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For the religious order known as the Minimi (Minims, Order of the Minims), see Minim (religious order).

M249 SAW
Technical Summary
The M249 SAW
Caliber: 5.56 x 45 mm (STANAG 4172)
Action: Gas actuated, open bolt
  • 6.9 kg (15.2 lb) empty
  • 10 kg (22 lb) w/ 200 rounds
Length: 1038 mm (40.9 in)
Barrel length: 465 mm (18.3 in)
Rate of fire:
  • 725 rounds/min with ammo belt
  • 1000 rounds/min with M16 mag
Effective range: 1,000 m (FN Herstal)

600 m, point target, fired from the shoulder, 800 m, area target, fired from the shoulder, point target fired from the prone (US Army doctrine)

400 m, point target, prone (Australian Army doctrine)
Production: 1982-

The Minimi (Mini-mitrailleuse, "mini-machine gun") is a light machine gun manufactured by Fabrique Nationale.

The M249 SAW designation is used by the US armed forces.


The M249 is an air-cooled, belt-fed, automatic-only firearm that fires from an open bolt position. It can accept linked ammunition through the top-mounted feed tray, or M16 magazines through the side-mounted port. Linked ammunition can be fed from either a loose belt or from a plastic 200-round magazine clipped under the receiver. The SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) features a built-in bipod and a tripod mounting lug for supported fire, and a quick-change barrel that helps prevent overheating during sustained fire.

The gun has an excellent reputation for reliability and firepower. The latest reports on failures of M249 SAW weapons in Iraq are attributed to the age of the weapons used - most of the current issue M249s in US Army are more than 10 years old and quite worn out.


  • United States (M249) - the M249 has been in service with the US Army since 1984. In the US Marine Corps, the SAW is usually carried at the fire team level; that is, one member of a three to five man team carries this weapon. The SAW is also standard issue for a four- to five-man amphibious reconnaissance team.
  • United Kingdom (L108A1 (SAW)/L110A1 (Para)) - recently, the British Army has equipped each four man fire team (2 per section) with the current variant of the Minimi Para. It is considered a fire support weapon between light support weapons and general purpose machine guns. They are usually fitted with the Common Weapon Sight (CWS) - an optical day and night sight.
  • Australia (F89) - the Australian Army uses a locally built version of the FN light machinegun. It is essentially the same, but fitted with a Picatinny rail and a 1.5x magnification optical sight. It also has a longer flash suppressor than the standard Minimi. Two F89s are carried in each nine-man infantry section. Small numbers of the Para Minimi are used by Australian paratroopers.
  • Canada (C9) - the original Canadian Armed Forces C9 is a standard factory Minimi with a steel tubular stock. The C9A1 comes fitted with a Picatinny rail on the feed cover and a 3.4x Elcan C79 Optical Sight. The C9A2 mid-life upgrade introduces a shorter barrel, camo green components, cloth ammo boxes (replacing plastic magazines), an M4 Carbine-style collapsible stock, a folding pistol foregrip, and a standard-issue laser aiming module/device (LAM/LAD). Two C9s are carried by each infantry section
  • Israel (Minimi) - the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) were among the first to introduce the Minimi as a legitimate 5.56 mm SAW, and show its quality in combat. Limited numbers of Minimis were purchased in the early 1990s and saw combat in south Lebanon. The Minimi performed well and bought itself reputation, but in 1995 it was decided to purchase the IMI Negev, an Israeli manufactured 5.56 mm LMG, which fitted more to IDF requirements.
File:93RAM Minimi 01053339598268513.jpg
A Minimi operator in the 93th marine artillery regiment of the French Army
  • Nepal (Minimi) - the Nepal army uses 5,500 Minimi machineguns. The weapon delivery was endorsed on July 11, 2002 by the Belgian government.
  • Netherlands (Minimi) - the Royal Netherlands Army has brought in the Minimi to replace the FN MAG in infantry use. The MAG is still being used as a vehicle-mounted weapon.
  • Sweden (Ksp 90) - the armed forces of Sweden use the Minimi machine gun.


M249 Para - features a retractable stock and a shorter barrel. It was designed as a paratrooper weapon, although its compact dimensions make it desirable in any combat scenario.

M249E4 - the M249 based variant of the FN Minimi Special Purpose Weapon (SPW) has Picatinny rails mounted on the feed cover and forward grip, a short barrel and a Para-style retractable stock. Some features from the SAW and Para models were removed to save weight - these include the STANAG magazine port, the tripod mounting lug and the built-in bipod. Another variant SPW was adopted by the US SOCOM under the designation Mk46 Mod 0. While extremely similar, the Mk 46 Mod 0 and the M249E4 are not the same weapon. The Mk 46 Mod 0 features an improved rail handguard and uses the standard fixed buttstock, which is significantly lighter than the E4's M5 retractable unit from FN.

Many US SAWs have been modified to carry SPW-style Picatinny rails on the feed cover. This allows them to mount commercial day and night optical sights like the M68 Aimpoint or low-magnification scopes. Additionally, some SAWs have fixed steel tubular stocks instead of the polymer stock pictured above.

All SAWs can mount the laser equipment needed to participate in a MILES combat simulation. This picture shows an M249 fitted with MILES gear.

The weapon can also mount 3rd party suppressors. In particular, Gemtech manufactures suppressors designed to be mounted on NATO standard flash hiders, such as the one used by most variants of the M249. In reality however, this practice should be limited to responsible burst firing (as dictated in the M249 technical manual) since 5.56mm ammunition is prone to soften, shed jackets, and destabilze when the host firearm is subjected to abusive firing schedules.

Variant Designations

Designation Nationality Description
F89 Australia 5.56x45mm NATO FN Minimi machine gun
C9 Canada 5.56x45mm NATO FN Minimi machine gun
C9A1 Canada C9 variant; w/ C79 optic
C9A2 Canada C9 variant; lifetime extension; C8 style retracting stock, accessory mounts, and C79A2 optic
Ksp 90 Sweden 5.56x45mm NATO FN Minimi machine gun
L108A1 United Kingdom 5.56x45mm NATO FN Minimi machine gun
L110A1 United Kingdom 5.56x45mm NATO FN Minimi Para machine gun
XM249 United States FN 5.56x45mm Minimi machine gun; SAW candidate
XM249E1 United States XM249 variant; w/ 1:7” rifling
XM249E2/M249 United States XM249E1 variant; 5.56x45mm NATO FN Minimi machine gun variant w/ PIP kit improvements, most noticeably the heat shield added
M249E3 United States 5.56x45mm NATO FN Minimi Para machine gun variant; longer barrel
M249E4 United States 5.56x45mm NATO FN Minimi SPW machine gun; also incorporating PIP kit improvements
Mk 46 Mod 0 United States 5.56x45mm NATO FN Minimi SPW/M249E4 machine gun variant; use of fixed buttstock and improved rail handguard

Cultural Impact

The M249 is present in the computer game Counter-strike as the only 'machine gun'. In-game, it carries a 100 round belt fed magazine and is the single most expensive firearm for players to purchase .

See also

External links

Video links

de:M249 SAW nl:FN Minimi ja:ミニミ軽機関銃 pl:Karabin maszynowy Minimi sl:FN Minimi sv:Ksp 90