Type: Light Machine Gun
Nations: United States, Belgium, Afghanistan, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Iraq, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Australia+
Branch: Armed Forces, Specialized Law Enforcement
Time Period: 1977-present (2020)
Conflicts: Invasion of Panama, Gulf War, Somalian Civil War, Bosnian War, Kosovo War, Global War on Terrorism, War in Afghanistan +
Other Names: SAW
Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
Facts: First introduced by Fabrique Nationale (FN) in 1977, The Minimi (French short for “Mini Mitrailleuse” or mini machine gun) provided militaries with the supporting fire of a machine gun, but the light weight, more compact, and low recoil capabilities of weapons chambered in the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. The M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) is the US military variant of the FN Minimi adopted in 1984. The weapon uses an open-bolt long-stroke gas piston system and is capable of being fed by either a belt or a STANAG magazine allowing soldiers to share their standard rifle ammunition and magazines with the machine gunner if necessary.