The M240 is a belt-fed 7.62 mm NATO medium machine gun, based on the FN MAG. It has been used by the United States Armed Forces since the end of the 20th century, and is also used by other NATO forces. It is used extensively in the infantry as well as on ground vehicles and aircraft. Though not the lightest medium machine gun, it is highly regarded for reliability, and the firearm’s standardization with those of other NATO allies is also seen as a major plus.
The M240 designation is used to describe the whole family, but it is also a specific variant—a specialized co-axial model. There are many versions in service, see selected versions below:
- M240: a co-axial version adopted in 1977 by the US Army for use in tanks. This version of the FN MAG beat out the M60E2 and M219, as well as host of other medium machine guns including the MG3 and AA-52 co-axial versions. Entered service in the 1980s on the M1 Abrams.
- M240E1: a pintle mounted version that also entered service in the 1980s. Also used by United States Marine Corps.
- M240G: a version used by the USMC starting 1994, including in infantry configuration as opposed to the previous vehicle mounted types.
- M240B: an infantry version adopted by the Army in the late 1990s, with deliveries starting around 1998. Includes recoil buffer and front heat guard. Beat out other medium MGs.
- M240H: an improved model mainly for aircraft developed in the early first decade of the 2000s.
All the designs are belt-fed from the disintegrating, metal, M13 Links and can fire the many different types of 7.62 NATO (e.g. tracer, AP, etc.). They all share the same basic internals, which are also mostly interchangeable for the most part with other members of the FN MAG family. There are significant differences in weight and some features among some versions for which this does not apply, especially for certain parts. US M240s are produced in the United States by the US division of Fabrique Nationale (FN USA), a Belgian company with historically deep ties to US arms procurement.
The M240B/G are usually fired with a bipod, M122A tripod, or from various pintle mounts.