Even as efforts are underway to replace the U.S. Army’s M4 carbines and M249 Squad Automatic Weapons (SAWs) with the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW), there is another legacy platform that won’t be retiring anytime soon. That is the M240 (officially the Machine Gun, 7.62mm, M240), the U.S. military’s designation for the FN MAG 58.
M240 Machine Gun, Explained
The family of belt-fed, gas-operated medium machine guns, which are chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge, have been in the arsenals of the U.S. Armed Forces since the late 1970s, and while extensively used by infantry, the weapon platform has also been employed on ground vehicles, watercraft, and aircraft.
It had been reported last year that efforts were underway to find a replacement for the M240 as the Army, along with the United States Marine Corps, has sought to streamline its inventory of small arms. Now it seems the Army has done an about-face, as this month it was announced that FN America, LLC has been awarded a firm-fixed-price contract to supply the U.S. Army with M240 series machine gun variants and spare receivers. The contract, awarded through 2026, is multi-faceted and will support both the U.S. Army and other Department of Defense (DoD) programs.
“The U.S. Army contract for the M240 machine gun was the first military contract FN was awarded and the first to be produced from our production facility in South Carolina,” noted Mark Cherpes, president and CEO for FN America, LLC. “We’re incredibly honored to continue our relationship with the Army, supporting them with high quality and reliable weapon systems for our servicemen and women.”
The new contract will provide a procurement vehicle for the U.S. Army to purchase multiple variants of the M240 machine gun, including the M240 coaxial, the M240B, M240L, M240D and M240H models.
The History of FN Herstal
Throughout its history, the Belgian-based FN Herstal has been one of the largest suppliers of small arms to the U.S. military and it has continued to develop innovative, future technology. In addition to the M240 and its variants, the company currently holds contracts for the FN M249 lightweight machine gun; the FN MK 46, MK 48, MK 17, and MK 20 SSR for USSOCOM, and various other contracts.
FN Herstal was founded in 1889 by Henri Pieper to produce 150,000 Mauser Model 1889 rifles under contract from the German Paul Mauser, was set up in the city of Herstal near Liège. To this day, the Belgium-based facilities houses all departments in charge of designing, developing, manufacturing, testing, marketing and selling FN weapons and weapon systems. In 1897 the company began a partnership with prolific American firearms designer John Moses Browning, whose contributions included several notable firearms such as the Browning Auto-5 and the FN Model 1910. The company also introduced the Browning Hi-Power, which was the final firearm that John Browning was working on when he died.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.