|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Feb 18, 2017 04:09 AM EST|
(Photo : USMC) Marine lets loose with his M27 IAR.
The United States Marine Corps has indicated a firm intent to acquire 11,000 Heckler & Koch M27 Infantry Assault Rifles (IARs), considered by some as the best assault rifle in the world, in a move seen as indicating the Corps intends to replace the Colt M4 assault carbines as its new service rifle.
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The Marines published a detailed request for information this week seeking companies that want to produce the IAR. The request covers the purchase of 11,000 IARs and their accessories, which should be enough to arm many of the Marines' combat units.
Not all combat infantry will receive the M27, however, since each weapon costs $3,000 compared to the cheaper M4, which costs less than $1,000. Marine sources said those in charge of the M27 project are trying to figure out how to assign the IARs.
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 the 5.56 x 45 mm NATO round. It also has a longer range than the M4 and has proven the more accurate.
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 its 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.
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.
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