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M249 SAW Machine Gun

The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) is a light machine gun that is found throughout the US military. It fires 5.56mm45mm NATO ammunition and comes in a number of variants.

M249 Variants

M249 SAW

The original, full-length SAW, featuring a 18.3 inch barrel, tubular steel stock and fixed carrying handle. The M249 SAW was typically fed from 100 or 200-round plastic boxes. A magazine well is fitted in order to accept STANAG magazines typically used in M16 / M4 rifles.

M249 PIP

Full-length M249 featuring a fixed plastic stock similar in style to the M240 machine gun. Other improvements include better heat guards, softened sharp spots, folding hand guard and a hydraulic buffer to cut down on recoil.

M249 Para

A more compact variant of the SAW, designed for airborne troops, the Para features a collapsible stock and a 13.7 inch barrel.

M249 SPW

A special version of the M249 designed for use by Special Operations Forces (SOF). Gone are the folding handle, magazine well and vehicle-mounting lug. Newly added are a set of Pictatinny rails for mounting accessories. The SPW features a collapsible buttstock. The SPW's barrel is longer than the M249 Para but shorter than the full-length SAW.

MK 46 Mod 0

Similar, but not identical to the SPW, the MK 46 Mod 0 is the model chosen by USSOCOM. The main differences over the SPW are the switch to a lightweight fixed buttstock and a 4-sided Pictatinny rail interface on the forearm. The Mod 0 has now been replaced by the Mod 1.

MK 46 Mod 1

The next iteration of of the Mod 0 features an improved bipod assembly, reintroduction of the carry handle and reversion to standard M249 style heat shield thereby replacing the Mod 0's 4-sided rail interface a 3-sided one.

MK 48 Mod 0 / Mod 1

A variant of the M249 chambered in 7.62x51mm and designed with SOF in mind. The MK 48 Mod 0 is lighter than the M240 and more reliable than the M60E4. A set of Pictatinny rails allows for the mounting of various accessories. The MK 48 Mod 1 upgrade features a 19.75 inch barrel.

M249 (Para) Specifications

weight: 15.65 lbs (loaded)
length: 30.5 inches (stock collapsed)
36 inches (stock extended)
barrel length: 13.4 inches
rate of fire : 7501000 rpm
muzzle velocity : 3,200 feet per second
effective range : 1000m
caliber : 5.56mm x 45mm NATO
magazine : 200-round disintegrating belt

M249 - Images and Further Info

M249 SAW
US Marines fire M249 PIPs in Afghanistan. The product improvement program (PIP) introduced a number of improvements over the originally-fielded M249 such as a new shaped stock, a hydraulic buffer system to reduce recoil, a hand guard over the barrel and a folding carrying handle.
US DoD Photo

M249 Para
A soldier with the 10th Mountain division provides security with a M249 Para fitted with an Elcan sight and a Grip Pod. The Grip Pod is a fore grip that can open out into a bipod (as shown).
photo : US DoD

M249 Para
A United States Marine with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)'s Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF) fires a M249 Para.
U.S. DoD Photo by Sgt. Robert A. Sturkie

Soldier with M249 Para
US soldier armed with a modern M249 Para - note the standard buttstock has been replaced with an after market collapsible one. Alos note the Pictatinny rail interfaces for mounting of accessories. The rounds are fed from a soft bag rather than a hard plastic box.
DoD photo by: Spc. Charles W. Gill

Ranger with MK 48 Mod 0
A US Army Ranger engages the enemy with a MK 48 Mod 0 7.62mmx51mm belt-fed machine gun. The MK 48 Mod 0 features the firepower and reliability of the larger and heavier M240. Unlike the MK46 Mod 0, the Mk 48 features a carrying handle.
photo : courtesy US Army.

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