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M249 SAW Reliability

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Grendelizer, Apr 30, 2004.

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  1. Grendelizer

    Grendelizer Member

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    Peter G. Kokalis wrote an absolutely glowing review of the M249 Minimi many years ago. See http://remtek.com/arms/fn/minimi . But I like to take the long view of things. How did the M249 actually turn out, more than 20 years later? Has it borne out the claims made for it? Did it, indeed, develop a reputation for amazing reliability, as it seemed destined to when it was first adopted?

    John
     
  2. OEF_VET

    OEF_VET Member

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    Probably the biggest problems with the SAW are its' unreliability when using 30-round magazines or a BFA (Blank Firing Adapter) that isn't properly fitted. Otherwise, I love the SAW. It serves its' purpose as a squad-level automatic rifle quite well.

    Nightcrawler is probably the forums' subject matter expert on the SAW. IIRC, it's the weapon he carries in the NG. IINM, he seems to be quite infatuated with it also.
     
  3. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Emeritus

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    In 1987 we got some of the first ones. With the belted ammo, they were great. Not so with the magazines. They didn't hold zero very well, IMHO, due to a weak barrel/receiver lockup. Not much of an issue for field fire or real world use.
     
  4. Langenator

    Langenator Member

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    I'll second the votes for problems with magazine fed operations and BFAs. Other problem I've seen is a maintenance/troop discipline issue: the SAW comes with a spare barrel, which in units I've been in, was rarely if ever actually used-you just simply never fired enough rounds during a training event to require changing it out. So the spare sat, in its bag, in the arms room. And got rusty. Very rusty. Unservicable rusty. Now, this can be solved at the NCO/company commander level, by a) making sure the troops pull maintenance on the thing, even if it wasn't used, and b) making them swap the barrel after every field problem.

    Only other annoyance is cleaning the bastard.
     
  5. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy Member

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    Some of the guys overseas have actually had to ziptie their SAWs together to keep them working but that's because they've been shot to death and need replacing, not something that's bad about the actual design (a worn out 1911 is still a piece of crap compared to a new or not-used-much one......nothing bad with the design, it's just worn out!)
     
  6. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    :uhoh:

    Expert? *blush*

    I've carried it a LOT more than I've shot it.

    In the shooting I have done, my SAW hasn't given me any problems. I believe it to be a sound design, though not without its flaws:

    -Lose the M16 magazine well. When fed from M16 magazines, the SAW is, generally, so patently unreliable as to be nearly useless. The M16 magazine well should be omitted and the weight savings would be nice.

    -the 200 round plastic drums need to go. Nowadays they've got the 100 round soft pouches (holding a belt of ammo), but you still the the 200 round plastic boxes too. The plastic boxes are RATTLY (brass cartridges in a plastic box...), bulky, and they sometimes break the belt (and getting the belt out of the box when it's borken can be a PITA). More of a magazine problem than a weapon problem, though.

    -Barrel's a little short for my taste. Around 16", I think. The weapon is a nice overall length, though, around 40".

    -For some reason you can't use M16 blank adapters. I have no idea why.

    I'd prefer a SAW in a heavier caliber, personally, either 6.8mm or 7.62mm (FN makes a SAW in 7.62mm now...obviously not a sustained fire weapon like the M240, but still...). It works very well for what it is, though. I don't know that I'd go so far as to call it the most reliable weapon the US military has ever fielded (as Kokalis once did), though. In any case I haven't shot it under enough harsh conditions to be able to make that call.
     
  7. cookhj

    cookhj Member

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    i carried the SAW for quite a bit before i got promoted to coropral (NCO's usually don't carry SAW's or 240's) and i found it to be a great weapon. it wasn't too heavy, it was accurate, and quite reliable. Nightcrawler has pretty much covered all the other pro's and con's. however, i have found a few SAW's that will actually feed from a 30 rd mag.
     
  8. VG

    VG Member

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    The Natick, MA Soldier's Center conducted a survey of personal equipment, including small arms, after Afghanistan. As I recall nearly 100% of the Soldiers expressed confidence in the SAW.
     
  9. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    One thing...a tool is needed to adjust the front sight for zeroing. No one at Camp Grayling had this tool. Thus, when we zeroed, we had to use the rear battle sight for elevation. Obviously, on a gun with multiple barrels, this is a dumb idea, but there it was.

    *sigh*
     
  10. Grendelizer

    Grendelizer Member

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    Very informative, guys, especially from experienced users.

    I think what sparked my interest is that now they're saying the same things about the new HK MG43. More big claims about amazing reliability. Fires 100,000 rounds! So I just wanted to know how things actually turned out the last time such claims were made.

    John
     
  11. Amish

    Amish Member

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  12. Deadman

    Deadman Member

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    PITA to clean though :p
     
  13. SapperLeader

    SapperLeader Member

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    I carried a saw in the national guard for three years until I became a team leader and squad leader. It fulfills it role as a squad weapon rather well. I think nightcrawler hit the main points for improvement rather well. I would add one. I dont think the 200 round drum should be eliminated, just redesigned. The plastic boxes work, they are just loud. A 200 round cloth reusable pouch similiar in design to the 100 round cloth pouch would be nice. The m-16 magazine well is very useless as it doesnt work well and actually bends the magazine lips when firing.
    If I ever have the opportunity to own a class three, a saw is at the top of my list.
     
  14. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy Member

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    The M16 magwell was designed for holy-crap-we're-out-of-belts situations, not for constant use, but I agree it was one of the less wise decisions.

    I've put about 300 rounds through one. Fun to shoot..... it just rattles! :) No real recoil I could discern. Not overly heavy compared to an M60, and a fast shooter but not so quick it burns up a belt instantly a la MG3's.
     
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