The Marine Corps Wants To Buy 11,000 M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles
By MATTHEW MOSS on February 16, 2017
Last week, the U.S. Marine Corps released a Request for Information to manufacturers enquiring about their capacity to produce 11,000 more M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles. This stoked rumors that the Marine Corps is looking to replace its M4s with the M27, which were first sparked last November when 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines was equipped with the M27 instead of the M4 during pre-deployment exercises as an experiment.
The RFI for 11,000 M27s could indicate a possible push to replace the M249, which continues to be used by weapons platoons. However, I believe it is more likely that the Corps is simply looking to add more Infantry Automatic Rifles to its inventory. Currently, Marine infantry battalions typically have over 80 Infantry Automatic Rifles distributed at the fireteam level. Just 11,000 new rifles will not re-equip the riflemen of the Corps’ 32 infantry battalions, but it will enhance their firepower and perhaps pave the way for future orders.
While the Marine Corps would no doubt love to replace its current service rifle with the M27, especially with the branch’s emphasis on marksmanship, the M27 is considerably more expensive. Each M27 costs in the region of $3,000, according to a November Military.com report. While this is cheaper than the M249, it is significantly more expensive than the M4, which costs approximately $750 per carbine. The Marines’ purchase of an additional 11,000 M27s, the Corps’ largest single order for the rifles so far, will probably cost in excess of $30 million. With the Marine Corps’ annual budget a fraction of other branches, it’s understandable that it is seeking to expand its capabilities with a battle-tested weapon system, rather than attempting to fully transition to the M27.
The demand for the M27’s improved accuracy over both the M249 and the M16A4 and M4 came from hard-learned lessons in Afghanistan. The M27 has a slightly longer range than the M4, and is able to hit targets out to 600 meters, while area fire is effective out to approximately 800 meters.
In 2015, the service announced a decision to move away from the long-serving M16 to the shorter M4, favored by the Army. At the same time, the Corps moved the M249 from fireteams to weapons platoons and introduced the M27. The M27 has the advantage of having fully automatic capability, something that the M4 and M16A4s, which have a three-round burst setting, do not have.
The M27 is based on Heckler & Koch’s gas-operated, piston-driven HK416. It has a free-floating 16.5-inch barrel to improve accuracy and cooling. The M27 feeds from standard 30-round or PMAG magazines; however, high-capacity magazines are a future option for suppressive fire. The IAR is issued with a Trijicon ACOG optic and a bipod for both precise accurate fire and suppressive fire. The Corps is also experimenting with suppressors for M27 and other small arms systems. In Afghanistan, the M27’s greater range, accuracy, and rate of fire were found to enhance Marine patrols, which had previously relied on M240 medium machine guns and designated marksmen to return longer range enemy fire effectively.
Only time will tell if the Marine Corps really intends to transition the M27 from a support weapon role to an infantry rifle. In the meantime, 11,000 more M27s will greatly enhance the Marine Infantry’s firepower.
Original post taskandpurpose.com
M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle
The M27 IAR fitted with SU-258/PVQ Squad Day Optic, Harris bi-pod, fore grip and Advanced Target Pointer Illuminator Aiming Light (ATPIAL). Note: the M27 was initially issued with a Grip-pod fore grip/bipod, an arrangement that has been replaced by a separate fore grip and bipod. A Vickers Combat Applications sling is also attached to this M27. photo : US DoD – Source: americanspecialops.com
A HK416D is a modified variant of a Heckler & Koch HK416 assault rifle. It was introduced in 2010. In turn the HK416 is an improved version of the M4 carbine, that is widely used by the US military. The HK416D has been adopted by the US Marine corps as the M27 in 2011. Marines initially ordered 4 748 rifled and planned to obtain a total of 6 500 of these automatic weapons. These partially replaced the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, that was adopted back in 1985. The main goal adopting the M27 was to enhance automatic rifleman’s maneuverability, especially in urban terrain. However the M249 will remain in service with the US Marine Corps. The new weapon is distributed one per 4-men fireteam.
In terms of appearance and ergonomics the M27 is very similar to the M16A4 and M4A1 and has a familiar feel for soldiers, reducing the time needed for retraining. However the German Heckler & Koch company successfully improved this weapon and cured a lot of its problems.
An automatic Rifleman with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) lays down suppressing fire with a M27. Photo By: Cpl. Michael Lockett – Source: americanspecialops.com
The M27 is a gas-operated automatic weapon. It is chambered for a standard NATO 5.56×45 mm ammunition. It uses a patented gas piston system, derived from the Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle. This new operating system significantly reduced malfunctions and increased life of parts, comparing with the M16A4 assault rifle. The new weapon is much more reliable.
The M27 has a 419 mm (16.5 in) barrel. The barrel is cold hammer-forged and has a 20 000 round service life.
Charging handle is ambidextrous. Fire mode selector has three positions for “safe”, “semi-auto” and “full-auto”.
This assault rifle is fed from 30-round magazines. At the start of testing this automatic rifle used 100 round magazines, however these were unreliable. It is compatible with all standard NATO 5.56 mm magazines. However the M27 was criticized for its low magazine capacity, as it replaced the belt-fed 200 round suppressive fire weapon. Even though the M27 is more reliable and more accurate, it looses in terms of firepower to the M249. This magazine-fed rifle has to reload more often and is not able of sustaining fire. The gunner of the M27 is expected to carry a total of 16 to 22 magazines, depending on mission requirements. While the gunner of the M16A4 typically carries only 7 magazines.
Weapon has a telescopic buttstock, that can be extended or collapsed to suit the shooter.
The M27 has a Picatinny-type scope rail and can be used with various scopes. It comes as standard with Trijicon 3.5x magnification day sight. There is a reflex sight on top for close-quarters engagement. Also there are flip-up diopter sight and front post for emergency use. The M27 has effective range of 550 m against point targets and 800 m against area targets.
There are accessory rails on all four sides of the forearm. The M27 is compatible with most current accessories for the M16 and M4, including a 40-mm underbarrel grenade launcher. Also the M27 is often used with detachable bipod and laser pointer. Source military-today.com
M27 IAR Specifications
|weight:||7.19 lbs (empty)
9 lbs (loaded with 30-round magazine)
|length:||36.9 inches (stock extended fully)
33 inches (stock retracted)
|barrel length :||16.5 inches|
|action :||Gas-operated short-stroke piston, rotating bolt|
|rate of fire :||Sustained: 36 rpm
Cyclic: 700 to 850 rpm
|muzzle velocity :||2,550 feet per second|
|effective range :||550 meters (point target)
600 meters (area target)
|caliber :||5.56x45mm NATO|
|magazine :||30-round STANAG magazine|
Specification data americanspecialops.com