Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks Military Pay Chart (2024) Special Forces
Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

Saco M60E3

Light Machine Gun (LMG) / General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) [ 1986 ]

The M60E3 light machine gun was designed to lighten the overall weight and simplify the barrel changing process of the base M60 GPMG.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/17/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The 1950s-era M60 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) proved a relatively effective infantry support weapon throughout the Vietnam War (1955-1975) though it was not without its inherent drawbacks. It was a cumbersome system to transport on patrol while lacking a carrying handle, was heavy by its very construction and featured a complex gas operation. The M60E3 of 1986 was, therefore, intended as a remedy variant and brought about a lighter overall weight, an integral carrying handle for transport and to facilitate barrel changing and a revised, simplified gas cylinder. Two barrel types - a light short assault and a heavy sustained fire version - were also introduced to suit varying mission roles. One key design addition of the M60E3 was its use of a forward vertical hand grip which allowed for more stable firing from the shoulder and further eased transport of the weapon (particularly when used in conjunction with a shoulder strap via sling loops). The bipod was now affixed to the receiver and a tripod mounting could still be utilized. Saco Defense of Maine was charged with the system's manufacture. Other changes included a new feed cover protecting the bolt regardless of its internal position and the trigger ring could be replaced by one with a larger opening to allow use of a gloved hand.

The M60E3 retained the original's chambering of 7.62x51mm NATO and also utilized the same gas-operated action feeding through a 100-round disintegrating belt. Overall weight was 8.8kg with a running length of 1,077mm and a standard barrel measuring 558mm. Rate-of-fire was 600 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 2,800 feet per second. Cooling of the barrel was by air and sighting was through a front and rear iron arrangement.

Despite the changes, the M60E3 was hardly a perfected solution. The use of lighter components seemed to lessen the weapon's overall reliability as components were known to fracture through prolonged use. This necessitated another M60 form to appear as the M60E4. The M60 family line as a whole was eventually superseded by the heavier, though more reliable, M240 GPMG based on the excellent Belgian FN MAG series.

The M60E3 saw limited export sales to US-friendly forces worldwide.©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.


Saco Defense, Incorporated - USA
Egypt; India; Malaysia; Portugal; South Korea; United States
Operators National flag of Egypt National flag of India National flag of Malaysia National flag of Portugal National flag of South Korea National flag of the United States
Service Year
United States
National Origin

Capable of suppressing enemy elements at range through direct or in-direct fire.
Qualities of this weapon have shown its value to Special Forces elements requiring a versatile, reliable solution for the rigors of special assignments.

1,077 mm
(42.40 inches)
Overall Length
558 mm
(21.97 inches)
Barrel Length
19.40 lb
(8.80 kg)
Empty Weight
Air-Cooled; Gas-Operated; Disintegrating Metallic Link-Belt
Gas-operated system is featured, typically involving a gas cylinder and rear-driven piston directing energy to the bolt component.
7.62x51mm NATO
May not represent an exhuastive list; Calibers may be model-specific dependent; Always consult official manufacturer sources.
100-round disintegrating link belt
Iron Front and Rear

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.

3,600 feet
(1,097 meters | 1,200 yards)
Max Effective Range
2,800 ft/sec
(853 m/sec)
Muzzle Velocity

M60 GPMG - Base Series Designation; adopted by US forces in 1957.
M60E3 - Improved lightened form of 1986.

Military lapel ribbon for the American Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon representing special forces
Military lapel ribbon for the Ukranian-Russian War
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2


1 / 1
Image of the Saco M60E3
Image from the United States Department of Defense.

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Chart Military Ranks DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane, and MilitaryRibbons.info, cataloguing military medals and ribbons. Special Interest: RailRoad Junction, the locomotive encyclopedia.

©2023 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2023 (20yrs)