Meeting up with Mike and Austin from Machine Gun Armory (MGA) for some hands-on time with their SAW-K, a much improved version of the old M249 squad automatic weapon quickly became one of my favorite memories from an eventful SHOT show.  In the video below, Chief Operations Officer Austin Lockey walks us through the features and design of the new MGA SAW-K and there’s some great footage of us blitzing the indoor range as well.

In case you’re multimedia averse, MGA took the old m249 and made a number of improvements.  Among them:

  1. Reducing overall weight from ~17lbs to ~10lbs(!!).
  2. Reducing the overall length of the front half of the gun (gas system and barrel).  Even with a surefire suppressor attached, the SAW-K was still shorter than the SAW-Para and approximately the length of an HK UMP.
  3. Adding a folding stock to even further reduce length
  4. Making small yet noticeable improvements such as a small lever on the feed tray ramp that prevents the belt from sliding off when the feed tray cover is open
  5. Adding multi-caliber conversions.  The test sample I had the chance to run was chambered in .300 BLK firing 220gr subsonic rounds.  Also available are 5.56mm, 6.8 SPC, 7.62×51, 7.62×39 and .260 Remington.
Machine Gun Armory's SAW-K | Hands-on at SHOT Show 2017
A day at the range. Photo by Austin DeWees

The cumulative effect of these changes are transformative.  Despite dropping ~40% of it’s weight and bumping up the caliber, I had no trouble keeping the 4X ACOG on target during 3-6 round bursts.  Doing a few weapons manipulation drills showed me just how much more mobile I felt having the SAW-K in hand compared to the old Para model.  MGA was also nice enough to bring along an old SAW-Para so I wasn’t relying on 12 year old memories to make comparisons with.

Machine Gun Armory's SAW-K | Hands-on at SHOT Show 2017
A comparison of SAW’s. Photo by Austin DeWees

All told, an afternoon at the range and a few hundred rounds weren’t nearly enough to satisfy my desire to spit more lead out of the SAW-K.  Despite 5 product improvement plans (PIP’s) for the M16 family since 1984, there hasn’t been one for the M249.  Machine Gun Armory has done a fantastic job in upgrading the venerable machine gun, keeping it relevant to the needs of today’s warfighters as well as those in the future.  A quick look at MGA’s website shows there are even more options and variations on the platform than what I was able to get my hands on during SHOT show.  Clearly the primary market here is military, but it would be foolish to assume MGA has no plans for the civilian world.  Multiple offerings are available here, even some that are Kalifornia-Kompliant.  While the price for one of MGA’s belt fed’s is around $10K give or take, the brisk sales of FN’s 249S have shown there are a number of civilians out there with the desire and the means to acquire a M249 in one variation or another.  I think the MGA SAW-K stacks up quite favorably against a vanilla M249.

Machine Gun Armory's SAW-K | Hands-on at SHOT Show 2017
photo by Austin DeWees

My hat is off to MGA for improving the old beauty so much and they have my thanks for providing the range, ammo and guns for a great day of shooting.  If you’re in the market for a belt-fed, do yourself a favor and check this one out.