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.