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M60

General purpose machine gun

M60

The M60 machine gun is a capable weapon, although with many faults

 
 
Entered service 1957
Caliber 7.62 x 51 mm (.308 Winchester)
Weight (unloaded) 10.5 kg
Length 1 105 mm
Barrel length 560 mm
Muzzle velocity 853 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 500 - 650 rpm
Practical rate of fire 100 rpm
Magazine capacity Belt-fed
Sighting range 1 800 m
Range of effective fire 800 m
Range of effective fire (mounted on a tripod) 1 100 m

 

   Although it started out with many problems, the US M60 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) has since evolved into a capable weapon. It has been produced since 1957 at the cost of approximately $6 000 per unit and has served with at least 30 armed forces.

   After NATO adopted the 7.62x51 mm cartridge, the United States decided to design weapons to use this new ammunition. The resulting US GPMG design was heavily influenced by the respected World War II German MG42, which is probably the first GPMG, and the FG42 assault rifle/light machine gun.

   Nicknamed the “Pig” for its large size, the M60 had a number of faults. It was poorly balanced, often unreliable, and prone to jam after a lot of firing. Certain parts had a tendency to bend or break, and it was equipped with a fragile trigger mechanism. In addition, it was easy to accidentally cause the barrel fall off. Changing the barrel was tricky due to a lack of a carrying handle and permanently mounted bipod.

   Most of these faults were removed in the later models. But by that time the United States had already decided to adopt the FN MAG as their GPMG, primarily because of its excellent reliability even when dirty.

   The M60 is a gas-operated, air cooled, belt fed machine gun that fires from an open bolt. It utilizes disintegrating metallic link belts of about 100 to 200 rounds and a built-in bipod, although it can be mounted on a tripod.

   With its iron sights this General Purpose Machine Gun is effective against area targets out to 800 meters with the integral bipod and out to 1 100 meters when mounted on a tripod.

   The M60 uses accurate, hard-hitting 7.62x51 mm NATO rounds of the ball, tracer, and armor-piercing variety. Normal belts include four ball rounds for every one tracer round.

   Saco Defense, US Ordnance, Ridge Tool and Die, and Inland MFG Division of GM have produced the M60 in the United States. Taiwan and South Korea have also built the M60 under license.

   Although it was primarily used in Vietnam, the M60 has also been used in the Laotian Civil War, Cambodian Civil War, Cambodian-Vietnamese War, Salvadoran Civil War, The Troubles, Persian Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, Colombian Conflict, and the Bougainville Civil War.

   The M60 has been used by the United States, United Kingdom, Taiwan, South Korea, Portugal, Indonesia, Australia, Greece, Italy, and many other nations. However, it is becoming more and more rare as countries switch to more modern weapons such as the FN MINIMI or FN MAG.

 

Variants

 

   M60E1: improved version of the M60 that did not enter production. Many of its features were used in later models such as the M60E3.

   M60E2: electronically operated variant for use on AFVs.

   M60B: developed for use on helicopters, but had a limited service life. The M60C and D models soon replaced it.

   M60C: unlike the M60B, this variant was electronically operated. It was mounted on helicopters.

   M60D: unlike the M60B, this model was mounted not held. It was used on helicopters, ships, and vehicles.

   M60E3: in 1986, this version was introduced in an attempt to remove some of the many problems plaguing the M60. The M60E3 incorporated lighter weight, an ambidextrous safety, a carrying handle, stellite-lined barrel for sustained fire, and bipod attached to the receiver instead of the barrel. Nevertheless, it was not good at sustained fire, remained unreliable, and had significant trouble with overheating.

   M60E4: developed in the 90s for Navy SEALs. Its light weight and short length made it accurate for firing from the shoulder. In addition, its multiple Picatinny rails can fit a variety of accessories and optics. The M60E4 can be configured with three different types of barrels depending on the situation.

   M60E6 (Mk.43 Mod 0/1): Incorporates several different improvements including better reliability. In 2014 this weapon was selected for use by the Danish Army in 2014. They were supposed to begin to receive the first batch of 600 units in 2015.

   T57: Taiwan license production model. Production began in 1968.

 

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