Photos: FNH USA to Offer Semiautomatic M249 SAW and M4/M16 Rifles

   04.11.15

While some of us would have liked to see FNH USA make a dramatic entry into the civilian market sooner, they sure are serious about it now.

In the way too cool for school department are a number of brand new goodies from FNH USA, including a commercial, semiautomatic version of the M249 SAW—the M249S. I stopped by their booth at the NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits to get a firsthand look and touchy-feely time with some of the new guns. As the show was winding down, I somehow managed to talk the FNH USA’s folks into taking these beauties out of the cases so I could handle them and get some better photos. Needless to say, they watched me like a hawk as there are only two M249S rifles in existence at this time. Yes, I was tempted to make a run for it. My FN contact was wearing high heels, so I figured she’d never catch me. Cooler and more legal thoughts prevailed, and I just looked.

The FN M249S feeds from a belt or magazine - your choice.
The FN M249S feeds from a belt or magazine—your choice.

The mil-spec FN M249S is a semiautomatic version of the US Military’s M249 SAW light machine gun. Yes, you can have your own. Since it’s a semiautomatic, you can actually afford to shoot it, as you won’t have that temptation of mashing the trigger down until the belt is empty. Yes, this is a belt-fed, bipod-equipped hunk of badassery. The only (significant) difference from the military version is that it fires one shot with each press of the trigger.

Unlike the full-auto version, this one fires from a closed bolt.
Unlike the full-auto version, this one fires from a closed bolt.

The FN M249S is certain to be a hit with serious military gear collectors. It’s modeled after the FN MINIMI adopted by the US Military in 1988. By the way, Minimi is a fancy French term meaning “Mini Mitrailleuse,” or mini machine gun, not a small bald guy.

The rifle features the signature 20.5-inch FN cold hammer-forged, chrome-lined barrel and operates from a closed bolt position, unlike the full-auto version that fires from an open bolt. Chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO, the rifle will accept both magazines and linked ammunition belts, and offers a 4.5- to 6.5-pound trigger pull out-of-the-box.

The M249S will be available to us non-camo-wearing folks in the fall of this year, so stay tuned.

Also in the cool military edition lineup are two new rifles for the civilian market. The FN 15 M4 and M16 Military Collector Series.

Also coming soon: a replica, semi-automatic FN M16.
Also coming soon: a replica, semi-automatic FN M16.

The FN 15 Military Collector’s Series M16 is true to form with its fixed stock and 20-inch barrel. It’s even got an ambidextrous selector switch like the full-auto inspiration for this gun. It’s chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO, of course. The barrel has a 1:7 RH twist and I believe it’s cold-forged.

The FN 15 Military Collector’s Series M4 shares most of the features with its M16 sibling. Rather than a 20-inch barrel, it’s got a 16-inch version, also with a 1:7 RH twist, and a pinned flash hider. It also shares the authentic ambidextrous selector lever.

FN M16

These two rifles should be available in July.

According to Mark Cherpes, President and CEO of FN America, LLC, “FNH USA has a unique history of commercializing and releasing to US firearms buyers products that were originally developed for military or tactical applications. We are proud to continue that tradition with the introduction of the FN 15 Military Collector Series and the semi-auto FN M249S.”

The FN military collector edition M4.
The FN military collector edition M4.

Two new additions in the pistol line are not vintage collector replicas, but current-production pistols. New FNS 9x19mm models will be decked out with slides finished in your choice of flat dark earth or digital camo. The pictures don’t do these guns justice; they are gorgeous. Both will be available in a month or so through retail channels.

The FNS 9 with digital camo slide finish.
The FNS 9 with digital camo slide finish.

Neat stuff. I particularly like the fact that FNH USA is now offering models of military rifles they’ve been making for years to the public, at least in semiautomatic versions. While some may question the purpose of a semiautomatic M249, there certainly was a lot of interest when people figured out what it actually was. I want one. Just because.

Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.

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