FN Upgrades Its MINIMI Light Machine Guns


FN Herstal recently unveiled its next generation  MINIMI Light Machine Guns that feature a new feedtray, cocking handle, buttstock and bipod/handguard assembly.

The U.S. Military adopted the 5.56mm version of the MINIMI in 1982 to become the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

The new FN MINIMI Mk3 is convertible to either 5.56mm and 7.62mm and  “offers the users improved ergonomics and improved mobility while retaining the same core mechanism as the previous versions, for a limited impact on logistics,” FN officials maintain.

“The modifications introduced on the FN MINIMI Mk3 result from feedback provided by users engaged in current operating theatres. Indeed, the demands of users have evolved over the past 10 to 15 years due to changes in the way the FN MINIMI  machine gun is used in combat (increased use of accessories, evolutions in the soldier’s equipment, and changes in tactics such as shooting from all positions).”

The changes include:

— An ergonomic buttstock adjustable in length (5 positions) to allow compensation for body armor and load bearing equipment. The buttstock is adjustable for cheek rest height as well. The user can have his eye correctly aligned with the iron sights, or optical sights, while keeping his cheek properly positioned on the buttstock. It also integrates a folding shoulder rest and a hydraulic buffer that stabilizes the rate of fire and reduces felt recoil.

— An improved feed tray with belt retaining pawls that hold the belt correctly in position during the loading procedure, which is most useful when the user is in the standing position.

— A new handguard/bipod assembly that provides a comfortable handguard and three forward MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny® accessory rails. The adjustable-height (3 positions) bipod, when folded back, integrates into the shape of the handguard even with an accessory on the lower rail.

— An ergonomically-shaped cocking handle that gives the user a better grip with the strong or weak hand.

— An optional heatshield that greatly reduces the risk of inadvertently touching the barrel.

Customers with 5.56mm or 7.62mm FN MINIMI machine guns already in service are not left behind. FN Herstal offers them a customized upgrade program to upgrade partially or completely their weapons: adapted to their exact needs and easily carried out by the armorer on site using the supporting documentation provided with the conversion kits.


About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at Military.com. He can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.
  • Thanks Matt, interesting story. Is this an upgrade to the Mk46 or the SAW? (I’m thinking it’s the Mk46 since you said this can be switched between 5.56 and 7.62) Is it being purchased by any service and if so who and what are the numbers?

    I know the Rangers stopped purchasing Mk 46s and started purchasing typical Army SAWs when the Army upgraded its specs awhile ago (got the same performance/specs at cheaper cost by leveraging an Army buy).

    Nice pic. Happy Tday.

    • Matthew Cox

      Thanks MajrOd. It’s an upgrade to the MINIMI which the US Military adopted as the M249 SAW. Sorry that wasn’t clear. Just Updated the post. Some of the upgrades, like the improved feedtray with the retaining pawls, come from the MK46. I know they are on the MK48.

  • Steve

    That’s a sexy weapon right there!! Definitely wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that.

  • RAAFie

    I like the idea of the new belt retaining pawls. No more worries about the belt slipping off the feed tray any more. My biggest frustration with the weapon.



  • Joshua

    I will be interested to see which mods we end up adopting. It has been a while since I shot the M249 but I know we have already made a couple of changes our selves that we are now seeing here.

  • Lance

    Like the new addons except the crappy but stock we dont need a M-4 stock for every US weapon. Not needed since the ther current SAW stock works fine. I do like the new feed tray setup. Overall Id keep my M-60 or M-240 id prefer the 7.62x51mm round for a GPMG than a dinky 5.56mm round. More destructive power. Overall not a bad update for a old but liked design.

    Note the USMC does not buy new SAWs its in for the M-27 now.

    • Robby

      Not sure which stock your talking about on the SAW because we had 2 the origional junky one and an *m-4* style stock we got in country and the second stock was alot more comfortable and easier to shoot with m 60 has been out of service for awhile

    • Joshua

      We have a new stock for the M249 that is pretty inspired by the M4 stock if you compare them.

    • commonsense

      The SAW gunner is not in it for destructive power. Those “dinky” 5.56 rounds do just fine in having the enemy keep his head down, and you can carry more 5.56 rounds than 7.62. And when your job is to pin down the enemy, more is better.

      • Rodney

        That’s about all 5.56 is good for. Keep ’em pinned down until you can git ’em with mortars, artillery or CAS.

        • 18B

          You probably need to spend less time playing video games I think. The new M855A1 round has better terminal ballistics than a standard M80 ball. Also if you’re “pinning someone down while waiting for mortars arty and cas” then you’d better carry a fuck ton of ammo, because it’s going to take more than a few hundred rounds to suppress an enemy combatant while you wait for fires/air weapons teams to get on station, and receive clearance of fires from the TFO.

  • SGT Wilson

    They really need to beef up the bipod on this thing. Swinging down is fine, but the hinges on the legs allowing them to sweep outward is a huge weak point. It’s basically just a roll pin through the leg and a slot without nearly enough material. They always get bent and then don’t work properly.