The M249 light machine gun (LMG), previously designated the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), and formally written as Light Machine Gun, 5.56 mm, M249, is an American version of the Belgian FN Minimi, a light machine gun manufactured by the Belgian company FN Herstal (FN). The M249 is manufactured in the United States and is widely used by the U.S. Armed Forces. The gun was introduced in 1984 after being judged the most effective of a number of candidate weapons to address the lack of automatic firepower in small units. The gun provides infantry squads with the heavy volume of fire of a machine gun combined with accuracy and portability approaching that of a rifle
The FN Minimi has many variants, especially developed for the United States. Variants include the Para, SPW, and the Mk.46. Modifications to the barrel length, stock, and the addition of picatinny railings provide wielders with more versatility with the Minimi.