For nearly 60 years, the General Purpose Machine Gun has been the go-to weapon of choice for the British military and it is still in service today.
The General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) was brought in after World War Two to replace Vickers Heavy Machine Gun and Bren Light Machine Gun.
It is currently being used by over 80 different countries worldwide, making it one of the most popular machine guns in the world.
Loved for its accuracy and reliability on the battlefield, the GPMG is used by all three British armed services, in the air, on land and at sea.
Why Is The GPMG So Popular?
Due to its simple design – being belt-fed, gas-operated gun, its durability can withstand the most extreme conditions – proven, during operations in the desert, to arctic warfare.
The GPMG is most commonly used mounted on vehicles, helicopters, boats and fixed locations, such as sentry positions. Having the GPMG fixed gives it much more accuracy.
Usual comes with two quick-change spare barrels, for when the first becomes too hot.
During lengthy battles, GPMG barrels have been known to get so hot, that they melt.
When it is mounted, it then becomes a two-person job, one to fire the gun and make the adjustments, the other person to load the ammunition belts and change barrels.
What Calibre Is The General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG)?
The machine gun fires the standard 7.62x51mm NATO round – capable of penetrating through soft-skin vehicles (non-armoured cars) and even brick walls.
Names For The GPMG
The original manufacturers name for the GPMG is Fabrique Nationale MAG or FN MAG (Mitrailleuse d’Appui General) – meaning ‘general support machine gun’.
Known as the L7A2 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) to the British Armed Forces, aka ‘The General’ and the ‘Gimpy or Jimpy’.
Who Made The GPMG?
It was designed and built in Belgium in the early 1950s under the direction of Ernest Vervier.
The weapon was heavily influenced by the German World War 2 MG42.
The first GPMG off the production line was in 1958 and they are still making them today.
It is thought to be one of the most versatile machine guns ever designed and built.
What Uses Are There For The GPMG?
In the Sustained Fire (SF) Role the GPMG requires a two-person team to operate the gun correctly.
When the gun is mounted, the stock is removed and a C2 optical sight is added.
In the SF role, the GPMG is used as a fire support weapon. Providing over-head fire, or flanking fire, in support of advancing troops during offensive operations against the enemy.
It can also be carried in the light support role, with the user wearing a carrying shoulder strap.
It has been known for exceptionally strong individuals to be able fire the GPMG from the shoulder in the standing position. Although the accuracy can be severely reduced … however, it can sometimes be a necessity when laying down suppressive fire, when operating in the jungle or tall grass and visibility is impaired.
The gun can also be used provide a form of air defence, against low-flying attacking aircraft.
Who Uses The GMPG?
The current model used by the British military is the L7A2. However, there are many other variants of it, including vehicle mounted and the remote-fire.
All three services of the British Armed Forces use it in varying roles which suit their needs.
The UK managed to obtain license to produce the GPMG, initially by Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock and now currently by FN Herstal UK (formerly Manroy Engineering).
Argentina also locally produces the weapon under license, called the Ametralladora Tipo 60-20 MAG – which was used against the British Army in 1982 during the Falklands War.
What Is TheEffective Range Of The General Purpose Machine Gun?
Light Role (Carried by dismounted soldier) – 800 metres.
Mounted (Vehicle, Boat, Sangar etc) – 1,800 metres.
Map predicted/harassing fire – tripod mounted + C2 optical sight - 2,700 metres.
Tracer rounds burnout - 1,100 metres.
Weight Of The GPMG
13.85KG (Including 50 round belt of 7.62mm rounds).
GPMG Rate Of Fire
750 rounds per minute.
GPMG Muzzle Velocity
838 meters a second.