Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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M27 IAR Might Replace M4 as Primary Infantry Weapon of US Marines

Better than the M4

(Photo : US Army) M27 in combat in Afghanistan.

There's an offhand chance the Heckler & Koch M27 Infantry Assault Rifle (IAR), considered by some as the best assault rifle in the world, might be considered by the U.S. Marine Corps as its primary infantry weapon replacing the Colt M4 carbine.

The M27 has already replaced the heavier M-249 Squad Assault Weapon (SAW), of which there are three in every Marine squad of 13 men. The M27 is fed by a 30-round magazine firing 5.56 x 45 mm NATO round; has a longer range than the M4 and has proven the more accurate.

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Based on the Heckler & Koch HK416 tactical rifle/carbine, the lighter weight M27 intends to enhance an automatic rifleman's maneuverability compared to the heavier SAW. The M27 weighs 3.6 kg empty as against the SAW's 7.5 kg empty weight.

The SAW's 200-round ammunition drum adds an extra three kilograms to the weapon's weight, bringing the loaded weight of this light machine gun to a hefty 11 kg. That compares to the M27's weight of just over 4 kg with a 30-round magazine.

Whatever advantage the M27 loses in rate of fire since it's magazine fed it regains with far better accuracy compared to the M249.  The Marines said the substantially increased accuracy of the M27 was a key factor in their decision to replace the M249.

On the downside for the M27 is that it costs some $3,000 apiece, a price that's cheaper than the M249's $4,000 but still a mouthful considering the Corps' tight budgets.

The HK416 was originally developed as an improvement on the Colt M4 carbine family, which it is. It has a free-floating barrel that keeps the barrel out of contact with the stock and minimizes the effect of vibration on bullet trajectory.

The HK416 also has a proprietary gas piston system that makes the weapon more reliable than the M4 and reduces wear and tear. It can also fire fully automatic, while the M4 has single shot, semi-automatic and three-round burst options.

The decision on whether to replace the M4 with the M27 as the Marines' primary infantry weapon will be made by Gen. Robert Neller, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, however.

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