I had the privilege of doing some filming and shooting with the Israeli Weapon Industries (IWI) Negev NG5 and NG7 belt fed machine guns. As one might expect, the NG5 is in 5.56mm and the NG7 is in 7.62mm. I also had my own Israeli Military Industries (IMI) Negev 5.56mm LMG on hand for a compare and contrast. My example is a much earlier version, and the newer guns have several significant upgrades.
Collapsing stocks (with the characteristic Israeli styling which is typical these days on their polymer furniture) are present on both the IWI NG5 and NG7. The stock on the NG5 also folds to the side, whereas the NG7 stock does not. The buffer mechanism of the NG7 (which is housed in the stock) precludes the use of a folding stock. This is in contrast to the FN Minimi/M249 inspired buttstock of the earlier IMI Negev.
The newer Negev variants include Picatinny rails in different locations – with the most critical rail section behind the feed tray for optic attachment. The shortened feed tray is a plus, as it allows loading and unloading of the weapon without having to lift your top rail mounted optic. This setup is due to the fact that the Negev series uses the belt feed mechanism pioneered by the Czechs instead of the mechanism designed by the Germans (and which was incorporated into the MG42). Both designs are perfectly functional; however, the Czech design allows for weapon manipulation around the optic as compared to the German design which includes the optic.
The Negev features safe-semi-auto selector positions, and I am a huge fan of this approach. Not only is semi-auto great for precision shots, but it is also a godsend when zeroing the weapon. In my opinion, all select-fire weapons should have a semi-auto option.
The Israelis incorporated a gas regulator with both normal and adverse settings on the NG5 and NG7, as well as a setting on the NG5 which slows the cyclic rate to enhance functional reliability when using M16-configuration magazines (the NG7 does not have a magazine feed option).
I enjoyed my time with the Negev belt-fed weapons, and we got some great footage for the Vickers Tactical YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe if you haven't already done so, and watch for the Negevs to hit the channel soon!