The United States Special Operations Command – SOCOM – just tapped FN to buy new MK 46 and MK 48 light machine guns. The contract is for $13.4 million and is split between FN America in South Carolina and FN Herstal in Belgium.
According to the contract, SOCOM turned directly to FN America for the guns “Only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements,” reads the contract.
Delivery will be completed by 2023, with most of the production, 85 percent, handled by FN America. The contract calls for guns, spare parts and engineering services. It is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. The Navy will pay FN an initial payment of $1.2 million.
The MK46 is an improved, lighter-weight version of the M249 Light Machine Gun or LMG, also known as the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon or SAW and the M249 MINIMI. It weighs just under 15.5 pounds, more than a pound and a half lighter than the original machine gun.
The MK46 is chambered for 5.56 NATO. The MK48 is scaled up for 7.62 NATO, pushing its weight up to just over 18 pounds. By comparison, the M60 variant it replaced weighs between 21 and 23 pounds, based on its configuration.
SOCOM has been using these guns for a while now and it stands to reason they like them if they’re coming back for more.
Both the MK46 and MK48 are open-bolt, belt-fed light machine guns. With the MK46 machine gunners can carry a little more ammo, while the MK48 is more effective, particularly against armored targets, at longer ranges. Both have a point target range of 800 meters and a 730 round-per-minute rate of fire.
Because of this, they’re largely restricted to military and law enforcement sales. But FN America now offers a closed-bolt, semi-automatic version of the M249 and we got one nice and hot in this detailed review.
“This gun is built every bit as solidly, part-for-part, as the military machine gun,” said John Hodoway in our review. “They use the same hammer-forged barrel. All of the external parts, bipod, sights and feeding mechanisms are identical. This gun is not some bantamweight – this is in the heavyweight category.”