Army Light Weight Machine Gun Prototype: A SAW killer?

As a former M60 Gunner “new guy”SEAL, I carried about 800 rounds of 7.62 and full kit, so I can appreciate what it means to hump a machine gun.  Lighter isn’t always better as we learned in SOCOM with the nightmare MK43 variant of my trusty old 60. That gun would suck a dirty rag through the feeding tray and keep on firing…not so with the Frankenstein MK43 variant.  Let me know what you guys think.  A SAW killer?
Out here-Brandon

  • jrexilius

    I’m assuming it’s 5.56 based and not one of the caseless prototypes out there? Is it just a SAW with lighter parts and tweaks or is it a new platform?

    Light weight seems a win, but curious what the thought was in regards to accuracy vs. quantity like the IAR.


    • FormerDirtDart

      It is the LSAT Light Machine Gun using a polymer cased telescoped ammunition with a 5.55 projectile. The LSAT program uses 5.56 to provide comparison with existing weapons.

      • moose

        They are also studying an all-new round, targeted at 6.5 to 7mm, which would become their focus should the program advance into a follow-on phase.

    • Matt

      It’s a completely different weapon as it uses case-telescoped amunition and thus has completely different components. i don’t think everyone should be urging to cut weight, i mean i get it that the saw is heavy but this gun has had some problems, specifically with getting a good chamber seal.

  • mpower6428

    i have no idea the mk 43 was so bad. and just for clarification… the “M60” would cycle a dirty rag, right?

    • Brandon

      Cycle yes..thanks for clarifying mpower6428

      • SleepyDave

        I’ve always been told the M60 was really maintenance heavy. Is that actually true? Because from what I understand, and especially from you, its pretty reliable, just a bear to maintain.

  • Steven

    I feel glad you showed everyone this….

    I been watching the LSAT Lmg for awhile.

    This program deserves some attention.

    From what i been reading and watching the past few months… It looks like it has alot of potiential.

    Heres a link to the PDF brochure about the LSAT LMG.

    I like how you ask us for our opinions… i always try to be as skeptical as possible on a new thing.

  • Go Navy!

    So basically this LSAT is the same as the SAW (Function, Caliber 5.56) except for the weight savings? What about the IAR?

    • Steven

      “Focus is development of
      technologies- not specific weapon

      Yes, its a 5.56 MG but even still…. They are specifically designing this lmg to best incorporate these improved technologies.

      -Reduced Weight
      –Caseless or Telescoped Rounds
      –Lightweight materials and design

      -Reduced Cost
      –less rounds used training
      –Longer lasting parts due to efficient design.

      –Intergrated LW electronics
      —Special hight tech optics
      —Round counter
      –Reliability due to design

      The IAR concept is currently being followed by the U.S. Marines.

      The U.S. Army isn’t interested in the concept of a IAR from what i know.

    • Jeff the Baptist

      It performs the same function as the SAW in a fire team and shoots a bullet of the same caliber, but is in otherwise a completely different weapon. It fires cased-telescoped (polymer-cased) ammunition not 5.56 NATO. The guts of the gun are designed around this cartridge technology and are completely different from the SAW to the point that I doubt anything will interchange.

  • Not sure about the M60 “sucking a rag through the feed tray” comment. The M60 was not that reliable of a weapon and prone to a lot of different failures if not properly and constantly maintained, and some even if it was. The M240 is a far superior weapon. It’s just damn heavy and cumbersome.

    • brandon

      Agreeing that the 240 is solid however, properly maintained the M60 was a great weapon. I fired 100’s of thousands of rounds through the 60. I would average 1500 rounds per contact X 6 contact drills a day with the sixty for a single month training block. I literally had pieces of sticks and materials feed straight through and keep on chugging. Brandon

    • Lance

      The M-60 I fired was just fine strange the SEAL still use M-60E3s and the USCG has some still too not many complaints there.

    • Kris – I’d differ. The M60’s I worked with in the 80’s were quite reliable (not dirty rag reliable but reliable). The biggest downside is they got old and spare parts just go so far (you can rebuild a weapon just so many times).

      In its heyday the M60 was just as reliable as the M240. IMO the M60s lighter weight and lower rate of fire (slightly lower ammo consumption) made it a better Infantry medium machinegun. Having had M240s in my Bradleys I’m not unfamiliar with their maintenance requirements.

  • gunslinger6

    At least the Amy is looking at a SAW replacement that is still belt fed. I know the Corps said they will keep the SAW in some way, but i am not a fan of the IAR. I know it is more accurate, but contious fire with out having to reload will keep the enemy’s head down longer while you can manuver on the enemy, a Corps basic; fire and manuver.

    • Go Navy!

      Put in the new Surefire High Capacity Magazines? (60 rds and 100rd)

      • gungslinger6

        i am not sure on their reliability, as i have not used them. i have heard the 60 rd mag is ok, but i have also heard of issues with the 100rd mags but again i havent used them so i can not say for sure. what i do like about the IAR is that it is easier to blend in with rest of the squad, harder for sniper to pick out the MG. but at least they are looking into a lighter weight MG which is a good thing. by the way gonavy i am really happy with the magpul case got it in OD green had it a week or two now, good recommendation thanks.

        • Go Navy!

          gungslinger6: Glad to hear your magpul case is doing good. I got the Gen2 in Tan and it’s holding up good. Gen 1 had issues where the corners were bending to the point where it would put your phone on mute when you put it in the pocket. The Magpul case it’s still thin enough that you can put it in a leather belt case (which I do). As for the Surefire Mag, I haven’t used it yet….too expensive….I can buy a bunch of Pmags for the price of 1 Surefire mag.

          • gunslinger6

            gonavy, yea i got the gen 2, glad i bought it…. should have got it long time ago. i feel the same way about the price of the surefire mags (i was blown away the first time i saw the price tag), i am happy with my pmags and i will stick with them

      • Tony

        according to this video by gear scout marines are not allowed to use any other mags other than their standard issue

  • Lance

    Like with other programs I think budget cuts will make any results of these test a long ways away from adoption.

  • FormerDirtDart

    The problem is, the LSAT program is no where near the maturity level to go beyond the test/analysis mode. Frankly, one major decision that has to be made is what caliber are the next generation light & medium machine guns are going to use, and of course any changes in rifle caliber. And, what is the direction going to be, the polymer-telescoped cased or the caseless ammunition?

    I just don’t think anyone in the military, let alone congress, is ready to make such a radical change in the US’s military small arms.

    • moose

      The LSAT progress is not well reported and this not well understood. As of now, in late 2011, the Caseless Ammunition is largely relegated to pure study. The cost and durability of the ammo just are not attractive enough to aggressively pursue development at this time. But the Polymer Cased-Telescoped ammunition is proving very promising, that MUA in the video was part of the PCT’s TRL 7 testing and I’ve yet to hear of any big problems to come out of that. I think we’re getting very close, like 4-5 years close, from being able to make the big call and switch to a 6.5mm PCT cartridge.

  • Navbm7

    Ok, I admit that I’m not up on this new Polymer Cased-Telescoped ammunition. Would someone explain the telescoped part?
    As to the polymer case, I get it, no metal so less weight, BUT, polymer is made from oil, if we are cut off from our overseas supply what will we use to make the cases? The world is already running out of oil, do we really want to increase the demand to produce a lighter cartridge?

    • FormerDirtDart

      might I suggest google?

    • Marc

      Telescoped means the bullet sits deep in the casing rather than sticking out the front end. As for the oil part: Petrochemistry uses a lot less oil than is burned by SUVs on the way to the mall. A LOT LESS. Using polymer casings has absolutely no measurable effect on oil consumption and the basic compound for the polymer industry can be made without oil, it’s just the cheapest source we have today.

  • Nobody

    The M60 or as we called it the “PIG” humpin that pos straight up those jungle hills then straight down for endless clicks. I was glad i was young and grew up in the moutains since birth. There are those posers who think it is just humpin and shooting are wrong big time.There is no rest for the machine gun man he has to fill out his range cards his first second and third positions for the night/day. Lucky for me i was every position at one point or another.It’s better that way makes a better leader to be dish boy first.

  • Gage

    What makes the Mk43 different from the M60?

  • Guest

    The USCG is steadily phasing out the M60 in favor of the M240.

  • Guest

    I’m not so sure. I think troop numbers and bases will take the brunt as opposed to soldier kit.

    If the Army was smart, it would protect these core projects:
    – The XM25
    -Exoskeleton and LSAT research
    -The revised Nett Warrior and related communications improvements

  • Guest

    The IAR is great…as a carbine, not an LMG-type weapon. It should really be supplementing or replacing basic M16A4s and not the M249.

  • Johnny Quest

    US Ordnance has remidied all with the M60.

  • Johnny Quest

    Why develop a lightweight 5.56 MG when Reed Knight already has one that weighs a paltry10 lbs and runs like a raped ape? Typical gov’t waste of time and money.

  • Duke the wise

    We get 80% of our oil from Canada in the forms of oil sands and oil shale. We good. Besides, plastic is more easily recycled.

  • Johnny Quest

    Sure, but dig this, they save every search you do under the guise of ‘serving you better’.

  • Johnny Quest

    This begs the question again, what does the bloated HK IAR offer over a Colt or FN M16 of simiar configuration? It is as simple as the Corps back-dooring a piston converstion of an “M16” into the system. Added weight, proprietary parts and more of ’em, magazine fed, etc. Going against typical doctrine, if you keep a DI lubed, it will run, and run, and run.

  • nobody

    ammo bearer/AG/m60 gunner from the bottom to the top, then moved on to the many other aspects of warfare. The “men with green faces” were my heros /trainers/brothers.

  • 11B

    It’s a good idea to make things lighter, but they’ll just find more “light weight” equipment to load the Infantryman with

  • JohnSmith

    @Johnny Quest

    Not only does the LSAT LMG weigh roughly 9 lbs, the ammunition is 40% light. If the solider is carrying a ammunition load of 600 rds total, thats a weight savings of over 7lbs JUST IN THE AMMO – more than the weight of an m4. If you carry even more ammo, thats even more weight savings…