Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Kenny Smith

    Great weapon… Tremendously effective… When it worked… Which it had a tendency NOT to do in the WORST possible times… Interesting, yes. Effective, yeah tremendously when it worked. Reliable, not at all. IMHO that’s why it never took off.

  • Clodboy

    I just love the idea of actually being able to flip the receiver to convert it to a “Bren”-style top feeder. Sure, it wouldn’t really be practical today with the near-ubiquitousness of optical sights and the relative compactness the 5.56mm (the Stoner 63 was originally designed in 7.62mm, where bottom-feeding 30 round mags tend to be too large to be used from the prone position), but it shows how Stoner was willing go all the way when he was talking about “full modularity”.

    According to Wikipedia:
    “The first working prototype […] was designated the Stoner M69W (for no other reason than when turned upside down it reads the same, symbolizing Stoner’s vision of a fully invertible receiver”

    Tehehe… “69” 😉

  • juandos

    When this topic arose I had to turn to my favorite source of info, the Russian site: Welcome to Modern Firearms & Ammunition site.
    Online encyclopedia of firearms and ammunition
    of the XX and XXI centuries

    Stoner 63 weapon system: light machine gun XM202 and Mark 23 (Mk.23 mod.0) (USA)

    Lots of nice picture and info on this beast of a firearm…

  • Matt Groom

    I always loved these as they are the true grand daddy of all modern Gen 4 assault rifles. The modern offspring of this Gene Stoner concept is the SCAR, the XCR, the Masada, and others. I always thought the Stoner 63 was cool as hell, and I think the USMC would have taken a big leap forward if they had adopted it, but I wouldn’t take one over more modern designs.

  • Aurelien

    The 63A was pretty much the same concept the FN Minimi is based on, LMG fed with belt and mags.

  • Vitor

    It seems that Stoner, as the great designer he was, could still take some a lesson or two from Mikhail.

  • Vak

    You can still buy a robinson M96, and even if it’s semi auto only, it still looks real nice.

  • Lance

    Awsome MG. Tobad they army didnt adpot it as a SAW in the 60s.

  • Clodboy

    “The 63A was pretty much the same concept the FN Minimi is based on, LMG fed with belt and mags.”

    The Minimi was designed as a belt-fed LMG from the ground up, with the mag-feed pretty much intended as an emergency option – for the kind of situations where an oversized, unreliable mag-fed gun was still better than a reliable LMG that can’t fire because you’re out of linked ammo. Later, trimmed-down versions of the Minimi (the SPW and the Mk 46 mod 0) dispensed with the mag-feed altogether.

    The Stoner 63 system, on the other hand, was a true all-round system that – by combining the appropriate modular parts – was intended to fill any role with the same efficiency, from carbine to belt-fed LMG.

  • IMDB

    I had no idea Woody Harrelson was a Navy SEAL in Vietnam.

  • Clodboy

    I suppose the closest thing to the Stoner 63 is probably the HK21/HK23 series, which was intended to serve as a GPMG (with a stationary shock-absorbing tripod mount), a belt-fed LMG and (by installing a mag adapter) as a heavier version of the G3/HK33 assault rifle (referred to as HK11/HK13 in this configuration). The mag-fed version could also make use of drum mags to fill a role as a light support weapon (well, if you could actually call an 8+ kilogram gun “light” 😉 )

  • Pete Sheppard

    Jack Lewis (former Gun World publisher and a Korean War Marine Corps vet) reviewed the Stoner system back in the early ’60s, when the Marine Corps evaluated it and wanted to adopt it as their standard rifle, but were blocked by Army Ordnance.

  • thebronze


    I had the same thought, almost verbatim!

  • Aurelien

    The closerst you can come to the 63A in moderns design is the 7,62-chambered H&K G8. Designed as a multi-purpose all-around automatic rifle for german SF teams, a “lightweight” version of the HK21 machine-gun. Fed from G3-pattern box mag, drum or belt.

    I was just comparing the 63A and Minimi for the light round (5.56) in an automatic rifle that could be fed from mag or belt.

  • Mark

    “Mongo’s Machine Gun Pages” is a really good source:

  • Harald Hansen

    @Clodboyon, the last thing I’ve ever wanted was an even heavier G3. Is issued a HK416 these days, but even that thing has too many rails and gadgets to be called “light”.

  • Thanks for the linky. I should sell ad space if this keeps up. Your avalanche was bigger than ones from Tam.

    • j, I think on average a Tamalanche would be bigger than a TFBalanche 😉