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.
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.
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 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.
The Belgian firearms firm of Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal, best known around the world simply as FN, has been hot and heavy in the gun business for the past three centuries. From making better versions of the Mauser rifle than the Germans could to producing classic John Browning-designed handguns and shotguns of the early 20th Century, to the “Free World’s Right Arm”: the FN FAL battle rifle of the Cold War, the company has been a true innovator. However, one of its newest and most eye catching designs doesn’t get enough love in our opinion. With that being said– bring on the FS2000.
Why was it made?
FN, along with Austrian-based Steyr, Italy’s Beretta, and the Swiss-German SIG, are the go-to arms house of Western European militaries. Belgium may be small, but the boys in Herstal punch above their weight class as witnessed by the fact that the U.S. military, and that of most NATO countries, use the FN MAG 7.62x51mm and FN Minimi 5.56x45mm machine guns. We call them the M240 and M249 respectively and they are made here in South Carolina by FN-USA.
Well with that being said, by the 1980s the writing was on the wall for a general move to more compact rifles for the world’s militaries. You see, more troopers are climbing into armored vehicles, jumping from helicopters, and rolling over the sides of little rubber boats than ever before and this is likely not going to change until Starship Troopers becomes a reality. That means the smaller overall a rifle is– the better. A bull pup design, one that moves the action from in front of the user’s face to back inside the dead space of the butt stock, is key to making a compact 27-inch rifle that can still have a full-length barrel. Steyr did this in the 1970s with the AUG. France followed with the FAMAS rifle soon afterwards. The Brits got into the act with the L85 Enfield in 1987. The whole world, it seemed, is going bullpup.
With that being said, around 1995 FN looked to augment their very M16-like FNC carbine (and possibly replace it) with a bull-pupped rifle as soon as possible.
Belgian Army Pathfinders during Exercise Maple Leaf in Canada – 2013. note the Fs2000 rifle
Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk