Crew members can recognize and correct stoppages when they know how the weapon functions. The weapon functions automatically as long as ammunition is fed into it and the trigger is held to the rear. Each time a round is fired, the parts of the weapon function in a cycle or sequence. Many of the actions occur at the same time and are separated only for teaching purposes. The sequence of functioning is known as the "cycle of functioning."
a. The cycle starts when the first round of the belt is placed in the tray groove. Then the trigger is pulled, releasing the sear from the sear notch. When the trigger is pulled to the rear, the rear of the sear lowers and disengages from the sear notch. This allows the bolt and operating rod assembly to be driven forward by the expansion of the driving spring rod assembly. The cycle stops when the trigger is released and the sear again engages the sear notch on the bolt and operating rod assembly.
b. The details of the cycle of functioning follows:
(1) Feeding. The actuating roller moves the feed lever side to side, which in turn moves the feed pawls. The forward movement of the bolt forces the outer pawls to the right, fully feeding the round. The inner pawl rides over the round and settles behind it. The rearward movement forces the inner pawl to the right, fully feeding the round. The action of fully feeding a round pushes the link of a fired round out of the side of the gun. The last link in a belt cannot be pushed out and is cleared during the unloading.
(2) Chambering. The first round is positioned in line with the chamber and is held in position by the cartridge stop and cartridge guide pawl. On trigger squeeze, the nose of the sear is depressed thus freeing the piston rod extension. The driving spring rod assembly pushes the working parts forward. The feed horn strikes the base of the round. The bolt strips the round from the belt link. The chambering ramp angles downward and, along with the spring tension of the cartridge guide pawl, forces the round toward the chamber. The cartridge guide pawl also holds back the belt link. When the round is fully seated in the chamber, the extractor snaps over the extractor rim of the cartridge, and the ejector is depressed.
(3) Locking. During chambering, as soon as the piston begins to move, the firing pin is withdrawn into the bolt block. The breech remains locked during the primary movement. The bolt enters the barrel breech as the operating rod is driven forward by the drive spring, and as the locking lever, which the bolt is riding on, swings forward, pushing the bolt forward and locking it to the barrel breech. Although the term "locking" is used here, in the M240B, the bolt and barrel do not physically interlock. This way, the barrel can be removed when the bolt is forward.
(4) Firing. As the working parts come forward and the round is fed into the chamber, the locking lever is forced down by the locking cams. This slows down the forward movement of the bolt assembly. The piston rod extension, still moving forward, causes the locking lever link to rotate downward and back. This forces the arms down to their fullest extent in front of the locking shoulder. The extractor rises over the base of the round and the ejector is compressed. The round is now fully home with the breech locked. The final forward movement of the piston extension drives the firing pin through the bolt assembly onto the cartridge primer and fires the round. The working parts are now fully forward.
(5) Unlocking. When the round is fired, some of the gases pass through the gas plug regulator into the gas cylinder. The rapidly expanding gases enter the hollow end cap of the gas piston and force the operating assembly to the rear. This powers the last four steps in the cycle of functioning. During the primary movement of the operating rod assembly, it moves independently of the bolt for a short distance. At this point, the locking lever begins to swing toward the rear, carrying the bolt with it into its unlocked position, and clearing the barrel breech. When the bolt assembly has been jerked back, slightly enough to unlock the breech, the primary effort is extraction of the empty case.
(6) Extraction. When the breech is fully unlocked and the bolt assembly starts its rearward movement, the extractor withdraws the empty case from the chamber.
(7) Ejecting. As the cartridge case is withdrawn from the chamber, the ejector pushes from the top, and the extractor pulls from the bottom. The casing falls down from the face of the bolt as soon as it reaches the cartridge-ejection port. The empty belt links are forced out the link ejection port as the rearward movement of the bolt causes the next round to be positioned in the tray groove.
(8) Cocking. As the working parts continue toward the rear, the return spring is compressed; the trigger is kept squeezed; sufficient is gas made available by the gas-regulator adjustment, which causes the working parts to rebound off the buffer; and the action of feeding and firing continues. In releasing the trigger, the sear remains down, but the tripping lever rises. As the working parts come to the rear, the end of the piston rod extension hits the tripping lever, which, in turn, allows the sear to rise and engage the sear notch, which holds the working parts to the rear.
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