Last year FN revealed their latest machine gun, the Evolys. This year greedy gun writers like me got to harass and molest one on the floor of SHOT Show 2022. Now I used to be a machine gunner in the Marine Corps, and my prom date was always the M240B. The M240B is arguably one of the greatest medium machine guns of all time, but it’s a heavy beast, weighing nearly 30 pounds. The Evolys promises medium machine gun firepower with a light machine gun weight.
The bare gun weighs a little over 13 pounds. That’s less than half the weight of an M240. You look at the gun, and it seems like it should be heavier.
I grabbed the little beast and shouldered it with ease. At first, I assumed it was the 5.56 variant, but lo and behold, it was the 7.62 medium variant. It felt like handling a SAW, not an M240. FN didn’t just trim some weight off a machine gun but completely revamped the medium machine gun design to better modernize the weapon.
Into the Evolys
First, the Evolys has a monolithic upper. FN rejected the tradition of opening the top of a gun to load. Instead, a side gate swings open, and gunners load their belt. The feed paws offer positive retention, and once the belts are in place, they’re not going to awkwardly fall off before you can get the gate closed.
Further, a monolith upper makes it much easier to use accessories like optics on the machine gun and helps to avoid issues. (I might have once burned the lenses of a thermal optic during an M240 reload, but that’s neither here nor there.)
A weird feature FN chose to include is a semi-auto option. A flick of the switch allows you to move between full auto and semi-auto for precise fires.
The stock goes full rifle, and they’ve been seen with the ole Ugg boat SCAR stock as well as M4 style designs. The stock can fold and collapse on demand. The Evolys has an M-LOK handguard for accessories and, of course, a folding bipod for sustained support.
The gun’s barrel can’t be hot-swapped. That could be a big issue as sustained fires require multiple barrels to keep a gun from killing itself. However, apparently, the Evolys has such a strong and durable barrel that it doesn’t need to be changed. If this is true, that’s a game-changer.
The gun comes in both 7.62 NATO and 6.5 Creedmoor. Caliber conversion can be done at the armorers level and is really nothing more than a barrel change. This opens up the potential for more modern rounds and conversions down the road.
It has a rate of fire of 750 rounds per minute, but is still plenty easy to control.
When it comes to a combat environment where vehicles rule, the weight of your gun isn’t an issue. Mounting an M240 on the humvee doesn’t require a whole ton of effort. So, the real winner for the Evolys will be foot patrols.
Carrying an M240 that weighs nearly 30 pounds takes a lot out of you and requires a higher degree of conditioning. It’s also slower to implement, hard to use indoors, and impossible to handle effectively without something to rest the bipod on.
The Evolys would allow troops to have a lighter, easier-to-wield gun. You can go farther and longer with less stress on the body. Plus, if the gun is lighter, the gunner can carry more ammo. Even a couple of hundred rounds extra can make a big difference. In a quick firefight or ambush, the gunner will likely be able to fire short bursts from the standing or kneeling positions with little difficulty. Additionally, gunners will be better able to maneuver on the enemy and set up for a sustained firing position.
Where it fits
With the Marine Corps ditching their belt feds, the Evolys might play a critical role. Since the barrels can’t be swapped, it might not be the best option for emplaced, sustained fire roles.
However, for foot patrols, the Evolys would shine for machine gunners. It offers the range, power, and penetration of the M240 without the weight hindrance. It fits between the SAW and M240 and provides a patrol-ready option for forces in the field. Machine gunners could tote this on foot patrols but employ M240s on vehicle posts, in the defense, and for sustained fire missions.
The Evolys would be extremely beneficial in urban environments. The lighter, shorter design could be well suited for fighting house to house or even establishing mini patrol bases. Another place it’d shine is with raid teams. As someone who carried an M240 on a helicopter and an AAV, I will tell you now it’s not pleasant or easy.
It’s not quite a medium machine gun; so maybe we can call it the shmedium machine gun?