Army Machine Guns

M240B Medium Machine Gun
M240B Medium Machine Gun. Photo courtesy US Army

The Army has three primary machine guns – M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M240B medium machine gun and the M2 heavy machine gun.

M249 Squad Automatic Weapon

The M249 Light Machine Gun or Squad Automatic Weapon is a large machine gun. It fires up to 120 rounds per minute of 5.56mm bullets. It is manufactured by FN Herstal, a Belgian company through its U.S. subsidiary, FN Manufacturing in Columbia, SC. Introduced in 1984 the M249 puts out a lot of firepower to lay a blanket of bullets in a battle.

It is used by Army and Marine Corp units. The Army issues two M249’s for every infantry squad.

The M249 is gas operated, air cooled, open bolt and has a quick change barrel for when it gets jammed or overheats. Due to the volume of fire overheating is an issue. A magazine of 200 rounds of linked ammunition is the primary feed but M16 type cartridges can be used as an alternative. The weapon can be truck mounted and optics can be added.

Specifications

  • Weight – 17 pounds empty and 22 pounds with full magazine
  • Length – 41 inches long
  • Effective Range – 1,000 meters
  • Maximum range – 3600 meters
  • Rate of fire – 85 rounds per minute sustained fire and no barrel change; can fire rapidly up to 100 rounds per minute; maximum cyclic rate of fire is 725-850 rounds per minute
  • Barrel – 18 inches long
  • Trigger pull – 7.87 – 15.7 pounds
  • Stand – built-in bipod or tripod
  • Ammunition – 5.56mmx45 NATO rounds with usually a tracer round between four regular rounds
  • Magazine – 200 round belt fed magazine
  • Cost - $4,000 each

Variations

A lighter weight version of the M249 for airborne troops has a shorter barrel and aluminum stock. A special lightweight version is be used by special operations forces.

M240B Machine Gun

The M240B machine gun first began to be used by the Army in 1997.

It is a ground mounted, gas operated machine gun that can provide large rounds (7.62mm in size) with a lot of energy behind them. It can cover a range of 1800 meters at a rate of fire from 200-600 rounds per minute. It is manufactured by FN Herstal, a Belgian company through its U.S. subsidiary, FN Manufacturing in Columbia, SC. It is replacing the M-60 machine guns.

Extensive use of titanium alloy helps reduce the weight of the M240. It comes with a pistol type grip or fixed buttstock. This machine gun is mounted on armored vehicles, helicopters and ships as well as mounted on the ground for dismounted soldiers.

Specifications

  • Weight – 27 pounds empty
  • Length – 48.5 inches long
  • Effective Range – 800 meters
  • Maximum range – 1800 meters
  • Rate of fire –maximum cyclic rate of fire is 200-600 rounds per minute
  • Barrel – 21.7 inches long
  • Trigger pull –15.9 pounds
  • Stand – built-in bipod or tripod
  • Ammunition – 7.62x51mm NATO rounds
  • Magazine –belt fed magazine

 

M2 Heavy Machine Gun

The M2 machine gun is a heavy ground mounted machine gun that can provide large rounds (50 BMG in size) with a lot of energy behind them. It can cover a range of 1800 meters at a rate of fire from 450-635 rounds per minute. It is manufactured by FN Herstal, a Belgian company through its U.S. subsidiary, FN Manufacturing in Columbia, SC.

The M2 has a quick change barrel for when the barrel overheats from usage. This machine gun is mounted on armored vehicles, helicopters and ships as well as mounted on the ground for dismounted soldiers.

Specifications

  • Weight – over 83 pounds empty
  • Length – 65 inches long
  • Effective Range – 700 meters
  • Maximum range – 1800 meters
  • Rate of fire –maximum cyclic rate of fire is 450-635 rounds per minute
  • Barrel – 45 inches long
  • Trigger pull – 26-42.77 pounds
  • Stand – built-in tripod
  • Ammunition – 50 BMG 12.7x99mm NATO rounds
  • Magazine –belt fed magazine