The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) is an individually portable, gas operated, magazine or disintegrating metallic link-belt fed, light machine gun. The SAW was based on the Belgian FN Minimi and developed through an initially Army-led research and development effort and eventually a Joint NDO program in the late 1970s/early 1980s. The weapon was introduced in 1984 after being judged the most effective of a number of candidate weapons to address the lack of automatic firepower in small units. The gun provides infantry squads with the heavy volume of fire of a machine gun combined with accuracy and portability approaching that of a rifle. The M249 engages point targets out to 800 meters, firing the improved NATO standard 5.56mm cartridge.
Live Resin is a new resin company from Russia, specialized in producing high quality weapon and accessory sets. The company has recently taken the 1/35 scale weapon market by storm... their CAD drawings were fantastic, but with the help of 3D printing, the actual resin products are even more impressive. This review covers their US Army M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (LRE-35013) set.
The US Army M249 weapon set comes tightly packed in a zip-lock bag secured between a firm cardboard (9X10cm). The box art on the front shows all the kit parts, while the one on the back lists Live Resin offerings which could be combined with the basic M249 kit: US Army scope sets (LRE-35007 and LRE-35008), Insight's Technology AN/PEQ-2, AN/PEQ-15 (LRE-35010), Forward grip set (LRE-35011) and Harris bipod set/Surefire tactical Weapon Lights set (LRE-35012).
The kit consists of 3 resin casting blocks with M249 SAWs and 3 resin blocks of accessories: 24 parts altogether. The grey resin looks really good and I found no imperfections in the cast; even the tiniest and most delicate parts are immaculately rendered.
The M249 SAW depicted in this kit is equipped with number of Product Improvement Program (PIP) and additional Soldier Enhancement Program and Rapid Fielding Initiative modifications. These upgrade programs introduced number of changes to the standard M249: replacement of original steel tubular stock, dual gas port settings reduced to only one, a hand guard above the barrel to prevent burns and replacement of the fixed carrying handle with a folding unit. Other changes involve improving the bipod, adding pistol grip, flash suppressor and sights, adding 100 and 200-round fabric soft pack magazines, picatinny rails for the feed tray cover and forearm, and optional short barrel for close-quarters operations. All these M249 improvements are clearly visible and well depicted in this kit. The rail system provides an attachment point for the accessories... optical scopes, forward grips, AN/PEQs, etc. These are all available separately from Live Resin and can be used to "pimp up" M249 SAWs. One more thing to note is a hydraulic five-position collapsible butt stock, which was introduced in 2010, and is similar to what is used on the M4 assault rifle. The addition of a hydraulic buffer system allowed reducing recoil of the weapon. Two M249 in this kit are depicted with extended stock, while the third M249 features fully retracted butt stock. I'm pretty sure Live Resin has plans for producing M249s with other butt stock options, particularly those with a plastic stock based upon the shape of M240 machine gun or sliding aluminum "Para" stock.
The accessories in this kit include ammo feed system parts, carrying handle and bipod.
The M249 uses two alternative ammo feed systems, which allow using disintegrating metallic belts as a primary feed option or M16-type box magazines as a back-up feed option. The belt is fed using the top feed unit while the magazines are inserted through the magazine port, located at the left side of the receiver and angled down. The flip-up dust cover closes the magazine port when it is not in use, serving also as a belt guide. When magazine is in place, this cover rises up and closes the belt-way to avoid dual feeds and jams. Live Resin supplied both M249 feed options with this kit: 30-round M16 magazine and a part of ammo belt fed into the weapon either from 200-round plastic or 100-round "soft pack" ammunition box. Both M249 feed options are rendered really well, but the addition of a small piece of ammo belt going from the ammo box to the weapon itself is something that I didn't expect to see... it is a great detail which was overlooked by most weapon set manufacturers up until now. This detail definitely shows how far the guys at Live Resin are ready to go in order to give modelers as realistic end product as possible.
M249 barrel is quick-detachable and has a carrying handle attached to help in the quick replacement procedure. The carrying handle is a very delicate piece in the kit, so be careful when removing it from the casting block.
The folding bipod with adjustable legs is mounted under the M249 gas chamber, and the gun has provisions for tripod or vehicle mounts. The kit is supplied with both open and closed bipods which are again very delicate, so I suggest taking your time when cleaning the parts.
After seeing this kit in person, I can definitely confirm the new technique Live Resin employs to design and produce 1/35 scale weapons sets and accessories works incredibly well. The M249 SAWs in this set are absolutely amazing with loads of very crisp and well defined details... I added a picture of a real M249 SAW to this review, just to give you an idea how close Live Resin 1/35 offering is to the real weapon. Fantastic, isn't it?
This kit features M249 SAW with short barrel, picatinny rail system and M4-like collapsible butt stock. It also includes several ammo feed pieces, carrying handle and bipod... All together 24 resin parts for building three M249 SAWs. The resin cast is perfect with absolutely no imperfections and level of details which is remarkable for weapons in 1/35 scale. With some optical sights, forward grips and AN/PEQs which are available separately from Live Resin, these M249s can be built into real masterpieces.
Thanks to Yaroslav from Live Resin for this review sample.
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