M249 light machine gun

Light Machine Gun, 5.56 mm, M249

M249 Para fitted with Trijicon ACOG and RFI collapsible stock

Light machine gun

Place of origin
Belgium (Minimi)
United States (M249)

Service history

In service

Used by
See Users

Invasion of Panama
Gulf War
Unified Task Force
Bosnian War
Kosovo War
War in Afghanistan
Iraq War
Syrian Civil War
Iraqi Insurgency

Production history


FN Herstal

Unit cost
US $4,087[1]

Late 1970s–present

See Variants


7.5 kg (17 lb) empty
10 kg (22 lb) loaded

40.75 in (1,035 mm)

Barrel length
465 mm (18 in)
521 mm (21 in)

5.56×45mm NATO

Gas-operated, open bolt

Rate of fire
Sustained rate of fire: 100 RPM
Rapid rate of fire: 200 RPM
Cyclic rate of fire: 800 RPM

Muzzle velocity
915 m/s (3,000 ft/s)

Effective firing range

700 m (770 yd) (point target, 465 mm barrel)
800 m (870 yd) (point target, 521 barrel)
3,600 m (3,940 yd) (maximum range)

Feed system
M27 linked disintegrating belt, STANAG magazine

The M249 light machine gun (LMG), formerly designated the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), and formally written as Light Machine Gun, 5.56 mm, or the .223 military rnd. The M249, is the American adaptation 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 by the local subsidiary FN Manufacturing LLC in South Carolina and is widely used in 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 M249 provides infantry squads with the heavy volume of fire of a machine gun combined with accuracy and portability approaching that of a rifle.
The M249 is gas operated and air-cooled. It has a quick-change barrel, allowing the gunner to rapidly replace an overheated or jammed barrel. A folding bipod is attached near the front of the gun, though an M192 LGM tripod is available. It can be fed from both linked ammunition and STANAG magazines, like those used in the M16 and M4. This allows the SAW gunner to use a rifleman’s magazines as an emergency source of ammunition in the event that he runs out of linked rounds.