The M240 Machine Gun

The M240 machine gun was adopted for use by the United States Armed Forces in the late 1970s. Developed initially as a vehicle-mounted weapon, the M240 is a general purpose machine gun valued for its reliability.

Created by FN Herstal (a subsidiary of Fabrique Nationale, a legendary weapons manufacturer with deep-seated American ties) the M240 machine gun was primarily designed to replace the tank mounted co-axial M73 and M219 machine guns. Since then, the M240 has also replaced many M60 machine guns in multiple roles for diverse types of military personnel.

The M240 machine gun is gas-operated, air-cooled and belt-fed. The M240 is compatible with the M13 Link system, a system widely used by other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations. The United States Armed Forces use the M240 on:

  • aircrafts
  • bipods
  • tripods
  • vehicles.

This machine gun is a “crew-served ” weapon, which means that more than one person is needed to properly operate the M240.

Uses of the M240 Machine Gun

The M240 is a versatile machine gun. Its mechanism is a direct descendent of the time-proven Browning Automatic Rifle, which was retired in the 1950s. The cost-efficient design minimizes use of specialized parts, making it easier to fix the gun abroad. The M240 is an extremely rugged machine gun, making it useful in many types of combat situations. Recently, American soldiers have used the M240 extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the reasons the M240 is prized by armed forces around the world (also known as the MAG 58 outside of the United States) is its dependability and reliability. While some other models may be lighter, another benefit that the M240 offers is that it is compatible with the weaponry that other NATO countries use. In fact, U.S. troops have reported that they have been able to procure parts for the M240 machine gun fairly easily when abroad.

The M240 machine gun has several variations:

  • The M240 Golf, or M240G, is the standard machine gun for the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marine Corps uses this machine gun universally for infantry, vehicular and aircraft purposes.
  • The M240B, referred to as the M240 Bravo, is used largely by the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.

Ammunition for the M240 Machine Gun

The M240 machine gun uses several types of 7.62mm standard ammunition. For sustained fire, the M240 has a rate of 100 rounds per minute. For rapid bursts, the M240 has a rate of 200 rounds per minute.

The M240 is about 49 inches long and weighs slightly over 27 pounds. The standard tripod adds about 20 pounds. Because of its size, the M240 delivers a heavier impact to the target than the M249 SAW and equivalents.

Since the purchase of machine guns for private use was outlawed in 1986 (importation of machine guns for private use was banned in 1968), essentially no civilians are permitted to own an M240. Consult local law enforcement or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for more information. The unit replacement cost for the United States Armed Forces is approximately $6,600.