M249 Squad Automatic Weapon System (SAWS) [Machine Gun]:

US Army photo

The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon System uses standard 5.56 nato (5.56 x 45 mm) rounds. The M249 SAWS light machine gun is gas-operated, magazine or disintegrating metallic link-belt fed, individually portable machine gun capable of delivering a large volume of effective fire to support infantry squad operations. If using magazines, uses the same magazine as the M-16 Combat Rifle for ease in battlefield conditions. Each M249 SAW replaces two automatic M16A1 rifles in the rifle squad in all infantry type units and in other units requiring high firepower.

The Belgian Fabrique Nationale XM249 "Minimi" was standardized in the Unirted States Military as the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon System in 1982. The M249 SAWS filled the void created by the retirement of the M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) during the 1950s because interim automatic weapons such as the M14 and M16 series rifles have failed as viable "base of fire" weapons.

There is a special model of the M249 developed to meet a US Special Operations requirement for a lightweight variant of the M249 that would retain the intrinsic functionality and reliability of the standard model. This weapon is the M249 SPW. The rifle has a total reduction of weight of about four pounds. This done by a new lightweight barrel has been developed as well as having the the carrying handle, the magazine well, and the mount lugs (for vehicle applications) removed. Unique to the M249 SPW are special rails to accommodate scopes, laser designators and flashlights; a pistol grip and a detachable bipod.

The M249 SAWS can be fed by two different means. It can use the use all the magazines for the M-16 which include magazines that hold five, ten, twenty, thirty rounds, or even 99 rounds. It can also use a 200 round belt magazine.

Weight:SAWS 16.5 lbs (7.5 kg) SPW 12.6 lbs (5.7 kgs).
Caliber:5.56x45mm NATO (.223 Remington).
Barrel Length:SAWS 21 inches (53.3 cm) SPW 16 inches (40.6 cm).
Overall Length:SAWS 41.0 inches (104 cm) SPW 30.5 (77.5 cm) buttstock collapsed and 35.75 inches (90.8 cm) butt stock extended.
Action:Gas operated .
Mode of Fire:Fully Automatic .
Rate of Fire:750 Rounds per minute .
Range:1500 feet (457.2 meters).
Magazine Feed: 5, 10, 20, 30, or 99 round magazines and 200 round belt.
Cost: $ 1,500.
Made in: Belgium, USA.
Special: Extremely reliable, good accuracy, great availability (NATO standard).

[ FN, M249, SAWS, and M-16 are copyright of their respective owners. ]

Writeup by Mischa (E-Mail Mischa ) and by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 1999, Mischa & Kitsune. All rights reserved.