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 resin aftermarket company from Russia, which has taken the 1/35 scale weapon market by surprise. All of Live Resin products are designed in 3D software and printed on high resolution 3D printers, with the actual resin products offering unprecedented level of details in 1/35 scale. After their first US Army M249 set (LRE-35013) which featured short barrel and collapsible M4-like stock, Live Resin released the version with long barrel, plastic stock and picatinny rail handguard (LRE-35085), and the same version but with plastic handguard is available as well (LRE-35086). This review covers US Army M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) with long barrel, plastic stock and picatinny rail (LRE-35085) set.
The US Army M249 weapon set is packed in a zip lock bag, secured within standard Live Resin firm cardboard backing. The CAD boxart 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, LRE-35008 and LRE-35028), 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 in total. The grey resin looks really good and, other than some tiny flash residues, there are no defects in the cast; even the tiniest and most delicate parts are rendered perfectly.
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 with a plastic stock based upon the shape of the M240, dual gas port settings reduced to only one, a handguard 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, and picatinny rails for the feed tray cover and forearm. All these M249 improvements are clearly visible and really 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.
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 raises 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 represented really well, but the addition of a small piece of ammo belt going from the ammo box to the weapon itself 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 bipod which are again very delicate, so I would suggest taking your time when cleaning the parts.
As with all Live Resin weapon sets, the level of details on these M249s is absolutely amazing: digitally sculpted and developed using high-resolution 3D printing technology, these weapons are definitely a work of art. One thing to note though; the M249s in this set are depicted in their basic configuration and should be upgraded with various accessories available separately from Live Resin… addition of different magnifying scopes, forward grips and laser designators will make these weapons come to life.
This kit features M249 SAW with long barrel, plastic stock and picatinny rail system. It also includes ammo feed pieces, carrying handle and bipod... all together 24 resin parts for building three M249 SAWs. The resin cast is perfect and the level of details is absolutely remarkable for 1/35 scale weapon set. 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.