Introduced in 2001, the FN F2000 was billed as a next-generation weapons system with modularity of design being the key selling point. The system was developed by the long-running Belgium firearms concern of Fabrique Nationale and made use of the popularized "bullpup" configuration seen more and more in contemporary automatic weapons design today. In its most basic terms, the bullpup arrangement sees the magazine feed set behind the pistol grip unit, most often times being integrated into an oversized stock. This provides for a more compact end-product and adds a great deal more accuracy when attempting to control such a weapon on full automatic fire.
The base system consists of an automatic rifle that can be ambidextrously wielded with no modification to the frame whatsoever. The F2000 body is largely made from lightweight polymers and is a comparably compact package for an assault rifle featuring a full-length barrel. Spent ammunition cartridges are ejected forwards and away from the firer through an interesting chute running along the upper right side of the receiver - as such, the F2000 can be handled by a left- or right-handed shooter unlike other weapons of this class - the spent shell casings are ejected far from the operator's face. The design is also engineered with future battlefield growth in mind for it is marketed as a modular weapons system that allows operators to highly customize the rifle to suit mission specifics.
Despite its futuristic appearance, the F2000 is quite conventional in its overall design. It is chambered to fire the 5.56x45mm NATO standard cartridge from either a 10- or 30-round detachable box magazine (30-round STANAG magazines are supported) making it an appealing solution to interested export customers worldwide. The firing action revolves around the proven gas-operated, rotating bolt arrangement common to many automatic weapons of this class. Rate-of-fire is listed at 850 rounds per minute while a muzzle velocity of 2,953 feet per second put it on par with others. Effective range is out to 1,600 feet to which the integrated 1.6x magnification scope helps with extended accuracy at distance. The F2000 sports a three-setting fire selector switch allowing for safety, semi-automatic fire and full-automatic fire. The cocking handle is set to the left side of the body within easy reach. There is no noted "hold open" feature for the bolt when the last cartridge is spent - as such, panel to the rear of the receiver can be opened to check the weapons ammunition state. Magazines also do not automatically "drop out" of the receiver and are instead manually removed for changing. A flash suppressor is standard and features the widely accepted "slant" common to other military firearms. The FN F2000 sports a standard - though removable - 1.6x magnification telescopic sight. Removal of the sight frees the upper portion of the receiver for Picatinny-style rail accessories and specialized sights including night vision, flashlights and aimers. A bayonet can also be fitted to the frontend of the weapon for close-quarter battle. Similarly, a foregrip can be added to the extreme muzzle end of the forward handgrip for a sure two-handed hold, the shoulder stock adding a third support point.
The FN F2000 features provision for an optional underslung 40x46mm GL1 series breech-loaded, single-shot grenade launcher with a pump-action rotary locking operation which replaces the removable forward hand guard when installed (similarly, a 12-gauge shotgun component can be affixed in this fashion). Implementation of said launcher with the assault rifle portion adds merely an inch to the overall length of the weapon system and only 2 lbs to the overall weight. The existing pistol grip of the automatic rifle portion also operates the integrated grenade launcher unit as well minimizing the need for the operator to change hand positions when engaging with his weapon of choice. A separate trigger system is seated underneath the main trigger for operating the launcher.
The 40mm grenade launcher is capable of launching standard "dumb" grenade projectiles utilizing a built-in fire control system (FCS) that is powered by batteries housed in the shoulder stock. The FCS is actuated by a button near the main trigger system and brings into action the integrated laser range finder which feeds calculations to a computer. The user is then "guided" to the optimal elevation of the weapon based on distance to target and environmental factors to which he/she can then engage at the best angle with reasonably accurate results.
To date, FN has been developed into several variants playing upon the original F2000 configuration. The F2000 "Tactical" is delivered sans the integrated optical sight component which is replaced with a MIL-STD-1913 style rail system. Iron sights take the place of the missing scope. The F2000 "Tactical TR" is similar to the F2000 Tactical but is delivered with three total rail positions for broader tactical options. The F2000 "S" is a combat version specifically developed for the Slovenian Army and brings about Picatinny rail support with an integrated carrying handle over the receiver. The FS2000 is a semi-automatic-fire only model intended for civilian use and these lack the scope of the military version and feature other civilian-minded market modifications to make their ownership legal. The FS2000 "Standard" is similar to the aforementioned FS2000 and also intended for civilian use but comes with the factory-supplied 1.6x magnification scope component. The F2000 CQB is yet another civilian-minded market entry and sees the handguard removed in favor of a three-point Picatinny rail system for optional accessories.
The F2000 has seen global use beyond Belgian borders and is currently in service with the forces of Belgium, Croatia, India, Libya, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Slovenia. Of note here is that all purchases were specifically made for special forces groups within each respective country and not for use by the regular army. As the F2000 is an ongoing developmental product of sorts for Fabrique Nationale, there are several other optional additions in the works. One such addition is a multi-shot grenade launcher unit as well as capability to launch "smart" grenade munitions.