US Special Forces Ultimax LMG

Ultimax

Thanks to my friend Irfan for sending this photo to me. The photo is a bit confusing. The camo is Navy AOR1 which is typically the camo of choice for Navy Seals. However due to the helmet and plate carrier design, as well as the American Flag patch on the chest, the person in the photo is actually Special Forces. The chest rig is called SFLCS (SF Load Carrier System).

According to Irfan,

I found out that socom is having a tender for a new SAW. To replace what they have now. Apparently it’s between 2 companies. The Singapore ST kinetics ultimax mk 4 and a similiar model that’s made by a former army sf guy. Apparently they’ve been using the SAW for quite awhile instead of the m249

 

A few months ago I got a chance to use an Ultimax 2000. There are only a handful of these that were imported into the US and in Dealer’s hands. My friend Scott has two of them. This one can take AR15 magazines. The Ultimax bolt floats on guide rods and never slams back into the receiver so there is hardly any recoil. Also you can see how easy it is and steady it is to shoot.

 

Here is a video of Scott shooting his MK3 with Ultimax Drum.

 

Here is another demonstration with a unorthodox firing grip.



Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • 2wheels

    One wonders why more people haven’t adopted the Ultimax, or at least copied it’s mechanism. Recoil that low is nothing to scoff at!

    Plus if it’s more reliable than the SAW, that’s a win-win.

    • mechamaster

      Maybe if US Departement of Defence asked L. James Sullivan ( Jim Sullivan) to create lightweight-SAW, he can still doing it.

      Ultimax is one of his creation too.

      Actually, Ultimax is popular in International Special Forces Community.

      But maybe the geopolitical factor ( Singapore arms-export policy ) and the proprietary high-capacity Drum-magazine ( but still capable to accepting STANAG magazine ) is hindering its popularity too.

      • Minuteman

        What about their arms export policy? They sell weaponry to anybody. Georgian military uses CIS 40, for instance. Which is the best 40mm AGL on the market by the way.

        • mechamaster

          Maybe their limited industrial capability for major arms export,
          plus the geo-political factor for ‘licensing’ or ‘transfer-of-technology’ is strict and more careful for them.

          But yeah, STK Kinetic product is great. Even their CIS .50 Heavy-Machine Gun is one of the best too.

          • Minuteman

            Wouldn’t know about the ‘political’ side of things.

            STENGG sure makes a great product. Hardware from well-developed Asian countries tends to be of amazing quality.

          • noob

            If it was adopted by the USA, the law demands that STK would have to open a plant in the USA.

          • LCON

            Whene it was in the Running for the USMC’s IAR they partnered with General Dynamics Land systems.

        • Singapore also makes a line of NATO-compatible 40mm standard velocity grenades that have all the smart fuze capabilities of gee-whiz weapons like the XM25, and can be fired through legacy 40mm GLs with the addition of a reasonably compact, “clip on”, ultra short range wireless “fuze setter” (or combination range finder/fuze setter, if you prefer), *without* affecting the ability of the legacy launchers to fire legacy ammo.

          Win-win, and a Hell of a lot more sense than the XM25 debacle.

      • AFAIK, the Ultimax can accept STANAG magazines only by swapping parts… at which point you cannot use the excellent Ultimax drum.

      • roguetechie

        L. James Sullivan already did this. His new venture Arm West inc has a very nice gun along this line, but the only high capacity options it accepts beyond standard 30&40 round magazines would be things like Dmag60, surefire 60&100’s, and 100 round double drums.

        On the plus side, it’s open bolt full auto closed bolt semiautomatic and has a ridiculously quick and simple barrel change procedure.

    • iksnilol

      I think the drum mags limit its popularity.

      • roguetechie

        Iksni,

        There’s a whole slew of ultimax variants to choose from, many of which do not use the original proprietary drum. Though it should be noted that the Ultimax drum is rock solid beyond belief almost.

        I’m very much wondering if the Ultimax is actually competing against Sullivan’s new design that integrates all his lessons learned since then…

        AFAIK there’s a few ex military guys working at ARM West, so that could be what’s actually happening.

    • yodamiles

      Well, there is KAC LMG. Same constant recoil system and belt fed, but nobody adopted it either…. I least from what I know

      • LCON

        until this year KAC was doing it developmentally

        • iksnilol

          Was something about the Danes accepting it.

          • LCON

            I think it was there marines on a trial basis but nothing came of it.

    • Good ideas take 50 years on average to catch on in the US firearms community.

    • aka_mythos

      Limited availability due to gun ban and importation hurdles makes it challenging to have one to study in detail enough to reliably reverse engineer.

    • valorius

      not belt fed.

    • Kyle

      That is a low bar to cross. Isn’t everything more reliable than the M249?

  • mechamaster

    Imagine if the “belt-fed-adaptor” for Ultimax existed… With 50-100 rounds pouch or STANAG magazine, it can rival the M249 for sure.
    Plus the Ultimax is open-bolt gun, and has the capability for Quick-change-Barrel.

    • iksnilol

      Well, there’s the KAC Stoner LMG which uses the same mechanism but is belt fed. Weighs 4.5 kg unloaded IIRC.

      • mechamaster

        Wow, thanks for reminded me about KAC Stoner LMG.

    • Being magazine fed might actually be an advantage over belt fed.

      While less sustained fire power then the belts, mags allow the gun to be much more nimble in the hand (allowing it to be fired more easily when not in the prone). Having a 200lb belt of ammo + the extra weight of the belt feeding mechanism on the rifle makes the gun much heavier to carry and use. This was one of the impetuses for the M27 IAR – the SAW was not considered nimble enough for CQB / close assault.

      Simply using magpul Pmag 40’s would likely be the easiest solution. 6 on the chest, 4 mag pouch on either side of the vest. Possibly with an assistant gunner assigned to carry a 100rd drum for emergency use.

      23 oz per 40rd Pmag loaded x 15 = 600rds / 21.5lbs of ammo.

      200rd plastic box for the SAW is listed as 6.92lbs, so 600rd loadout would be 20.7lbs.

      If the SAW gunner was quick with his reloads, he’d be able to keep up a pretty impressive level of fire with 40rd mags, while having a much lighter weapon, and being able to share mags with his teammates in an emergency.

        • Lol, just corrected that typo.

      • valorius

        A 40rd magazine is wholly insufficient for a light machine gun.

        Machine guns should be belt fed.

        • Ron

          They should also be fired off a Tripod with a T/E

          • valorius

            Sometimes.

      • iksnilol

        Wait, the 40 rounders are more advantageous than the 200 round belts in spite of being heavier, slower and my personal favorite: longer (AKA more cumbersome in the prone) than the belts?

        • The 200rd belt only becomes advantageous when firing 41rd+ bursts, which is a) not even the doctrine advocated for the belt fed SAW (emphasis on 6 round bursts) and b) not especially common in current conflicts/ the employment of a squad automatic weapon. That type of firing is more in line with defending a fixed position.

          Now, that’s not saying that a belt fed is never desirable, but 40rd mag fed offers an 80/20 solution – providing adequate firepower for most engagements, in a much lighter package that is easier to use when standing, kneeling, and on the move. This will lower the fatigue of the operator, allow them to move and run more quickly, and fire more accurately.

          Magazines are also much faster to change, especially when on the move. So while reloading is more frequent, there will never be more than a 4-5 second lull in fire; reloading a belt fed seems to take 12-15 seconds based on what I’ve read.

          Testing of the M27 IAR, when belt changes were taken into account, showed that with 30rd mags it could keep up a similar rate of fire to the SAW.

          One of the most well regarded and longest serving squad automatic weapons ever was the Bren, which was a 30rd magazine fed SAW/LMG.

          40rd 5.56 mags are the same approx length of a 30rd AK magazine, so it’s not like they’re crazy long. Given the ceramic rifle plates + double mag pouches on the vest, it’s unlikely that a soldier is able to get low enough in their kit for the slight length increase to effect the prone. But when carrying 600rd’s, 40’s are a huge help – 15 40’s vs 20 30’s is a big difference in magazine pouches.

          Meanwhile, drum mags are cool, but are very weight inefficient – a empty Magpul D60 weighs 20 oz, while a full 40rd weighs 23 oz.

          TL;DR – 40rd mags offer most of the benefits of a LMG with a fraction of the hassle and weight of belts. Everything is a compromise, but this one is likely worth it.

        • Ron

          The problem you see is SAWs is they often produce a lot of fire but not a lot of hits, watch the various videos of the Korangal with belt feeds just firing away, with no slack in incoming fire, which does not subside until they bring in air, mortars or arty.

          • Joe

            This has to do with the Taliban not giving a rats ass for “covering/suppressing fire” or “near misses” especially from 5.56mm.

          • Ron

            If you are fighting against an enemy that noise of fire has little effect on, than there is little reason for a belt feed

          • CommonSense23

            You think a belt feds only effect is noise?

          • Ron

            I think the majority of the suppressive effects are on the moral of either the shooter or the target. And suppression is a huge variable, better trained troops require more than the crack of rounds going on around them to be suppressed.
            I think SAWs are really good for the moral of the shooter and his side, but generally they produce very little actual wounds

          • Joe

            The M2HB, and M240B are phenomenally accurate belt fed weapons. Especially when mounted in a turret, or a well emplaced tripod. A M249 is never an accurate weapon, even when brand new, but especially not the average M249 that has seen 5x or more the volume of fire the receiver was designed to handl . I’m not against belt feds, just abominable weapons like the M249.

          • CommonSense23

            You think the Taliban doesn’t care about a near miss from a 5.56 but doesn’t from a 7.62?

          • Joe

            I think that when the Taliban hears incoming full auto bursts of 5.56 NATO they don’t care because it’s not something that is routinely accurate or effective fire. When they hear bursts of 7.62 NATO or .50 cal Fire they reposition because they know that these rounds ARE typically more accurate and effective.

      • CommonSense23

        No mag fed weapon can keep up sustained rates of fire like a belt fed can. With my MK46 I got 600 rounds available with only 2 reloads. And can begin reloads without unloading the gun.

        • Ron

          Was it your unit SOP to use a 200 round can instead of a 50 round sack? All the units I have been in we started with the sack.

          I know when MCOTEA did the side by side comparisons, they stated SAW gunners did less reloading and but spent significantly longer on each reload so in the end it was pretty a much a wash when it came to expending a 600 rnd UBL.

          • CommonSense23

            200 round box. We didn’t have or use anything else. Which if you are running a 200 round box I see no way possible a M249 or MK46 to be beat by a mag fed weapon using 30 or 40 round magazines. Even if you take a atrocious 15 seconds to reload with a box. That’s two reloads to put out 600 rounds. For 30 seconds down time. Now lets say you are fast with your reloads on a M27. 3 seconds a reload. To put out 600 rounds with 30 round mags you are at 57 seconds down time. With a 40 round to put out 600 rounds you need 14 reloads. So at 3 seconds a piece. So 42 seconds. Now lets talk real world. Where are you storing 14 or 19 mags at. You are going to have to reposition those mags. And you got to store the empties to on the reload.
            Now here is the real kicker. When do you reload a mag with a mag fed weapon if your job is suppression. At empty? With a couple rounds left. Cause I can start my reload with 25 or 30 rounds left on the belt without emptying the gun. Just pull off the old box and let the belt drape and start my reload. So my gun isn’t even down doing my reload.
            The biggest issue with the M249 and MK46 is the belts of M855. You put a better round in the gun and its a much improved weapon.

          • Uniform223

            “The biggest issue with the M249 and MK46 is the belts of M855. You put a better round in the gun and its a much improved weapon”

            http://www.defensereview.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/M855A1_Enhanced_Performance_Round_EPR_US_Army_1.jpg

            problem solved.

          • CommonSense23

            Definitely. I made some guys I was training make some links of something other than M855 as punishment and it made the gun so much better. It’s what blew my mind about the PKM . How accurate and contrable it was. A MK46 with MK318 or M855A1 is game changer.

          • Ron

            It is a TTP to link one belt to the next instead of a full on reload. It is done with crew serves all the time. However unless you have a A-gunner to assist during the reload, it takes longer to pull the rest of the belt out, drop the old can, attach a new can, take the plastic end link off the new belt and clip to the old belt, than to just drop the old can, open the feed tray, slap the new belt on, close the cover and pull charging handle. If during this process you need to start shooting again, the gun will be out of action longer than if you had to do a magazine speed reload.

      • n0truscotsman

        No

        We already learned the magazine fed vs belt-fed “automatic rifle” lesson during the days of the BAR in WW2, yet people are still insistent on arguing about it to this day.

        If you want an accurate, ‘nimble’ long gun with superior accuracy over the M4 and M16, you might want to dig more into the designated marksman concept.

        If mobility is a problem with your squad automatic weapon, you might want to delve into fielding more user friendly magazines, without sacrificing firepower too much, and a lighter weapon, which is possible given modern advancements in small arms.

        Or field a reliable casket magazine holding 60 rounds.

        All of them are superior solutions to the M27, which IMO, is a solution looking for more problems and is nothing more than a flash in the pan, ‘new gun’ craze.

    • Big advantage to a mag fed LMG for a squad LMG is you can share (assuming you use compatible magazine interfaces – and it only needs one-way compatibility, really) magazines from the riflemen if need be. (Note – the riflemen DON’T need to be able to use the LMG mags – for one, it’s generally more weight than their latches are designed for – but the LMG should be able to use the rifle mags.)

      Problem with the M249 and mag feed wasn’t mag feed so to speak — it was “mag feed AND belt feed, without changing parts”, which meant a gun optimized for the primary feed at the expense of the secondary feed (bolt cycles too fast for magazines to easily keep up, for one).

      Weight wise, a magazine fed LMG can also be more weight efficient as a total load, over a belt fed of similar size, when you’re looking at the sort of ammo loads that would be carried for a squad LMG (as opposed to the load a GPMG team might carry).

      Big problem (in 5.56mm, anyway) is that you have to make a choice — a reliable large capacity drum, or compatibility with the M16 magazine. I am unaware of any *proven* M16 magazine interface drum or similar large capacity magazine that works reliably. The Ultimax drum apparently works really well, but it isn’t M16 compatible.

      Using an LMG that DOESN’T accept your standard rifle magazine, you’d be better off with a dedicated belt feed.

      • clampdown

        I agree. Something like this would be more along the lines of the BAR/RPK SAW concept as opposed to the modern American use of LMGs like the 249 as a “SAW.” To me, a 5.56 SAW should take the same mags. If you’re gonna move up to belt-fed, might as well go with 7.62 NATO.

        • Don’t confuse feed system with role and design. An automatic rifle like a BAR or RPG is a very different beast from a true LMG that just happens to use mags. A Bren LMG, with an AG (and they traditionally operated in three man teams) could keep up with GPMGs, right up until they ran out of loaded mags… which, with the 25 mags per gun “basic load” (about half of them scattered amongst the riflemen of the section), could take a while. (Even at 28 rounds per mag, with typical downloading, that’s a 700 round unit of fire per gun.)

          A bigger indicator is heat management – if you have a quick change barrel and an open bolt, you’re almost certainly a LMG (there are, as always in ordnance, oddball exceptions). Another indicator is a reload cycle that is fast in position – if you have to go through a bunch of gyrations to fit the reloads under the gun, it limits your ability to maintain continuing fire (this is a huge factor in top mounted mags, like the Bren – a tuned up AG can swap mags in the normal pause between bursts, so their is *no* noticeable pause in fire… for that matter, they can do barrel changes in the same time interval – just not a mag swap and a barrel change in the same pause.)

          Note that if you don’t normally carry the spare barrel, you might as well be a fixed barrel gun in use…

      • Nicholas C

        While I only shot SB Tactical’s M249 once with that same D60 drum mag, other people loaded it and fired it. It was still a small sample size but it fed every round and not a single hiccup. Belt fed had one or two hiccups but Chase, of Zenith, was familiar with its operation during his deployment and he helped us get it up and running.

        • I’m cautiously optimistic on the Magpul. But I recall when (and i drank the Kool-Aid, too) the Beta C-Mag was Teh New Hotness. Then, more people got ahold of them in the wild, and the reliability reports started filtering in…

          If the D60 works reliably, that would be awesome – a STANAG type magazine that is short enough that it is plausible for a bottom feed LMG.

  • Minuteman

    Across the board I’d opt for the Negev NG7 to replace all dismounted single operator LMGs while retaining the 240 Bravo as the crew served GPMG. The 5.56 round was never envisioned as, nor designed to be a machinegun round.

    • mechamaster

      The problem is the weight.

      Negev is ± 7 – 8 Kg unloaded. Same with unloaded M249 weight.

      Basically doesn’t improve the load weight. But ( maybe ) the Negev is more reliable in dirty combat environtment.

      The Ultimax is around ± 4,5 – 5 Kg unloaded. Even the Asian-female operator can carry it without problem.

      • Minuteman

        It’s got nothing to do with weight but everything with using the right cartridge for the appropriate application. And we’re not talking Asian females here but white and black male troops that weigh in at 182 pounds and over. And your machinegunners are always the most stand up guys because they are selected to cope with heavier weaponry. I have a horrible recollection of making things ‘lighter’. Lighter=less escalation dominance across the board.

        • mechamaster

          Oh, sorry I get sidetracked.

          • Minuteman

            No problem.

        • micmac80

          It has everything to do with weight no matter how tough or strong the GI migt be (strenght and size are actualy deterimental to endurance) .And if weight is no issue you always rather make up the saved weigth with more ammo.
          Having actualy shoot the older Ultimax 100 in the past i can attest its all you need for SAW role.

          • Minuteman

            No it doesn’t. Specops are always short duration deployments, because there’s only one specop that I know of and that’s the raid. So weight is minimal and can be shedded off by means of leaving aside body armor, ballistic helmets, large packs and what have you not. That weight is reinvested in heavier weaponry because max firepower is what you want when you’re always outnumbered. And no, strength and weight are not detrimental to mobility and endurance. Just ask your average Navy SEAL or MFR/MARSOC operator. It’s always a balance. If you don’t have anough physique you won’t be able to push through and get the fight over with. If you don’t have enough cardio you won’t be able to sustain the fight. Anyway, your tier one spec ops types always have the frame of serious bodybuiders and football players. Heck, look at SWAT officers.
            I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt because I’ve seen way too much internet commandos claiming to have shot this and tha), so for the sake of the argument: you do realize that the Rangers and Aussie Army use the MK48, so do the SEALs -alternating with the 60. 5.56 simply doesn’t have the range nor penetration power in order to be an effective machinegun round. The 249, Ultimax, MG4 and what not are not machineguns -technically they are, yes, I’ll give you that- but certainly not from the dismounted deployment tactics perspective. They’re rather considered ‘automatic rifles’. Now tell me why would I bring along a relatively heavy gun that fires an ineffective round for its intended purpose when I can get the same tool in the proper caliber that will get the job done with relatively low round count?

          • CommonSense23

            Short duration deployments? Only raids? Stop getting you info from movies and spreading it around like you have a idea.

          • micmac80

            Dont forget : Bodybuilder and football types for SOF. LOL
            And big guns for fire superiority. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/42bf03d71ce84708a4192a1c109beda2b92859dfbde614cb75f26319de106f3c.gif

          • Minuteman

            And who might you be?….

          • CommonSense23

            Someone who spent the majority of my career in Socom.

          • Minuteman

            Sorry man, but I’ve heard claims like that before way too often. There’s tons of people with a fantasy resume all over the internet posing as ex SEALs, ex SAS, ex Spetsnaz, ex 2REP and what have you not telling bed time stories. I don’t buy it, because I know for a fact that folks who are the real deal would never disclose their background, whether active duty or retired. The only legit online (and very tight-lipped) community I know of is Quiet Professionals, and they like to keep to their own.

          • Minuteman

            Anyways, let’s not turn this into a pissing contect okay? It doesn’t matter who I am nor who you are and I don’t like ‘authority statements’. Let’s keep an open debate.

            Hence I’ll elaborate a bit more on my earlier claim why I think DA/CT is the only spec op out there. Because tier one capacity is scarce to begin with and thus priority needs to be given to surgical strikes given the high demand for but low supply of tier one personnel.
            FID is no task for SOF because we have OMTLs for those missions nowadays.
            SR no longer is an exclusively SOF job anymore because nowadays recon units are exceptionally well-trained -almost to the leven of SOF.
            Missile Guidance isn’t a specop because we have JEOs for that.
            That leaves only Raid type ops (DA/CT).

          • CommonSense23

            Ok lets deconstruct this discussion down. There are 6 core mission types of SOF. UW, DA, FID, HR, SR, and C.P. Now C.P. and HR are only to be performed by two units. So lets break down the rest.
            Lets talk UW? How many units that are not in SOCOM are equipped and trained for UW? Have the language skills, medical skills, foreign weapons skills to conduct UW?
            Lets talk FID. How many conventional units are capable of. and have the experience for instruction of mobility training, heavy weapons training, basic marksmanship, CQB, landware, comms, prisoner control, basic and advanced medical skills and able to break into self sustaining units of as little a 4 men? Or the political ramifcations of sending a SOF unit vs a conventional unit to the home country.
            Lets talk about SR. How many conventional units have experience with the multiple drones in current use for SR use. Are trained in HALO/HAHO? Have climbing experience? Have every member qualifed for rappeling or fast roping? Are capable of hiding themselves from all the current ways to track electronic signals or their presence. Also what conventional units do you know that is almost as well trained as a SOCOM unit for SR? Recon was the closest and they got hollowed out by the creation of Marsoc?

          • Minuteman

            UW is highly controversial, so is the black version of FID. Like I said, FID nowadays is pretty much part of the nation building/reconstruction effort within the ramifications of the 3D approach and being done by OMLT.
            HR is a form of DA.
            As for SR, all these skills can -and are- being tought to more conventional outfits. The Dutch Army in particular has been very succesful in this area. Their Brigade Recon Squadrons are all trained in the techniques and procedures you mentioned. With some imagination 7th Cav can be transformed to perform these kind of ops. They are recce to begin with.
            Agreed on MFR having been virtually disestablished and that’s a damn shame.

            All I’m saying is this: SOF capability is scarce and should be tasked for priority missions as a consequence. That means short term raids. Have you looked in to the last reorganization/reorientation of the British and Dutch Marines? I think they agree with me, and they’re a highly capable SOF force. Still light infantry by the looks of it, but just for publicity. They’re SOF and as capable a tier one outfit can get. Their official doctrine is that there’s only one spec op left and that’s the raid. Everything else can be done by conventional units.

            It’s very interesting to look at what small nations are doing. They force themselves to be smarter and more economical/efficient with their scarce capacity. The Danish Army operates in the same way. Jaegerkorpset is very akin to Delta and focuses on raid type missions and CT. I think the US military needs to make a certain shift as well.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Any idea on what the other weapon is?

    Didn’t the Ultimax have some issues in harsh environments or was the service life shorter? It just seems like there was a problem that kept it from winning competitions. On the out side it definitely seems like a superior solution.

  • RSG

    Doesn’t a manufacturer have to be US based (or at least have a plant on US soil) to even be considered for a military contract? Or is the just for special forces and thus can circumvent that requirement?

    • Rob

      General Dynamics partnered with STK to submit the ultimax for the USMC IAR trails. They probably kept the relationship alive and showed their toy to other potential customers when the lost the IAR bid.

    • For a “Big Army/Navy/Marine Corps/Air Force” type contract, they generally require US production (although they will sometimes allow *initial* production for a stated period of time or production run to be imported while the US factory comes on line.)

      This is not necessarily true of limited purchase items where they don’t need enough to justify a whole new factory. Much in the way of Special Operations funding is like this, as they only need a tiny (by DoD standards) quantity of widely available “foreign” stuff. SOF units *hate* spending “SOF” money, though, because it comes out of their discretionary funds — if there is a “Big Green” solution that is adequate for their needs they can just requisition through normal DoD channels, they will use it.

      That’s where I got my personal parachutes from — once Big Army decided to adopt and type classify the MC-6, Special Forces surplussed out *all* their SF-10A rigs (the MC-6 is just an SF-10A canopy on a new harness that was mostly developed to fit a wider range of jumpers to better accommodate females, with a new reserve, whereas the old SF-10A uses the old T-10 harness and T-10 compatible reserves, which were all designed when there were NO female jumpers.) SF got to reclaim the price of the chutes they DRMO’ed back into their discretionary funds, and they just requisition MC-6 rigs as needed (which comes out of Big Army funds).

      So I got a great deal on a pair of rigs with low jump numbers (one had *four* jumps on it when I got it) and a pair of MIRPS-SLCP reserves, for only a little bit more than guys were paying for well used “Charlies” a couple of years ago.)

  • Major Tom

    May I ask what is the obsession with making RPK-style weapons for a role that RPK-style weapons are ill-suited to?

    • It has a quick change barrel and was designed from the ground up to be a LMG, whereas the RPK is just a big open bolt AK.

      The Ultimax is more of a 5.56 Bren gun (which worked well for decades) and has the recoil of a P90.

      Short of repelling a human wave assault, it seems like the ideal squad automatic weapon.

      • Anon

        The RPK insn’t an open bolt

      • valorius

        Any ideal SAW will be belt feld.

        • David Sharpe

          Any ideal IAR would be mag fed.

          • valorius

            The idea of an IAR is foolish to begin with, IMO.

          • David Sharpe

            Your opinion isn’t fact, many militaries are removing belt fed LMGs from the squad level, and replacing them with heavy barrel versions of the standard rifle.

            Which is what they should have done all along.

          • crackedlenses

            Good for them, at least as long as no one tries to use said IARs as LMGs.

          • valorius

            Many military forces learned decades ago that this was, in fact, very foolish. Which led to the M249 to begin with.

            But hey, mankind is doomed to forget all of histories lessons.

          • David Sharpe

            And why is it foolish? How is having a lighter weapon, with the same manual of arms, that’s easier to handle and carry a bad idea compared to a heavy, hard to carry weapon that’s completely different from everyone else’s weapons?

          • valorius

            Because a mag fed rifle lacks the firepower to compete with a belt fed light machine gun. Hence- the M249 being designed and fielded in the first place.

            This is all just history repeating itself.

          • David Sharpe

            Squads working in an urban environment don’t need something that will fire 200 rounds, they need something they can easily move around with….like an IAR.

          • valorius

            I disagree, moving with a SAW is not a problem. I also disagree with your premise that MOUT requires less firepower capability. If anything, it is the exact opposite.
            -Former US Army infantryman

          • David Sharpe

            Did you ever carry the SAW?

            Not less firepower, less weight and more maneuverability.

          • valorius

            Yes. And M60’s too, before there was a SAW. The SAW is light in comparison.

            I’m not even a big dude.

          • David Sharpe

            For long periods of time? If yes, didn’t you ever wish it was lighter?

          • Ron

            From the final position paper of the infantry advocate that lead to adaption of the M27

            “The IAR test results indicate that infantry squads equipped entirely with the IAR will not experience mission degradation in high intensity tasks such as the offense, defense, support by fire, and repel a counterattack. Most importantly however, the results demonstrate that show the squad maintains its effectiveness while greatly reducing the fighting load of one-quarter of its personnel, enhances its mobility, reduces the number of training standards it is required to master, and reduces the volume of ammunition required to accomplish its mission.

            In every key measure of effectiveness the IAR was an improvement over the SAW. In certain areas the data demonstrated significant improvement, while in others the differences were minor. It is important that recent history guide our consideration of the data.
            o The vast majority of combat patrols since the beginning of OIF have not resulted in enemy contact, which means the weight-savings and enhanced mobility/portability were the key attributes on those patrols. They greatly enhance situational awareness of individual Marines by reducing fatigue and improving external focus. The IAR will reduce the weight of the firing system from 26.5 lbs to 10.5 lbs, and is an 81 lbs savings across the squad. In ammunition alone, the savings goes from 21 lbs to approximately 10 lbs, per man.
            o Although unquantifiable, it appears that a majority of direct fire incidents in Iraq took place within an urban or suburban setting. Documents such as the Joint Operating Environment, which establish the strategic framework for operations in the foreseeable future are guiding the development of the Joint Force towards persistent conflict in similar terrain, amongst a civilian population. The IAR’s enhanced accuracy, controlled volume of fire, and optics all contribute to the squad being able to make better decisions, reduce collateral damage, safeguard civilians, and contribute to success in COIN environments.
            o Although sheer volume of fire may be reduced, the truth teller in the equation will always be hits on target; not hits near target. Although testing did not measure enhancements to Command and Control in the assault or defense, it is reasonable to deduct that a “significant reduction” in ammunition could contribute to increased friendly control and communication.

            The IAR is a key component to enabling the squad to function as a system by:

            o Leveling movement / portability / maneuverability across all personnel
            o Reducing the visible indication of the location of automatic weapons to the enemy
            o Utilizing a common ammunition
            o Streamlining training tasks
            o Enhancing the automatic rifleman’s direct fire contribution in COIN environments when volume of fire is not necessarily desirable
            o Maintaining the ability to provide high-volume of fires when required

          • valorius

            This the same military that said the m16 was crap and they had to keep their M14s even when all available evidence said that’s not the case.
            We have already had battles in Afghanistan where M4s overheated to the point of total failure- in the rifleman’s role. As a LMG/SAW, it is wholly inadequate.

            Guarantee you within 10 years the US military will start another program because they “need” the firepower lost with the SAW.

            Auto riflemen equipped with standard rifle is a time proven loser of an idea. (They tried it in vietnam- which led directly to the M249 saw, and they tried in in WWI/WWII with the BAR- which the US Army tried to replace for decades before they finally managed to get it right)

          • CommonSense23

            What does a IAR provide that a modern assault rifle like the M4A1 doesn’t?

          • David Sharpe

            Quick change heavy barrel…

          • CommonSense23

            And how is that a benefit?

          • David Sharpe

            Your screen name is very ironic if you don’t see how it’s a benefit.

            And IAR is designed for sustained fire, something you need a quick change HB for.

          • CommonSense23

            I spent a lot of time running a 46 and a 48. I never once needed a spare barrel. And those are belf fees. How much firing do you plan to do to need a quick change barrel? Cause a M4A1 can go thru a lot of rounds before heat brings it down.

          • Uniform223

            this is before they went to the heavy profile barrel. I always wondered why they kept that cut in the barrel for the 203 when they plan on going over the the M320

          • Uniform223

            I know the M27 has a heavier barrel than the M16A4 or M4A1 (Now US Army is changing all the barrels of their M4A1s to a heavy profile) but I don’t remember seeing (when I worked with Marines) or reading that the M27 has a quick change barrel.

          • David Sharpe

            Actually I can’t find anything specific saying it does either, I thought I read that it was one of the requirements though. The Ruger AR takedown was supposed to be submitted for the IAR program and that’s what the barrel change was supposedly for.

            Then again I’ve also read that the Marines just wanted to replace their M4s without the political bullshit.

          • Uniform223

            I looked back and none of the 4 competing designs had a quick change barrel function. All 4 competing designs had a heavy profile barrel to better deal with full auto fire. LWRC’s submission fired full auto with an open bolt design. Colt’s submission had a “heat sink” design on the barrel. FN submitted the SCAR-L with a heavy profile barrel and H&K submitted the 416 with a heavy profile barrel.

          • Ron

            If you read Gunner Grundy’s initial writings on the SAW and the IAR, you will find the Marine Corps originally bought SAWs without extra barrels but because of a training issue (later corrected with the single position selector gas block) had to acquire spare barrels. So when the IAR CDD was done, they harkened back to the original IAR concept that was never really filled because instead the Marine Corps bought the Army program of record M249 to avoid having to procure a separate system.

            The M27 as a service rifle actually bubbled up during the testing of the M27, however it was studied but H&K predictions of delivery schedules, lack of a contract vehicle and most important the cost made it an untenable choice.

          • iksnilol

            Sustained fire and better DMR capabilities?

          • CommonSense23

            Not really. If you want a practical weapon its going be limited by ammo carried and barrel.

          • iksnilol

            IAR gunners carry more ammo amd have a better barrel than M4s, I think my point somewhat stands.

          • CommonSense23

            A better barrel than a M4 yeah. But what IAR is honestly going to be able to somehow out perform a M4A1 in terms of suppression capability or accuracy.

          • iksnilol

            Any IAR?

          • CommonSense23

            Any IAR with lets say 20 mags.

          • Tassiebush

            Arguably with a platform like this one (watch 10 minutes in) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gOUKXIrDE0I you’ve got a very mobile platform that can be speedily reloaded on the move with 60 or 100round quad mags that doesn’t attract enemy attention which is more impervious to environment than any belt fed could be. I respect your point but feel that the options are changing.

          • gunsandrockets

            That Sullivan improved constant-recoil M16 is amazing. Thanks for posting that link.

            Even if those big mags are never adapted I’m surprised current M4 and M16 users aren’t jumping on this.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah it just seems like a near perfect option. You get to piggyback off a really well proven platform, seemingly without detracting from existing functions. The fact it fires open bolt in full auto also is really cool given that it addresses heat for the most part. It’s not using quick change barrels but arguably making most or all service weapons capable of performing as a SAW is more useful most of the time. That’s my neck beard guess anyhow!

          • Uniform223

            Give that constant recoil mechanism/design to something like the Ares-15 and you got a winner! Belt fed. Lighter and smaller than the SAW. Same ergonomics as the M16/M4.

          • valorius

            Study the battle of Wanat in Afghanistan.

            You will see that M-4s even in a standard rifleman’s role overheated and ceased to function.

            In a SAW role they’d have over-heated even faster. The AR is just not a good light machine gun platform.

          • Tassiebush

            Wanut saw a lot of failures with a lot of weapons and also the deliberate targeting of support weapons. Agreed that in a purely SAW role m249 would doubtless hold up longer but if you look at the improved specs on the Sullivan refined AR15 with constant recoil and open bolt (closed bolt for semi) he mentioned that it has basically doubled the number of rounds it can fire in a state of constant firing before it’s failure point is reached. Given that there are always going to be more rifles than dedicated SAWs it seems that the spread capability would have been very useful.

          • valorius

            My problem is not with the IAR, but with the role it’s being asked to perform. It is replacing many M-249s in the jarheads TO&E. That is foolish.

            If they want it, they should be replacing regular riflemen’s M16A4’s (in which case it would be an upgrade), not SAWs (in which case it is a downgrade).

            If you have to take your ass and manuever over open terrain to capture a hill do you want your over-watch support firing a belt fed or a magazine fed weapon? Belt fed for me, thank you.

          • Tassiebush

            That sounds like the best way forwards. I really can’t argue with that!

          • Joe

            Firepower is bullets hitting people. If your belt fed weapon shoots 6,000 RPM but can’t hit a 400 M point target with its first 1 second burst then what’s the point?

          • valorius

            Firepower is olume of fire, not ‘hitting people.’

            Machine guns are designed to have a ‘beaten zone’ to suppress an area, they are not precision fire weapons.

  • J.T.

    “The photo is a bit confusing. The camo is Navy AOR1 which is typically the camo of choice for Navy Seals. However due to the helmet and plate carrier design, as well as the American Flag patch on the chest, the person in the photo is actually Special Forces.”

    Umm… Navy Seals are special forces.

    • Rob

      They are not. Special OPERATIONS encompass many Units in the United States military including the Seals and Army SF. Special FORCES refers to a specific organization within the Army.

      • Jonathan Ferguson

        Worth noting that this distinction is US-only. Elsewhere SF & SOF are synonymous.

    • Lt M

      Special Forces = US Army Special Forces (‘Green Berets’)
      Special forces = SOF

    • valorius

      It could also just be a couple dudes posing in a desert.

    • CommonSense23

      No they are not. Navy Seals are SOF. Special Forces are Special Forces. And also SOF.

    • Phil Hsueh

      They are also (properly) called SEALs, since it’s an acronym for SEa Air and Land. A Seal is a marine pineped and has no bearing on this discussion.

    • John

      …so while “special forces” is essentially a catch-all general name for Green Berets, Delta Force, Navy Seals, Marine Recon and so on, the specific name is preferred and used by the specific organization.

      U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, is a different military branch than the U.S. Army or Navy or Air Force. If SOCOM needs somebody to do a job, sometimes they’ll transfer them to the SOCOM command for it, and when they’re done, they’ll transfer them back to the original branch.

      “Special Forces”, specifically, originally meant the Green Berets of the U.S. Army that President Kennedy authorized back in the 1950s. So when people say “special forces” now in a military conversation, they’re not referring to every single tactical operator in existence, just the Green Berets.

      (It doesn’t help that some of these special forces units are officially “classified” and so when asked what their name is members may divert the conversation or just lie to you.)

      • joe

        SOCOM is NOT a separate branch, it’s a functional combatant command (the others are STRATCOM and TRANSCOM). Like the geographic combatant commands (CENTCOM, EUCOM, etc), the services are required to provide the combatant commands with personnel and units to accomplish specific missions, then those personnel return to the their service’s control.

      • CommonSense23

        Green Berets are the nickname for Special Forces. And no they are not classified. If you got a subscription to the Navy Times you got the name of every Seal that has made rank in the last decade.

  • Simon Spero

    “Ah, the M27. Very clever, Major Powers, but alas for you, not clever enough. Let me introduce you to my new clone- the face of intermediate calibre machine guns for the 21st century. I call him Mini Mi.”
    – LTC EVIL

  • Philip

    Rather surprised to see it being used by the Americans. We were issued the SAW (as we call it), and I certainly didn’t like it too much. It uses a flimsy magazine arrangement. We hardly ever saw the 100-round drums, and had to make do with the tinny SAW magazines – which were just M16 magazines with two holes drilled just under the left lip, so the unfortunate SAW gunner keep losing magazines as we run through the jungle. As for the famous constant-recoil arrangement, yeah, it’s recoil was low, but not much better than the plain old M16, and we certainly never fired off a full 100-round drum as the videos shows, so it doesn’t really make that much of a difference. And, yeah, it’s probably wonderful to shoot at the range, but try running around in a jungle – I mean a real jungle, mud and all – with that thing. It jams. Often. Hope you Americans like it better than we did.

    • Tassiebush

      Awesome insight to hear!

  • aka_mythos

    That looks glorious!

  • Basque

    Spec ops m249 version is MK46, and m240 (7.62) is MK48.
    If they want 5.56 “automatic rifle” (usmc) version or “light MG” (navy) why not employ battle tested M27?
    I would like to know those operators use the ULTIMAX LMG for test, or is a puntual deploy for logistic problems……

    • Gus Butts

      The Mk.48 is not an M240, it’s a Minimi chambered in 7.62x51mm.

      • Basque

        Thanks Gus, i didnt know that. I like to learn everyday.

  • Rob

    Any one have a link to the RFP on the fpoDOTgov website or is Irfan now a source so something that should be searchable?

    How do “articles” like this get approved?

  • I have also shot an Ultimax and can vouch for its secret sauce.

  • CommonSense23

    There is a lot in this pic going on that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Plate carriers, NOD mounts, helmets, footwear, the Eotech, the laser placement, the antenna, and the PTT. Its all got a really weird vibe going.

  • FWIW: If SOCOM had an active solicitation for a 5.56mm LMG, it would surely have been published on FBO.gov. Perhaps its absence could be explained by it being a small procurement from JSOC? Or perhaps I’m just missing it?

    • CommonSense23

      These guys don’t appear to be SOCOM. Or this photo was taken a while ago.

      • Uniform223

        maybe some kind of contracted para-military?

    • Rob

      I called them out on this already. “The Singapore ST kinetics ultimax mk 4 and a similiar model that’s made by a former army sf guy.” Seriously guys?

  • gunsandrockets

    Very impressive.

    When the USMC announced the IAR program competition which led to adaption of the M27 IAR, I really thought the Ultimax was the competitor that would come out on top. Yet it was eliminated during initial tests for deficiencies oddly overlooked and uncorrected by the bidder. A shame really.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by Ultimax popularity with SF.

  • Basque

    mid-2000 with Crye Precision pants and HK 416 with PEQ-15?

    • joe tusgadaro

      Mid 2000’s any where from 2005 to 2010

      • Basque

        Aaaa ok Joe.

  • iksnilol

    Yeah, but drums are less handy than belts. Belts are more flexible (take up more volume), lighter and more practical (+ they’re cheaper and already in the supply chain).

    I hate to be that guy, but belts are better. Lastly many folks don’t trust drums one hunnid.

    • imachinegunstuff

      I also thought the RPD was a good compromise. As a former Machine gunner the problem with belts is that they aren’t protected by anything. Mine were always filthy, and constantly exposed to the environment.

      • micmac80

        They also weigh more , and smaler you go in caliber more dead weight belt brings same goes for beltstriping mechanism in the gun.

      • CavScout

        JP8 and a scrub brush works great.

      • jcitizen

        I always kept my ammo and belts dry – no oil – and a couple of spare cardboard and canvas ammo boxes in my spare barrel bag to keep the dirt and mud off – had a wet weather cover for that too. It was the M-60 that I didn’t like. We got a butt load of improperly heat treated bolt rods from the supply system and they were always going inop on us. I had to constantly file or stone them so they’d last a few more rounds.

    • micmac80

      Ultimax drums work , as do many others , its the C-more adaptation of Ultimax drum to Ar platform that gives drums bad rep. Supply chain items change all the time i imagine that they multiplied since the start of GWOT many times over

    • Machinegunnertim

      I gotta agree with ya. For serious volume fire weapons a belt is the way to go. Both drums and belts have their ups and downs but how many drums can one carry around? They weigh more and are very awkward and it’s hard to find one that is 100% reliable.

      Belts leave the ammo open to the elements but sure are more handy. And yes, I was a Machinegunner.

    • jcitizen

      I’ve been using belts since I was a kid – I only recently tried playing with drums – not reliable, but then you have to really watch what brand – it is just a lot of extra weight to carry, and they take up a lot of space in your kit. Still they make great toys for the range, and that is about all. If I were to grade them as a tactical use – I use them in fixed positions, or on vehicles/boats only. In fact that is what the Germans ended up doing with the drum belt carrier in WW2 – only the AA people carried them.

  • Kivaari

    Impressive.

  • Uniform223

    from my understanding AOR desert was the primary go to for SOF units in the sand box before multi-cam.

  • zaqzilla

    Nice. I imagine the week point in the system would be having drum mags that are reliable enough for military use.

    • Nicholas C

      Well if they get the Mk4 that can use AR mags, then they can use Magpul drums or Beta Mags.

  • DAN V.

    Why blur the face and not blur the arm tat?

  • Tassiebush

    It seems like Jim Sullivan has developed an even better fit with his constant recoil AR15 as shown on this video (inrangetv) from 10minutes in. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gOUKXIrDE0I
    It would enable the user to retain normal rifle capabilities as well.

  • Joe

    Do you even Light Machine Gun Bro? All kidding aside the USMC went with the M27 IAR over a belt fed for the following.

    It is superior at true Suppressing Fire = Rounds hitting people.

    Lighter and more mobile may not matter to Pvt. Snuffy Dogface of Big Army, but Pvt. Gomer Pyle will gladly accept the advantages given when working for America’s Expeditionary Fighting Force.

    The Belt change times of 12-15 seconds are legitimate and are based off of the M27 IAR trials, which used the M249 as the control test platform. (I will attempt to post a link.)

    These Marines IAR/LMG Gunner does not typically have an A-Gunner to hump his load for him.

    400- 600 round loadout with the M249 was SOP during my time in the Corps. And 100 round Nut Sacks were the preferred method of hauling ammo.

    People that complain about how high a 40 round Mag makes them when in the prone have never shot a SAW in the prone off of its issued Bipod.

    • gunsandrockets

      For the fire team of a USMC rifle squad, I think the M27 IAR is a clearly superior choice to the M249 LMG. The M249 was never a good fit for USMC organization and tactics.

  • David Harmon

    Blurred the face, but not the identifying tattoo….

  • Alex

    That particular unit in the Army (Combat Application Group) have been running Ultimak’s for a while.

  • TGM

    “I found out that socom is having a tender for a new SAW. To replace what they have now. Apparently it’s between 2 companies. The Singapore ST kinetics ultimax mk 4 and a similiar model that’s made by a former army sf guy.”

    Who is the other company?

  • n0truscotsman

    “Why trade a 200 or 100 belt for something that is for all intents and purposes just another M4A1 in my squad or platoon?”

    Because its H und K!

    and gas piston!%!!!!!!

    😉

    (in all seriousness, I see minimal value in the M27 and the IAR magazine fed lesson was obvious following WW2)

  • S O

    Those in the video are Beta C-Mags, not the original Ultimax 100’s single 100 rds drum.

  • Kevin Gibson

    We should have had that thing 30 years ago!!