The M249 light machine gun provides U.S. infantry soldiers with heavy firepower and deadly accuracy.
Adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps
Developed in 1984 and meant to be a cross between a heavy machine gun and a rifle, the M249 is currently used across the U.S. Armed Forces – primarily by infantry soldiers. The M249 light machine gun has been designed as an American version of the Belgian FN Minimi weapon. The M249 has been used in every major military action undertaken by the U.S. military since the 1989 invasion of Panama.
The U.S. Marine Corps began using the M249 light machine gun in 1985 and the weapon has scored high marks for providing the firepower of an automatic machine gun with the accuracy and light weight portability of a rifle. Previously, the U.S. military used heavier machine guns such as the M2 and M60. These heavier guns are difficult to carry in combat situations and are often mounted onto vehicles.
Quick Change Barrel
The M249 light machine gun has a number of features that make it a reliable weapon in combat scenarios. Gas-operated, the weapon has a quick change barrel that enables soldiers to quickly replace a jammed or overheated barrel while under fire. The weapon also comes with a tripod stand, and rifle magazines can be used to provide ammunition as well as linked ammunition and STANAG magazines.
Despite its many positive attributes, there have been reports that the M249 light machine gun jams when clogged with sand. This is a problem common to most weapons. Due to its age and years of service, the U.S. Marine Corps is now undertaking tests with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle and plans to partially replace the M249 light machine gun. However, there are no plans to completely phase out the M249 with the U.S. military.