No doubt by now you’ve seen this, but we try to offer some slightly different perspective. Mad Duo
03’s and 11B’s Rejoice: Civilian M249 is on the way…
Recently FNH USA announced its intent to release a semi automatic version of the M249 machine gun, possibly as soon as of December. The M249 began life back in 1974 as the Minimi, french shorthand for “Mini Mitrailleuse” which means “mini machine gun”. Since its development in the 1970’s the weapon has gained fame as over 75 nations has adopted it in one form or another.
Desiring a light weight machine gun for use as a squad automatic weapon (SAW), The US military began to field this open bolt, gas operated, belt fed weapon as the M249 in 1984 after several years of evaluation. The M249 was a great choice, allowing the gunner to carry more linked 5.56 ammunition then with the earlier 7.62 M60 machine gun. Since its adoption, the weapon has been used in virtually every American combat engagement, and continues to soldier on to this very day. Thirty years of use has proven the M249 to be a reliable, versatile weapon that gives small units the decisive advantage of suppressive fire while maintaining critical mobility.
When we first caught wind of FNH USA releasing their new M249S, we immediately thought it was a well overdue (and badass) idea. A lot of dudes have hauled the M249 around in uniform, and many wish to acquire a civilian legal version of the firearm they carried in the service. This seems to be a growing trend, as we constantly see friends and acquaintances building “replica” versions of their old service rifles.
This nostalgia isn’t lost on us, or FNH. FNH has also announced they’ll build M4 and M16A4 style rifles for the civilian market for this very same reason. The M249S will likely touch a special place in former machine gunners’ hearts.
The engineers have reworked the design to fire from the closed bolt, which should provide a significant improvement in accuracy. At this time, it appears that FNH will be selling the M249S in a standard configuration, with fixed polymer stock and longer barrel familiar to most who carried the military version. Hopefully items like shorter barrels and collapsible stocks will be available and compatible with the M249S variant.
A lot of servicemen who carried the M249 will feel distinctly passionate about this new rifle, as there really only seems to be two perceptions of the gun. Most either love the M249 or hate it, depending on what they were issued. Older, worn out guns long overdue for DRMO would suffer tons of malfunctions, earning negative labels from their gunners. Newer, serviceable M249 machine guns obviously perform significantly better, and are generally loved. The lack of proactive maintenance outside of some particular units (and some other human factors) only increase this gap. Having shot both, we like the M249 and understand that anything mechanical will eventually wear out, particularly heavily used machine guns.
Considering that a real deal, legally obtainable full auto M249 can sell for more than $45,000, the opportunity to own the gun you carried in Iraq or Afghanistan is well beyond the reach of most shooters (ourselves included). That doesn’t change the fact that we want one. As FNH refines the semi auto variant for its debut, one thing is sure: it won’t be cheap. But then again, you can’t really expect it to cost the same as an AR-15.
Allow us to offer another perspective, even if you’re not going to be in the market for one anytime soon: Prior to any Federal AWB, some manufacturers were doing things voluntarily to neuter their rifles. They put in sear blocks, chopped bolt carriers (removing part of the rear of the carrier and unshrouding the firing pin), used non-standard pin sizes, and ground off bayonet lugs. A couple decades later, one of the largest firearms engineering and manufacturing firms in the world (and not just some fly-by-night garage machinist) is releasing a frickin’ civilian legal belt fed. You should celebrate that instead of bitching.
We are excited to see this new firearm hit the market, and look forward to getting some range time with the M249S. Any bets on which ammo manufacturer gets on board first to offer linked 5.56?
You can check the new M249S out here on the FNH USA website.
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