QUANTICO MARINE BASE, Va. -- OK, so we all know the Pentagon has no money. But if it did, General Dymanics' Lightweight Medium Machine Gun, chambered in .338 Norma Magnum might be worth a look.
GD's Ordnance and Tactical Systems division was showing off the 23-pound LWMMG at Modern Day Marine 2013, touting it as the needed bridge between the M240 and the M2 .50 caliber machine guns.
"We wanted a round that could provide capabilities to eliminate the gap between 7.62mm and .50 cal," a GD official said. "We needed a round that could provide accurate, effective fire on target beyond 1,500 meters."
The LWMMG fires a 300 grain .338 caliber bullet and is capable of effective fire out to 1,700 meters, compared to the M240 round which is effective out to 1,100 meters.
"It puts a lot of energy on the target; it doesn't compare to the .50 cal which is a 650 grain bullet, but we are not trying to replace the .50 cal," the GD official said. The LWMMG isn't being marketed as a replacement for the M240 either even though it's about 4 pounds lighter. The heavier, .338NM ammo weighs about 9 pounds for every 100-round box. One hundred rounds of 7.62mm weights about seven pounds.
"You can mount this anywhere an M240 will mount," he said. "You can put effective fire on targets at extended ranges, and that is why we chose that round; we built the weapon around the round."
The plan was to build the LWMMG in the same round as U.S. Special Operations Command's new Precision Sniper Rifle, which Remington is now building in .338 Lapua magnum, GD officials said. While the company is pleased with the performance of the shorter .338NM cartridge, it would not be difficult to convert it to .338 Lapua, GD officials maintain.
The LWMMG has a max rate of fire of 500 rounds per minute. It has a short recoil operating system similar to the M2 so the barrel reciprocates. This is combined with a gas system to minimize recoil, GD officials say.
"You put those two together, we are able to help balance the positive and negative recoil forces; that's why when you shoot this, the recoil profile is similar to the M240," the GD official said. "You are firing a round with significantly greater energy, but it feels like you are firing a 7.62mm round."
GD officials say they will sell LWMMG for about the same price as an M240.