EDITOR'S NOTE: Kit Up! would like to welcome a new contributor, Jack Murphy. He's a former Army Ranger and Special Forces Soldier with multiple combat tours to Iraq and is a recent author of the military thriller Reflexive Fire.
With the US military reportedly spending over $28 million on the new M240 machine gun variant, the M240L, Special Forces soldiers have found that the new machine guns cannot be mounted on vehicles. The M240L uses titanium in key areas to help lighten the machine gun, and ultimately the load carried by soldiers, by five pounds.
From PEO Soldier:
“The M240L incorporates titanium construction and alternative manufacturing methods for fabricating major M240B components to achieve significant weight savings. These improvements reduce the Soldier’s combat load while allowing easier handling and movement of the weapon. The M240L short barrel variant under development is 21.8 pounds, 5.5 pounds lighter than the M240B.”
Special Forces troops have found that while the M240L works great as a dismounted support by fire weapon, that the titanium construction does not hold up when the machine gun is mounted in the gun turret of a Humvee or on a pedestal mount or swing arm style swivel mount on a GMV. With the softer metal used on the M240L, the gun is rattling itself apart whenever it is mounted to a hard point.
On closer inspection, this oversight may effect both SOF and conventional military operations in more ways than one. Some units simply don't have enough M2 .50 caliber machine guns to go around and resort to mounting a M240 in the Humvee's turret instead. With Special Forces units doing a one for one exchange of the old but reliable M240B for the new M240L, many teams will be left hanging without a suitable primary weapon that can be mounted on their vehicles.
When one Special Forces NCO brought this deficiency to the forefront in a meeting to a group of officers who were overseeing the program, “-they looked at me like I was crazy!”