Sig Sauer announced this week that the U.S. Special Operation Command has certified and taken delivery of the company’s new MG 338 machine gun system.
Chambered in .338 Norma Magnum, the MG 338 is billed on being able to deliver effective fire at ranges out to 2,000 meters, closing the gap between 7.62 NATO weapons like the M240 and .50 cal BMG platforms such as the M2 heavy machine gun. Weighing only 20-pounds, the MG 338 uses Sig-produced ammunition as well as the company’s suppressor design to create an all-Sig product.
“The safety certification of the complete Sig Sauer MG 338 system and delivery of the system to USSOCOM is historically very significant,” said Ron Cohen, the New Hampshire-based company’s President and CEO, in a statement. “For the first time in decades, the U.S. Military certified a new machine gun, ammunition, and suppressor at the same time, bringing innovation, portability, and increased lethality to our ground forces, with all components coming from one company.”
The MG 338 uses a short-stroke gas piston system blended with what Sig describes as a “proprietary recoil mitigation system.” Using a free-floating, quick-change barrel, the svelte machine gun has ambidextrous controls, a switchable feed tray, and a charging handle that can be swapped to either side.
Should users prefer to run good old 7.62 NATO for whatever reason, the new Sig belt-fed is easily swappable to that caliber.
The gun is the answer to a 2017 solicitation by USSOCOM for 5,000 Lightweight Medium Machineguns chambered in .338NM. The 300-grain belted magnum round is touted as having a recoil similar to a 7.62mm NATO round while still being lethal out past 1,700 meters. At 1,000 meters, the round is still capable of defeating Level III body armor and penetrating soft-skinned vehicles, thus considered a bridge between the current 7.62mm offerings and .50 BMG.
The LWMMG specs in 2017 included that it should be belt-fed, use .338 NM, weigh less than 24-pounds unloaded with a 24-inch barrel and have a 500-600 round per minute rate of fire. The system, capable of using the standard mounts and M192 tripods designed for the M240 series general-purpose machine gun, would include both a suppressed and unsuppressed barrel, capable of rapid changes between the two, as well as all accessories.
The expansion into the .338NM caliber came at the same time that the country’s special operations command began a search for a convertible Advanced Sniper Rifle system adaptable to fire the 7.62mm NATO, .300NM, and .338NM cartridges. Notably, Tennessee-based Barrett last year got the nod for a version of their MRAD rifle as the new ASR, to be designated the Mk21 in U.S. military service.