Army to buy more lightweight M240L 7.62mm Machine Guns

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Strategy Page reports

The U.S. Army has ordered 3,053 of the new, lightweight, M-240L 7.62mm machine-guns, for $9,200 each. This model of the M-240 is 1.7 kg (3.75 pounds) lighter than the previous, M-240B. This was accomplished by using some lighter (titanium) components. Some other new components are also more durable. The reduction in weight makes a big difference for anyone carrying one of these up and down hills in Afghanistan for hours on end.

M240L 7.62mm Medium Machine Gun
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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.


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  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys

    Huh, question: Now that FN has lost the exclusivity contract to build them, who makes these weapons now?

    Cheers!

  • Rijoenpial

    Sorry… nothing a little Search can’t answer… Thanks, Daniel Waters!

    So, unless I am mistaken, the M240B contract is being undertaken by Colt Industries and others, but this one, the M240L one, is being done by FN! If this is correct, then good for FN! They’re the ones who designed it and know it better anyway!

    I can understand expanding the number of companies to build a particular weapon, so as to answer possible war escalations and reduce availability delays, but I think that one of the companies should always be the one that designed and built it! In this case, FN!

    I don’t trust COLT with machine gun building… They have no experience in it, to my knowledge… And I would be vigilant to see if they are on par with the ones FN manufactured! American-built is good, but only if it’s quality-good!

  • charles222

    Glad to see that the Army looks to be adopting these service-wide and not just for Afghan. Lighter weight equipment isn’t needed only for places where you hike up and down hills all day. I covered down on the RTO job for a few months last deployment and this was the additional equipment I brought along on every mission:

    -ASIP radio (16 pounds with battery)
    BA-5593 batteries for the ASIP (8 pounds each, typically I’d bring along 4 spares)
    COM 201 external antenna (10 pounds)

    This is on top of my vest (30 pounds) Kevlar (4 pounds) ammunition load (7-8 pounds) rifle (7 pounds) water for two days (9 pounds)…not as much as I packed around in afghanistan, but still a load over 100 pounds. I’m a pretty heavy guy, but the army sorely needs to issue lighter weight equipment as a general rule.

  • http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/ Sven Ortmann

    That’s still significantly heavies than the decades-old PKM which uses no exotic materials and is disadvantaged by its outdated rimmed cartridge and associated cartridge feed mechanic.

    Its successor, the PKP Pecheneg even ditches the weight of a spare barrel.

    The U.S. Army hasn’t been able to execute a small arms procurement program well for decades.

  • Other Steve

    9k each!? It’s nit like they have to earn the money so what do they care I guess.

    Someone is making a lot of money here. Ti or not, an order of 3000+ the per part cost shouldn’t be 9k!

    There is nothing crazy unique to this, it’s still just a gun. It’s got a barrel a receiver and a shoulder thing, even I’d you factor everyone could be hand assembled, it’s still Cnc machines cutting the parts. 9k is outrageous. If there was a one off civilian semi auto I am skeptical it would cost 9k.

  • Gabe

    That looks a little bit like a C79 Elcan sight
    What is it?

  • Lance

    Told you guys in the IAR article that the future of GPMGs in the Army and USMC will be a lighter M-240 not the MK-48 the Army announced months ago that the M-240L will be the next standard issue GPMG supplementing the heaver M-240B.

  • Martin (M)

    THIS is the right way to go. Actual firepower. I’ll make the US Army a deal. I buy two, the Army gets one, and I keep the other.

  • El Gato

    Why don’t they borrow/buy some UKM-2000s? Neat modifications

  • charles222

    Gabe: That it is the Elcan M145 Machine Gun Optic. It’s commonly issued army-wide.

  • Timothy

    I wonder how many PKM your could by for $9200?

    Btw, the Polish makes one that’s in 7.62×51 NATO and takes NATO belt. Vltor makes a complete PKM in the US.

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys!

    I am guessing that the 9k value probably will include spare parts and probably other stuff as well! STILL, way too expensive in my book!

    The idea behind mass production and mass acquisitions is that the more they would make and buy, the cheaper they should be getting!

    Still, I don’t actually know how much is a LMG unit such as the M240L, since they are not sold to the general, civilian public, to my knowledge! I am sure they are more expensive than an assault rifle and more expensive than a sniper rifle as well, as they have more machined parts in it!

    Cheers!

  • Lance

    Colt has the right to make any M-240 based weapon but FN will make the first batch of L models to weed out any production problems.

  • Tim

    We just got ours in a couple weeks ago, the weight makes a pretty significant difference. I think the bolt on them is rated at 50k rounds as well vs. 100k the 240B is rated for.

  • Lance

    @Timothy I don’t think Vitor makes a PKM semi auto copy most PKMs in here are class 3 and most are Vietnam era war bring backs and or movie guns.

    the only belt fed I know of that are semi auto are Valkyrie arms and Ohio ordnance arms M-60 and M-240s made semi auto to BATF specs and they almost cost as much as real ones only a few thousand less.

  • charles222

    *Sigh* Lance, this is not a GPMG. A GPMG by definition covers both the squad auto and platoon-level support roles. The M240 in any incarnation is strictly a platoon-level weapon by doctrine and any infantry SOP.

    The M240 is officially called an “MMG” (Medium Machine Gun).

  • Lance

    Ok Charls222 maybe in the Army there called a MMG but some call it my way in other services.

  • Rijoenpial

    charles222,

    thanks for that clarification… Because of the different designations of the M240 (M240B, M240C, M240D, M240G, M240L, etc) and having seen them on top of armoured cars and tanks, it made sense to me that this lighter version could be considered a LMG! However, compared to the Mk48, it is heavier, and longer, so it makes perfect sense that it is in a intermediate category, between the LMG and the GPMG!

    Thanks again, charles!

    Cheers!

  • http://gdziewojsko.wordpress.com Pawel K. Malici

    Wouldn’t be better to buy 7,62mm variant of Minimi instead?

  • Geodkyt

    Pawel —

    The MK48 (M249 SAW AKA FN Minimi scaled up to 7.62x51mm NATO) wears out significantly faster, BECAUSE it has smaller, lighter, parts. For example — for every M240L bolt and receiver that wear out (100K round service life), the MK48 goes through almost 7 bolts (15K service life) and 2 receivers (50K service life). It is also more prone to heating too much, too fast, because its parts have less mass individually.

    This is NOT worth saving 1.9kg in gun weight, especially since the idea is to have a GENERAL Purpose Machine Gun, capable of sustained fire. For SOCOM guys, the tradeoff is worthwhile — they need every ounce they can save for other stuff, they aren’t planning on doing a static deliberate defense with the MK48s, and they have the budget that the extra expense and logistics headache is worth it.

    Rijoenpialon –

    Ignoring submachineguns, assault rifles, etc., and focussing on what the military calls machineguns, Colt has extensive experience.

    Starting with the hand-cranked Gatling in 1867, continuing with the 1895 Browning-Colt Machineguns, BAR production, M1917 and M1919 Brownings (including US military, export, police, and commercial sales), M2HB and M1921 .50 Brownings, 7.62mm chain guns (through Colt Canada — they’ve been working VERY closely together for decades before Colt went ahead and bought out Diemaco) , 20mm aircraft automatic cannon (just a large machnegun, mechanically), etc., Colt has plenty of experience with machineguns.

  • http://mjm.luckygunner.com MJM

    I wish the Army would read these blog posts.

  • oicu812

    I am amiss as to why the MK43 MOD 1 is not in the running. U.S. Ordnance has made the M60 what it always should have been and more. Everyone I presume has seen the 800rd belt run on a single pull of the trigger. At 21.3 lbs., easy to manufacture, and at half the price it would seem to be in the running.

    You start manufacturing something out of titanium, you significantly up the price.

  • http://n/a Gerald

    I know absolutely nothing about machineguns, their usage, weight-saving advantages or the longevity of various parts and designs, but I can say with 100% authority on the topic that this is one ugly ass weapon.

  • Rijoenpial

    Geodkyt,

    I said that because I haven’t seen COLT itself (not a subsidiary) doing anything machinegun-like RECENTLY… I mean, all the weapons you mentioned they’re OLD, some very old designs, and I have to admit, most of them, are not in this category (MMG) and I even doubt that the guys at COLT USA today are experienced enough at manufacturing this type of weapons… That is all I am saying… Of course, I remember the old ones, but this is the 21st century! Most of what Colt USA did these past few decades were M4s and derivatives!

    Cheers!

  • Timothy

    Lance,

    Vltor makes a 100% US made PKM in both semi-auto for civvies and full-auto for Class 3 or US allies.

    You can order one directly from them for few grants. I know of few people that have one is semi or full-auto Class 3.

  • Lance

    @Timothy

    Sorry no PKM can be 100% USA made maybe they make and refurbish some for US allies in the Mid East and Eastern Europe. But Ive seen no semi PKMs for sale here.

  • Lance

    Colt has gotten a order to make M-240s for the Army check out this very blog we got it here.

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys!

    My concerns about COLT’s expertise in doing RECENT LMGs, MMGs or HMGs are reliability, durability and performance-wise! I would have given this contract to HK or anyone else that recently made military machineguns! And I can’t stop but wonder if this contract was LANDED on COLT rather than EARNED!

    Cheers!

  • Geodkyt

    Charles222,

    Both the -10′s (“Dash-Ten” – the operator manual for any piece of US Army equipment is a TM whose name ends in “-10″, thus the name) for the M249, M60, and M240 families AND FM 3-22.68 (July 2006, “Crew-Served Machine Guns – 5.56-mm and 7.62-mm”) which covers all three weapons lists their OFFICIAL nomenclature in all three cases as simply “Machine Gun”.

    ALL GPMGs are, BY DEFINITION, “Medium Machine Guns” – in other words, they fire a “full power” rifle cartidge and they are “General Purpose” when they are capable in multiple roles such as dismounted gun, mounted support fire, vehicular mount, coax, etc.

    Basically, ALL MMGs have proven to generally be too heavy for true “Squad Automaic Weapon” roles. That’s WHY the M249 was adopted in the first place, and even the M249 is too heavy for the Marines — so they are adopting a carbine adapted for automatic fire as a squad support gun that can pinch hit as a rifle! (Pop quiz — what is the official name for the M249′s role as a squad level LMG in an infantry fire team? A: “Automatic Rifle”, not “SAW”, not LMG. Same as the BAR, M14E1, M16A1 w/bipod, IAR, etc.)

  • Geodkyt

    OICU812,

    The Mk43 is just an M60E4 set up a specific way and in Naval service (US Ordnance, the manufacturer, refers to them as “the same”. . . its like how the USAF officially calls M4 variants that have perfectly good “M” designators as “GAU”).

    The M240 beat the crap out of the M60E4 in head to head testing in the 1990′s, especially in reliability. I think the only place the M60E4 was better was it was lighter — but the M240L is within about 2 pounds, even if the M60E4/Mk43 is equipped with the “Gonna Melt Down Real Soon Now” “assault barrel”.

  • charles222

    Yeah, the M60 was a waste of time compared to the various FN-MAG offshoots; the main reason the SEALs stuck with it as long as they did was the weight issue. The M240 isn’t a one-man weapon by any means, although any belt-fed weapon is going to take a hit firepower-wise by being employed by a single soldier.

  • oicu812

    Saying that that 240 “beat the crap” out of the E4 is a bit overzealous. In any case, I am always wary of gov’t “testing”. We all know the issues with the “dust test” and the M4.

    I am curious what the cost per unit is versus an E4. I am gonna go out on a limb and say being that it is manufactured using a substantial amount of Ti, an expensive and difficult to work with material, that the 240L is at least double the cost per unit if not more. Anyone have any real numbers?

  • Lance

    The M-60 and the E4 is still inservice today. Navy Seabees bought E4s and used them in Iraq and the SEALs have E3s. The regular M-60 is still in Shipboard use in USN and USCG boats.

  • Zyle

    It looks…
    It looks somewhat like I imagine Frankenstein’s Monster would if he’d made it into a gun instead.
    Are we sure sustained fire’s not gonna like, knock those rivet’s loose?
    Heh heh.

  • howlingcoyote

    Wow, just the rifle to hunt wild hogs in Texas with!

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.mew.3 Nicholas Mew

    Or we could use MG3′s or UKM-2000′s?