USMC to replace some SAWs?

Apparently the Marines are looking for a lightweight open-bolt heavy assault rifle to replace some of their M249 Squad Automatic Weapons. It’s sort of tough to figure exactly what the purpose of this weapon will be. It’s going to use the same magazines as M16s and M4s and will not have a quick-change barrel.

Maybe I’m missing something. If you’re willing to trade volume of fire for weight, why not just get a heavy-barreled M16?

More info over at GunPundit.


  1. Biggest benefit is the open bolt firing coupled with the heavy, fluted/finned barrel. Supposedly the open bolt for full auto avoids cook offs, while the heavy barrel and fins keep the barrel from overheating so you don’t need to swap it mid operation.

    Of course for a base of fire, it would still overheat, but you get better first shot accuracy, and controlled semi-auto fire, while still being able to dump volume fire on target if nessicary. The Beta C would allow volume fire, and the SHORT amount of time during mag changes would allow cooling time for the weapon. IIRC even with belt fed MGs it is “Recommended” to use short, controlled bursts to avoid overheating and having to take the gun off line to swap a barrel (which for a fire and manuver team is a REALLY bad thing, and abysmally slow). Swapping a mag is also faster than starting a new belt, not to mention you arn’t dragging all manner of crap that gets caught on the belt (twigs, grass, dirt, blood) into your mechanism during high energy “manuvering” where your co-gunner isn’t able to get to it. Yes, belts are nice, but they still have drawbacks, and unless you are using a (heavy) belt enclosure, you are going to get problems with the belt.

    Yes, its like going back to the M16A1 with the FA selector, but that wasn’t a bad thing, and with a heavier barrel and the closed bolt semi/first shot, open bolt Full auto, it would have been a good, multi purpose volume of fire weapon.

    another option is to arm both the “machine gunner” and his “co-gunner” with the same weapon and train them to stagger their fire and magazine changes…you then get TWO MGs, and NO volume of fire lost during mag changes. Just a thought.

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