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Loved Your M249 Para? FN Now Has Semi-Auto Retail Version

BOULDER CITY, Nevada -- For Army, Marine Corps and special operations SAW gunners who miss the feel of firing their belt-fed weapon, firearms manufacturer FN America may have just the thing.

Here at SHOT Show's annual industry day at the range, the company -- the maker of the military's M249 squad automatic weapon -- introduced the M249S Para, a closed-bolt semi-automatic rifle that nonetheless retains the look and feel of the original, down to the belted ammunition. The gun, which features the collapsible buttstock first designed for parachute missions and special operations, follows FN's M249S Standard, released last year.

"It's the same battle-proven quality, testing and endurance of the fully automatic SAW, just in a commercially available, civilian-legal, semi-automatic only," said Benjamin Voss, FN America's product manager for commercial/law enforcement long guns. "It's as close to a fully automatic M249 SAW as you can get without raising your right hand and giving Uncle Sam four years of your life."

The weapon weighs 17 pounds and features a 16.1-inch barrel and features familiar to SAW gunners including the flip-up feed tray, gas-piston system, and telescoping and rotating buttstock. The rifles will be available in two colors: black and flat dark earth, according to the manufacturer. It fires belted 5.56 rounds.

Voss said he anticipates the weapon becoming a "keystone" item for collectors.

"There's been quite a bit of interest in a semi-automatic belt-fed from FN, because we make the world's battle-proven belt-feds, bar none," he said. "We were pleasantly surprised by how well the M249S is selling and we hope to continue that enthusiasm with the para version."

The weapon retails from $8,800 to $9,200.

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