Introduced in 1957, the M60 machine gun and those that carried it have had a love/hate relationship with the belt-fed GPMG, which is now a classic.
Designed after borrowing a healthy dose of engineering used in the WWII-era MG42, the M60 was to be the U.S. Army’s 23-pound 7.62x51mm NATO bet to replace the 19-pound Browning M1918 BAR, the 31-pound M1919 Browning Light Machine gun, and the even larger (103-pound) M1917 watercooled Browning.
The M60 had a cyclic rate of 550 rounds per minute, similar to the M1919 it was replacing. Using disintegrating link ammunition, the typical gunner would fire six to nine round bursts with four to five seconds between bursts, which used up about 100-rounds per minute.
To keep up the rate of fire the barrel was designed to be changed out once it got too hot and a fixed head space in the gun’s chamber meant that this could be done rapidly. When firing fully cyclic, the 22-inch barrel had to be swapped out every minute.
The M60 was legendary in film and TV over the past half century. This has made it probably one of the most recognizable belt-fed machine guns in modern history.
Used by all branches of the US military, sometimes to mixed reviews, the M60 may have been phased out in favor of the FN MAG (M240) but it can never be replaced in our hearts.