IWI Negev: IDF’s Light Machine Gun

IDF infantry soldier firing from IWI Negev light machine gun
IDF soldier firing from the IWI Negev light machine gun (Photo: Flickr)

The IWI Negev was designed as a light machine gun in the late 1980s. It was produced by developed by the Israeli firearm manufacturer, Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) (formerly Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI). The design was meant to be reliable, especially in adverse conditions. In 1997, it was officially adopted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

The Israel Defence Force (IDF) adopted a heavy-barreled version of their standard Galil rifle as their squad automatic weapon and used it for several years, but in the late 1980s decided that a more purpose-built light machine gun would be preferable. One drawback of the heavy Galil was its fixed barrel, which made overheating, particularly in the Middle Eastern climate, an ever-present problem.

Design

The IMI Negev is a conventional enough weapon, using gas to drive a bolt carrier which contains a cam-operated rotating bolt. The bolt locks into a barrel extension, to which a quick-change barrel is attached by interrupted lugs. Thus, as soon as the barrel begins to overheat it can be rapidly changed for a fresh one, and the hot barrel allowed to cool. It also fires from an open bolt; the bolt is kept back by the trigger mechanism when the trigger is released so that air can flow through the barrel and into the interior of the receiver and thus assist in cooling between bursts of fire.

Soldier standing with IWI Negev light machine gun
Soldier brandishing IWI Negev light machine gun (Photo: Flickr)

The feed system can deal with belts, Galil rifle magazines, M16 rifle magazines by means of a simple adapter, and even some form of drum feed. No adjustments have to be made when changing from one system to another, and there are safeguards to ensure that in the heat of battle, nobody tries to load from two sorts of feed at once.

Rate of fire

The gas regulator has three positions; in normal conditions position one gives a rate of fire of 650-800 rounds per minute; position two gives a rate of 800-950 rounds per minute, or, in dusty or dirty conditions, can be used to give more power to overcome fouling. The third position shuts off the gas to the gas system in order to permit grenades to be launched from the muzzle.

Different usage

The Negev can be used as a light machine gun or it can be fitted with a shorter (330 mm) barrel to act as an assault machine gun or rifle. The gun can be easily and quickly stripped into six sub-assemblies, including the bipod. All parts, including the quick-change barrels, are fully interchangeable, and the receiver is prepared for sight mounts to accept any kind of optical or electro-optical sight.

The weapon found its purpose in many Israeli units including the Special Operations Forces like Sayeret Matkal. In 2012, IWI introduced the Negev NG-7 7.62×51mm NATO general-purpose machine gun and is used by the Israel Defense Forces (mainly in the infantry, combat engineer and special forces units). The NG stands for Next Generation.

Variants

  • Negev – The IWI Negev light machine gun is chambered in 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge. It has a barrel length of 460 mm (18.11 inch) and two operation modes; semi-automatic for accurate and fast controlled fire, and fully automatic for maximum firepower.
  • Negev SF – The IWI Negev SF is a compact variant of the Negev. It uses a shorter barrel and is primarily fitted with a side grip (NEGEV Assault Grip). It has a barrel length of 330 mm (12.99 inches).
  • Negev NG-5 – A Newer Version Of The Negev 5.56, Barrel Sizes And Features Are The Same.
  • Negev SF NG-5 – A Newer Version Of The Negev SF 5.56, Barrel Sizes And Features Are The Same.
  • Negev NG-7 – The IWI Negev NG-7 general-purpose machine gun is chambered for the 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge. It has a barrel length of 508 mm (20 inches) and two operation modes; semi-automatic for accurate and fast controlled fire, and fully automatic for maximum firepower. It is fed by a 100- or 125-round assault drum magazine containing disintegrating M13 NATO standard ammunition belts or NATO standard ammunition belts and has two gas regulator settings as the possibility for box magazine feeding was omitted. The IWI eLog weapon-embedded sensor module was added to collect and store data on the actual use of the weapons for more efficient maintenance management and servicing by armorers.
  • Negev NG-7 SF – The IWI Negev NG-7 is a compact variant of the Negev NG-7. It uses a shorter barrel and is primarily fitted with a side grip (Negev Assault Grip). It has a barrel length of 420 mm (16.5 inches).

Technical specifications of Negev Light machine gun

Manufacturer:Ta’as Israel Industries, Ramat Hasharon, Israel
Type:Gas-operated, selective fire
Caliber:5.56 mm
Barrel:18.1 in (460 mm)
Weight:15.9 lbs (7.2 kg) empty
Magazine capacity:30-round magazine or belt
Cyclic rate of fire:650-950 rounds per minute

 

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