SIG MG 710 (MG-55)
General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG)
Though a quality general purpose machine gun, the SIG MG 710 went on to find only a handful of eager buyers.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The MG 710 was offered by Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (better known under the initials of "SIG") in the rebuilding decade after World War 2. The system was developed by the company for possible purchase by the Swiss Army with a mind for future export sales. As the Swiss Army had already settled on the MG 51 series in years prior, the success of the MG 710 would largely depend on the export market to come. Despite it proving itself a high quality machine gun, the MG 710 was inherently expensive and never found the expected buyers, its operators limited to just Bolivia, Brunei, Chile, Liberia and Lichtenstein.
The MG 710 was categorized as a "General Purpose Machine Gun" (GPMG) which described its multi-faceted battlefield performer. It was a belt-felt weapon chambered with a rifle-caliber cartridge and could serve in a fire support role (via a bipod) or in a fixed, defensive-minded role through use of a heavy-duty tripod mounting device. Additionally, such a weapon could be readily affixed to vehicles and operated as normal with little modification.
With inspiration drawn from by the German late-war MG45 (a modified, simplified version of the classic MG42 machine gun line itself inspired form the MG34 prior), the MG 710 began life in 1955 as the "Model 55" and work spanned into the 1960s. During this time, it appeared in three distinct forms prior to the standardized, accepted production model. The MG 710-1 was a version chambered for the 6.5x55mm rifle cartridge, completed with a perforated barrel jacket and capped a flash suppressor at the muzzle. The bipod was also fitted at the muzzle. The follow-up MG 710-2 was chambered for the 7.92x57mm Mauser rifle cartridge, lacked the barrel jacket and used a carrying handle which doubled as a grip for removing the barrel. The bipod was fitted at the tube extension from the receiver. Three barrel cooling vents were featured. The SG 710-3 became the finalized form chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO-standard rifle cartridge and completed with the perforated (solid square) barrel jacket, steel stamping construction (which lightened weight somewhat) and a simpler manufacturing process. It was this version that was ultimately offered up for sale in number by SIG.
Externally, the MG 710 did share some visible similarities to the German wartime MG42 with its slotted barrel jacket, belt-fed system and raised receiver. The action was contained in line with the barrel and butt which allowed for a more stable firing platform. Its system of operation was based around a roller-delayed blowback action. The weapon weighed a hefty 20.4lbs and featured an overall length of 45 inches with a 22 inch barrel assembly installed. Rate-of-fire was listed at 875 rounds per minute (average) with a muzzle velocity of 2,560 feet per second. Effective range was out to 1,200 meters under ideal conditions and when properly sighted (aided by optics over the included iron sights). The weapon was fed through either the DM1 non-disintegrating belt or the M13 disintegrating linked belt arrangement (this held in a 50-round metal box along the left side of the receiver). The barrel was air-cooled which meant that barrel-changing was a required quality of the system. The stock was solid and either of wood or metal, fixed in place for simplicity. Overall, the quality of the MG 710 was regarded as excellent and its rather complicated action proved wholly reliable under presented stresses.