Right now the U.S. Marine Corps uses the M4 rifle as their standard infantry rifle, a 16-inch updated version of the M16 manufactured under contract by FN Manufacturing. The rifle is a great lightweight firearm, but it has some significant issues when it comes to accuracy under sustained full-auto fire and accuracy over longer distances…both things soldiers encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan more often than in urban assaults and CQB situations.

The military had been eyeing the H&K M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle as a replacement for the aging and massively heavy M249 (also made by FN Manufacturing) but now it looks like they might just equip each Marine with one instead of just their machine gunners.

From the Military Times:

The Marine Corps is eyeing a purchase of 11,000 new infantry automatic rifles and their accessories as it moves closer to making the IAR the new service rifle for grunts. […] Still under consideration is how the weapon might be fielded. At roughly $3,000 apiece, the M27 is a pricier investment than the M4, which costs less than $1,000. Manning said officials are working to determine which jobs within the unit truly needed the enhanced firepower.

As the military prepares to replace the aging Beretta M9 with the new SIG SAUER P320 as the standard service handgun, it makes sense that the other platforms would come under investigation as well. There was a project called the “Individual Carbine” competition which was intended to find a replacement for the standard infantry rifle in the U.S. military. That effort ran from 2010 to 2013 and included entries from Remington (ACR), FN (SCAR), LWRC, Robinson (XCR), H&K (416) and others.

The project was cancelled in 2013 when none of the rifles met the standard set out by the military. While there might not have been a “perfect” gun available, that didn’t change the fact that the military still needed a new and better battle rifle. The M27 from H&K might be the solution they’ve been looking for, but whether the USMC will fully equip their forces with them is yet to be seen.

60 Responses to Marine Corps May Replace FN’s M4 with H&K’s M27 IAR

  1. You have an error in the very first line of your article. A standard military-issue M4 Carbine has a 14.5-inch barrel.

    Only the civilian copies have 16-inch barrels, to meet Federal minimum barrel length requirements.

    • So – Here’s a thought.

      If the M27 is going to be the primary weapon of the actual Infantry, and the M4 is relegated to the support pogues (speaking a former support pogue), why not cut that barrel down further? And put a PDW stock on it? Basically make it a PDW that has the same manual of arms and eats the same ammo as the main infantry rifle, but is handy and compact for the guys and gals driving trucks and tracks, building bridges, feeding the big guns, etc. And get a sling like the Brits use on the SA-80 which can hold it in place close to the body (ok, it’s a little slower to get into action, but there’s less chance of being brained by your own rifle while decking a Medium Girder Bridge – ask me how I know this).

      • A PDW stock is going to be expensive, heavy, uncomfortable to shoot, and usually requires some sort of special BCG. A better option would be to keep the wafflestocks or go to CTRs. Changing to an 11.5 inch barrel might not be a bad idea for after the changeover has happened. The 10.3 inch barrels used by the SEALs, VBSS, and MARSOC require drilling out the gas port to function reliably though. I’ve been thinking on this for a while. It seems to me that it would probably be cheaper and less wasteful to just buy M4 uppers and buffer tube/wafflestock assemblies from Colt (LE6921CK or LE6933CK) or FN uppers (whoever gives them a better deal and gets it done satisfactorily), and change out the M16A2s and M16A4s in inventory to M4s themselves instead of buying new ones. First they should change out the buffer tube on the M16s and have collapsible-stock M16s (with normal carbine buffers since the H buffers can mess up rifle-length operation in automatic fire), then go around changing those uppers for M4 uppers. They could also get HK416 uppers with the heavy barrel from HK instead of buying whole rifles from them. Then after that they could sell the A2 stocks and rifle uppers through the CMP to us!

        • 5.56 burns better out of a 20″ barrel, has a longer range, and is more lethal than its shorter barrel counterparts. Its the same reason the SEALs went to crane and asked them to develop a modular rifle that was more accurate and more lethal than the M4….. they expected a 16″ precision carbine (recce rifle) but ended up with the mk12 spr. 10.5 and 11.5 barrels exist because, even though they are ridiculously inefficient with 5.56, they still have more energy then a 9mm (i.e. mp5), parts commonality with M4, M16, mk12, etc, and the same manual of arms. 14.5″ barrels exist because they are lighter and more easily handled in confined spaces. M4’s are better only in operating environments where those qualities matter…… but an m16 with an m4 stock would make more sense, in that it would be easier to use by people with or without body armor/chest equipment, short or tall people, and still maintain its lethality…. canadians call it the c7a2.

  2. And the M27 called an “Infantry Automatic Rifle” not an “Infantry Assault Rifle” military times got it right, you got it wrong.

  3. “The project was cancelled in 2013 when none of the rifles met the standard set out by the military.”

    They far exceeded it as all of the guns had far less stopages than the M4 (blowback style). That contest was rigged and a joke. The M27 is just a piston gun.

    • If you look into the results of that test the piston rifles had less overall stoppages, but had more stoppages that required significant time to clear. So no the other rifles weren’t light years better than the old M4.

      • The original M16 was designed to use the carbon as a lubricant. All direct impingement Eugene Stoner rifles use the carbon that is emitted into the bolt carrier group as a lubricant. It wasn’t until they changed the powder two ball from the original stick powder design that they ran into problems. Also the weapon was built and tested in Southern California and they ran into issues with not cleaning the weapon in South East Asia where it rains constantly for 6 months out of the year. There’s nothing wrong with direct impingement systems as long as they’re serviced on a regular basis.

        • Plus when the m16a1 was released then chrome-lined the chamber and bore which made it more jungle friendly.

        • “There’s nothing wrong with direct impingement systems as long as they’re serviced on a regular basis.”

          Of the hundreds of guns designed/evolved since (or before) that dog’s breakfast, there are precisely how many other DI guns again? There are many reasons people never copy certain gun designs. Never is that because they’re good.

  4. If it’s better accuracy at longer range while providing full-auto capability, I’m all for it. I like the M4A1, but am open to improvements to make our military as a whole more lethal. I would specifically want to see true ambidextrous controls (bolt release and mag release specifically) in addition to better marksmanship training at all levels. Who knows- if te USMC can get it the Army might follow suit.

    • The M16 would be a perfect set up with a 20 inch barrel or an 18 inch barrel a true ambidextrous Bolt stop and safety selector and you have exactly what you want add a really high grade trigger so you get a four and a half 5-pound break with full auto capability and you just saved yourself millions of dollars and you’ve got the same platform that everybody’s trained on since the sixties. Much better idea much cheaper on training much cheaper on the actual platform most of these modifications could be done to already existing M4s.

    • While appreciate the content and efforts of the editorial staff here at TTAG, between the pop-up and lowbrow click-bait ads, it’s no wonder I only visit TTAG using a browser w/ an adblocker installed.

    • It was better for a while but the adds are way out of hand again. Any other site with this volume of add issues I instantly assume is at best a fraud, at worst intentionally malicious. I avoid TTAG with my phone entirely.

      • Agree. I use AdBlockPlus. Have never seen any of what others complain about. Since many here see the ads, I wonder what I did wrong that accidentally turned out good.

      • No-script for me. I still see plain graphics ads but anything that screws around with annoying scripts never even loads

    • If the issue is range and sustained auto fire, which is completely against training doctrine (sustained auto fire), then why not re-barrel with a 16.5″ heavier profile barrel. All of the various SPR’s would basically do the same thing, Mk12 SPR with 18inch, or SEAL Recon Rifle which is 16″. If the goal is to standardize on one platform, it’d have to be cheaper to just buy complete uppers.

      The biggest benefit I can see is that the HK is more suppressor friendly than anything DI, but that’s a different problem than the ones given.

      Maintenance and cleaning is a bit more complicated on a piston gun, comparing my Bren to an AR at least, but as long as you’re relatively diligent its not an issue.

  5. If accuracy with sustained auto is the issue put a heavier barrel on the rifle. If accuracy over distance is the problem you need a longer barrel or different caliber. These other rifles won’t fix either issue with a 14.5″ lightweight barrel and 5.56.

  6. If the Marines are concerned about ” accuracy over longer distances”, prehaps they should replace their awful Korean war era M14 based DMR first.

    • See, I was just thinking that. The M27 may be a 16″ gun but it has an HBAR and is free-floated, so it would be naturally more accurate than an M4. If they’re wondering how to deploy these first 11000, I’d say give them to the designated marksmen.

    • That’s long since been phased out of regular infantry/scout sniper use by the M110.

      What’s odd is that the only people I still see using the M14DMR and it’s sage stock equipped child, the M39 EMR, are MARSOC, Recon, and FAST. People who you’d think would want the new toys. I dunno.

  7. $3000 a piece? Sounds like those mega buck toilet seats and hammers the military was buying. Some years ago, I held in my hand and read some of a voluminous RFQ that a wholesale distributor had acquired regarding a contract buy at a local military base. It was ridiculous and included everything from anvils to zippers. I sure hope the military does not buy things that way any more but service rifles at $3000 a piece shore sounds like they still do.

    • That there is funny. Got some surplus tools sets from DOD for my Fire Dept. The old General Mech Tool Box – about 150 pc handtools in a plastic tool box (1/2′ ratchet set, 1/4″ set, combo wrenches etc.

      Could get similar at Sears/Craftsman for $150. DOD price was over $1000.

      • Top-level military procurement and supply is not centered around supporting the soldier, it’s centered around making senators happy by pouring money into their districts.

        • “Top-level military procurement and supply is not centered around supporting the soldier, it’s centered around making senators happy by pouring money into their districts.”

          Now there ya’ go and ruin it for everyone. That is sensitive information, for limited distribution.

          Your comment should be deleted by the blog master. It is the very definition of a “flame” posting!

      • those tools in that set are a whole lot better than a cheap craftsman set at Sears. Ever priced out a set of Armstrong tools? Plus all The specialist tools in The GMTK in a nice pelican box make it add up really quick.

    • It is modified 416, basically. It is known that HK stuff is tactical to the point of being sacred, and should not be handled by civilian unless said civilian wears top Wiley X glasses…xcuseme, shades, and latest 5.11 gloves. Hence the price.

      • There’s no “basically” about it; that’s exactly what it is. An HK416 (which is an excellent rifle, admittedly) with a bigger magazine and a heavy duty barrel.

  8. I thought the Marine Corps had a philosophy of don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. And after the H&K G36 is H&K really the best choice?? LOL. With just some minor tweaks to the M4 you can have exactly what you need without having to ditch and entire weapons system and purchase a new one requiring new parts to fix it and keep it running and retraining the entire Marine corpse that’s retarded. Stick to American built guns Eugene Stoner made the best thing possible no need to fix it if it isn’t broke.

  9. Here’s an idea why not bring back the 20 inch barreled M16 platform that will give them longer range and keep the groups tighter with consistent Full Auto fire. If they want more knockdown power why not go back to Eugene Stoners first creation the AR 10 platform in 308 Winchester AKA 7.62 NATO. 3000 bucks per rifle it better come with an inflatable Soldier to go with it LOL that’s highly overpriced ridiculously spent waste of money of course H&K would be the one to price that at $3,000 per unit I can build the military one hell of a 308 with free float handguard young manufacturing BCG Krieger Barrel four and a half pound trigger timney for well under 3 Grand. And it’ll shoot the ass off of that H&K period LOL

    • Great. How soon can you get me 11,000 of them?

      But seriously, a FrankenGun works fine for the consumer market but managing all the nuances of a bolt-together firearm distributed over a branch of the military, well, what could possibly go wrong?

      On the other hand, if the interfaces between parts were standardized, you could piece together a pretty sweet rifle with whatever legos you can find.

      • We’ve got a class seven manufacturing license FFL and I build custom AR-15s lr-308 and AR-10 rifles for a living. I’ve done this since I got out of the military. And 11000 would be a huge amount for any small custom shop to do. But what I’m saying pertains to the cost of actually ditching an entire weapons system and switching over to something in my opinion is overpriced has to do with holding the government agencies accountable for what they’re spending our tax dollars on. You could have FN or any other DOD contractor that is manufacturing small arms for the use in the military simply standardized their components and come up with a weapons system that utilizes the traditional upper and lower receivers known as the A3 model receivers and turn out something that is absolutely awesome. A really good bolt carrier group go to an 18 or 20 inch barrel a really good trigger and a quality stock and you have yourself exactly what the Marine Corps is looking for a full auto capable of sub minute of angle group at 200 meters. And keep the 5.56 cartridge as our standard that way you have parts that you can replace available at hand if need be and you’re keeping the same control group and organ ommix of the M16 platform.

    • They were supposed to get M110s to replace their M14s, but I’m not sure what happened with that. I think the sniper teams may have gotten them, and then the M14s fell to the squad-level DMs who previously carried SAM-Rs, or something.

  10. There is a new rifle in the future as well, they’re calling it M1 Garand, cal. 30-06, main battle rifle. Less than 10 rds at a time and no detachable magazine, it has a thing that goes ‘ping’ instead. It is expected to fill the role of main battle rifle for all the military for at least 100 years after it is officially issued. It is also California compliant. The M1 new battle rifle will fire green 30-06 rounds, a tree growing out of every dead opponent. Altho it will be California compliant, it will be illegal for US citizens to own. Some nefarious soul might alter them to take 20 rd mags. and modify them to chamber 7.62 rds, and call them M14s.

  11. We can put people on the moon. We have virtual reality games. We can create a free healthcare system that covers every occupant of the nation. We can lower the tides, reverse the natural functioning of the atmosphere. We can produce endless hours of mind-numbing reality shows. Why is it the innovators in this permanent DisneyLand cannot develop a rifle that can be quickly configured to operate as a handgun, a light machine gun, and a .50cal sniper rifle, while providing the ability to also fire 40mm grenades? How hard can this be for the world’s only superpower?

    • Uh, that’s literally what an AR lower is. Go ahead and slap a LAW folding stock adapter on there and a 10.5″ MCX upper, and it’s a handgun. If you do it with an MGI Hydra or Colt 901 lower you can go to longer or shorter cartridges and different magazines. They make bolt-action .50BMG and .338 uppers, Ares came out with a new version of the Shrike with the new name “Fightlite MCR,” and of course you’ve got the M203 and M320, and various underbarrel shotguns too.

      • I like all the conversion capability, but it would be unsuitable in the field; too many pieces parts to carry at one time. I’m thinking of a weapon that has all that capability, self-contained. Configuration change time could be life, or death.

        • What would you do with a transformer gun like that? We tried the OICW already and it was crap. Have you actually been a combat infantryman? Trust me, we don’t want some transforming supergun, we just want a solid assault rifle. Specialists (not the rank) get special weapons, they’re the specialists for a reason. How would you even carry ammo for this sci-fi convertagun?

  12. What is this thing really? A box-fed neutered SAW? A horribly overpriced German-made AR with a heavy barrel and an unnecessary piston system? I am gobsmacked that such a thing could cost $3000. I guess it’s probably $1200 for the rifle itself, and $1800 for the little red hk logo. Are the Marines trying to reinforce their reputation for stupidity? Get a new upper with a heavier barrel and slap it on the existing M4 lower, problem solved. They can even get those stupid Ares MCR belt-fed uppers if they really want a 7-pound LMG.

    • First off I’m not an H&K fan whatsoever I used to work at a shop that serviced H&K and we did some service for the DEA back in the mid-eighties. I always had the opinion that the MP5 was good piece of kit just so overpriced for what you get it’s freaking ridiculous 1 pin so that you can remove the stock was $14 I was like my God man what is it made out of kryptonite? LOL but I’m right there with you stick and h-bar Barrel 18 inches long and you have what you need go back to the original M16 trigger and get rid of that nightmare burst trigger that they have in the M4 right now it’s absolute garbage. I can remember pulling the trigger and thinking the safety was still on it was so heavy and it would change between your rifle and the guy next to you at night and day he might have a five to six pound trigger I had over a 10 pound trigger in line garbage. But simple enough to fix go back to the original M16 Eugene Stoner design trigger put a 5 pound trigger in there free float the barrel and add an h-bar barrel and you got exactly what you need for a minimal cost. Yeah that thing looks like some kind of crazy Syfy TV show gun guaranteed to fail right when you need it the most. And $3,000 give me a break that is ridiculously overpriced. If they want more sustain Full Auto fire issue to solve Gunners for every platoon that oughta keep enough heads down so you can move troops and if you really want to go nuts throwing an m240 Bravo put a little 30 cow belt that on their ass period LOL typical people in the military wanting to purchase something that they don’t really need and pay a ridiculously outrageous price at that so typical and this thing is sure to flop like a damn flounder out of the water.

  13. The USMC has better spending priorities. Like a AAV, keeping it’s planes from crashing. A new base in Okinawa. A new rifle is a back of the bus budget item.

    • Another base on Okinawa? Okinawa is a small island. Yeah, my fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.

  14. AR47 cost about $15 to make, works when dirty and is basically a throw away. Ever wonder why it’s
    the choice of so many armies that can’t afford $3k per weapon.

  15. Have President Trump look at this $3,000.00 price tag! Must be manufactured in the USA.
    How about a modified AK 47? Replace the rear sight with a peep sight. And a robust red/green 4 power scope. $500.00 per unit.

  16. It’s not really massively heavy It’s 22 pounds fully loaded. That’s extremely light for a machine gun. In WW2 squads regularly carries 31 pound M1919 Machine guns.

    The a Marine Corps are in fact keeping s large portion of M249s because there are still several advantages of a true squad automatic weapon such as high ammo capacity and fast reloading due to the belted magazine.

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