A product of the late-70s, this fully automatic machine gun is still used today by every branch of the U.S. military. The modern-day versions of the weapon -- the M240 Bravo and Golf respectively -- is used extensively by ground, air and sea forces.
Originally manufactured as a secondary weapon for tanks and light armored vehicles, the M240’s reliability as a medium machine gun was later adopted for use by ground and mobile infantry units seeking to replace the Vietnam-era M60 machine gun.
Each weapon costs roughly between $6,000 and $9,000 depending on the version and can weigh upwards of 23 pounds unloaded. The M240 can commonly be seen mounted on vehicles, watercraft and aircraft. While the machine gun is equipped with bipods to assist in stability and accuracy, use of the weapon in infantry units can fall to a crew which helps carry the weapon’s ammunition and tripod.
The M240 is the only weapon outside long-range sniper rifles to use a 7.62 round -- which can essentially be compared to .308 Winchester ammunition used by civilians to hunt big game like elk, bear and deer. The machine gun effective range is 1,800 meters (5,905 feet) -- more than 16 football fields -- but its bullets can reach a maximum range of 3,725 meters or 12,221 feet and is capable of firing between 650 to 950 rounds per minute.
Branches of the U.S. military are looking at options to retire the machine gun for a more modern replacement.