How to Load a M249 Machine Gun. The M249 Squad Attack Weapon (SAW) is a versatile and powerful machine gun, and the base of an infantry fire team’s fire support. With a cyclic-fire rate of 800 rounds-per-minute the SAW can throw a lot of lead downrange at a time. The ability to reload the weapon in a quick and safe manner is an integral part of any SAW gunner’s job, as explained in the following steps.
Pull the cocking handle to the rear, with your palm facing up. Keep pulling until you hear a click. This means the bolt has locked to the rear. Slide the cocking handle back to the front until it locks in place.
Put the weapon on safe by pushing the safety button, located above the trigger, from left to right. The red line will not be visible when the weapon is on safe. The SAW can only be placed on “SAFE” when the bolt is locked to the rear.
Squeeze the feed-tray cover latches, located by the rear-sight posts. Lift the feed-tray cover and clear the feed-tray of any debris or used links. Check that the chamber area and breech are clear of debris by lifting the feed tray and checking beneath it.
Attach the SAW magazine to the underside of the receiver by lining up the magazine with the dovetails on the weapon and pushing it in until it clicks. Pull out on the magazine to make sure it holds.
Pull out about three or four inches of linked ammunition from the magazine. Place this strip of ammo on the feed tray with the first round against the cartridge stop. Hold the belt in place with your finger on the feeder pawls.
Close the feed tray cover firmly. Make sure your finger isn’t in the way and slam the cover down pretty hard to make sure it locks in place.
Items you will need
Belt-linked ammunition (5.56mm ball)
To aircraft load your SAW (to prepare it for an airborne or air assault mission), begin by skipping steps one and two. After you have your weapon loaded and the bolt forward, pull the charging handle halfway back. Place the weapon on safe and ride the bolt forward very gently. This is called half-cocking. In an emergency, you can insert a magazine from an M16 or M4 into the magazine well below the feeder tray.
Half-cocking is hard on a weapon. Do it only when it is mission essential. SAWs tend to jam when using M16 or M4 magazines. Never point a gun, loaded or not, at another person.
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Own the newest addition to the Military Collector Series – the FN M249S® PARA, a semi-auto version of the currently contracted FN® M249 PARA. The PARA was designed for airborne, armored infantry and close quarters combat (CQC) operations with a shorter barrel and collapsible buttstock. It retains all of the features of the FN® M249 SAW and can be field-converted back to the standard model configuration in just 30 seconds.
- Caliber: 5.56x45mm
- Operation: Closed-bolt
- Mag Capcity: 200 Rd. belt or 30 Rd. mag
- Weight: 16 lb.
- Barrel Length: 16.1″
- Overall Length: 31.5″ – 37″
- Overall Height: 9.5″
- Trigger Pull: 4 – 6.5 lb.
- Twist Rate: 1:7 RH
Semi-automatic replica of the government-issue FN® M249 PARA
Robust gas piston system
Formed steel frame
Folding steel bipod
Folding carry handle
Flip-up feed tray cover and feed mechanism
Top-cover integrated MIL-STD-1913 rail systems for optics
Cold hammer-forged steel
Hard chrome-plated bore and chamber
Quick-change barrel capability
Ergonomic buttstock contains hydraulic buffer that allows user to maintain high rate of fire with accuracy and effect
Redesigned trigger mechanism for semi-automatic fire
Non-reciprocating charging handle
Standard disintegrating link belt-fed
Under-mounted polymer ammunition container helps keep ammunition cleaner for reduced wear and added reliability
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The Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) is an air-cooled, belt-fed, gas-operated automatic weapon that fires from the open-bolt position. It has a regulator for selecting either normal (750 rounds per minute rpm) or maximum (1,000 rpm) rate of fire. The maximum rate of fire is authorized only if the weapon’s firing rate slows under adverse conditions. Although the M249 AR is primarily used as an automatic rifle, it is also used as a light machine gun. It can be fired from the shoulder, hip, or underarm position; or from the bipod-steadied position. When employed as a light machine gun, it has a tripod with a T&E mechanism and a spare barrel; however, barrels must not be interchanged with those from other M249s unless the headspace has been set for that weapon by direct support personnel.
The M249 is interesting because while its standard ammunition feed is by 200 round disintegrating belts, it is also capable of firing ammunition from standard M16 magazines inserted in a magazine well in the bottom of the SAW. Ammunition is fed into the weapon from a 200-round ammunition box holding a disintegrating metallic split-link belt. The SAW also has an alternating feeding method using 20- and 30-round M16 rifle magazines. The weapon has a quick-change barrel; however, barrels must not be interchanged with those from other SAWs unless their headspace has been set for that weapon by direct support personnel. The M249 SAW is used to engage dismounted infantry, crew-served weapons, antitank guided missile (ATOM) teams, and thin-skinned vehicles. The SAW has become the standard automatic rifle of the infantry squad and has proven useful with the changing of the M16 to a three round burst weapon.
Automatic rifles allow rifle squads to take a light automatic weapon with them in the assault. In the defense, they add the firepower of 10 or 20 riflemen without the addition of manpower. Characteristically, automatic rifles are light, fire rapidly, and have more ammunition than the rifles in the squad that they support. Each squad has three automatic rifles. No additional equipment configuration is needed, because the automatic rifleman fires the M249 either from the bipod mode or from various hand-held positions. In either the offense or defense, automatic riflemen must restrict themselves to firing three-round bursts to maintain their effectiveness against enemy targets. The M249 in the bipod or hand-held mode moves too easily off its point of aim after three rounds and automatic riflemen must readjust their aim. In the offense, the automatic rifleman is limited to what he can carry and fire on the move. Hence, while the automatic rifle affords a high volume of fire, it also rapidly consumes ammunition. Conservation and careful logistic planning become important.
When used as a machine gun, the M249 requires a tripod, a T&E mechanism, and a spare barrel. These items increases the stability, the ability to make minute adjustments in aiming, and the ability to fire greater than three-round bursts. Because machine guns are not as mobile as automatic rifles, they normally remain with and form the key weapon of the base-of-fire element. It is possible to bring a machine gun with the maneuver element for added firepower in the assault. But once it has set up, it becomes another base of fire and is quickly left behind by the rest of the element as it sweeps across the objective. It will spend more time displacing than firing. Machine guns target enemy automatic weapons, key weapons, and command and control elements. Once the enemy deploys, machine guns engage his supporting automatic weapons. As the enemy closes, if the machine guns have destroyed all of the enemy’s supporting weapons, they can engage the assaulting troops with enfilading fires across the platoon front.
Primary function : Hand-held combat machine gun
Manufacturer: Fabrique Nationale Manufacturing, Inc.
Length: 40.87 inches (103.81 centimeters)
With bipod and tools: 15.16 pounds (6.88 kilograms)
200-round box magazine: 6.92 pounds (3.14 kilograms)
30-round magazine: 1.07 pounds (.49 kilograms)
Bore diameter: 5.56mm (.223 inches)
Maximum effective range: 3281 feet (1000 meters) for an area target
Maximum range: 2.23 miles (3.6 kilometers)
Rates of fire :
Cyclic: 725 rounds per minute
Sustained: 85 rounds per minute
Unit Replacement Cost: $4,087
Features: The Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), or 5.56mm M249 is an individually portable, gas operated, magazine or disintegrating metallic link-belt fed, light machine gun with fixed headspace and quick change barrel feature. The M249 engages point targets out to 800 meters, firing the improved NATO standard 5.56mm cartridge.
The SAW forms the basis of firepower for the fire team. The gunner has the option of using 30-round M16 magazines or linked ammunition from pre-loaded 200-round plastic magazines. The gunner’s basic load is 600 rounds of linked ammunition.
Background: The SAW was developed through an initially Army-led research and development effort and eventually a Joint NDO program in the late 1970s/early 1980s to restore sustained and accurate automatic weapons fire to the fire team and squad. When actually fielded in the mid-1980s, the SAW was issued as a one-for-one replacement for the designated "automatic rifle" (M16A1) in the Fire Team. In this regard, the SAW filled the void created by the retirement of the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) during the 1950s because interim automatic weapons (e.g. M-14E2/M16A1) had failed as viable "base of fire" weapons. Early in the SAW’s fielding, the Army identified the need for a Product Improvement Program (PIP) to enhance the weapon. This effort resulted in a "PIP kit" which modifies the barrel, handguard, stock, pistol grip, buffer, and sights.
The preferred combat ammunition mix for the M249 is a four-ball (M855) and one-tracer (M856) mix. There are other variations of 5.56-mm ammunition available; however, the four-and-one mix allows the gunner to use the tracer-on-target (TOT) method of adjusting fire to achieve target kill.
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|Magazine Type(s)||STANAG Mag, STANAG SD Mag, 200Rnd. M249 Belt|
|Shots to Kill||body:|
The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) is the U.S. military designation for the FN Minimi Light Machine Gun (LMG). The M249 SAW, chambered in 5.56mm NATO, provides infantry squads with the heavy volume of fire of a machine gun combined with accuracy and portability approaching that of a rifle.
Overview [ ]
The M249 is capable of putting more rounds down range than any other weapon in the game. It accomplishes this by using 200-round 5.56mm belts. For this reason, the M249 is extremely effective for suppresive fire, for close-range ambushes and for mowing down hoards of Zombies. It’s 5.56mm round generates little recoil, allowing it to be fired accurately in short bursts without the Bipod deployed. However, past 400m, the M249 will be outclassed by general-purpose machine guns such as the M240 and PKM.
Like all light machine guns, the M249 is equipped with a bipod, which drastically reduces recoil while prone. However, unlike other machine guns, when standing up or kneeling, the M249 generates only moderate recoil, so it is possible to use the weapon effectively while standing, in a pinch.
Because of it’s ability to fire up to 400 rounds down range per minute, the M249 can be very deadly when used in the squad support role, far more so than any other weapon that can be found in Chernarus.
Ammunition [ ]
The M249 typically uses either 100-or-200Rnd belts, but it can also feed from 30Rnd STANAG Magazines in a pinch. It will NOT accept G36 Magazines, though they can be re-combined[] into STANAG magazines.
The M249 5.56mm machine gun, better known as the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) is a fully-automatic, gas-operated, magazine or belt-fed, individual weapon. The weapon fires from the open bolt position. The M249 is an individually portable machine gun capable of delivering a large volume of effective fire to support infantry squad operations. The weapon has a gas regulator for selecting either a normal (750 rounds per minute) or maximum (1,000 rounds per minute) rate of fire. The maximum rate of fire is authorized only if the weapon’s firing rate slows under adverse conditions. The weapon has a quick-change barrel. However, barrels must not be interchanged with those from other M249s unless their headspace has been set for that weapon by direct support personnel.
By 2010, a collapsible buttstock was available, allowing shoulder firing in the extended and collapsed positions and improving weapons control when fired in confined spaces. A short barrel was available, allowing for improved egress and maneuver in close quarter combat. An improved bipod was also available, providing Soldiers with increased reliability and weapon accuracy, including on uneven terrain.
The SAW is an infantry weapon capable of being used in 2 roles, either as an automatic rifle or a light machine gun. Weapons issued as light machine guns include, among other equipment, an adapter allowing the weapon to be mounted on ground tripods. The M249 can be fired from the shoulder, hand-held from the hip or underarm position, or from the integral bipod. When employed as a machine gun, it has a tripod with a T&E mechanism and a spare barrel. However, barrels must not be interchanged with those from other M249s unless the headspace has been set for that weapon by direct support personnel.
It can be equipped with MIL-STD-1913 rails to mount optics and target illuminators and has an optional short barrel for close-quarters operations. The weapon’s official designation (Machine Gun, 5.56mm, M249), does not change when used as a light machine gun or fited with the short barrel. The M249 provides the squad with the accurate, effective and sustained fire required to suppress and destroy enemy soft targets.
The standard ammunition feed for the weapon is from 200 round disintegrating link belts. The belt is contained inside either a rigid plastic box or a fabric bag, clipped to the bottom of the weapon. The M249 is also capable of firing ammunition from standard M16 magazines inserted into a magazine well in the bottom of the weapon. However, doing so is known to damage the magazine’s feed lips and is to be done generally only in emergency situations.
The M249 SAW is intended to be used to engage dismounted infantry, crew-served weapons, antitank guided missile teams, and thin-skinned vehicles. When adopted, the SAW became the standard automatic rifle of the US Army and US Marine Corps infantry squads and proved useful with the loss of fully-automatic fire capability in the M16A2. The purpose of the automatic rifleman billet is to provide a short-term automatic fire missions against point targets in the last 100 yards of the infantryman’s assault.
The preferred combat ammunition mix for the M249 as of 1994 was a 4-1 mix of M855 ball ammunition and M856 tracer ammunition respectively. There were other variations of 5.56mm ammunition available. However, the 4-1 mix allowed the gunner to use the tracer-on-target method of adjusting fire to achieve target kill. M193 ball and M196 tracer ammunition could be substituted for training purposes. The M199 dummy and M200 blank were also used for training purposes. At tha time, the gunner’s basic load was 600 rounds of linked ammunition.
Automatic rifles allow rifle squads to take a light automatic weapon with them in the assault. In the defense, they add the firepower of 10 or 20 riflemen without the addition of manpower. Characteristically, automatic rifles are light, fire rapidly, and have more ammunition than the rifles in the squad that they support. When adopted, each Marine Rifle Squad had 3 M249 SAWs. No additional equipment configuration was needed, because the automatic rifleman fired the M249 either from the bipod mode or from various hand-held positions. In either the offense or defense, automatic riflemen had to restrict themselves to firing 3-round bursts to maintain their effectiveness against enemy targets. The M249 in the bipod or hand-held mode moved too easily off its point of aim after 3 rounds and automatic riflemen had to readjust their aim. In the offense, the automatic rifleman was limited to what he could carry and fire on the move. Hence, while the automatic rifle afforded a high volume of fire, it also rapidly consumed ammunition. Conservation and careful logistic planning became important.
Although employed as an automatic rifle by the US Marine Corps, the M249 SAW was designed like a traditional light machine gun. As such it had design features that made it a more versatile weapon. It could be belt or magazine fed thus providing more continuous fire before reloading and it had a quick change barrel feature, which allows barrel changes during periods of continuous firing without taking the weapon out of action for more than a few seconds. The M249 SAW also had greater effective range and a higher rate of fire than any other weapon in the existing rifle squad. The M249 SAW could provide a heavy volume of continuous, accurate fire in support of offensive or defensive operations. Its presence in large numbers (e.g., 9 per rifle platoon) at the small unit level significantly increased the combat power of those units. Previously, medium machine guns were often attached to platoons or squads, more out of concern over the lack of fire power in those small units than for sound tactical reasons. The introduction of the SAW into those units changed that. The SAW provided the platoons with significant firepower against enemy personnel and light equipment. As a result, more times than not, the company’s machine gun section could be employed as a section, in a general or direct support role, rather than deattached to smaller elements of the company. The M249 SAW’s presence, in any type of unit, increased the available fire power and provided additional flexibility to the unit leader in terms of weapons employment options.
When used as a light machine gun, the M249 required a tripod, a T&E mechanism, and a spare barrel. These items increased the stability, the ability to make minute adjustments in aiming, and the ability to fire greater than 3-round bursts. As light machine guns were not as mobile as automatic rifles, they normally remained with and formed the key weapon of the base-of-fire element. It was possible to bring a light machine gun with the maneuver element for added firepower in the assault. Once it had been set up, however, it became another base of fire and was quickly left behind by the rest of the element as it would sweep across the objective. It would spend more time displacing than firing. Machine guns targeted enemy automatic weapons, key weapons, and command and control elements. Once the enemy deployed, machine guns engaged his supporting automatic weapons. As the enemy closed, if the machine guns had destroyed all of the enemy’s supporting weapons, they could engage the assaulting troops with enfilading fires across the platoon front.
The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon is a Marine Corps favorite because it can suppress the enemies of freedom at the max rate of 800 rounds of democracy per minute. The max range of 3,600 meters is enough to reach out and touch the enemy – and for the Corps to forgive the heresy that the Army had her first. The M249 SAW served as the light machine gun of choice for the Marine fire teams since the 1980s. The commanders of today want to put this ol’ gal out to pasture but the Marine Corps infantry will always love the M249 SAW.
1. She’s a millennial
For the sake of brevity let’s disregard the weapon was designed in the 1970s but implanted in the 1980s. Anyone who has fired the weapon can attest to the euphoria of holding down the trigger of this belt-fed beauty at the cyclic rate. She saw action in the Gulf War, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo. She was the queen bee in Iraq and Afghanistan. The millennial generation of war fighters patrolled the mountains of the Korengal valley with her. Troops cleared the streets of Fallujah and dominated the sands of Helmand province with this piece of American engineering. When the M249 SAW sings, she retakes the initiative from the insurgency with overwhelming fire power. The SAW is to OIF/OEF era Marines what the M60 is to Vietnam era devil dogs.
2. A reliable weapon
The weapon system comes with an additional barrel to provide a sustainable rate of fire without melting the barrel. Barrels of other SAWs should not be interchanged due to head spacing of each individual weapon system. A machine gunner can carry a combat load of 600 rounds of ammunition and, the Assistant Gunner, who can carry an additional combat load as well. It is considered light weight at 18 lbs, yet the weight adds up on patrol. If the Gunner and A Gunner run out of linked ammunition the M249 SAW can use M16 magazines. The versatility of this weapon provides an adequate base of fire for fire teams to maneuver, close with, and destroy the enemy. With proper maintenance and a well-trained trigger puller, officers can rest assured that they can employ a fireteam with this weapon to lethal effect.
3. It’s just plain fun to use
Why put a suppressor on it? Because, that’s why. Many moons ago, when I was young boot PFC, my unit held a machine gunner competition. The final event was to saw a 2×4 in half with…the SAW. That’s the best thing about this weapon, there is so much ammo for it. In 2012, 1 st Battalion, 9 th Marines received the M27 or the Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) as part of the Marine Corps’ wide survey. It was up in the air at the time whether the IAR would replace the M249 SAW or replace M16 series all together. While the IAR was less prone to jams and easier to maintain, it did not provide the same level of suppression as it’s predecessor. The Squad Automatic Weapon will be phased out eventually by newer technology but the Marine Corps infantry will always love it anyway. Flaws and all.
The M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) is a 5.56mmx45mm rifle that used by United States Marine Corps (USMC) forces. The M27 will replace many of the M249 SAW belt-fed light machine guns currently employed at the squad level.
The M27 is based on the Heckler & Koch HK416 D16.5RS assault rifle. Delta Force and DEVGRU reportedly both use the HK416 as an assault rifle/carbine. The USMC employs the M27 as a designated automatic rifleman’s weapon i.e. to provide suppressing fire as part of a 4-man fire team.
Previous doctrine was to use the M249 SAW in the suppressing fire role. The M249 had a much higher rate of fire and was fed from higher capacity magazines compared to the M27. The commonly held wisdom was that the high rate of fire would keep the enemy’s head down, even if round placement was relatively inaccurate, especially at longer ranges. This doctrine has now been updated to favor a more accurate, slower firing weapon that suppresses the enemy through rapid, well-aimed fire, an approach thought to be more effective against seasoned enemy troops.
Weighing in at 9lb (loaded) compared to the 22lb (loaded) for the M249 SAW, the M27 is light enough to allow its operator to keep up with the rest of his fire team / squad, something that was an issue for SAW gunners. The M27 is also easier to handle in close quarters combat environments and a M27 gunner can easily transition from laying down suppression fire to clearing a building.
Picatinny rails surround the M27’s free-floating 16.5inch barrel on which a number of accessories come fitted as standard. A Harris fold-down bipod provides stability in the suppression role while a fore grip allows for better handling in CQB scenarios. The standard scope for the M27 is the SU-258/PVQ Squad Day Optic.
Magazines are 30 round STANAG magazine, which are interchangeable with the M16 and M4 magazines carried by the rest of a fire team. Large capacity magazines, in the 50-100 round range, are being considered to enable more sustained fire between reloads.