Tag Archives: Fabrique Nationale

FN Keeps Raking in that Sweet, Sweet, Machine Gun Money

FN had several advanced models on display at last month’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

Including an MK48, or Maximi, which blends the M249 SAW/Minimi program with a 7.62 NATO caliber.

Developed in conjunction with SOCOM, it only weighs 18 pounds. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

FN also had one of its new Evolys platforms on display, which offers either a 12-pound belt-fed machine gun in 5.56 NATO or a 14-pound model in 7.62 NATO.

I’ll take 10 for starters, please. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

It seems to be good money if you can get it. Speaking of which, the U.S. Army Contracting Command just awarded FN another $50 million contract for M240 Lima models.

Of note, the company set up its U.S. franchise in 1981 specifically to make M240s for Uncle Sam, and the line is still going strong 40 years later.

More Vulcans

The Pentagon on Wednesday announced a 10-year contract to General Dynamics-Ordnance & Tactical Systems for new M61A1 Vulcan 20mm guns.

The firm-fixed-price award, for $88,275,000, was granted to Gen Dyn by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, based at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. Classified as an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity requirements contract, it will cover the purchase of new M61A1s in support of the F-16 fighter aircraft. Of this amount, some $7.8 million in funds set aside for Foreign Military Sales were obligated. Notably, 25 overseas allies fly the aircraft along with Venezuela, which probably doesn’t rate FMS dollars anymore.

Battlefield Vegas’ 20mm Vulcan nicknamed ‘The Hand of God’ at the Big Sandy Shoot October 2018. (Photo: Ben Philippi / Guns.com)

More on the Vulcan contract, and Gen Dyn’s work on the Next Generation Squad Weapon for the Army, in my column at Guns.com.

Blue Devils with SCARs

The famed “blue devils” of the French Army’s 13e Bataillon de Chasseurs Alpins (13e BCA) date back to before the Crimean War, when they were initially raised as the plain old 13e Bataillon Chasseurs à Pied (13e BCP), fighting as such in Algeria, the Italian unification wars, and the Franco-German War.

Transitioning into crack mountain infantry in 1888, they guarded key Alpine passes in peacetime, then in the Great War fought in the Vosges, the Somme, in the Italian Alps against the Austrians, and generally everywhere they were needed, earning seven unit Croix de Guerre by 1918.

“Les Diables Bleus” WWI Chasseurs Alpins by Georges Bertin Scott, circa 1915

The blue devils received their name due to their dark blue uniforms and large berets, retained to this day in their service and dress uniforms. Hard fighters, their motto is “Jamais être pris vivant,” (Never to be Taken Alive)

Interbellum, they remained on the move for the Occupation of Germany with vacations in sunny Tunisia to fight insurgents for the glory of the Republic.

Chasseurs alpins during the Occupation of the Ruhr in Buer (now Gelsenkirchen), 1923. Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-09896

In WWII, following honors in the battle for Narvik against German mountain troops trying to hold on to Norway, they returned home to be dissolved by the Vichy government leaving most of its members to shrug and quietly join the maquis resistance. Reforming their battalion in August 1944, they fought for and captured the Grand Roc Noir (11,752 ft) from the Germans before descending into the Aosta Valley in Italy by the end of the war.

French Chasseurs Alpins showing off a captured MG42 in the Alpine mountains, January 1945.

Since then, they fought in Algeria, prepared for mountain combat in the Cold War, and, since that thawed, have been very busy in recent years with deployments to Bosnia, Lebanon, Chad, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Djibouti.

Why all this about the 13th BCA?

Well, they were chosen to be the first unit of the French Army to receive the FN SCAR H PR series precision rifle in 7.62 NATO, for use by their designated marksmen and snipers out to 800m.

The guns will replace the old MAS-derived GIAT FR F2 bolt gun that has been the French standard sniper rifle since the 1980s.

In several ways, the fusil à répétition modèle F2 is really just an updated MAS-36 in 7.62 NATO

More in my column at Guns.com.

Cracking the Army’s Budget Book on SmallArms

The Army’s recently announced budget request for the fiscal year 2022 includes at least $114 million for new rifles, handguns, and the next generation of small arms. 

While the overall FY2022 Defense Department Budget is $112 billion, most of the non-operational dollars are for high-level R&D and big-ticket items like the F-35 fighter. The Army’s budget book for weapons and tracked combat vehicles meanwhile has a low nine-figure ask when it comes to individual small arms. 

The bulk ($97 million) is to go to the Next Generation Squad Weapons, with much of the balance to acquire new Barrett-made Precision Sniper Rifles, and a few crumbs for M4s, M17s, and the like.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Army Publically Reaffirms Their Love of the M240

The adage for the past couple of decades among Joes (skip this if you are sensitive as it may be NSFW) is that the 5056 NATO-caliber M249 SAW is like a high-maintenance first wife: you have to pamper and court her and maybe, just maybe, she will work out. The 7.62 NATO-chambered M240 on the other hand, is just a dirty whore: no matter what you do to her, she’ll keep on working through the night, rain or shine.

Thus endith the addage.

There may be some smoke to that, as, in my experience, I have never seen any but a factory fresh and over-lubed SAW run a full 200-round belt without a stoppage under field conditions whereas I have also seen some downright grungy and funky M240s chew through belt after belt. This may be why the Marines have largely dumped the SAW for the M27 IAR and the Army is looking to move on to the NGSW-AR to put the M249 in the rearview.

As further reinforcement to the M240 not going anywhere any time soon, Picatinny Arsenal just issued a five-year $92 million contract for more deliveries of that beautiful FN-made GPMG.

I got to see how the magic happens on FN’s 240 lines back in 2019, and these things are built like a tank.

Could the Army Ditch Brass for Plastic?

The hybrid polymer-cased cartridge, developed by Texas-based True Velocity as part of the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon program, is compatible with legacy firearms as well.

The 6.8mm TVCM composite case design, coupled with the Army’s 6.8mm (.277-caliber) common cartridge projectile, was originally developed and optimized for use in the NGSW-Rifle and NGSW-Automatic Rifle submissions submitted to that military program by General Dynamics-OTS. It performs better ballistically than 7.62 NATO and weighs 30 percent less.

However, using what True Velocity characterizes as a “switch barrel” capability, they have demonstrated it can work with much of the Army’s currently fielded small arms including the M240B belt-fed machine gun, the M110 semi-automatic sniper system, and the M134 minigun.

Which could mean that, even if NGSW tanks, there could be a revolutionary advance in the ammo used by U.S. troops in the near future.

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Most Popular FN Pistol You Never Heard of

To satisfy a military contract for 60,000 modified examples of John Browning’s Model 1910 pistol, stretching that .380 ACP’s standard 3.4-inch barrel an extra inch and bumping up the magazine capacity from 7+1 to 9+1, FN introduced what was initially referred to by some historians as the Model 10/22 (not related to the later Ruger plinker) in 1923.

Later formalized as the Model 1922, or just the M1922, when compared to the preceding M1910, the new pistol had an elongated slide, complete with a small but distinctive barrel lug, over a slightly lengthened frame. The production model went 7-inches long overall and weighed 25.7-ounces.

A forerunner of the later success FN had with the Browning Hi-Power pistol and FAL battle rifle, the M1922 was soon adopted by military and police in dozen countries, and it would continue in active service for over 60 years in this role. Further, the Germans liked it so much that it was their most common handgun in WWII that wasn’t a P-38 or a Luger.

More in my column at Guns.com.

If only They had a SCAR Machine Gun, oh Wait

Offering users either a 12-pound belt-fed machine gun in 5.56 NATO or a 14-pound model in 7.62 NATO, FN’s new Evolys platform has reached the market.

While it may be easy for some to shrug off the Evolys series as just a lightened Minimi/M249 or FN Mag/M240 – an evolutionary outgrowth of guns like the compact MK 46 and MK 48 if you will – the latest short-stroke gas piston machine gun series out of Herstal utilizes a number of new thoughts to make it more of a 21st-century gun.

Like what?

Like the ability to “dummy-proof” the loading process by designing the feed cover and pawl system to automatically reposition cartridges when the cover is closed on a belt that is not correctly placed in the feed tray. Like fielding a carbine-length (36-inches overall) 7.62 GPMG that can be carried slug in the same manner as a rifle and fired from all standard positions at 750rpm, with a controllable recoil due to an integrated hydraulic buffer.

Plus, they look super sci-fi, which is always a bonus.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Sig: Next-Gen Weapons Delivered to the Army

Sig Sauer this week announced it has completed the delivery of the company’s Next Generation Squad Weapons system to the U.S. Army.

The company is one of three contractors who in 2019 got the nod from the Pentagon to continue with the NGSW program. The sweeping initiative aims to replace the Army’s 5.56mm NATO small arms – the M4 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Sig’s program consists of an in-house-designed lightweight high-performance 6.8x51mm (.277-caliber) hybrid ammunition, NGSW-AR lightweight machine guns, NGSW-R rifles (based on the MCX carbine), and next-gen suppressors.

They certainly look the part and, if selected, would give Sig the small arms hattrick as their P320s have been adopted as the DOD’s standard handgun to replace everything from the USAF’s lingering K-frame 38s to the Marine’s M45 CQB railguns and everything in between. At that point, the only man-portable system used by the Army not made by Sig would be the M240 and M2, which FN still has a lock on.

More in my column at Guns.com.

NGSW? Don’t Hold Your Breath

The current NGSW field 

The U.S. Army is full-speed ahead on an initiative to select a new series of innovative 6.8mm-caliber Next Generation Squad Weapons to phase out its 5.56mm platforms for combat troops. However, it would seem the Department of the Army is hedging their bets with traditional systems just in case things don’t work out like planned such as in past ambitious programs for futuristic small arms.

In April, FN won a 5-year $119 million contract for new M4/M4A1 Carbines from the company’s South Carolina factory– where 500 of the shorty 5.56s roll out every, single, day.

And this week, Big Army likewise issued a $78 million award to FN for more M249s, the squad-level U.S-made variant of the FN Minimi light machine gun that has been standard since 1982.

Just google the Individual Carbine (IC), Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), or the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) programs to see why keeping the legacy infantry arms in production until things work out is a good idea.

The army advanced combat rifle ACR prototypes.

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