5.56 x 45 mm (.223 Rem)
1 041 mm
Cyclic rate of fire
700 - 1 000 rpm
Practical rate of fire
Belt-fed or 30-round box magazines
1 000 m
Range of effective fire
600 - 800 m
The M249 is
a modified American version of the Belgian
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
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
The M249 is
a gas-operated, air-cooled, open bolt design, capable of automatic
fire only. Its feeding system is derived from the Belgian
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
assault rifle magazines. The original M249 used plastic ammunition
boxes, however modern versions use 100- and 200-round fabric
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
versions of the M249 have a Picatinny-type scope rail and accessory
rails on the foregrip.
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.
has an effective range of 600 m against point targets, 800 m against
group targets and 1 000 m for neutralizing fire.
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.
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
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
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.
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).