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The IAR may not be the great leap forward Marines at the sharp end hoped for, but I bet there’s a whole lot of H&K suits that are feeling pretty good right about now. Let’s have a quick look see . . .

PRESS RELEASE: Ashburn, Virginia – Heckler & Koch was awarded a competitive contract to produce the U.S. Marine Corps’ new Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR). The formal “Full Rate Production” announcement by the Marines caps a competition that began more than three years ago.┬áDesignated the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, the lightweight, 11.62 pounds weapon with ancillary equipment, is a variant of the highly successful Heckler & Koch HK416 used by military, law enforcement, and special operations units in the U.S. and throughout the world . . .

The M27 IAR replaces the heavier, M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) which has been used by the Marines in Infantry Squads since the mid-1980s in the automatic rifle role. Both weapons fire the 5.56 mm NATO cartridge.

The five-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract calls for possible delivery orders up to $23,600,000 for the production, delivery, and associated support of the Marines’ Infantry Automatic Rifle program.

The Marine Corps approved the full rate production and fielding of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle during the summer of 2011. There will be one M27 IAR per four-man fire team, with three M27 IARs per squad, 28 per company and more than 4,000 across the entire Marine Corps.

“After a rigorous testing process, both in garrison and deployed environments, and in-depth consultation with weapons experts through the Corps, the commandant approved the fielding of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle,” said Marine spokesman Major Joseph Plenzler in a press statement in June. “The fielding of the IAR will significantly enhance the ability of our infantrymen to gain and maintain fire superiority, reduce their fighting load and provide them a more ergonomic and accurate weapons system that can keep up during the assault.”

“Winning the Marine’s IAR competition is another milestone for our HK416,” said Wayne Weber, President of Heckler & Koch USA. “Developed at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer and with U.S. military input in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on America, the HK416 competed against-and beat many worthy challengers. This contract award is a direct testament to the superior performance of the HK416 and it is an honor for Heckler & Koch to equip the Marines with such a fine rifle.”


Heckler & Koch is the world’s premier small arms systems company and a major supplier to global military, law enforcement agencies, and civilian shooters. An international company with a manufacturing presence in Germany and the USA, Heckler & Koch is a transformative leader in design and manufacturing. Heckler & Koch provides technologically advanced firearms, logistical support, training, and specialized services with the highest standards of innovation and reliability to its customer base. Heckler & Koch’s well-known range of products include the USP series pistols, MP5 submachine gun, the MP7 Personal Defense Weapon, the G36 weapon system, HK416 rifles and carbines, and the recently introduced HK45 and P30 series pistols. [And they don’t sell guns to Mexican LEO any more, for obvious reasons.]

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  1. no quick change barrel. is the method of preventing cook off just to use smaller mags?
    looks like evidence of corruption.

  2. With a name like ‘IAR’, WTH will the Marines call it, the ‘Yar’? And this new ‘fire superiority’ weapon will be fed from…um…30-round magazines? If 30-round AR magazines are a ‘step forward’ from the SAW’s 100-round belt, then maybe a bolt-action would be an even bigger ‘step forward’.

    A fire support weapon that empties itself in three or four long bursts? That makes no sense There’s an agenda here that nobody is acknowledging.

    • Now, call me crazy if it sounds such, but I would think there would be a heavy firepower option by way of belts or heavy magazines. It’s a suppressive fire weapon so…coughing twice and reloading sounds a lil asinine. If it takes AR mags maybe could it also feed currently used style belts or100 mags?

    • over the past dozen years or so the marines have this rifle fetish that they have turned into a slogan “every marine a rifleman”. and in deference to this slogan they make the LMGunner in the squad carry around a superfluous M4, that he almost never uses, in addition to the m249. since the m249 is full auto only and fires from the open bolt they don’t consider it a rifleman’s weapon. and this m27 is the “solution” to the “problem” that they have decided to have. frankly it is disgusting to me, every marine officer should be ashamed of this.

  3. Is this the first large scale military contract that a foreign firearm manufacturer has received? Off of the top of my head aside from the Air Force buying a few thousand SIG Pro in 9mm I think so and this is more notable.

    I’ve got my sights set on a P2000 V2 with the LEM trigger. I like the way this company approaches building and creating weaponry. The MP5 has gotten a lot of love and I always wondered if they would get a big chunk of the rifle pie with something as innovative.

    • Beretta in the 80’s for the service pistol(M9). FN built some of M-16A2s I carried. Army CID/Air Force OSI carry Sigs. Not trying to come off as a a smart A@@, but I’m thinking the Beretta contract is a pretty big one….DoD just placed another big order for M9s

      • Okay, I spaced on the M9 but to be honest I was more meaning standard infantry long arms. I do recall the Italian M9…just wasn’t thinking about it.

        Your mention of FN Herstal and those M-16A2s, that is what I was looking for. Guess I was in error.

        • All good! I need to look up some of the older issue weapons..I know we payed Mauser for patent infringements for the Springfield 03…

  4. So what was wrong with the M249? Seems like the M27 would be a better compliment than replacement.
    I will share that my Dad scrounged as many automatic weapons as he could grab for his infantry company in WWII. ( as did everyone else) Most infantry units were very top heavy with BARs, Thompsons, Grease guns, fully automatic M1 Carbines, scrounged medium machine guns, etc; to swell up the firepower of the unit.

  5. The m249 also has a magazine port in addition to the belt system. The idea is that a fire team can share ammo across all weapons. So it’s not a stretch that they would select something that matches the ability (ammo capacity aside).
    I’m not 100% but doesn’t FN make the saw?

  6. Well if they are reliable at all, perhaps they could start using them with C-Mags or 60 round surefire’s to boost that 3 second empty time.

  7. A shorter barrel, slower rate of fire, and a smaller capacity are improvements? Besides not being direct impingement this thing just seems like a heavier m4, What am I missing?

  8. No quick change barrel option? In a squad machine gun? Does the piston HK stay that much cooler than the gas operated SAW?

  9. Folks, it all comes down to weight. M249’s weight (22 lbs with a 200-round drum of ammo attached) is too much for most infantryman. Its about time that the military starts acknowledging that weight is a real issue. These days, speed is the key to a successful assault, and getting rid of bulky items like the SAW is a step in the right direction. Now lets work on getting radios and crypto gear smaller and lighter.

  10. All of this for a weapon that is a distant cousin to the M16 platform and is chambered in 5.56 NATO? What the Marine Corp needs is that one guy to be equipped with a more potent round that provides a higher rate of fire, greater degree of lethality and penetrating power. If the squad is all using the same round, what is the point? Suppressive fire can be accomplished with that which everyone brung. I love everything HK makes for it’s quality and robust manufacture and I own a few, but I don’t get the USMC math here. Can a Jarhead even count- (note the capital J cause you have to love the Moreens). I agree that the M249 SAW is a bitch for the guy who has to hump it but when in use, to quote American Express, it is priceless. Did anyone ask the Gunny what he thought about this Charlie Foxtrot?

  11. SAWs will still be used, but the M27 allows a Marine to maintain mobility. The Marines have found that SAW gunners tend to get anchored and bypassed by less encumbered war fighters. The IAR allows fire teams to keep moving. For a good discussion of the role of the Automatic Rifle vs the light Machine gun search

  12. Awesome! So they’re replacing a supressive fire weapon with a non-supressive fire weapon that they all carry anyways?

    I’ve never known the USMC to be dumb at all, but.. seriously? When the Army doesn’t even want to use a gun, something has to be wrong.

    “The United States Army does not plan to purchase the IAR.”

  13. The IAR cannot and is not replacing the M249, but rather augmenting the marines arsenal which will still be using the SAW. Yes some m249s are being replaced by the IAR, but the SAW will still see plenty of action for many more years. Today’s battlefields often don’t require the amount of suppressive fire that the M249 delivers. Hence, the Corp is spending it’s money on a heavy barreled HK416 (the USMC IAR), which has proven to be preferred by spec-ops over the M4. The adoption of the IAR to “replace” the m249 is a way for the Corp to add a rifle that isn’t an M16 or M4, rather than deal with the political uproar that would ensue by purchasing a rifle that isn’t an American made M16/M4.

  14. The official infprmation indicates that per platoon 9 IARs and 9 SAWs will be available. So the company commander may choose the weapon suitable for the mission.
    More interesting is if the platoon/squad organization might be changed. The “Assist” positions might become no longer necessary and be filled with an extra grenadier for example. That’s what’s of interest to me.


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