According to a report by Mönch Publishing Group, French Special Operations units and Danish Armed Forces are currently testing Knight’s Armament Corporation’s Stoner 5.56x45mm NATO LMG. Specifically the French Commandement des Forces Speciales Terre, and even more specifically the 1 Regiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine will be conducting extensive tests of the XLMG to replace current FN Herstal M249 legacy systems in their inventories. There is little information dealing with what Danish unit will be conducting trials or is considering an LMG replacement.
European Special Operations Forces (SOF) are set to assess Knight Armaments’ evolution of the Stoner Light Machine Gun (LMG), designed to provide an even more mobile and lightweight weapon system for airborne forces.According to industry sources, speaking to Monch at the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS) at Camp de Souge, France on 30th March, force elements from the French Special Operations Command and Danish Special Operations Command have scheduled an evaluation programme for the weapon system later in 2017.The Stoner XLMG, which is available in NATO Standard 5.56mm x 45mm calibre, represents a 2kg weight saving over legacy models (including FN Herstal’s Mimimi LMG) providing operators with a more streamlined solution suitable for close quarter battle and military operations in urban terrain as well as parachute insertion.
Initially, based upon Eugene Stoner’s design, Knight’s LMG offers a number of innovative features to include lighter weight, constant recoil system, a free floating barrel and gas system, AR15 compatible furniture (pistol grip, buttstock), an opportunity to exchange stocks, and a charging handle that can be reversed from the left to the right side of the weapon. Although we don’t know much about the accuracy potential of the belt fed light machine, it appears that it has the potential to be extremely accurate with the free-floating barrel, a recoil system that doesn’t allow the bolt to fully press against the rear of the LMG, free-floating gas system, and a picatinny mount that doesn’t lift with the feed tray cover as is very common among the overwhelming majority of all belt-fed machine guns. However, most of the time reliability and longevity is favored over accuracy when it comes to belt-feds in the military so the guaranteed accuracy might not be a factor in the operational requirements of these special operations units.