 mm round. The Mk.48 replaced the Mk.43 (M60E6) machine gun. Deliveries of this weapon commenced in 2003. Officially it is classified as a Light Weight Machine Gun (LWMG).


M249 SAW

M249 SAW

M249 SAW

M249 SAW

M249 SAW

M249 SAW

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