The FN Minimi is a squad automatic weapon (SAW) and a light machine gun. It is possibly the most famous SAW in the world. It is utilized by a great number of militaries and special operations forces all around the world. Because of its low weight, high rate of fire, and pinpoint accuracy, it has proven to be one of the best light machine guns available anywhere in the world.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the well-known Belgian manufacturer FN Herstal was responsible for the development of the light machine gun known as the FN Minimi. 1982 marked the beginning of mass manufacturing in Belgium. At about the same time, it was selected for use by the United States Armed Forces under the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) designation.
However, the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle will soon take the place of the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in the United States Marine Corps.
Since it was first introduced, the FN Minimi has been put into broad service, and many different modifications of it have been developed. First, the Paratrooper version was released, including a shorter barrel and a tubular telescoped butt.
This firearm sacrificed some of its range and firepower in exchange for being more compact and easily maneuverable. Recent developments have resulted in the production of an SPW model that is equipped with a buttstock that is of the Para type, a barrel that is of an intermediate length (between standard and Para models), and a Picatinny-type rail mount, which makes it possible to mount a wide variety of sights and scopes.
In order to save weight, the magazine feed option for the standard and para versions has been eliminated. This version was used by the US Special Forces Command (US SOCOM) in a significantly modified form as the Mk.46 type 0 light machine gun.
The Minimi is renowned for its dependability and firepower. The most recent reports of M249 SAW failures in Iraq are due to the weapons’ age — the majority of M249s now in use by the United States Army is more than ten years old and in poor condition. The FN Minimi / M249 SAW is a gas-powered, belt-fed, air-cooled automatic weapon.
Structure and performance
The gas piston is located below the barrel, and the barrel is locked with a rotating bolt, both of which are traditional features of the Minimi. The barrel can be detached in a matter of seconds and comes with a convenient carrying handle.
The M249’s secondary feeding system is compatible with both M16-style box magazines and disintegrating metallic belts. The belt is reloaded by inserting the top feed unit into the receiver and the magazines into the magazine port on the left side of the receiver at a downward angle.
When not in use, the magazine port can be covered with the flip-up dust cover, which also acts as a belt guide. When the magazine is in place, this cover lifts and seals the beltway to prevent double feeding and jamming.
The belt feed is slightly less efficient than the magazine feed (750 rpm vs. 1000 rpm), as more energy is required to draw the belt through the gun.
The latest SPW and Mk.46mod.0 versions of the Minimi have no magazine feed module as a weight-saving measure. The belts are fed from special 200 rounds of plastic boxes that can be clipped beneath the receiver.
When firing, the open bolt on all FN Minimi models allows the barrel to cool down quickly between shots. Guns can be mounted on a tripod or a vehicle, and a collapsible bipod is located underneath the gas chamber. While the SPW and Mk.46 come stock with open sights, a wide selection of optical and night sights are available for their Picatinny-rail versions.
The 5.56mm and 7.62mm cartridges can be used in the FN Minimi Mk.3. This small machine gun is one of the deadliest infantry weapons thanks to its combination of low weight and high quality.