M249 (Light machine gun)



The M249 light machine gun (LMG), previously designated the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), and formally written as Light Machine Gun, 5.56 mm, M249, is an American version of the Belgian FN Minimi, a light machine gun manufactured by the Belgian company FN Herstal (FN). The M249 is manufactured in the United States and is widely used by the U.S. Armed Forces. The weapon was introduced in 1984 after being judged the most effective of a number of candidate weapons to address the lack of automatic firepower in small units. The gun provides infantry squads with the heavy volume of fire of a machine gun combined with accuracy and portability approaching that of a rifle.​

Type Squad automatic weapon/Light machine gun
Place of origin
Belgium (FN Minimi),
United States (M249 derivative)
Service history
In service 1984–present
Used by
United States, United States Armed Forces, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)
Wars Invasion of Panama, Persian Gulf War, Unified Task Force,Bosnian War, Kosovo War
Afghan War, Iraq War
Production history
Designed 1976
Manufacturer Fabrique Nationale de Herstal
Unit cost US$4,087
Produced late 1970s–present
Weight 7.5 kg (17 lb) empty, 10 kg (22 lb) loaded
Length 40.89 in (1,039 mm)
Barrel length 465 mm (18 in)
Cartridge 5.56×45 mm NATO
Action Gas-operated, open bolt
Rate of fire sustained rate of fire: 50 rounds per minute; Rapid rate of fire: 100 rounds per minute; cyclic rate of fire: 800 rounds per minute.
Muzzle velocity 915 m/s (3,000 ft/s)
Effective range 1,000 yd (910 m)
Feed system M27 linked belt, STANAG magazine

FN Minimi (Belgium) / M249 and Mk.46 model 0 (USA)

FN Minimi - Belgian-madeversion of basic machine gun. Note the lack of the heat shield above the barrel,and the tubular buttstock.
FN M249 SAW.
FN Minimi Para - a short-barreled "paratrooper" version with telescoped buttstock in extended position.
FN Minimi SPW - Special Purpose Weapon, a lightened version with Picatinny rail adapters,Para type buttstock (shown folded) and belt feed only (no magazine feed installed).
FN Mk.46 model 0 - a variation of the Minimi SPW, with additional Picatinny railon the heat shield and the different butt, developed for US Special Forces.


A U.S. Army Ranger equipped with a Mk 46 provides overwatch security on an objective during a mission in Iraq, 2006.