The FN MAG ("Mitrailleuse d'Appui General") was developed by the Belgian concern of Fabrique Nationale as a "General Purpose Machine Gun" intended for a variety of battlefield roles - namely automatic fire support. Due to its multi-role intention, the weapon can be carried by an individual operator on patrol via shoulder strap, set up in the fire support role by way of a folding bipod, used to protect valuable positions through use of a heavy-duty tripod or mounted on vehicles in the traditional way and used for suppression of enemy forces. The weapon was designed in the 1950s under the direction of Ernest Vervier and influenced by the German World War 2-era MG42 machine gun and previous work production of the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). The weapon entered production in 1958 and is still ongoing today, operated by some eighty nations worldwide, making it one of the most successful post-World War 2 machine guns.
The MAG follows the distinct quality and reliability of previous FN offerings proving the weapon a multi-faceted and durable addition to any military inventory. Chambered for the widely-accepted 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge, it comes as no surprise that the system has seen equally widespread adoption by many of the NATO players. The action is of gas operation (based largely on the M1918 BAR) in which the trailing propellants of a fire shot are collected in a port tapped at the barrel and driving a piston for subsequent shots in reaching automatic fire. However, unlike the BAR, the FN MAG makes use of a downward locking bolt. The weapon fires through an open bolt arrangement and uses non-disintegrating and disintegrating ammunition belts fed through the left side of the received, the emptied belt or spent shell casings ejected through the right side. There is a large cocking handle along the lower right side of the receiver, to which the receiver is rectangular in its general shape - the knob being pulled rearwards towards the operator to initially cock the weapon. Sighting is through a rear (folding leaf with aperture/notch) and front (blade) iron assembly. A folding bipod is standard on infantry versions. The shoulder stock includes a recoil depending assembling within and the operator manages a traditional pistol grip appendage aft of a looped trigger. The trigger ring is enlarged for use with a gloved hand. The muzzle sports a slotted compensator. A carrying handle is used to facilitate transports and also to handle an overheated barrel for changing.
The FN MAG sports a running length of 50 inches with a barrel measuring 21.5 inches. Unloaded, the weapon tops the scales at 26lbs. Cyclic rate-of-fire is 650 to 1,000 rounds per minute based on setting. Muzzle velocity is rated at 2,800 feet per second. The weapon features a listed effective range out to 800 meters while, under reduced accuracy, the system can reach as far out as 1,500 meters.
There are four major FN-produced variants. The MAG 60-20 is the basic infantry support weapon featuring a fixed shoulder stock, pistol grip and folding bipod. These versions can be fitted to pintle mounts for use as door gunner weapons on helicopters. The MAG 60-30 is intended for use on aircraft was a fixed, forward-firing mount controlled via solenoid arrangement. The MAG 60-40 is an armored vehicle coaxial variant fitted to both wheeled vehicles and tracked tanks. The MAG 10-10 is a tropicalized variant given a reduced length shoulder stock and shortened barrel and gas assembly for compactness. The ammunition feed is variable on some models allowing for the belt to enter through either side of the receiver, useful in a symmetrical configuration on aircraft.