7.62 Mk3 Minimi to replace MAG in Belgium

The Land Component of the Belgian Armed Forces will soon be retiring the venerable 7.62x51mm MAG M2 (FN MAG medium machine gun) for FN Herstals 7.62x51mm Minimi Mk3. Specifically 242 machine guns will be bought with an order of 2 million Euros from the countries own FN Herstal. The article mentions that this will be enough to have 3 machine guns per platoon of 30, thus making it a squad machine gun. I’m not sure if this is how the Belgium Army operates or if it is a editing mistake, but previously having a medium machine gun per squad slows it down and is where the Squad Automatic Weapon concept importantly plays in.

The Belgian government has approved a plan “to replace and modernise the [country’s] stock of armed forces weapons” with the purchase of 242 Minimi 7.62 Mk3 light machine guns manufactured by FN Herstal, the Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 26 August.

Procured under a four-year contract worth EUR2 million (USD2.2 million), the new weapons are to replace ageing MAG M2 (FN MAG 60.20) general-purpose machine guns that entered service nearly 40 years ago.

According to the Belgian MoD, the new machine gun will be carried and fired by a single operator instead of the two soldiers required to operate the MAG M2. Each Belgian Land Component infantry platoon (30 soldiers) will be equipped with three Minimi 7.62 Mk3s.

The new 7.62 mm Minimi can be easily introduced into Belgian service because the country’s armed forces already operate the NATO-standard 5.56×45 mm Minimi M2 (Standard) and Minimi M3 (Para).

FN’s 7.26x51mm Mk3 is slowly popping up in more and more places around the world to include New Zealand, Poland, the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, and within the U.S. military as the Mk48. Maybe the 7.62x51mm pill is the cure to the M249s problems that it has become known for in some circles.

In case you are wondering how to spot the differences between the standard long barrel 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm Mk3s, here are two good pictures outlining the two. Notice that the 7.62 doesn’t have a STANAG magazine well (5.56 version still has one), it has a beefier flashhider (5.56 version has a cone type one), and the fire control group is a little bit longer than the 5.56 version.

7.62 Mk3

7.62 Mk3

5.56 Mk3

5.56 Mk3


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


  • Gus Butts

    Very sexy, I like the 7.62x51mm Mk3s. Us Canucks are also replacing the 40 year old fleet of FN C6s (MAG) which destroy themselves while firing because everybody puts the gas regulator to its biggest setting. They also have an enormous amount of rivets becoming loose (as a CF armourer this is the case for almost half the C6s I inspect) and the rivet holes become oval. This means we can’t install new rivets properly and they will become loose again very soon. We are replacing them with… new C6A1s with a top rail, a black plastic stock instead of the heavy walnut stocks that keep cracking and splitting all the time and we’re going back to the very old 11 position gas regulator so they won’t shoot themselves to crap anymore. I like that we are upgrading our C6s with features that many other first-world countries upgraded to two decades ago. We’ve already got secret squirrels using Mk48s, I thought the Army would have put some more thought and consideration into the FN Mk3s by this time.

    • Regarding the abuse of adjustable gas regulators, the US military ultimately adopted non-adjustable regulators for the M240 and M249 families.

      • Gus Butts

        Which is what we should use but we just love having bigger holes “just in case the other is obstructed” to let an enormous amount of gas in to cycle our action.

        • Yeah, but PVT Snuffy will *always* crank the regulator to the biggest hole for the fastest run, and to Hell with what it does to reliability or service life! 😉

      • Ron

        I remember when we had non-PIP SAWs and when the Gs were fielded. The B gas plus was a good call because for years almost always saw the Marine ones left on adverse to bump up the rate fire.

  • claymore

    And one obvious feature different between the two is the larger Hole where the rounds feed in………. sarcasm off LOL.

  • Marzuq

    The RMAF Special Operations Forces troopers also recently seen with the Minimi Mk3 7.62mm variant during the Malaysia’s National Day parade.

    • Gus Butts

      Look at that dude staring at the camera instead of marching with his head straight. What a s**tbag.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Whats with the blue camo? Are they planning on fighting a war at an Easter egg hunt?

        • Gus Butts

          I think the blue digital camo was originally adopted by their federal police force at first and then it spread to other branches depending on what they do.

          • Tritro29

            Blue camo is inherent to the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces as they need to cover a body of water almost twice bigger than the land they have.

          • Marzuq

            Actually,those guys is from the Air Force…

          • Tritro29

            … SoF? Same deal.

        • Marzuq

          Should asked the same question too about RAAF’s blue camouflage..

        • Tritro29

          Operations with an emphasis on amphibious ops on a country that’s half a huge peninsula on the Asian Continent and half a peninsula on a f*cking island with both halves being over 80% submersible land…and having an active Piracy issue with the Straits of Malacca…poster ask why do they have blue camouflage.

          RIP American Education System…

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            I thought they were planning an assault on the Smurf village.

          • Sgt. Stedenko

            Go back to Smurf school

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            I was expelled.

          • Tritro29

            Is that what you call the Capitol Nowadays?

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Capital Nowadays?
            Is that a poorly translated Russian copy of “Happy Days?

          • Tritro29

            Ok, it’s obvious that you need to see an occulist as much as you need to witness the greatness of an Atlas. Rip Medicare.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            A what now…?
            An “occulist”?
            You poor Russian, in America we dont have to pay witch doctors to get a glasses prescription.
            Is that why none of your pilots can hit anything in Syria?

          • jono102

            Its purely for corporate branding as is the blue cams the Aus Navy and Airforce use, to be seen as a separate entity to the other services “Look we’re Marines”. No where they operate would this cam offer any reasonable advantage over anything else. At sea they are generally on large floating grey things which render cam uniforms redundant, as does crossing the beach. It looks like it would have average utility in urban.

          • Tritro29

            I never said that blue camo was effective Just that it’s part of the water tradition.

          • Gus Butts

            Ah yes, the wonderful “American Education System” that is supposed to teach you why Malaysia specifically has digital blue camouflage for its armed forces. How shameful of them to not teach that anymore.

          • Tritro29

            Aaah don’t take the piss, fact is the poster who raised that clamor lives bathing into deliberate ignorance i was taking a shot to the player not the game.

          • Earth Is Flat

            The International Flat Earth Research Society (IFERS) based in town of Lancaster, California.

            The Flat Earth Society’s most recent world model is that humanity lives on a disc, with the North Pole at its center and a 150-foot (45 m) high wall of ice, Antarctica, at the outer edge. The resulting map resembles the symbol of the United Nations.

            In this model, the Sun and Moon are each 32 miles (52 km) in diameter.

        • n0truscotsman

          Its another stupid digital camo fashion trend.

  • gunsandrockets

    Interesting worldwide trend, shrinking rifles and growing squad-automatic-weapons.

    Time to break out the books on German WWII squad tactics!

    • Major Tom

      Specifically, how to NOT employ them, what with ya know the Germans LOSING.

      • gunsandrockets

        Yeah, because it is well known that German tactics is the reason why they lost WWII!

        • Major Tom

          It was one of many reasons why. The whole “Allies won because they out-zerged the Germans!” meme is just as annoying as “Superior German weaponry!” and “Superior German tactics being trampled by endless hordes of Soviet robots!” memes.

          German tactics, whether infantry or otherwise were often left wanting in one or more areas. Too rigid, too inflexible, too dependent on one or more core doctrines for example building a squad built around ONE machine gun while nearly all the rest had bolt action rifles when their opposition fielded self-loaders and automatics by the bucketload.

          The fact they have any interest at all outside of a historical standpoint is a testament to the whitewashing skill of surviving Wehrmacht soldiers and especially officers.

          • gunsandrockets

            You know what? I’m going to walk away while you finish fighting out your battles with the strawmen living in your head.

          • Liberals and Communists trigge

            “ONE machine gun while nearly all the rest had bolt action rifles when their opposition fielded self-loaders and automatics by the bucketload”
            So many things wrong with this.

          • Major Tom

            Such as? Wehrmacht doctrine built each squad around a single MG-34 or MG-42 with the squad leader issued an MP-38/40 while all other members were issued Kar98k bolt action rifles. Units were still being built around this philosophy as late as April 1945.

            Meanwhile Soviet and US forces typically employed much greater numbers of self-loading and automatic weapons. The average 12 man US squad typically carried at least two BAR’s, a Thompson submachinegun for the squad leader, a crew served M1919 (either A4 or A6) that was often available and the rest were issued with either M1 Garands or M1 Carbines. A lot of unit variance however caused that makeup to never be that uniform, some squads had more subguns, others had different makeups and some recon units reverted to older weapons like 1903 Springfields. Soviet forces by contrast typically equipped entire companies with PPSH or PPS subguns depending on operation and terrain. Other Soviet outfits were issued with various flavors of Mosin-Nagant or SVT-40 and often with a mixture of subguns and various machine guns (typically DP-28) for additional support. Though there is the note that the composition of Soviet forces’ weapons could vary widely from operation to operation, year to year.

        • Juanito Ibañez

          No: it was HITLER’s “tactics” that cost the Wehrmacht many of the battles they lost!

          Thank Heaven for Hitler’s narcissism!

          • gunsandrockets

            You missed the sarcasm.

          • Liberals and Communists trigge

            Hitler contributed greatly to the initial Blitz. In fact the generals were against it. The generals also refused to listen to Hitler’s plan regarding the Eastern Front, and opted for a frontal assault, which resulted in Moscow and Stalingrad.
            I doubt you can actually absorb or even consider any of this though, despite being even on Wikipedia. (Which doesnt mean anything factually, it is just so factual even a biased website has to admit it).

  • Holdfast_II

    What’s the wight savings? The MAG is a good gun on a pintle mount for SF Kit tripod, but it is a bit heavy on a patrol.

    • Gus Butts

      The FN MAG is around 26 pounds depending on what you got on there but the receiver is also extremely long and you don’t have any kind of front grip on it. I don’t even think anybody uses the 50 round metal cans that clip under the feed tray. The new Mk3 is 8.8kg (just over 19 pounds), is a heck of a lot shorter than the FN MAG and has an actual foregrip on it and the provision to mount nutsacks on it to feed the machine gun.

  • Anonymoose

    I see no problem with this, except in mounted roles where it’s going to get a lot more use than an infantry MG.

    • jono102

      The way it reads, it looks like they are replacing the MAG’s at dismounted section and Pl level not any where else. We did the same with 7.62 replacing the 5.56 minimi but retained the MAG for SFMG, vehicle mounted work etc

    • randomswede

      If these are to replace the infantry MGs they’ll have a larger pool to pick from for mounted guns. 242 MGs doesn’t sound like a lot for an army that google tells me is 12000 strong.

  • Ben Loong

    I hope they’ve significantly improved the reliability of the platform from the original Minimi if they hope to replace the MAG.

  • Jim N Jenna SK

    About time!

  • joe

    I’d issue one MK48 and/or one M27 per squad, junk the SAWs and keep the 240’s for mounted use.

    • Major Tom

      I’d issue two Mk 48s and at least one 240 per squad with a minimum of two 240’s per platoon. The M27’s would be relegated to being a general issue rifle.

      There’s no place for an RPK-style weapon on the modern battlefield.

  • GVD

    If I recall correctly, the belgian army has a history of going “heavy”. They were one of the first armies in the world to outfit one in three infantrymen with a “special” weapon. They called the subdivision a “trinoom”. So you had 2 riflemen + 1 special (Minimi, MAG, AI AW, grenadier,…)

    So if the figures in the post are correct, I’m guessing they go for something like this:
    10 trinomen (10x 3 man element) = 30 men total which are subdivided into:
    3 trinomen with one FN Minimi 7.26x51mm each = 3 Minimi 7.62 & 6 riflemen
    3 trinomen with one FN Minimi 5.56x45mm each = 3 Minimi 5.56 & 6 riflemen
    3 trinomen with grenadiers (F2000+GL or SCAR+GL) = 3 grenadiers & 6 riflemen
    1 trinoom with AI AW 7.26x51mm = 1 sharpshooter & 2 riflemen

    It’s a long time since I came into contact with Belgian squads, so maybe someone can enlighten us on this.

    (considering that the MAG is godlike in a mounted role, this small purchase will only cover dismounted patrols where the weight savings are very welcome)

  • micmac80

    FN mag is a bit lazy on design and is much heaver than PKM ,Minimi barley edges out the pkm

  • atfsux

    But didn’t the 249 suffer from vertical shot dispersion vs. the more prefered horizontal dispersion? As I recall, this was endemic to the way the design was manufactured. Did that problem transfer over to the Mk48?

  • Todd Ten-Napel

    The fire control group or as we formally call it the “trigger control group” is the same size the trigger housing and pistol grip are just recessed further forward on the 249 due to the smaller bolt carrier group.

  • Todd Ten-Napel

    I have held/fired both… for long term operation and fire support the M240 / MAG is better suited. The 240L is slightly lighter than the 240B. If you want a GPMG for urban and special ops than the MK48 or what Europe calls the Mk3 would be better suited.

  • Bloody Bucket

    It’s a Mk 48. My platoon got two of them in Afghanistan 2010. Went to a crew serve range across from the ANP training center (stop, think about it, O.K. laugh). Being the “Gun Guy” they gave me 800 rds for each and said “make sure they work” Hee hee, somewhere out there is a video of me blasting away with one i OFF HAND. I’ve said ever sence that 240s should be for vecs and fixed posisions and give these to the ground pounders. We have 240L s now with the titanium receiver, but how much do they cost?

  • shaw08

    So the MK48?