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Next Post sounds the death knell for ye olde M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW)¬†light (relatively speaking) machine gun. Incoming! The Marines have signed the final contract with Heckler & Koch to replace all their belt-fed SAWs with H&K’s magazine-fed M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR). The gun goes to all Marine rifle squads and light armored reconnaissance scout sections; every four-man fire team will have an IAR, with three per squad, 28 per company and up to 4,476 across the Corps. “The decision closes a chapter on a decade-long debate concerning whether the Corps should drop the firepower available in the belt-fed Squad Automatic Weapon in favor of a lighter, more accurate automatic rifle.” Or not, as TTAG commentators are sure to demonstrate. Thirty-round mags vs. 200? 5.56 vs. 7.62? We report, they’ve decided.

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  1. I’m confused about the magazine limitations this guy was talking about. why are the 100 and 60 round mags not authorized, is that just the current regulation to be changed later? The SAW’s these guns are replacing are fed by 200 rd. belts. If these (sweet ass HK’s) are supposed to be providing suppressive fire, guys are gonna shoot these guns dry really quick in a fight, or am i missing on a change in philosophy here?

    • Because the 100 round mags aren’t even available and the 60 rounders are proving to be less than reliable. Maybe the Armatac SAW mag will prove to be reliable, maybe not.

      You’re missing a philosophy change as well. They’re going for more accurate suppressive fire as opposed to a higher volume. They’re also wanting the squad’s support weapon to be lighter and easier to move into position.

      • ah cool, thanks for the heads up. I agree that less rounds sprayed and more placed where they need to go is a good idea across the board.

        • Too bad LMG’s are used for suppressive fire. More bullets downrange = more running, less shooting by the enemy, regardless of how accurate the fire is.

          Do you honestly think you’d get all 200 rounds in a 6″ hitbox from 50 yards away with an M249, all while maintaining suppressive fire?

    • This is a return to USMC squad level organization in the BAR era. A three man fire team built around the Browning. Of course the Marines didn’t face the MG 42. The Japanese used the Nambu, which was more BAR-like, as their squad automatic weapon.

  2. According the grunts on the ground, the Devil Dogs filling the Automatic Rifleman role love the IAR. The only bitch I have heard about it was the mag, but supposedly the troops have worked around it that by bringing along their own hi-cap mags. The M249 is great for defensive support but a bitch to lug around. It weighs around 20lbs fully loaded and each 200rd box weighs in at about 6.25lbs. So for a standard load out your looking at 50lbs of Gun and ammo in addition to all of the other gear you have to lug around. That is a hell of a lot of weight to move around when the shit gets thick. It should be noted though that the SAW is not gone completely and will be made available to those who want them if asked for.

    • Agreed. And I have done some light infantry manuevering.

      The other issue beyond weight is the rapid maneuvering causes issues with belt-fed ammo. Misalignment of links and rounds will cause a stoppage. Laying on belted ammo, bumping it, tossing it, getting tossled in packs….. this causes issues.

      I think leaving the belt-fed weapons in static positions or in turrets is a better use of the capability.

  3. I can understand why they would want something more efficient, lighter, and more.. modular.

    But honestly, they could’ve handed out piston-driven M4’s and accomplished the same damn thing. Nice to know my tax money is going to something *relatively* useful.

  4. One further thought. If the Marines want to go back to a 7.62 infantry support weapon then they could save a lot of money simply by recycling the M-14s that we already have in the inventory.

    • Leave it to the brilliant engineers at H Und K to design a worthless angle onto the magwell that’s gains you nothing and prevents the use if the most popular magazine in the buisiness.

  5. SAWs are 5.56. Reliable (if reasonably maintained), I never had it jam once in actual use, and it was pretty easy to keep on target. That said, we were almost always mounted, and I would hate to have to lug it around on a foot patrol. Lack of mobility is a major issue in theater. Anything that lets them move faster on foot is a plus, and an awful lot of rounds get wasted on “suppressing fire” under the current doctrine.

  6. Can you say BETA C MAG?? That SureFire 100 rounder looks as cumbersome as a 3 legged-dog. The Beta C mag has a flatter surface to utililize. It’s only a matter of time until they start showing up. That is,IF,they fit the mag well

  7. Now you have no sustained suppressive firepower. No barrel changes during an intense engagement. Just a bunch of 20 round magazines that jam and no compatibility with any aftermarket upgrades. Also, the accuracy of the M27 isn’t any better than the old M4’s. The 249’s were chopped up so no “requests” can be made to issue them back out. All of the 249’s were sent to Camp Pendelton and destroyed.
    Just another political payoff for another General at the expense of infantry marines’ lives. And still they have not replaced the Viet Nam era semi amphibious death traps. You can’t make this stuff up because it is so insanely stupid.


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