The Stoner 63, is a 5.56×45mm NATO, modular weapon system, using a variety of modular components, it can be configured as a rifle, a carbine, a top-fed light machine gun, a belt-fed squad automatic weapon, or a vehicle mounted weapon.
Initially, the Stoner prototype was chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO, however, the design team focused on the 5.56 which was gaining mainstream military approval.
This Stoner was designed by Eugene Stoner in the early 1960s. Cadillac Gage was the primary manufacturer of the Stoner 63 during its history. The Stoner 63 saw very limited combat use by United States forces during the Vietnam War including the Marine Corps and the Navy Seals.
Want to know how good it was?
Ask any of the former Seal members from the Vietnam war and mid 70’s, they can attest it was the thing to have for a four man patrol.
The Navy SEALs preferred the modified version as a LMG (Light Machine Gun), honed to deadly efficiency in the jungle environment.
This baby can sing to a 700 rpm cyclic rate. The Stoner 63A (13 lbs) weighed much less than the M60 (23lbs), which required belts of ammunition to be slung over shoulders because it did not have a magazine.
This LMG shined at fighting through ambushes or breaking contact at close range.
Here’s an excerpt from a former SEAL who had served in Vietnam:(excerpts from sofrep.com)
“On my first tour as point-man I chose to use the car-15. After a big firefight I found that I didn’t like changing magazines so I decided to go with the Stoner 63.
It was a little heavier, but with the short barrel and the 150 round left hand feed drum, it was a great weapon. With the adjustable gas port you were able to tune it to shoot 900/1000/1100 rpm. The thing with the Stoner 63 was you had to keep it clean. Shooting 1100 rpm you created a lot of carbon. The Stoner was the weapon that made a seven man squad so bad ass, it gave us the ability to take on a much bigger group. Our squad of seven had four Stoners, two M-60 machine guns, and our RTO carried a car-15 with a 203 grenade launcher. You put this all together and you are putting out over 6000 rpm. That will put the fear of God in you. The saying was “Peace Through Fire Superiority”.
Reliability was a question mark when the Stoner first made its inception. But, the SEALS have made it very reliable for their usage.
The Stoner was phased out by the 1980, the M249 SAW took its place. But this wasn’t military wide as many conventional units were still armed with the M-60 machine gun.
In this video, we’re fortunate enough to hear a Navy SEAL share his memories of the unique Stoner machine gun.
This 80’s video shared on Youtube tells us the historical role that the Stoner 63 played for the elite military unit and how adaptive it was on the battlefield.
The SEALs knew it was a bastard child that found its only home and legacy among the ‘Green Faces’ who carried it with pride against the VC’s during the Vietnam war.
Sources: Wikipedia, SofRep.com, Youtube