The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon has been a mainstay for the troops since it entered service with the United States in 1984. In the 33 years since, it's seen action in the War on Terror, Operation Just Cause, and Desert Storm.
According to the FN website, the M249 fires the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. It comes in at 17 pounds, and is 40.75 inches long with a 20.5-inch barrel. It can use the same 30-round magazines as M16/M4 rifles, or it can use belts of 100 or 200 rounds. The M249 Para has a 16.3" barrel, and weighs just under 16 pounds. These guns have an effective range of just under 875 yards.
A M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) on a Stryker.(Photo by Patrick A. Albright, Fort Benning Public Affairs)
Due to a 1986 law, finding a real SAW for you to add to your collection is very difficult, and it's impossible to get one made after 1986. Thankfully, Fabrique Nationale has stepped in. In a catalog available at the Association of the United States Army's expo held in Washington, D.C., last month, FN notes that a semi-auto only version of the M249, known as the M249S, is available.
The baseline version comes with an 18.5-inch barrel, and weighs the same 17 pounds as the M249 the troops use. It does come in slightly longer, at 41 inches, but retains the same ability to use 30-round magazines or the 100 or 200-round belts. FN also makes a M249S Para. This comes in at just under 17 pounds, and has a 16.5-inch barrel. They cost $8,499.00 new.
The M249S Para, which doesn't quite have the weight savings over the M249S as the M249 Para provides for the M249. (Photo from FN)
All federal, state, and local laws apply to the M249S family of weapons. Still, the M249S makes an excellent option for a person who wants to have something that can help the give friends and family a sense of their military service.