FN EVOLYS: Technical review of new FN Herstal ultralight 5.56/7.62mm caliber machine gun


Technical review of the new FN EVOLYS Ultralight machine gun by Army Recognition editorial team. The Belgium-based company FN Herstal, a global leader in the design, development and manufacturing of firearms, unveils its new FN EVOLYS ultralight machine gun chambered either in 5.56x45mm or 7.62x51mmNATO caliber. In the next few days, the Army Recognition editorial team will be the very first European media to have the opportunity of performing firing tests with this new machine gun on FN Herstal’s facilities.
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The FN EVOLYS is a new generation of ultralight machine guns featuring new technical innovations and technologies.  (Picture source FN Herstal)


For many decades, FN Herstal has created small caliber firearms and associated ammunition using state-of-the-art technologies and bringing innovative features. The FN MAG and FN MINIMI machine guns, as well as the FN FAL and FN SCAR-L & SCAR-H family of rifles are just a few examples. The company enjoys worldwide notoriety and is unanimously recognized as an international leader in the design, development, and manufacturing of machine guns. The FN EVOLYS ultralight machine gun is definitely a revolutionary weapon.

With its new FN EVOLYS, FN Herstal launches a new concept of ultralight machine gun that combines the firing capabilities of a belt-fed machine gun with ergonomics and balance similar to an assault rifle. This machine gun features an incredibly innovative and open architecture together with unique characteristics. The FN EVOLYS is not an evolution of the FN MINIMI but a real new weapon that meets the current needs of military forces and the evolution of combat operations. Unlike the FN MINIMI or the FN MAG, this new weapon is not designed to be mounted on a tripod or integrated into a weapon station. Only specially dedicated support for vehicles is foreseen.

FN Herstal has already finalized the full design of the FN EVOLYS and the pre-series of the weapon has undergone functional and firing tests. According to FN Herstal, the weapon will enter full production during the year 2022 and will be presented physically as a world première during the DSEI defense exhibition that will take place in London, the United Kingdom, from the 14thto the 17th of September 2021.

The FN EVOLYS is not a converted FN SCAR assault rifle but uses the proven technology of a gas-operated, open bolt, short-stroke piston weapon. The new machine gun can be handled like an assault rifle. The compact and ultralight weapon has a length of approximately 850 mm in 5.56mm caliber and 925mmin 7.62mm caliber (retracted buttstock), compared to a standard assault rifle which has a length from 756mm to 990 mm.


FN EVOLYS Technical review of new FN Herstal ultralight 5.56 7.62mm caliber machine gun 925 002


The FN EVOLYS is fitted with an ambidextrous fire selector that has a semi-auto position to engage point targets like with a rifle, while the full-auto position allows suppressive fire like with a machine gun. The FN EVOLYS ultralight machine gun has a rate of fire of approximately 750 rounds per minute. The new FN machine gun has an effective firing range of 800 m in 5.56mm caliber and 1,000 m in a 7.62mm configuration.

The FN EVOLYS is fitted with a buttstock adjustable in length and height, similar to the FN SCAR assault rifle’s one. The buttstock is fully independent of the weapon system. In the future, additional types of buttstocks could be introduced to meet customer requirements.

As mentioned earlier, one of the main advantages of the new FN EVOLYS machine gun is its very lightweight: with its 5.5 kg for the 5.56mm caliber version or 6.2 kg for the 7.62mm caliber version, the Belgian company FN Herstal has successfully designed one of the lightest machine guns ever in the world. To reach this weight, the engineers of FN Herstal have used the latest generation of materials and technologies combined with FN Herstal’s long standing expertise and innovative spirit, ensuring that the reduction of weight does not compromise the vital factors of reliability, user safety, and long life of parts. Its reduced weight and excellent balance also mean that the weapon can be fired from any position. Transitioning from one firing position to another is made easy by the design of the sling attachment interface.


FN EVOLYS Technical review of new FN Herstal ultralight 5.56 7.62mm caliber machine gun 925 003


In terms of design, the FN EVOLYS originally integrates a long one-piece Picatinny top rail . A distinctive advantage presented by this unique long rail is that it enables the weapon to be fitted with a combination of various in-line optical sights such as day and night sights altogether (not alternatively), or magnifiers for instance, without removing the basic iron sights. The front part of the handguard is designed to cool down the barrel by air flow.

The FN EVOLYS also features an M-LOCK receiver and a lower Picatinny rail. The weapon can be fitted with a bipod to increase comfort and stability when firing. The barrel of the FN EVOLYS has a length of 355mm (14") in 5.56mm caliber or 406mm (16") in 7.62mm caliber. The machine gun can accept a standard foregrip like an assault rifle and an FN SmartCore shot counter that provides precise information about the firearm. The FN SmartCore is the firearm’s life memory as it acts as an electronic logbook of the maintenance history of the firearm and other user-defined information. This includes the number of shots (blank, live and dry firing being discriminated), its base location, whom it is issued to, and its operational condition. The FN SmartCore plays a major role in managing a small arms fleet in a smart and digital way.


FN EVOLYS Technical review of new FN Herstal ultralight 5.56 7.62mm caliber machine gun 925 004

Another important innovation in the FN EVOLYS is its patented lateral feeding mechanism that offers the possibility of loading the weapon with a single hand to engage the belt.


In terms of use, the FN EVOLYS has been designed to offer instinctive and fast access to all controls by left- or right-handed users for improved handling in the field. The weapon is fed by a free belt or an FN MINIMI ammunition pouch (100 or 200 rounds for the 5.56mm caliber, or 50 rounds for the 7.62mm version). Unlike the FN MINIMI, the new weapon cannot accept standard assault rifle magazines.

Another important innovation in the FN EVOLYS is its patented lateral feeding mechanism that offers the possibility of loading the weapon with a single hand to engage the belt. The cartridges are automatically repositioned when the feed cover is closed if the belt is not correctly placed on the feed tray. This avoids a failure in feeding the first round, which is a great assurance for the user. The last link is automatically ejected, clearing the way for a faster and more reliable reload.

The FN EVOLYS was designed from the start to fire intensively with a sound suppressor and therefore shows no reduction in performance when fitted with a suppressor, no excessive fouling, and no debris projected towards the user, even for left-handers.


FN EVOLYS Technical review of new FN Herstal ultralight 5.56 7.62mm caliber machine gun 925 005


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