American officer on the problems of the machine gun M249

Heyday! Their bodies were in semi-disassembled state with sleeves stuck in the chamber. In the bullet holes on the heads were traces of gunpowder …
The commander of the company “N”, 3 bmp / ​​5 pm. Operation Swift September 4-15, 1967, Vietnam.

BUT M249 – automatic branch weapon (SAW), has the potential to create equal tragic consequences? The circumstances of the tragedy were generated. What will now be M249 SAW there are serious problems with the performance of functions automatic rifle (AR)? History will repeat? I believe that I’m a lot of gunsmiths from various units M249, having good potential in the role general purpose light machine gun (LMG), very poorly copes with the role of personal weapons. In the following text I will try to highlight M249 characteristics, problematic.

M249 SAW survived it estimated life in the troops. M249 Our infantry battalions are unsatisfactory, if we consider the ratio of shots to the number of delays. In addition to the modernization program SAW, in four fiscal year 2001, a four million additional purchases program adopted. I’m in the past few years. It is necessary to conduct a comparative tests M249 and suitable real AR in the interests of amphibious groups of marines.

Weight M249 (less than 10 kg with a two-gang box), single machine gun M240G or heavy machine gun M2. After adopting in 1984, M249 This will give you an increase in the number of infantry department. However, it was already within five years of operation. This is an upgrade for you. M249 full-fledged personal weapons.

Meanwhile M16A2 changed M16A1 in as the main combat rifle KMP. Unlike M16A1 which had both a self-loading and automatic mode, M16A2 It has only self-loading and fixed in three modes. Adoption M16A2 It meant that the arrow with an automatic weapon. (Link)fire team) swam in history books. Then the ILC pounced on M249, thinking he will be the new AR. Below I will show you what it was.


Consider the fact that there are different nomenclature codes MO. We know that M249 shoots M855 (A064) supplied in tapes as well M16A2 shoots standard M855 (A059). In the rim of the squad. With the ammunition between the shooter with automatic weapons (automatic rifleman) at best is complicated.

For example, if the shooter runs out of ammo, he will have to pick out the ammo from Saw tapes. This is a very time-consuming process. In the opposite case, when gunner saw ran out of ammunition, he will have to insert shops from a rifle. Inability to accept accept from M16 – main problem M249 systems. I quote the Charter of the ILC “Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 3-15.1, Machine Guns and Machine Guns“:

“As an emergency measure in SAW 20 and 30 ammunition shops can be used. “

Is it a built-in weapon? I think not.

There are some problems that arise from both the shooters and the rear men. There are confusion at night. For example, imagine yourself a commander of a rifle squad. After the loss, you have only five fighters. You drove the enemy all day. Sunset is approaching M249. You badly need two things: ammunition and water. Around the mess. Since it is small, ammunition is trying to drag the position. Just after sunset, the Marine collapses in your trench and hurls a box. 5.56 rounds. He thinks that these are cartridges in stores. According to Murphy’s law, these will be cartridges in tapes.

The advantage of making genuine AR It can be a great deal. Now KMP purchases for M249 crates 5.56 in tapes with one tracer on four ordinary patrons (A064), 5.56 in tapes without tracers (A062) and idle 5.56 (A075). Replacement SAW to normal AR This will make it possible to reduce the amount of fire training of shooters. Look at the experiment schedule. Only the marines strike the targets from Colt ar (created by based on M16).

ILC can learn from Soviet army, decided to get rid of 7.62 mm RPD replace them with them AR RPK. PKK it’s the same AK rifle The Soviet designers understood the concepts of an automatic rifle. It is a war veteran. His answer would be something like, “tapes are too much weight and too much trouble. That’s why we’ve been light machine gun In the role of an automatic rifle unsuitable.

Spare trunk

Why is it a spare trunk included in the kit? It was originally M249 adopted for use with a single barrel. Then why did the CMP add another barrel? First trunks M249 supplied with gas controllers with two settings. It is the shooter that has been slowing down. Shots per minute, and a greater value is 1,000 shots per minute. Unfortunately, the marines didn’t receive the training of the barrels. For shooters, they gave a spare barrel.

Fire modes

Understanding fire modes saw will confirm it is not needed for use SAW as AR. Frequent fire out SAW for a long time – that’s 85 shots per minute. Rapid fire – 200 shots per minute. Shots per 3-5 shots per minute? It is a little ammunition for nothing. In short, it is not needed.

Let’s look at a spare trunk. When does the shooter change trunks? In attack? It is absurd to think that this is possible. Change barrels in defense? During the production of a solid barrage probably? It is impossible to establish it. The adjustment of the main barrel. It can be machined with the same path. It is a result of a wrench vertically. The point of impact. If you do not fit in .5 mil (0.5 thousandth) by 36 yards (~ 33 m), it will be 6 inches (152 mm) by 300 yards (~ 274 m).

US Army CharterField Manual 23-14, M249 Light Machine Gun in the Automatic Rifle Role“States:

“When used as a machine, it can be adjusted horizontally and vertically, with a spare barrel.”

This problem is further complicated by semi-movable (semifixed) nest flies on trunks M249. And it often happens that it is displaced in one direction. This makes it a noticeable deviation of hits.

ILC should not be a spare trunk for M249. If it’s not necessary, it should be checked to ensure that the bases are properly centered. But it’s not a burden. Spare barrel tools are not needed.

I am sure that apologists M249 fixated on dvuhsotpatronnoy tape. I see a large number of flaws. M249 in the role AR. It is a small amount of ammunition. Here is a quote from the book “My rifle, Major General KMP retired U.H. Ripertus:

“I’m not sure you’re there.” We will fall. “

Recent comparative field trials M249 and Colt ar at The center for training for hostilities KMP showed that the arrow machine gunners (automatic riflemen) amaze out Colt ar more targets with less ammunition consumption than from M249. Experienced gunners were involved in the tests. M249 SAW shooting range and the 103rd shooting range, designed for automatic shooting. In the course of the tests Colt ar. In case of reloading. Colt ar. A gunner SAW on average, five targets were lifted during reloading. All marines who participated in the trials ultimately preferred Colt ar, but not M249 SAW. Shouldn’t we listen to these marines? The numbers speak for themselves.

We need to recognize that SAW extremely difficult to learn weapons. You can take and immediately apply successfully. To become a skillful shooter with SAW (automatic rifleman) requires a long learning process. But will be sooner or later. Would you like it? CMP is known for its unconventionally ability. However, in regards to SAW we seem ready to return to what was before.

My mark M249 SAW based on our own field experience. How many times have I seen arrow SAW, forced to stop the attack? The nightmare begins after the feed of the problem. Often, the tape falls out of the box. The marine is in a desperate situation. In addition to finding out what needs to be with the tape. Do I need to shake it? All this time he is not involved in the battle. His weapon doesn’t work to protect him. His link continues SAW a pistol M9, how to arm machine gunners M240.

I do not see the logic in the continuation of saving M249 systems. As a light general-purpose machine gun (general purpose LMG), it has its merits. However, in the role AR it is rather a problem for the department. This is too heavy a weapon. It violates the interchangeability of the ammunition and is usually referred to as “three”.

It is a very difficult weapon to master. It is an ammunition used in the rifle department. Imagine the benefits of standardization. M4, M16A2 and Colt AR. It meets Colt M16A2 on kmb. Having received Colt ar, whose device is the same as M16A2, it is easy to re-qualifyautomatic rifleman).

Another issue to consider is optics. KMP goes on optical sights on a rifle and SAW. Rifle for it M16A2 and machine gun for SAW. When saving SAW In service, the ILC will be forced to buy two different sights for each link. Replacing SAW on Colt ar, we get one type of procurement, instead of two.

I was recently asked to give a brief talk in a group. infantry advisers (IOAGit’s not a matter of active and regimented commanders,LMG M249) on the machine (AR). As a result, the group is recommended to replace M249 SAW on AR. This is the most convenient choice. Colt ar. If our average proficiency SAW insufficient even for ground combat, then what about other parts Amphibious Tactical Groups, where is the marines? You need to improve training. Heel of the rifle squad.

However, the bets have already been made. Replacement decision old M249, infantry battalions in service, with new ones – this is a reality. Have we lost the chance to correct the situation? I recommend you to suspend further purchases. new M249. The gunner’s weapon doesn’tautomatic rifleman)? I am convinced that ILC should be comparative tests M249 SAW with appropriate AKMoid, how did it Soviet army. We really want the gun AR? Cushion strategists say I’m too hard on SAW. But experience confirms my grades. We’re not taking any M249 SAW, we would be more successful M249 the problem of the shooting department.

Author – Ray grandi – 5th USMC warfare officer, participant in the war in Vietnam.
Article published in “Marine corps gazette“April 2001

Editor’s note: M249 SAW remains in service with the US Army. It was replaced with a new one. AR M27 Infantry.


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