Fabrique Nationale-if they make it, it will sell.

The ultimate indicator of the commercial viability-and generally, battlefield success-of a military small arm, assault rifle, machine gun or sidearm, is distribution.

If that postulate is indeed true, the Belgian FN MAG Machine Gun is certainly one of this century's most successful military small arms. The bottom line says it all.

Dozens of countries use the FN MAG in their inventory, many as standard issue.

In the early 1950s, Belgian arms designer Ernest Vervier and Fabrique Nationale (FN) came up with this general purpose machine gun. The FN MAG is chambered in 7.62mm. It is an air-cooled, gas-operated weapon that weighs about 24 pounds.

Well, not exactly. With the butt and bipod, it weighs that.

Sans the butt and bipod, the MAG tips the scales at 22 pounds.

MAG is the French abbreviation for Mitrailleuse d' Appui General-general purpose machine gun. This little baby comes in three configurations: Model 60-20, standard infantry; Model 60-40, armored fighting vehicle; and Model 60-30, aircraft.

The FN MAG is your basic Browning automatic rifle (BAR) with a few modifications and a belt feed, not a box magazine like the ever popular American BAR.

It has seen service in a half dozen wars-to include the Falklands, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan-and it shows every indication of being around for some time.

The FN MAG is an example of first-class engineering. It has a quick change barrel feature and was designed (like the M60) to be used on a bipod (light machine gun) or on a tripod (heavy machine gun), and it boasts an impressive variable rate of fire.

Adjust the gas system from low (700 rpm) to high, and you're cooking 1000 rounds per. Wow! This weapon has one 'speed'-full auto and fires from an open bolt.

Muzzle velocity is 2,800-fps, and range is good to 1500 meters, about a mile.

Dropping a thousand rounds on an Afghan hillside 1500 meters away is sweet.

If you're not active military and haven't already been issued one, it's not likely you'll add a MAG to your collection, 'less you have deep pockets and a federal license.

But it's always fun to dream.