FN EVOLYS 5.56 weighs much less than a traditional SAW.

Major news broke from FN Herstal Thursday. The iconic manufacturer of rifles, pistols, machine guns, and more for military use unveiled a new machine gun in two different calibers. The FN EVOLYS ultralight machine gun, with models in 5.56x45mm NATO and 7.62x51mm NATO, aims to shift the paradigm of shoulder-fired suppressive fire.

FN EVOLYS Machine Guns

“The FN EVOLYS is a radically different, ultralight weapon that combines the firing capabilities of a belt-fed machine gun with ergonomics and balance similar to an assault rifle,” stated an FN release. “This is exactly what is needed and expected by users for current and future operations.”

At first glance, the weapon system appears cleverly scaled down. The 5.56 weighs in around 12 pounds, while the 7.62 weighs 13.6 pounds. A traditional M249 SAW weighs around 17 pounds, so there’s real world weight savings implemented here.

“This reduced weight enables the user to move across difficult terrain quickly and to engage with a high volume of fire when needed with no difficulty,” FN stated.

While the weight and handling cut down closer to rifle weights, the components mirror many aspects of the traditional M4/M16 platform. An ambidextrous fir selector resides in a familiar location. An adjustable buttstock changes both heigh and length. Finally, a Picatinny top rail enables a host of optics and night vision installed.

Innovative Features

Operationally, the machine guns fire from the open bolt position, utilizing a short-stroke piston system. Operators can perform all functions one-handed, with either hand. Cartridges automatically reposition upon closing the feed cover, eliminating failure to feed first round. So even if the belt isn’t placed on the feed tray correctly, rounds still get sent downrange. Finally, the platform ejects the last link automatically. The system clears the way for a reload, so operators can quickly get back in the fight.

The FN EVOLYS includes a variant chambered in 7.62mm.

The new FN EVOLYS comes at an interesting time. Lightweight, scaled down, and chambered in traditional NATO cartridges, the system looks legit. But as the U.S. Army continues its Next Gen project, one wonders how these two new machine guns will compete. Hopefully we will get some trigger time on the new guns real soon. For even more info, please visit fnherstal.com.


Caliber5.56x45mm NATO7.62x51mm NATO
Operating PrincipleGas operated, open bolt, short stroke pistonGas operated, open bolt, short stroke piston
ButtstockAdjustable Length and HeightAdjustable Length and Height
Weapon Length850mm (retracted), 950mm (extended)925mm (retracted), 1,025mm extended
Barrel Length14 inches16 inches
Overall Weight5.5 kg6.2 kg
Overall Width133mm135mm
Firing ModesFull-Auto, Semi-AutoFull-Auto, Semi-Auto
Rate of FireApproximately 750 RPMApproximately 750 RPM
FeedingFree Belt or FN MINIMI PouchFree Belt or FN MINIMI Pouch
Pouches100 or 200 rounds50 rounds
Maximum Effective Range800m1,000m

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