In the 1952, the Ordnance Board arranged trials for a General-Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) for the British Army. Among the weapons submitted was the Birmingham Small Arms-designed X16, which was derived from the BREN gun. It was re-chambered for 7.62mm NATO and had a belt-feed system rather than a magazine feed. It was a very neat and efficient conversion that worked well.
The feed shaft was rotated by the piston, which connected to the feed pawl. The feed pawl pulled the belt through the weapon. As the gas piston went forward, the feed pawl sprung over the belt and gripped the next round to be fed up. The belt stop was mounted on the top cover.
During the trials it performed excellently and was seriously considered for adoption. It lost out to the Belgian FN MAG, which was reportedly a better weapon, although it has been argued that the MAG won on political grounds.Back to homepage