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SIG-Sauer MG338

Light Machine Gun (LMG) [ 2020 ]

The SIG MG338 was selected by US SOCOM to replace an aging stock of M240 and M2 Browning machine guns.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/13/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

United States Special Operations COMmand (US SOCOM) has introduced the SIG MG338 into its available inventory after a rigorous series of tests to prove the new design sound (safety certification was completed in 2020). The Light Machine Gun (LMG) system is chambered in the .338 Norma Magnum cartridge, giving it enhanced engagement ranges when compared to the in-service M240 while retaining lethality at-range. It succeeds an aging line of M240 Medium Machine Guns (MMGs) and M2 Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) having been in service for decades while bringing with it many modern elements for the modern Warfighter.

The MG338 is a true machine gun in being belt-fed, this either from a hard or soft box set along the side of the receiver or under it. The charging handle sits along the side of the receiver within easy reach while the ejection port featured well-ahead of the handle. Controls are fully ambidextrous (with switchable feed tray and charging handle assembly), supporting both left- or right-handed shooters. The trigger loop is oversized to better accept a gloved hand. A carrying handle is featured near the free-floating barrel's entry point into the receiver for ease-of-transport and barrel-changing actions. The shoulder stock is skeletal in its design, reducing weight, and folds over the receiver by way of a hinged assembly, therefore reducing the overall length of the system and clearing the component when used in vehicle mounting.

Internally, the MG338 utilizes the proven short-stroke gas piston arrangement for driving the firing action. The gas cylinder sits under the barrel in the usual Western way. The barrel is suppressor-ready (utilizing SIG's own Next Generation Suppressor = NGS) for clandestine operations (taking the place of the standard, slotted brake) and the entire 24-inch assembly is of a quick-change design.

A section of Picatinny rail over the receiver allows for the installation of optics and aimers intended to accurized ranged fire in various light levels. SIG's own enhanced recoil mitigation system further reduces the muzzle climb and operator fatigue during the firing action resulting in a more accurate suppression weapon in full-automatic.

Whether vehicle-mounted on a trainable arm or fitted with its infantry-level folding bipod assembly, the weapon system can be used with equal lethality. Its twenty-pound weight allows an infantryman to carry the system when on-march. At 20 lb, the complete system is lighter than both the M240 and the M2 before it and can be mounted on the frames of light, medium, and heavy-class vehicles as well as helicopters. It manages a 2,000-meter range thanks to its design and cartridge of choice and is given a 600 rounds-per-minute capability.

The inherent modularity of the system allows the operator to convert the standard chambering to the widely-accepted 7.62x51 NATO standard rifle cartridge.

The American military has gone all-in on the SIG brand for its future needs in recent years, the MG338 joining the newly-minted M250 LMG, M5 assault carbine, and P320 pistol - all detailed in the Military Factory.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.

January 2020 - US SOCOM completes its Safety Certification and procurement of the MG338 series. The package includes ammunition and suppressor components.



Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States


Light Machine Gun (LMG)

National flag of the United States United States (SOCOM)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Fire Support
Capable of suppressing enemy elements at range through direct or in-direct fire.
Special Forces
Qualities of this weapon have shown its value to Special Forces elements requiring a versatile, reliable solution for the rigors of special assignments.
This weapon is either inherently silent/suppressed or can be made so through special assembly added at the muzzle, specialized subsonic ammunition or a combination of both.

Despite its size / weight, the product can be transported by foot infantry.
Inherent ability to provide suppression capabilities against target / target area.
Supports silenced / suppressed actions - by way of silencer, suppressor, or subsonic ammunition - for clandestine operations.
Internal action allows release of multiple rounds with a trigger pull in quick succession.
An automatic, or pseudo-automatic, function is built into the system, allowing for repeat firing to be achieved.
Versatility is such that it can be mounted to vehicles as an anti-infantry / area suppression solution.
Versatility is such that it can be mounted to aircraft as an anti-infantry / area suppression solution.
Supports mounting of optics (scopes) to aid in accuracy for ranged fire.
Aiming can be aided by use of a bipod support assembly, either as an integral part of design or option.
Can be mounted atop a trainable pintle assembly for additional support.
Design allows for user adjustability of certain components for customization.
Design offers mounting points for external, after-market hardware including laser aimers, flashlights, scopes, and grips.


Short-Stroke Gas Piston; Full-Automatic Fire.

Rounds are automatically ejected from the breech, a new cartridge stripped from the feed and set in the chamber, and rounds are continuously fired so long as the trigger is pulled and an ammunition supply exists.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


.338 Norma Magnum

Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a .338 rifle cartridge
Rounds / Feed

50-round disintegrating belt links.
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.

MG338 - Base Series Designation.

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Images Gallery

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Image of the SIG-Sauer MG338
Image from official SIG-Sauer marketing materials.


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