There’s been some excitement lately surrounding the new IWI Negev NG7 7.62x51mm Light Machine Gun so we decided to do a overview of that system and really describe it for everyone out there. The system really isn’t anything new but it does have some unique qualities that make it stand out from other designs. I think the 2 most unique features are the semi-automatic fire mode and the folding stock. When I look at the NG7 it reminds me of some kind of bastard child of an M60E4 or Mk 43 crossed with an FN Minimi. Whatever the inspirations were, I’m sure the Israeli soldiers are happy to have the extra home-grown firepower in light of ongoing tensions in their region.
To delve into the history of the Negev NG7, we don’t have to go back far. All Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI) did was take their 5.56mm Negev and beef it up to 7.62mm just like the FN Mk 46 and Mk 48 machine guns in the US. The original Negev entered development in 1985, and was finalized by 1990. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) adopted it into service in 1997. The Negev 5.56mm was capable of being magazine or belt fed, much like the M249, except the magazines are inserted from the bottom like an M16. Many of the features in the new NG7 were present in the Negev such as the assault handle, bipod, folding stock, quick-change barrel, and semi-automatic mode of fire.
The original intent of the 5.56mm Negev design was to increase soldier mobility with a weapon lighter than the FN Mag-58. It is not clear to me why Israel decided not to just go with the already available FN Minimi, which the Negev design appears to have borrowed from heavily. My educated guess is that Israel would favor having their own production so that in war their foreign arms supply cannot be blocked and so that they can participate in arms trades for revenue, which they need being such a small nation. In usage, teams would be employed with the 5.56mm Negev and they were backed by the 7.62mm FN Mag for support.
In case you were wondering about the name like I was, it doesn’t really mean or reference anything cool. Negev is just the southern desert portion of Israel. If I have the translation correct the word Negev translates as dry. The naming of the Negev NG7 means Negev Next Generation, 7.62mm.
The Negev NG7 is similar to the original Negev, and feature differences are minor. Gone is the ability to feed from magazines. Sights are now upgraded with tritium inserts for night shooting. An optional 3-rail fore-end is available, as well as the detachable 45° assault handle. The rear stock has been modernized with a rubber traction pad to help absorb recoil, and also includes an adjustable cheek-riser in addition to storage for batteries. Speaking of recoil, the promotional videos of the NG7 are often spouting ‘No Recoil !!!’ which is nonsense if you watch the video. The operating group moves directly rearward in line with the barrel and stock, just like in an M16, so muzzle climb and recoil shouldn’t be too severe, but it is certainly still there. One drawback to the in-line design is that getting a good sight picture with iron sights becomes more difficult, however in modern times where we rely heavily on optics that issue is slightly mitigated.
The inner workings of the NG7 are similar to other designs for light machine guns. The bolt is carried by the operating rod like what is seen in the M240, SCAR, and AK-47 series. It most closely resembles the AK-47’s operating group in having the bolt rotate on a lug and cam well. The bolt features 4 large lugs to lock into the barrel. The weapon operates using a striker instead of a hammer for firing when the bolt is forward and locked like many other open-bolt machine guns. I’d venture to guess that the semi-automatic mode is accomplished using a bolt catch like in the M16/M4. One characteristic that stand’s out to me is that the special forces version of the NG7 is about 36″ overall and 28″ folded making for a very compact 7.62mm platform. By comparison, the M4 is 29.75″ when collapsed. Full specifications are shown below:
In conclusion I think it makes sense for Israel to develop their own weapons despite fine alternatives being available. Israel knows its business when it comes to fighting, especially in urban operations. They have a long history of building weapons geared to that end from the UZI to the Tavor, so it makes perfect sense that their indigenous machine guns would also be compact and usable in urban environments just the same. I feel the NG7 will bridge a gap in their arsenal, and will help support their economy in foreign exports. I expect that the Israelis will continue their development, and their reliance on foreign weapons will continue to decrease. I’ll end this post here, with a few of the promotional video’s that have been spreading around. %EMBED4% %EMBED5%
Bravo One, Out.