The FN Minimi was pressed into the role of automatic rifle by US forces in the early 1980s. While FN’s “Mini Mitrailleuse” is a good machine gun, it is a clumsy automatic rifle.
The US Marine Corps has wisely moved to replace it with what they’re dubbing the IAR (Infantry Automatic Rifle) which is closer to the most useful application an automatic rifle excels at. The problem is troops have been wrongly conditioned into the mistaken belief that volume of fire equates to firepower. There are grumblings from within the Corps that the IAR is a waste of time. Primarily complaints stem from the “lack of firepower” and not wanting to give up a belt fed weapon with 200 rounds on tap.
It is sad when Soldiers and Marines don’t understand the difference between firepower and volume of fire, or the role of an automatic rifle vs. a machine gun.
The FN Minimi (M249, L108/L110, F89, or Minimi M2) is a good machine gun but a clumsy automatic rifle. The best way to demonstrate this is to force troops assigned as automatic rifleman to first qualify on their respective rifle course(s) to the exact same standard with their assigned weapon.
In the US Army, that would mean automatic riflemen would first group and zero to standard, shoot the three table qualification course with 20, 10 and 10 rounds (RETS, KD or Alt C) and complete the SRM (Short Range Marksmanship) course with their M249, NOT with the M16/M4. After all, an automatic rifle is issued to an individual maneuvering with a squad and is that trooper’s primary weapon. After shooting a passing score as a rifleman with the assigned primary weapon (M249) the automatic rifleman then qualifies on the Automatic Rifle course.
Every good shooter realizes the US Army qualification courses are broken but even a poor rifleman has no problem passing them. Forcing an automatic RIFLEMAN to qual with his actual assigned weapon as a both rifle and automatic rifle, the way it SHOULD be, will quickly point out the M249 flaws in this role.