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Guns of Pop Culture: The Winter Soldier & the M249 SAW

In this edition of Guns of Pop Culture, we take a look at Bucky Barnes, a.k.a the Winter Soldier, and his M249 SAW.

Marvel movies might be action movies, but they usually aren’t considered gun movies.

That’s not to say that firearms aren’t used. Gunslingers like Black Widow and Rocket Raccoon tend to prefer the blued steel.

But one man, in particular, mixes superpowers with guns in the form of Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier. 

Bucky with M4
Bucky with his M4

In Captain America: Winter Soldier, our titular soldier wields several weapons — an M4, a Vz 61 Skorpion, and, even an Intratec derringer.

But today we’re talking about the M249 Paratrooper and the Winter Soldier’s love of the light machine gun. 

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The World of Marvel 

Bucky Barnes doesn’t use the weapon until Captain America: Civil War. Near the end of the film, he chooses the M249 SAW for the final fight. 

Bucky and Captain America face off against Iron Man in Captain America Civil War
Bucky and Captain America face off against Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War

He continues to use the M249 Paratrooper in the Avengers films Infinity War and Endgame

Light machine guns are light compared to other machine guns but aren’t light compared to other guns.

The M249 SAW Paratrooper weighs a little over 15 pounds, but super soldier Barnes carries the weapon easily enough. 

It’s an interesting choice. The M249 has a striking appearance that looks like it came out of the X-Men ‘90s cartoon — a weapon that captures your attention in a world where magic hammers and sci-fi shields rule. 

Thor with Stormbreaker and Mjolnir
Weapons like Mjolnir and Stormbreaker are hard to compete with

Why the SAW ?

The M249 SAW, a.k.a. the Squad Automatic Weapon, has been the light machine gun of choice for most of the western world. 

The FN Minimi is the original design and became known as the M249 SAW in U.S. Military service. It’s served since 1984 with military forces only now beginning to replace the weapon. 

It’s a great LMG, and your humble author handled one extensively in his time in the Marine Corps. 

Ya’ Boy with an ACOG equipped M249 Helmand Province Afg 2009
Ya’ boy with an ACOG equipped M249 Helmand Province, Afg 2009.

As far as machine guns go, it’s light, and the paratrooper models make the weapon short and sweet for urban environments and in and out of vehicles.

The weapon utilizes a belt of ammunition over a traditional magazine. It does have a magazine well that allows it to accept STANAG magazines.

But this magazine well is meant to be an emergency-only option for when the gun runs out of belt-fed ammo. It tends to work well but will chew a magazine up after long-term use. 

The weapon can be fired from the standing but works best when fired from a pair of bipods in a  supported position.

Blasting Away 

I will give the Winter Soldier credit; he does aim his gun.

In fact, he uses the cool and sadly discontinued Leupold HAMR. The HAMR is a 4X prism optic with a red dot mounted to the top for close-range shooting. 

Bucky with his M249 behind the scenes Captain America Civil War
You can get a decent look at the Leupold HAMR in this behind the scenes shot from the set of Captain America: Civil War

His Paratrooper SAW is the old style with a wire-like stock. (New models take the M4 stock route.)

The weapon uses a short 13.4-inch barrel, which makes it so much handier. 

Barnes isn’t belt-fed, though. He drops in a 100-round Surefire Casket magazine into the magwell.

This creates a truly odd-looking weapon. The Surefire mag is a massive quad-stacked magazine that looks like a wing swinging out of the SAW. 

Bucky M249 SAW magazine Infinity War
You can really see the magazine in this shot from Avengers: Infinity War

It’s absolutely ridiculous but does give it a Marvel-like feel.

How do you make a gun memorable in a world where a talking tree and raccoon exist? You make it crazy looking. 

The gun has bipods, but Bucky doesn’t need ‘em. He is a super soldier, so it’s at least believable that he can control the gun when fired from the standing. 

Bucky with his M249 in Infinity War
Bucky with his M249 in Infinity War

In fact, he’s rather effective with the weapon. He sends plenty of Thanos’s goons to the afterlife! 

Final Thoughts

Bucky Barnes and his M249 do some work in three flicks, and it’s interesting to see Bucky cling to a particular gun.

It speaks to the continuity of Marvel and how the little details are always present and represented well. 

What’s your favorite weapon of the Winter Soldier? Let us know in the comments below. For more Guns of Pop Culture, check out our look at the “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” & the Walther P38.

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