Marine Corps Weapon Systems: M249

The M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) is a great weapon and the key component of a fire team. It enables a fire team to quickly and effectively gain fire superiority. The SAW is light and maneuverable, but it packs enough punch to suppress the enemy and provide cover fire for fellow fire team members. Marines will learn and practice with this weapon while at the School of Infantry (SOI). Some Marines may be issued the M-249 upon reporting to their unit. They are called automatic riflemen. Ordinarily, there is one automatic rifleman in each Marine Corps fire team, but it is vital that each member of the team be familiar with the weapon.

Characteristics of the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon

Individually portable, gas-operated magazine or disintegrating metallic link-belt fed, light machine gun with fixed headspace and quick change barrel feature.

  • Primary Function - Infantry weapon, basis of firepower for a fire team
  • Length - 41 inches
  • Weight - 17 pounds
  • Muzzle Velocity - 3,000 FPS
  • Maximum Effective Range- 1,000 meters
  • Maximum Range- 3,600 meters
  • Rate of Fire:
    Cyclic - 725-800 RPM
    Rapid - 200 RPM
    Sustained - 85 RPM
  • Magazine Capacity - The option of 30 round M16 magazines or linked ammunition from pre-loaded 200-round plastic magazines

To learn more about the M249 SAW, please click here...

Marine Corps Weapons System

Reviewed by CH


Lance Cpl. Edwin Centofanti, a machine-gunner with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, engages a target on G-21 Machine Gun Range with an M249 light machine gun during a live-fire training exercise Dec. 11, 2014 at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
—USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Alexander Mitchell

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