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.
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
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
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.
1,040 mm 40.94 in
465 mm 18.31 in
15.06 lb 6.83 kg
Rear Aperature; Front Post.
Gas-Operated; Selective Fire
Gas-operated system is featured, typically involving a gas cylinder and rear-driven piston directing energy to the bolt component.
(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)
Rounds / Feed
30-Round Detachable Box Magazine; 200-Round Metal Link Belt
*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.
2,624 ft (800 m | 875 yd)
3,035 ft/sec (925 m/sec)
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
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.
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Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS imagery database.
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An Australian soldier takes aim with his FN Minimi copy, the F89.
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El Salvador and US troops take part in a firing exercise with FN Minimis; note magazine feed instead of belt.
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Troops fire off their FN Minimis from the shoulder in thier fire exercise.
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Soldiers take aim with their belt-fed Minimi machine guns; note belt feed.
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Addressing the FN Minimi light machine gun.
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Close-up detail view of an Australian F89, based on the FN Minimi light machine gun.
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