From today’s press release from FN, the M249S will be released to civilians in the very near future.
From the press release: “The FN M249S, a semi-automatic version of the M249 SAW light machine gun, was originally developed by FN Herstal as the FN MINIMI® and adopted by the U.S. Military in 1988. The rifle features the signature 20.5-inch FN cold hammer-forged, chrome-lined barrel and operates from a closed bolt position. Chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO, the rifle will accept both magazine and linked ammunition belt and offers a 4.5-6.5 pound trigger pull out-of-the-box.”
In 2007 the rumor from FN was a semi-auto M249 was on its way. The cost would be higher than the LMG sells to the US military for ($4,000+) but would be an actual FN belt-fed we could all own*. FN restructured how it handled representatives and even internally with how it’s customer support and sales communications were handled. After this, there was no more news of the M249 semi-auto, nor of the bolt-action 5.7x28mm. Disappointingly this also led to an end of someone at FN officially fielding questions on the FN Forum.
I am glad to hear the project still continued on. I hope to see a range report in the near future, including accuracy tests and magazine compatibility. Expected MSRP is over $7,000 according to TFB.
Along with the M249S, two new rifles in the FN15 lineup have been announced, the M4 and M16 collector’s series. These sound like they will be limited edition specially marked rifles. Like the original FN15 Carbine and FN15 Rifle, they lack the cold hammer-forged barrels of the originals. The press release reads. “button broached and chrome-lined barrels“, while also claiming “military replica rifles made to FN’s exacting specification“. Yes, to FN’s exacting specification, but not to the military’s exacting specification of FN. I do understand there are legal issues with releasing AR rifles using the MilSpec data package, but I’m not interested in an FN15 without the barrel that really makes them great.
* Not available in all states, some restrictions will apply, individual experiences will vary.
The Truth About Guns FNH USA Releases New Guns, Including Semi-Auto M249, M4, M16 2015-04-09
FNH USA FNH USA Offers New Product Sneak Peek at 2015 NRA Annual Meetings 2015-04-10
FNH Blog FN Will Offer The M249 SAW To Civilians 2015-04-10
The Firearm Blog FNH USA to release semi-auto version of the M249 to the public 2015-04-10