The Marine Corps and the US Army in the late 70s. joint requirements were announced light machine gun, intended for armament of branches. A number of systems were tested – American “Stoner-86”, CMG-2 “Colt”, HM233 “Maremon”, “Rodman”, HM234 “Filco-Ford”, as well as the Belgian FN “Minimi”. After intense testing, high reliability in different conditions was shown to “Minimi” which in 1984 was adopted by the Marine Corps and Army under the designation M249 SAW (automatic squad weapon, Squad Automatic Weapon). M249 in the American army they took one or two per detachment, while the appearance of a new machine gun coincided with the expansion of the “special operations forces” and the creation of “light infantry” units, which needed a compact and light automatic support weapon, which is carried along with the ammunition load and controlled by one fighter.
The machine gun is produced in Southern California by an FN unit chambered for M855. Attempts to rework this machine gun chambered for the M109 turned out to be unsuccessful – the amount of energy and pressure created by the exhaust gases were obviously insufficient to bring the tape feed system into action. Serial production could expand only in the early 90s.
Technical characteristics of the light machine gun M249:
- Patron – 5.56? 45 (M855);
- The mass of the standard version – 6.875 kg;
- The mass of the landing variant is 6.8 kg;
- The length of the standard version – 1040 mm;
- The length of the amphibious assault variant with the butt folded back is 900 mm;
- The length of the landing variant with the butt removed – 725 mm;
- The barrel length of the standard version – 460 mm;
- The length of the trunk landing options – 347 mm;
- Grooves – 6;
- The stroke length of the rifles chambered for M855 – 178 mm
- The initial speed of the bullet (M855) – 915 m / s;
- The rate of fire – 750-1000 shots per minute;
- Power system capacity, tape – 200 rounds;
- Capacity of the power supply system, shop – 30 rounds;
- The mass of the cartridge case with a ribbon is 3.1 kg.
In the design M249 The main changes compared to the “Minimi” were associated with differences in production technology. Light machine gun M249 adopted with a folding butt (for the machine gun “Mini” the butt was folding or permanent). The barrel is easily replaceable. The principal external difference was a heat shield, located above the barrel. The machine gun had a bipod, but if necessary it was installed on a tripod machine. In the folded position bipod stacked inside the forearm. There is a mechanism for the introduction of side corrections sight. The fire is conducted in bursts of 3 and 6 shots. Butt when used M249 in BMP is removed. The rifle belt allows shooting from the hip. There is a set of PIP – handles, interchangeable barrel, buffer, butt, sights. For firing with idle ammunition, as in M16A2, a muzzle attachment is used, which increases the pressure in the bore and does not allow the bullet to shoot.
The versatility of the power system using a standard assault rifle magazine and a light cartridge belt was one of the main reasons for adopting this machine gun. True, during the fighting in 1991 in the Gulf zone it is this power system machine gun M249 found to be sensitive to clogging and not reliable enough. In addition, revealed a weakness of fastening the box with the tape under the barrel of the machine gun. The US Army for additional tests even hastily acquired 1000 Mini-Mines in the 92nd year. Since 1992 also released a slightly modified model. M249. On the machine gun are put various night sights – for example, the third-generation AQUILA III naked light night sight, which has a magnification of 4x.
It should be noted that the Colt company did not reject the idea of creating a machine gun unified with a rifle, and already in the 87th year, in conjunction with the Canadian company Dimaco, it created a 5.56 mm light machine gun. The new machine gun differed from the M16A2 with a barrel with a telescopic folding bipod, a massive forearm with a hold handle, an additional handle designed for carrying weapons and a disk magazine with a capacity of 90 rounds. However, this option was not successful.