Barrett 240 LW, a close up look

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Recently we’ve published the Barrett factory tour, and another article on the M82/M107 series of rifles that the company is well known for. However, this might soon come to be another small arm that if successful, the company will have continued success. That is the Barrett 240 Light Weight, Barretts entry into the general purpose machine gun market.

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Barrett approached the whole idea of upgrading the 240 platform due to the solicitation by the U.S. Army in 2010 for a lighter M240 medium machine gun. FN Herstal answered this with a 240B mostly built out of titanium, thus lightening the machine gun by almost four pounds. Barrett sort of looked at this, and although the company didn’t participate in the solicitation competition, the company thought that they could make a similar weight loss, through a redesign of the machine gun. Now, the technical data package for the M240 is more or less for sale, because it has been a long time since the gun was invented in the 1950s with the MAG 58. Similar to how patents expire, Barrett was able to acquire the design and produce it at the company’s factory in Murfreesboro, TN. The project began in around 2012 , but was put on a more or less hold. But within the past two years, the project was given new life, and with the assistance of a very interested buyer, has been through some rigorous testing procedures. In addition Barrett was able to get an experienced Marine 0331 Machine Gunner involved in the design process, so the company gained some valuable insight from real world experiences in Iraq.

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The big question is, how does the company make it lighter?Down to 21 pounds unloaded and optics unmounted to be precise. The biggest answer to that is that instead of using rivets, like the 240 and MAG 48 machine guns originally use to hold the two receiver halves together, the company instead went for a process of welding the halves together. Both of these pieces are also made from solid billet, 4140 steel. Then they started looking at all the smaller parts on the weapon, looking for ways to lose weight, but also bringing it into the 21st century as it were. Bits like the now telescoping buttstock, the fluted barrel, the front and rear sights, among other pieces. The design of the handguard and bipods are quite innovative for example. In the original 240, the handguard is affixed to the gas tube assembly, thus becoming extremely hot during the course of fire. Barrett took a look at this and made a handguard with hand grips and Key Mod rails, and instead bolting it directly to the receiver. In this arrangement, the gas tube is actually free floating within the handguard, never touching it. Thus, the gun can be fired at a very high rate of fire, and the handguards will have minimal heat transfer from the heat building up in the gas tube.

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Apart from the heat minimizing qualities, the end of the handguard has removable bipods. These are M60 type bipods (similarly used on the M82/M107 series) that have a pintle mount similar to Versa Pod bipods or Accuracy International bipods. They are held in place by a latch that is depressed on both sides of the handguard to release them. Having removable bipods has a number of advantages to a machine gunner, being able to quickly remove them if they become damaged or being able to take them off when in a position that would be easier defended with more movement on the gun. In addition they can be folded to the rear, or to the front.

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Even compared to what we saw of the machine gun at SHOT 2016, the gun is continually being refined and updated. The former QD sling swivels and rear sight is going away, to be replaced with a smaller rear sight, and solid sling swivels. When I was at the Barrett factory in March, the company had just completed a 20,000 round test fire of the machine gun, with no issues so far. They will be pushing the limits on it as time goes on. In addition, the company has an even lighter version of the LW, the 240 LWS or Light Weight Short. This variant is designed more along the lines of being employed in a special operations capacity, whereas the 240 LW is more for getting a lighter and upgraded version to replace the M240 currently in service with a number of countries all over the world.

One of the questions of the LW is who is going to buy it? Mainstream firearms companies aren’t usually in the process of coming out with novelty products, if their products don’t sell, then the company doesn’t survive. But the answer to this question is that there have already been two purchase orders and deliveries of the 240 LW, to the national militaries of two different countries. The company won’t reveal who it is, but rest assured, the LW is far from a pipe dream of a machine gun design.

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Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • MacK

    sploooge

  • mechamaster

    Look’s like Europe nation or Asia country who want to procure some 240LW.
    But wow, 9 Kg unloaded and without accesories is still heavy.
    But can’t be helped for 7,62x51mm GPMG class. ( no such lighweight ‘unobtainium’ in real world )

    • micmac80

      Your best bet is one of the Middle east dictatorships like Saudi Arabia or Katar

      You are right 9kg is still way off the mass produced world beater like PKM

      • MPWS

        Check.

    • iksnilol

      9.5 kg unloaded to be precise.

      Still to heavy, if I want an heavy MG like that I’d get an MG3.

      You could probably get an 7.62 NATO MG down to 6.5 kg or something. (PKM with the simplified mechanism for rimless cartridges is about 1 kg lighter than regular PKM of 7.5 kg). This was experimented upon when Russia made the 6mm unified cartridge.

      • mechamaster

        Well, yes, the 6mm Unified Cartridge and machine gun. Actually it similar case with US 6mm SAW caliber machine gun. It would be interesting to see GPMG in future caliber like 6-7mm General Purpose Cartridge. Slightly more lighter than 7,62x51mm.

        Sure, there are existing example the 7,62x51mm machine gun that weight between 7-8 Kg, but it’s tweaked slightly for special-forces like H&K MG4KE.

  • Tassiebush

    Cool article!

  • gunsandrockets

    The MAG has plenty of growth potential. I like the idea of chambering it in .35 Whelen.

    • Anonymoose

      Why not .411 Hawk? It’s like the old .400 Whelen but without the headspacing issues. Also, I’d like to see M240s get upgraded across the board into a titanium version of this with the H barrel and spades for emplacements and pintles, and more use of the Mk48 by regular infantry machinegunners, but that’s about as likely the SCAR replacing all the M4s.

      • mechamaster

        I like the Mk.48 in caliber 6mm SAW. ( just kidding lol )

        • Anonymoose

          Actually, I bet a .243 LMG would be pretty awesome. 6mm SAW just wasn’t good enough to justify using it over M855, though.

          • mechamaster

            Hmm.. .243 Win GPMG.

            Interesting idea. Just need to change the barrel and tweak the proper gas setting.

          • iksnilol

            Small caliber MG is brilliant idea.

            Russians made a 6mm high pressure round to replace the 7.62x54mmR with. Provided lighter ammo, lighter recoil and extended range.

          • roguetechie

            I am obsessed with this idea but only if a consistent driving band/pseudo sabot could be found that eases barrel erosion

      • gunsandrockets

        How does the BC of .400 Whelen bullets compare to .35 Whelen? I suspect not that well, which isn’t good for long rang MG fire.

        • Anonymoose

          Even .35 Whelen drops off pretty quick.

          • Jwedel1231

            Don’t worry about the ballistics at range, just move the cloud of dust where you want the bullets to go

          • iksnilol

            Problem arises when bullet drops so much that angling it makes it hard to see the target whilst still holding the gun stable.

          • gunsandrockets

            BC for 225 grain .358 bullet = .384

            BC for 300 grain .411 bullet = .250

            BC for M80 ball ammo = about .393

      • MPWS

        Mk48 had been purchased by customer(s) in EU, although in small quantity. It is progressive design, but cost is still horrendous and this is prime hindrance of this design.

        • milesfortis

          Maintenance costs on the MK48 (Man hours and parts) really eat into O&M budgeting too.

      • LG

        The .400 Whelen had NO headspace issues if one fabricated the cases from straight 30-06 brass PRIOR to tapering of the body. It was only if one fabricated the brass from formed 30-06 cases that an insufficient neck for adequate headspacing resulted. The problem was P. Sharpe in his writings skipped over that fact. This was unusual since Sharpe was quite knowledgable and meticulous in the day. None of the original Griffin and Howe rifles with their ammunition had any problems. Elmer Keith regarded it as the finest Elk cartridge.

  • Anonymoose

    Needs moar titanium.

  • MPWS

    Good effort, how-ewah…. this gun employs mix of long surviving mechanisms: Browning’s action (not to touch ‘deity’) and very German feed from form MG42. IF, those two can be transformed in some way into lighter, more compact version (which they certainly can), you have another cost and weight saving.

    In connection with this is mounting of optic on wiggly top feed cover; not an ideal arrangement. So, field for improvement is here, but of more essential in nature.

    • micmac80

      Russian PKM is the world beater, design people should look at , same goes for Ruski heavy MGs , Browning M2 is an embarasing design for 21st century. MAG for all its points is still a very old design

      • iksnilol

        Yup, I’d ditch the M2 and get NSVs. Though the US can’t do that due to politics.

        • mechamaster

          Just a little opinion.
          There are alternative for M2, The CIS .50 ( Singapore ), and KORD. hmm… I think better to take KORD 12,7 machine gun as alternative, more recent, and lightweight design.

          • iksnilol

            Kord works as well, both Kord and NSV are both very lightweight (about the same weight for the two, which is about half the weight of an M2).

      • MPWS

        I concur. Reason might be low-yield income for makers in comparison to hi-tech areas such as drones, missiles, sensors et cetera which on top of it are expendable.

  • Rock or Something

    A company should just re-design the PKM to fire 7.62X51 NATO. Swap the feed tray to the left for western preferences and be done with it already.

    • mechamaster

      Well, the reason PKM feed tray in the right, and eject to the left is that the PKM actually just AK receiver and mechanism get flipped up.
      Mikhail Kalashnikov want it simple and easy to utilize the proven existing design.

      But yeah, very interesting idea to redesign the PKM and utilize the NATO ammunition and disintegrating belt.

      • iksnilol

        That and right side belt is helpful, gets less in the way and is more compatible with backpack mounted ammo.

    • Edward

      It exists

      At least Bulgaria and Poland have made them

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    Given the amount of paperwork and permission involved from the state for exporting machineguns to foreign militaries, how is it that Barrett is even ALLOWED to keep the two countries to which these were sold secret?

    • milesfortis

      Follow the money. Lots of petrobux and friendly governments can cut through mounds of bureaucratic paperwork like a sword through the Gordian Knot.

  • Vitor Roma

    Negev NG7 is 3 pounds lighter and looks damn cool. Yeah, I know, 240 is a well proven design blablabla.

  • roguetechie

    Hnnnnggggg