The FN Mag Machine Gun - M240, L7, and Other Variants

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Chris McNab
Other Publication Information
Illustrators: Johnny Shumate and Alan Gilland; Soft Bound; 7.3” x 9.8”, 80 pages
Product / Stock #
WPN 63
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Chris McNab is an author and editor specializing in military history and military technology. To date he has published more than 40 books, including The Illustrated History of the Vietnam War (2000), Twentieth-Century Small Arms (2001), Twentieth-Century Small Arms (2001), The Encyclopedia of Combat Techniques (2002), The Personal Security Handbook (2003), Reformation, Exploration and Empire (2005), Mythical Monsters : The Scariest Creatures from Legends, Books, and Movies (2006), Tools of Violence (2008), Deadly Force (2009), A History of the World in 100 Weapons (2011), The Roman Army (2012), SAS and Special Forces Mental Toughness Training, and Abandoned Wrecks (2017). Chris has also written extensively for major encyclopedia series, magazines and newspapers. He is an experienced specialist in survival techniques and provides instruction on wilderness hunting techniques. He currently lives in Neath, Wales, UK.

Johnny Shumate works as a freelance illustrator living in Nashville, Tennessee. He began his career in 1987 after graduating from Austin Peay State University. Most of his work is rendered in Adobe Photoshop using a Cintiq monitor. His greatest influences are Angus McBride, Don Troiani, and Edouard Detaille. His illustrations have been featured in at least 65 books. His interests include karate, running, Bible reading, history, and making English longbows. Check out his website at,,, and

Alan Gilliland spent 18 years as the graphics editor of the UK's Daily Telegraph, winning 19 awards in that time. He now writes, illustrates, and publishes fiction (, as well as illustrating for a variety of publishers including Osprey. Check him out at

Osprey’s 63ndbook in the Weapon series is a square back soft cover including 80 gloss paper pages. The top of the front cover features a color photograph of a L.7A1 GPMG. The bottom of the front cover features a photograph of US Army troops at a firing range in Germany with the long barreled variant of the M240L. I counted 3 black and white pictures, 55 color photographs, 4 color illustrations, 5 color paintings, and two tables. Johnny Shumate contributes the five battle-scene color paintings, including one that is a two-page spread. Alan Gilliland provides the labeled color cutaway illustrations of the 7.62x51mm L7A1 GPMG and two color illustrations depicting the feed mechanism.

Chris McNab starts off with a short introduction on the types of guns on the battlefield pointing out the pluses and minuses of the various platforms before diving into the development of the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). Tracing its history back to the turn of the century with the Maxim machine gun, Chris brings the reader up to speed to the Belgian FN MAG. Based on WWII experience, the FN (Fabrique Nationale) MAG (Mitrailleuse d'Appui Général)was designed, tested, and placed into production in the 1950s. The FN MAG is an air-cooled, belt fed, gas-operated machine gun, and is available in three main versions: infantry, AFV, and aircraft. Utilizing the 7.62-51 standard NATO round has served with the British as the L7, the United States as the M240, and with the Swedes as the Ksp 58.

Chris McNab describes the evolution of this machine gun, its attributes, and its variety of applications. The FN MAG has been used by more than eighty countries and has been manufactured under license (or not) in several countries. Alan Gilliland’s color illustrations show off the gun internals and fully describe the feed mechanism. A primary reason that the FN MAG has stayed in service since the fifties is its legendary reliability and Chris devotes time to explaining why. Chris does address the FN MAGs competitors, including the Russian PK/PKM machine gun. Operational use in the many wars over the last six decades us also described and supported beautifully with Johnny Shumate’s action paintings. The contents include:

  • Acknowledgements
  • Editor’s Note
  • Introduction
  • Development – Designing the Optimal Front-Line Weapon
    • The Origins of the GPMG [Page 09]
    • Toward the FN Mag
    • A Global Success
    • Swedish Models
    • The FN Mag Exposed (7.62-51mm L7A1 GPMG)
    • British MAGs
    • The US M240 Series [Page 24]
  • Use: Reliability Under Fire
    • Operating the FN MAG
    • Loading and Firing
    • M240 – Loading and Firing
    • Reliability
    • US Army Advice – M240B Oiling and Preventative Maintenance
    • Ammunition and Fire Discipline
    • Rhodesian Light Infantry, 1978 (Painting)
    • The Bipod and the LMG Role
    • Tripods and the MMG Role [Page 51]
    • Combat Conditions and Handling the M240B
    • M240 Ambush (Paintings)
    • Vehicular Mounts
    • An Nasiriyah, Iraq, 2003 (Painting)
    • Anti-Aircraft Usage
    • San Carlos Water, May 21, 1982 (Painting)
  • Impact: Surviving Changing Times
    • A Viable Concept? [Page 69]
    • The LMG Debate
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index

I really appreciated the structure that Chris McNab utilized, starting with the development of the FN MAG and the following discussion on its development and operational use for the last 60 years. I found the sections on the Swedish variants quite interesting. Sweden was one of the first to license the FN MAG and produced it under the Carl Gustav brand as the Ksp 58 (Kulsputa). Since Sweden was not on the NATO standard 7.62-51, their machine gun was re-barreled to their 6.5-x55 Mauser caliber. Sweden eventually adopted the Ksp 58 to the 7.62-51 NATO round with three of the Ksp 58B being placed into the famed ‘S-Tank’, the Stridsvagn 103. The current model, the Ksp 58D was introduced in 2005.

Chris McNab provides a very readable text that is well supplemented with photographs and illustrations from Johnny Shumate and Alan Gilliland. I was able to read the book easily over two evenings. If you own one the previous releases in the Weapon series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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