5.56 M249 Squad Automatic Weapon

The standard model FN Minimi firing NATO standard 5.56x45mm ammunition. The weapon shown here is fitted with a 200-round plastic magazine. In action, the carrying-handle would be twisted down beside the body out of the way of the fire.

WHEN THE 5.56MM M 16 (Armalite) rifle entered service during the Vietnam War it gave every man in the squad an automatic weapon, but with a maximum effective range of little more than 330yd (300m).

It was quickly realized, however, that both fire teams needed a weapon of greater all-round capability, but lighter than the contemporary 7.62mm M60 and one which used the same ammunition as the riflemen. This gave rise to a US Army requirement for a 5.56mm Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), with the US Marine Corps joining the program later.

After considering all suitable weapons in the Western world, the US forces selected a "product improved" development of the Belgian Fabrique Nationale's (FN) "Minimi" which was placed in production as the M249, with initial supplies coming from the FN factory in Herstal, although a US line was subsequently established.

The product improvements in the US version include minor changes to the barrel, buffer, handguard, pistol grip, stock and sights.



Light machine gun.

0.233in (5.56mm).

Length overall - 40.87in (1,038mm); barrel - 18.4in (466mni).

Gun empty, with bipod and toots - 15.161b (6.88kg); 30-round magazine: 1.071b (0.49kg); 200-round box magazine: 6.92tb (3.14kg).

5.56mm x 45mm (NATO)/M193 (US)

30-round box, or 100- or 200-round belts; gas-operated, disintegrating link belt.

Effective range against area target - 1,093yd (1,000m); maximum range: 2.23 miles (3.6km).

SS109 - 3,000ft/s (915m/s); M193 3,166ft/s (965m/s).

Cyclic 725rpm; sustained - 850rpm.

6 grooves, r/h.


The Minimi showing its various ammunition feed systems. In the front is a traditional pattern 30-round box, while between the bipod legs is a pre-loaded 200-round plastic box magazine. Aligned underneath the weapon is a belt, which is issued in either 100- or 200-round lengths. The weapon accepts either magazines or belts without any modification.

© 1997 - 2003 Gun Plot. All rights reserved

This web site is protected by copyright. Users of the web site shall only be entitled to copy the web site for their own personal use and may not republish or reproduce any substantial part of the web site in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of the owner. An acknowledgment of the source must be included whenever the author's material is copied or published - Contact Webmaster Here.