On The Range With The FN EVOLYS

I recently had the opportunity to fire the FN EVOLYS. As the name implies, it is truly the next evolution in FN’s long history of producing belt-fed machine guns.

What makes it stand out more than anything else is their patented lateral feed system which allows one-handed loading. You no longer have to open a top-mounted freed tray cover. The feed tray and cover both open to the side and you mount the belt to the feed tray. It’s not like a Fidlock buckle where it leaps into place but it’s pretty close. Just a bit of firm pressure on the belted rounds and they click into place in the feed pawls. It really works and I found it amazing. However, the weapon can only be configured for left-hand feed.

This also allows for a continuous top rail. No more concerns over where to mount optics and other enablers due to joints in the feed tray cover and no issues over return to zero when the feed tray cover is opened and closed.

While the design has been under development for many years as a follow-on to the MINIMI machine gun but the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle solicitation gave it a jump start.

While the standard versions are available in NATO-standard 5.56mm and 7.62mm, I fired an example chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor which was developed specifically to fulfill a USSOCOM requirement for a new Lightweight Machine Gun. You may recall that not long after SOCOM adopted 6.5 CM, FN introduced a 6.5 CM variant of the Mk48 Mod 2 which has long been a workhorse within SOF.

As you can see, even though the EVOLYS wasn’t equipped with a suppressor it wasn’t gassy to fire. The barrel is not swappable during sustained fire, but it can be reconfigured within about three minutes to swap calibers.

The EVOLYS is also lighter than its predecessors. The 5.56mm version is 5.5 kg with the 7.62mm variant at 6.2 kg compared to a 7.5 kg M249 and 10.1 kg M240L. Some of this savings is due to the monocoque construction of EVOLYS.

The EVOLYS not only offers ambidextrous controls but also semi and full auto fire. Clearing is easier than with the FN MAG as the last link is automatically ejected at the end of firing so no need to clear the feedtray. Additionally, FN says that there is an anti-runaway gun feature but we didn’t encounter the issue, so I didn’t experience it.

It was a joy to shoot. It was very easy to adapt to the new loading procedure and I actually took longer to accept that there were ambi controls I could use.

Although it is lighter weight than the M240, recoil is a bit better. However, I couldn’t accurately describe the difference as I was firing a 6.5 CM gun rather than 7.62mm. Across the board, the 6.5 CM rounds presents more of a push than the more boisterous recoil impulse of 7.62.

While EVOLYS may be Herstal’s latest design, the company will continue to support their other weapons like the FN MAG and MINIMI mad their US variants the M240 and M249 which will still be available for both new and existing customers. Half of the machine guns in the world were built by FN and it looks like they plan on keeping it that way.


Eric Graves


3 Responses to “On The Range With The FN EVOLYS”

  1. Alpha2 says:

    Perks of the job. You get to have all the fun, SSD!

  2. Vet says:

    So the real question is – how is the Evolvsys compare with the SIG M250?

  3. Jack Griffin says:

    Every time I see that solid top rail… such a huge upgrade. Selector switch, too. Looks like they went hard in the lab on this one. Exciting stuff.

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