M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle

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    • #95722
      Max
      Keymaster

        I saw an article in my FB feed talking about how the USMC is about to procure the M27 for every man in the squad.

        HERE is a Wikipedia Article on the M27

        Select quotes:

        The M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) is a lightweight, magazine-fed 5.56mm, select-fire weapon based on the Heckler & Koch HK416. It is used by the United States Marine Corps and is intended to enhance an automatic rifleman’s maneuverability. The U.S. Marine Corps initially planned to purchase 6,500 M27s to replace a portion of the M249 light machine guns employed by automatic riflemen within Infantry and Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalions. Approximately 8,000–10,000 M249s will remain in service with the Marine Corps to be used at the discretion of company commanders. The United States Army does not plan to purchase the IAR.[5][6][7] In December 2017, the Marine Corps revealed a decision to equip every Marine in an infantry squad with the M27.[8]

        While the belt-fed M249 was portable and had a high volume of fire, its relatively heavy weight meant gunners could have trouble keeping up with riflemen.[9]

        An initial requirement for a magazine with a minimum capacity of 100 rounds was dropped in favor of the 30-round STANAG magazine because, at the start of testing, available 100-round magazines were unreliable. Caliber was specified as 5.56×45mm with non-linked ammunition, so as to achieve commonality with existing service rifles.

        He felt that, while more accurate, it was unlikely that the M27 could provide fire-superiority over the M249, a belt-fed LMG. A magazine-fed rifle, requiring frequent reloading, would not be able to sustain the same rate of fire. In a firefight, squad members carrying extra magazines for the M27 might not always be in position to supply them to the gunner. Further, the SAW was already a battle-proven weapon. It was also significant that the Army had chosen not to pursue the IAR concept.

        Each M27 gunner was to be equipped with around twenty-two 30-round magazines of the type currently in use with the M16 and M4 carbine approximating the combat load of an M249 SAW gunner; although the M27 gunner would not be expected to carry all 22 magazines. The individual combat load would be determined at the unit level and was expected to vary by unit, based on results of evaluations conducted by the four infantry battalions and one light armored reconnaissance battalion that participated in the Limited User Evaluation. Though program officials were aware that switching from the belt-fed M249 would result in a loss of suppressive fire capability, Charles Clark III, of the Marine Corps’ Combat Development and Integration Office, cited the substantially increased accuracy of the M27 as a significant factor in the decision to replace the M249.

        The notion that the M27 represents a reduction in suppressive fire has spawned considerable debate between proponents of the M249 SAW within the infantry and those who advocate that a lighter, more maneuverable, and accurate weapon is sufficient to support offensive operations at the squad level. It is debatable, in fact, that program officials actually concede a loss of suppressive fire capabilities, as the only statements of concern over this concept were made by General Conway.

        With a SAW, the doctrine of fire suppression is the sound of continuous fire with rounds landing close to the enemy. While the M249’s volume of fire may be greater, it is less accurate. Experienced troops who have dealt with incoming fire are less likely to take cover from incoming rounds if they are not close enough. With an IAR, the doctrine is that lower volume of fire is needed with better accuracy. Fewer rounds need to be used and automatic riflemen can remain in combat longer and in more situations.[9]

        Another benefit of the M27 over the M249 is that in many respects it resembles an M4 rifle as used by the rest of the squad. This makes it harder to identify by enemy troops.

        The IAR was initially fielded in December 2010.[2] 1st Battalion 3rd Marines were deployed to Afghanistan in April 2011 with 84 IARs. Former SAW gunners initially did not like the M27, but appreciated it as time went on. It weighed 9 lb (4 kg) loaded, compared to 22 lb (10 kg) for an M249, which was a significant difference when on 5-hour long missions. Gunners said it was “two weapons in one,” being able to fire single shots accurately out to 800 meters and have fully automatic fire. It also blended in with standard M16-style service rifles, making it difficult for enemy forces to identify the machine gunner. The battalion leadership also saw the M27 as better at preventing collateral damage, as it is more controllable on fully automatic than the M249. Concern of volume of fire loss was made up for through training courses developed in December 2010. With the M249 SAW, the idea of suppression was volume of fire and the sound of the machine gun. With the M27 IAR, the idea of suppression shifts to engaging with precision fire, as it has rifle accuracy at long range and fully automatic fire at short range. Shooters transitioned from long-range precision fire at 700 meters to short-to-medium suppressive fire at 200 meters, both while in the prone position. Some gunners in combat have been used as designated marksmen. An M27 gunner with one aimed shot has the effect of three or four automatic shots from the SAW, and still has the option of a heavier volume with an accurate grouping.[22]

        Marines issued with the M27 enjoy its familiarity with the M4-style weapons in service. It is friendlier to troops due to its cleaner, lightweight system having fewer moving parts and jams. IAR gunners consider the rifle-grade accuracy to be a huge improvement over the SAW, despite the loss of sustained firing. With a shrinking budget, the Marine Corps is looking at ways to implement the IAR as a multipurpose weapon. Suggestions included use as an automatic rifle and as a designated marksman rifle,[23] a role where it replaced the Squad Advanced Marksman Rifle.[24] Additionally, the free-floating barrel offers improved accuracy at approximately 2 MOA compared with 4.5 MOA for M16A4 rifles.[25]

        Specifications
        Weight 7.9 lb (3.6 kg) empty
        9.8 lb (4.4 kg) loaded weight with sling[3]
        Length 36.9 to 33 in (940 to 840 mm) w/ adjustable stock
        Barrel length 16.5 in (420 mm)
        Width 3.1 in (79 mm)
        Height 9.4 in (240 mm)

        ____________________________

        OK, awesome. If you recall, I wrote about the idea of the MSG (Maneuver Support Group) HERE. I talked about having rifles that were optimized for longer range accurate engagement at sustained or rapid rates of fire. I said .308 or 5.56, and that 5,.56 would do. I said that this would replace belt-fed weapons, because it is unlikley that as you form your CUTT, you will have belt-fed or even automatic weapons.

        Basically, when the USMC replaced the SAW with the IAR in a support by fire / DM role, they were essentially doing this, but the extent to which it was actually an MSG depend on whether it was detached from the Squad or Platoon as a separate entity.

        This:

        With a SAW, the doctrine of fire suppression is the sound of continuous fire with rounds landing close to the enemy. While the M249’s volume of fire may be greater, it is less accurate. Experienced troops who have dealt with incoming fire are less likely to take cover from incoming rounds if they are not close enough. With an IAR, the doctrine is that lower volume of fire is needed with better accuracy. Fewer rounds need to be used and automatic riflemen can remain in combat longer and in more situations

        Who has heard me say this at class? I never agree that suppressive fire is achieved by simple volume of fire. It has to be accurate. After all, who needs volume if you just popped the guy in the head? Although I am a great fan of the SAW, I think there is a lot of ‘user error’ in the generation of large rates of inaccurate fire. I did read of a British Army study into suppression where they has radar round detectors on the objective during a squad attack, and most of the SAW rounds were simply missing and were not effective – thus they generated volume and noise around the target, but not necessarily suppression. Now, there is a lot to be said for the morale effect of belt-feds supporting your maneuver, particularly so if it is a 7.62 GPMG (i.e 240), but of course if that is not actually killing or suppressing the enemy it may not be doing you any good!

        Now, the MSG is good idea, and I have been in charge of those myself when we were talking heavier weapon maneuver support on deployment, but partly I have suggested the MSG concept to throw a bone to those of you are are just simply enticed by the designated marksman idea. I know, you just want to be the special guy with the special rifle! I am only partially joking here, because although MSG is a good concept if applied right, there is a pathology of the wannabe sniper that I have to deal with (read the MSG POST).

        Now, what the USMC is doing, if they indeed equip every man in the squad, is going bakc to their core value of ‘every Marine a rifleman.’ They are saying “fuck you’ to any MSG concept at squad level and saying that everyone on the squad should be able to perform that role. Now, granted, the USMC has heavier weapons above the squad level that they can use for support by fire, but in essence, the M27 is a 5.56 rifle, with a 16.5” barrel, that has a bipod and a good optic. Sound familiar?

        If every man has a capable rifle and knows how to use it (as it should be, if marksmanship is taught) then there is no need for an MSG. It meas that in a USMC squad of 13, which is exactly what I recommend for a CUTT, there is no distinction for the MSG group. There is no one who “cannot do CQB’ etc. This means that with 3 elements you are back to the assault cycle, with every group able to suppress or assault. This is instinctively what I prefer, in the knowledge that you cannot predict which elements will be in what opposition if contact is potentially 360, and any element must be able to do any role. If you wnated to get finicky, you could add another element on top of this, perhaps a ‘sniper’ capable precision rifle team, but is that likely to be utilized within the squad footprint out to about 300, maximum 500/600 meters? I would argue that where any precision specialists they are employed more strategically above and beyond the squad level battle, where they can fulfill their dreams of being special prima donnas LOL. Observation posts, overwatch etc – which require skills beyond shooting, into sniper field craft.

        So you think you cannot do SUT without belt fed weapons? The USMC just disagreed! Also, I would argue that where the primary benefit of the M27 is its flexibility along with its accuracy, there is little benefit in automatic fire. FA fire will deplete 30 round magazines really fast, and will be inherently less accurate, than pumping rapid accurate rounds down range. Thus, why try to compete with the strength of a belt fed when the strength of your rifle rests at the opposite end, with accuracy over volume?

        Thus, for those of you working on CUTT tactics, this should encourage you. If you can be equipped with a team of guys with quality rifles, capable of accurate sustained and rapid fire, in matched teams you are able to conduct all the elements so the assault cycle, and your CUTT is evenly balanced and thus maximizes flexibility to react to enemy threats.

        One final point/. What do I tell people are the two hardest things to do on the battlefield?

        1) Locate the enemy.
        2) Extract a casualty under fire.

        Well, with a quality optics on the rifle, maybe a variable as suggested by the USMC procurement guys of 1 x 8 variable, this will allow you better observation and accurate suppression fire. It must be able to be dialed down to x1, or have a reflex sight mounted on top of it, for close range work.

      • #95723
        Joe (G.W.N.S.)
        Moderator

          Always nice to have some confirmation. ;-)

          16.5″ barrel? B-)

          Cool stuff, too bad so many will still want argue the relative effect of “zero point bullshit” divided by “horseshit statistical analysis” while streaming action movies!

        • #95724
          JohnnyMac
          Participant

            Always nice to have some confirmation. ;-)

            Ditto

          • #95725
            wayfarer
            Participant

              Good stuff. I’ve standardized on 16.5″ AR’s, and am sold on low power variables, especially if one has bad (and old) eyesight like me. Run a 1-6x illuminated reticle for 5.56 and a 1-8x for my 7.62.

            • #95726
              Corvette
              Participant

                Interesting post. Based on your prior posts about the MSG I put together a 16 inch AR with a Leopold 1×4 optic, a primary arms grip pod and a Franklin Arms binary trigger. I wasn’t 100% sure about the binary trigger but decided to give it a try. Looking at the wikipedia article you linked to, my set up is a pretty close civilian version of the M27. It just gives you a two round burst instead of full auto. So far I have been pleased with the performance of the binary trigger. If you try and fire too fast you can cause some bolt override issues but once you learn to slow it down a little it really works well and allows you to get a very accurate volume of fire down range. At 100 yards I am able to consistently hit a steel plate with both rounds. I was worried that the second round that is fired with the release of the trigger would be inaccurate but it is actually very accurate so that both rounds are on target.
                I’m sure for some they could achieve similar results with a standard trigger but for me it has dramatically increased the rate of fire that I can put down range without sacrificing accuracy. I have also been testing the surefire 60 round magazines and so far haven’t had any issues related to the magazines. the 60 rounders really allow you to maintain a steady volume of fire for a long time.

              • #95727
                hellokitty
                Participant

                  :good:

                  HEAT 1(CTT) X 3
                  HEAT 2 (CP) X1
                  FOF X3
                  OPFOR X2
                  CLC X2
                  RIFLEMAN

                • #95728
                  Corvette
                  Participant

                    What is scarier to a unit being shot at; a quick burst of very accurate, high volume full auto fire which hits them before they can take cover; or a long sustained supressive fire after they have taken cover?

                    Wasn’t the the Nazi German justification for the super high rate of fire from the MG42 that you only had a couple of seconds to do maximum damage to an opposing unit before they took cover? Buuuuuurrrrp. quiet. then Buuuurrrrp again.

                    I wonder if the USMC is going full circle. they didn’t mention rate of fire

                  • #95729
                    Max
                    Keymaster

                      What is scarier to a unit being shot at; a quick burst of very accurate, high volume full auto fire which hits them before they can take cover; or a long sustained supressive fire after they have taken cover?

                      Scarier is taking effective fire that causes casualties. Whatever fire it is, casualties is the thing. This is why troops are so scared of being pinned down by an effective sniper. Whatever the volume of fire, if it is ‘general’ it will not stop return fire and maneuver. But if your point guy *bang* down, then you try to observe to locate the enemy and *bang* headshot, then you get a situation where people will be unable to move. Fire that hits or ‘pins down’ by close proximity.

                      Hence accuracy over volume.

                      Effective fire = fire that is causing casualties, or will cause casualties if you continue. Thus the need to take cover. And incidentally, why most of this standing flat range tacticool stuff falls down from a reality standpoint.

                      There are two sides to this of course – if you are assaulting, or defending. If defending, you want to initiate when the enemy is in your chosen killing area, in a place where there is limited cover and thus you have a chance to hit them. Also think ambush. But terrain is never perfect and murphy plays, so they are ‘always alive when you get there.’ If you are truly serious about killing the enemy, you ultimately have to maneuver on them and clear through.

                      When attacking, we want to ‘suppress’ so we can maneuver and close with the enemy. Suppress means alter their behavior by killing, wounding or neutralizing by forcing them to get into cover. If you ‘win the firefight’ you will neutralize in order to allow maneuver. You are not going to have a situation, just like an ambush, where the enemy sits around to take head shots. You have those first few rounds, then the enemy will be in cover to the extent effective cover is available to him. So suppression seems counter intuitive but it is to allow you to maneuver in order to close with and kill the enemy.

                      Thus, if scarier to the enemy is effective fire, accurate fire wins, in whatever volume is effective.

                      Depending on terrain and range, after the initial fire enemy will bomburst into cover, then the battlefield will suddenly be empty. Unless of course they went to the current ‘Tacticool School of Combat’ and trun and come at you at the walk. Then it is shooting gallery time, give that you are in cover and initiated from a position they had not yet observed or located. If they do not take the time to take cover (RTR) and observe, locate and win the firefight, then they are killing themselves with these taxtics.

                    • #95730
                      Corvette
                      Participant

                        Excellent. Thank you.

                      • #95731
                        Max
                        Keymaster

                          Interesting commentary on the M27 IAR HERE

                          And my point: looks like USMC are finally catching up with MVT on concepts here. My post about the M27 was not about the specific rifle, but about the tactical concept of employment.

                          What is interesting about the lined article, is it states basically you can do better with an after market AR. What are we armed with? There you have it.

                          And not having auto fire is not an issue, you do not need it. Rapid accurate sustained fire is better.

                        • #95732
                          wheelsee
                          Participant

                            Interesting commentary on the M27 IAR HERE

                            The comment section provides ample proof of Max’s decision to have a paid forum…… :wacko: :wacko: :wacko:

                          • #95733
                            hellokitty
                            Participant

                              How much you wanna bet that after Max has completely explained his concepts here, there will be another AR10 sniper rifle build topic come up.

                              HEAT 1(CTT) X 3
                              HEAT 2 (CP) X1
                              FOF X3
                              OPFOR X2
                              CLC X2
                              RIFLEMAN

                            • #95734
                              Max
                              Keymaster

                                I cannot win. Folks are reading with only their own ideas in their skulls. The deprogramming is becoming too challenging.

                                And also what is being missed – 5.56 is fine, 5.56 is better. 308 if you really want, and want to hump all that ammo weight. But 5.56 is working.

                                Anyway, enough of that. I wanna be a sniper and I’m off to mill myself a bolt gun out of plumbing pipes, based around a mosin-nagant.

                              • #95735
                                Max
                                Keymaster

                                  Today st SHOT. Picked up the M27. Shocker! Way too heavy. The mag had no rounds in it and with a full mag it weighs 12.7lb.

                                  What I noticed is that the weapon is very front heavy. Also, the bipod is attached at the front and the legs only fold forward. There is nowhere to grip on the bipod and their is no space on the rail to grip. There is a VFG but due to the bipod it is mounted to the resr and does little to counter the front heavy.

                                  This is a mistake for the USMC to adopt as a rifle for every man. If accuracy is the strength, then it needs not be optimized for FA fire. This weapon is uncomfortable and hard to use in a carbine role.

                                  Love the concept the USMC is adopting. This is a mistake.

                                • #95736
                                  dave37
                                  Participant

                                    On a related note:

                                    British Army Set to Drop Light Machine Guns

                                    HEAT 1 2017
                                    Intro to CQB 2017
                                    Texas HEAT 2 2018
                                    Operation TeaSinker 2019
                                    Combat Leader Course 2019
                                    Team Coyote
                                    Team Rekkr
                                    Team Cowbell

                                  • #95737
                                    JohnnyMac
                                    Participant

                                      The author(s) of this article concur with Max, that the M27 in it’s current form is not appropriate in applying the concept.

                                      http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/05/07/m27-iar-not-right-rifle-marine-corps/

                                    • #95738
                                      Anonymous
                                      Inactive

                                        It is also interesting that a lot of spec.ops are fielding the Scar 17 platform. Lighter rifle, modular, quick change barrel, Designated marksman capable, cqb and standard 16″. Heavier ammo and less of it. 20rnds vs. 30. I realize they are the best of the best and in better shape to hump that heavier ammo but… I also realize that spec ops are not pinned down to one tool! they have many to choose from as mission dictates. So we are looking for a leather man of a gun. One that does most things ok but not great. DMR role(accurate), light, reliable, CQB capable, modular, fast, semi-auto. Its a lot to fill. Great article. Thanks again max for your insight.

                                      • #95739
                                        Anonymous
                                        Inactive

                                          Just what Max has been preaching. The last quote “precision fire is the key to suppression”. Another great article. They are going the 7.62×51 route?

                                        • #95740
                                          Roadkill
                                          Participant

                                            You see the nice cheek weld stock has storage tubes on both sides that you can load with 8lbs. Of lead ingots to counterbalance the front end. See, works great.

                                          • #95741
                                            RobRoy
                                            Participant

                                              I have a LMT with the four sided cheese grater hand guard, heavy and hard on the hands requiring those plastic rail cover things. Probably stems from Knight Armament’s ideas from back in the day, but I thought it tacticool when I put my money down on it.

                                            • #95742
                                              Lloyd
                                              Participant

                                                Equipment designed to fit a list of requirements invented by a committee of bureaucrats, and (since it’s made by HK) likely costs 3-4 times as much as a sane M4 upgrade would cost… Kinda reminds me of the genius that went into designing ACU camo fifteen years ago.

                                                Our tax dollars at work.

                                                :wacko:

                                                Edit – I got curious and looked it up. It actually costs FIVE TIMES as much an M4.
                                                https://taskandpurpose.com/m27-infantry-automatic-rifle-cost/

                                                MVT Texas 2015-2020
                                                Team Cowbell / Team Coyote / Team Rekkr

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