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Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi

Light Machine Gun (LMG) / Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW)

Belgium | 1982

"Since introduced in the early 1980s, the Belgian-made FN Minimi has proven a global success for a variety of military services."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/10/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The squad-level machine gun, as a man-portable weapon, was born during the fighting of World War 1 (1914-1918) where warplanners on both sides sought to equip the standard infantryman with a sweeping, repeat-fire system suitable for trench-clearing. While grenades and artillery served this role to an extent, more portable, accurate solutions were sought and this gave rise to the submachine gun as a new class of infantry weapon. Beyond this, and one of the truer squad-level machine gun-style weapons to emerge from the fighting, was the American Browning M1918 "Browning Automatic Rifle" - or "BAR".

The BAR proved somewhat unique in the scope of the war in that it gave the base warfighter of the period considerable repeat firepower. The weapon was a mixed success for it was too heavy to be a service rifle and limited to 20-round magazines and too light to be a true difference-making machine gun. Nevertheless, it was well-built and wholly robust for a frontline weapon and managed to see considerable service in World War 2 (1939-1945) and beyond. In the modern age, weapons such as the Belgian Fabrique-Nationale FN "Minimi" eventually took up the mantle.

The Minimi was designed around the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge which rose to prominence in the 1960s by way of large-scale issue to the United States military. Western-aligned powers of the world followed suit and a massive collection of guns were designed during this period to fire the "intermediate" rifle cartridge. The Minimi did so and this was through a gas-operated function with the gas contained in a cylinder mounted under the barrel assembly. The barrel itself was fabricated to a heavy-duty standard for sustained firing and made to be quickly changed by the operator as needed. One interesting design quality of the Minimi was its ability to fire from a belt ammunition supply (200 rounds) or from standard M16-style detachable box magazines (30-round count). The box magazine was inserted into the bottom of the receiver (ahead of the trigger unit) in the usual way with a slight increase in rate-of-fire. When either method of feeding was in play, the other port was sealed off by a cover.

Introduced in 1982, the Belgian-made Minimi quickly evolved into the light-support weapon-of-choice for several key national military powers including Britain and the United States. For the former it has served as the L108A1 and, for the latter, it was adopted as the venerable "M249 SAW". Uses went beyond infantry-level operations for the machine gun has been featured in the selective inventories of various special forces outfits and has seen use on pintle mounts for vehicles. In practice, the FN Minimi has developed a history of reliability under the most severe of combat conditions and environments. The 5.56mm cartridge has, however, been criticized by some for its penetration value falloff in ranged, open-field fighting.

The standard Minimi form features a fixed, lightweight skeletal butt with a carrying handle set over the receiver for improved transportability. There is a folding bipod fitted to the frontal section of the gas cylinder which can be stowed away during travel. One major variation of the FN Minimi is the FN Minimi-Para which showcases a collapsible butt, a feature proving quite useful to paratroopers and special forces operatives. The Para model is in British military service as the L110A2.

Several countries produce the machine gun locally under license and global operators have ranged from Afghanistan and Australia to the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. With this spectrum of operators, the machine gun is recognized under various local designations: Australia operates the F89 and Maximi (in 7.62mm chambering) while Belgium recognizes their creation as the Minimi M2/M3. Canada uses the C9/C9A1/C9A2 designations and New Zealand fields the C9 Minimi and 7.62 LSW Minimi. Swedish versions are Ksp 90 and Ksp 90B and the major Swiss model is the LMg 05.

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Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi. Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
2,624 ft
799.8 m | 874.7 yds
3,035 ft/sec
925 m/sec
Muzzle Velocity
The physical qualities of the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi. Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
1,040 mm
40.94 in
O/A Length
465 mm
18.31 in
Barrel Length
15.06 lb
6.83 kg
Gas-Operated; Selective Fire
5.56x45mm NATO
30-Round Detachable Box Magazine; 200-Round Metal Link Belt
Rear Aperature; Front Post.
Notable series variants as part of the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi Light Machine Gun (LMG) / Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) family line.
Minimi - Base Production Series Designation
Minimi Para - Paratrooper Variant
Minimi (Vehicle) - Vehicle Mounted General Purpose Machine Gun Variant.
F89 - Australian and Papua New Guinea Designation
C9 - Canadian Designation
C9 Minimi - New Zealand Designation
Ksp 90 (Kulspruta 90) Swedish Designation
Ksp 90B (Kulspruta 90B) Swedish Designation of Para version.
LMg 06 (Leichtes Maschinengewehr 05) - Swiss Designation.
FM 06 (Fusil mitrailleur 05) - Alternative Swiss Designation.
T75 - Taiwan Designation
L108A1 - British Designation
L110A1 - British Designation of Para model.
M249 - American Designation
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national small arms listing.

Contractor(s): Fabrique Nationale Herstal SA - Belgium / Pindad - Indonesia
National flag of Afghanistan National flag of Australia National flag of Belgium National flag of Brazil National flag of Canada National flag of Chile National flag of Czechia National flag of Denmark National flag of the Dominican Republic National flag of Egypt National flag of France National flag of Greece National flag of Hungary National flag of India National flag of Indonesia National flag of Iraq National flag of Ireland National flag of Italy National flag of modern Japan National flag of Latvia National flag of Luxembourg National flag of Malaysia National flag of Mexico National flag of Morocco National flag of the Netherlands National flag of New Zealand National flag of Norway National flag of Pakistan National flag of Peru National flag of the Philippines National flag of Poland National flag of Portugal National flag of Serbia National flag of Slovakia National flag of Slovenia National flag of Spain National flag of Sri Lanka National flag of Sweden National flag of Switzerland National flag of Taiwan National flag of Thailand National flag of Turkey National flag of the United Arab Emirates National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States National flag of Vietnam

[ Afghanistan; Australia; Belgium; Brazil; Canada; Chile; Czech Republic; Denmark; Dominican Republic; East Timor; Egypt; France; Greece; Hungary; Indonesia; Iraq; Ireland; India; Italy; Japan; Latvia; Luxembourg; Malaysia; Mexico; Morocco; Nepal; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sri Lanka; Suriname; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan; Thailand; Turkey; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States; Vietnam ]
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Image of the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS imagery database.
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Image of the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi
An Australian soldier takes aim with his FN Minimi copy, the F89.
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Image of the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi
El Salvador and US troops take part in a firing exercise with FN Minimis; note magazine feed instead of belt.
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Image of the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi
Troops fire off their FN Minimis from the shoulder in thier fire exercise.
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Image of the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi
Soldiers take aim with their belt-fed Minimi machine guns; note belt feed.
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Image of the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi
Addressing the FN Minimi light machine gun.
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Image of the Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi
Close-up detail view of an Australian F89, based on the FN Minimi light machine gun.

Going Further...
The Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi Light Machine Gun (LMG) / Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) appears in the following collections:
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