The M240 was my baby in the Winter in 2009 and the Spring in 2010. I carried it on endless patrols in Afghanistan alongside its little brother the M249 SAW. I am still fond of the weapon and it is easily one of the best small arms in the Marine Corps arsenal. It’s accurate, reliable to a fault, and lays down death at a belt fed rate. The problem with it was it’s freakin’ heavy. At over 27 pounds the M240 made me strong, but she certainly could use a diet. Fn felt the same way and revamped the M240B into the M240L. L certainly stands for light in this case.
The M240L rises
The Gun has been shrunk down quite a bit in it’s newest incarnation. As a machine gunner who still loves the M240 I had to take a look at one at Shot, even if I would never own one. Even though she’s lost weight you’d never mistake the M240L for anything but an M240. The big square metal receiver looks exactly the same as one the regular M240 has. The 240L receiver makes use of titanium to reduce the weight a bit.
The M240L is more or less defined by its receiver. However, the entire program resulted in a new stock and barrel.
Smile and Wait for flash
The barrel has been trimmed down considerably from 24.8 inches to 20.8 inches The gas system remains in the same place so all barrels are interchangeable. The end of the barrel features a more aggressive flash hider. This is an important consideration.
Machine guns are valuable targets in a firefight. A medium machine gun like the M240 is not easy to pick up, move, and shoot over and over like a rifle. It’s best put in place on the bipods or tripod and used to lay down hell on the enemy. Because it’s pumping out full-powered rifle cartridges at a high rate of fire the muzzle flash makes a machine gun a big target. When you trim down the barrel that muzzle flash increases considerably so a bigger, better flash hider is needed.
Not only that but in low light situations, the massive muzzle blast from a 30 caliber machine gun can affect night vision, both natural and optical. This aggressive flash hider should make a considerable difference.
To the Rear
The first thing I noticed is that the old German looking machine gun pistol grip is gone. Never had issues with the grip, but it has been replaced by a more modern option. This new grip greatly resembles the M249 Saw grip. I absolutely love the SAW grip because I have huge hands and it fits them perfectly.
Then we get to the stock. The classic M240 stock is very comfortable and very easy to use. The classic stock it designed to give the shooter’s hand a place to grab and shove the stock into his shoulder for stability while using bipods.
The new stock is collapsible and is much more compact and simplistic. It’s not an M4 style collapsible stock, but something a bit sturdier, and less intuitive. As you’d imagine the M240L has some recoil to it, and is designed to fire hundreds to thousands of rounds in a short period of time. So the stock has to be sturdy.
The stock requires you to push a button upwards and rotate it to the right and slide it forward or rearward. Once you have your desired length, twist the stock left and allow it to lock into place.
Going small is the current trend in the armed forces and in a lot of ways it makes sense. The Army and finally the Marine Corps use M4s over full sized M16s. The SAW has shrunk to the IAR with the Marine Corps, and now medium machine guns are trending smaller.
The gun itself is well designed and thought out. Will it completely replace the M240b? Maybe, but all the upgrades are easily attachable to a standard M240B. I see this being more useful as part of a kit for a standard M240B. At longer range the full sized machine gun is more effective when shooting at longer ranges or on a vehicle or post.
At longer range the extended sight radius will make the gun easier to shoot. The hand grip on the stock makes bipod firing more stable. In rural environments like the Helmand province, the extra range is always needed.
Operating in and out of vehicles, helicopters, jumping out of planes, and in urban environments, the complete M240L kit can be put into play. The full M240L kit reduces the weapon’s weight from 27.6 pounds to 21.8 pounds with the short barrel and collapsible stock. That’s pretty considerable to the average grunt on patrol.
Not only are the weight savings valuable, but the smaller package makes a considerable difference. Operating the big M240B in tight environments is incredibly difficult. Forget getting in and out of a vehicle with one quickly. Operating in an urban environment is another huge pain the ass.
Moving through building with a package that’s 7 inches shorter is pretty convenient. If you’ve never handled a machine gun indoors you may be thinking how big of a difference does 7 inches make? It’s considerable. Attach an extra 7 inches to your rifle and see how awkward it is.
End of the Day
I like the M240L and I do wish I my M240B was a little lighter and a little shorter during my time in Afghanistan. The M240L is currently being adopted by the Army, and like usual the Marine Corps says it’s too expensive. Regardless, the M240 series of machine guns are absolutely spectacular.