Infantry Automatic Rifle ‘Could’ Replace all SAWs

M-27 IAR

Incoming Marine Corps Commandant Jim Amos said during a “Town Hall” meeting at Quantico that he was so impressed with the M-27 Infantry Automatic Rifle that the highly accurate machine carbine could mean the demise of the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

I went out to Weapons and Training Battalion and I fired the [IAR] … and this thing could — notice I didn’t say ‘would’ — could replace the SAW. And it weighs half as much.

The commandant, an F-18 pilot who is the first aviator to become the top general of the Marine Corps, is on a crusade to lighten the load, joking in an earlier comment that the Army asked him to demo a piece of gear he wouldn’t name that gave him “complete situational awareness” but weighed 13.5 pounds.

Marines already wear 65 pounds worth of gear, Amos said, “and I’m going to give them this cosmic little doo da  that will give me complete situational awareness…we’re not going to do it.”

(Nett Warrior, methinks?)

So Amos is bullish on weight and impressed with the IAR, but he clearly recognizes the internal debate within the Corps over the IAR’s utility (the Gunners are very into it) when he says “could” instead of “would” but also realizes that the kind of accuracy gained from the H&K-built M-27 could be a tactical game changer on more than one level.

Any of you grunts in here who have not fired that weapon, you need to fire that weapon. Because fighter pilot old man here fired it and I put it in about [six inches] at 500 yards. It’s an incredible weapon.

The IAR is not yet in the combat zone, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on reports back to CONUS on its performance when it finally makes it battlefield debut.

  • Tim

    As long as it comes with 50 or 100 rd mags, I’m on board.
    0311 Lcpl

  • M.G.Halvorsen

    50 round mags would be a bit tough to reload in a firefight…better have about 20 or so mags packed for social purposes. There are precedents, though. The BAR and the BREN come immediately to mind (although the BAR’s 20 round mag was a problem throughout its service life). And, if the Commandant is telling the straight goods (and I have no good reason to doubt his word) then putting rounds into 6 inches at 500 meters is a REALLY good reason to go with it.

  • nraddin

    They say putting actuate fire into a position is more important than the number of rounds. So a 30mag as rapid aimed fire will do as much good as 100 rounds in burst machine gun fire. Having a weapon that can open up full auto, but can switch to single shot fire gives a great advantage especially if coupled with extended magazines. I have heard that some of the newer drums work better, and that there are some new triple/quad stack designs that hold much more ammo without extending the magazines length, either of those would solve most of the Magazine size issues.

  • Andrew

    I’m with Tim on this one. Although I can’t wait to use the IAR, there is quite a bit to be said for the suppressive fire laid down by a fully loaded M249. I don’t see why we can’t have the best of both worlds: Accuracy, and capacity.

    0311 PFC

  • Kayaker

    Waste of money. Reissue M-16A2’s for everyone and bring back the M-60 as well. The rest of the money can be used for spare parts for critical equipment.

  • Stefan S.

    NOTHING wrong with the SAW! Can’t stand as a 20+ AD ARSOF NCO here, the armchair commando “clingers” of the Stoner designed dinosaur. Stop wasting time and funds because they can’t see better options out there. And don’t start with that AK argument. AK is a brute but good luck trying to hit somone out past 100 m. Hello, loose tolerances= increased ammo expendatures. Answer? MK-48. Nuff said. Been there, done that. Lastly love my M-14 EBR. Yeah she’s heavy but she gives Haji a one way ticket to allah!

  • Chris

    I have heard this is “an impressive weapon, but tend to agree with posibly 30 round mags. I used 30 round mages on my Aussie FN-SLR 7-62mm,
    We could use on semi or full auto, a savage weapon it turned out to be, sounded like a -50 cal going of!.
    Load bearing aside, you do need a larger round despite new advances in bullet technology/powder tech etc, {the old story of the SS-109 round for the M-4 .M16A-2 which was potent at distance}
    The A-2 was not bad, the SLR with 30 round mag, fantastic. And it was 7-62…must remember the weight of extra rounds to re-load you may have to carry!!

  • Ryan

    I’m not too keen on reverting back to a Magazine fed suppressive fire weapon! We should look back to why we did away with them in the first place. I know high cap. mags are more reliable now, but a 100 round Bata-C mag takes up as much if not more space than 200 rounds of 5.56 linked. If you want a weapon that is adaptable and can be set up as belt fed or mag fed bring back the Stoner 63A or check out the Shrike by Ares.

    much better alternatives than a Mag only suppressive fire weapon.

  • gabe

    It might sound good and even look good from a Public Relations perspective and might even improve recruiting numbers. But in the field under fire when guys need good cover fire a thirty or even a sixty round mag will only result in less actual rounds down range and more time spent changing mags. Keep the saw that uses the belts, even linked together, but have someone properly trained in how to effectively engage/lay cover fire, and make sure he isn’t a cry baby about humping some weight. 65 lbs was nothing for us Army Grunts. I was an old school 60 gunner and loved it. Otherwise, every body who is still operating, watch your six so you can make it back to the world.

  • NeoConVet

    Well shucks just bring back the BAR for a magazine fed weapon… at least it has round that keeps someone down for good….and can reach out and touch someone at a distance.

  • Mike

    US military base strategy is overwhelming firepower. The Marine Corps strategy is OVVVEEERRRWHHEEELLLMMIIINNGGGG firepower, and then fire and maneuver. to keep the enemies heads down, sometimes taking well aimed shots, or even paired shots dont work. even with the burst the m-4/m-16 have. you need to have a weapon that can lay 200 rounds down range. and if its 50, that magazine better not jam, and better be easy as hell to use.

    LCpl. 0311, LAR

  • Sev

    Why not just make it a standard issue carbine? Thats basically what it is. A fully automatic rifle with a big magazine and heavy barrel. We have beltfed SAWs for a reason. Again thats just my two cents. I wanna hear what veterans have to say

    Oh and Happy early Veterans Day btw

  • mike

    If they had entered a plain old standard M4 into the IAR competition it would have killed all the contestants with the way the testing has been performed.

  • Kenneth

    Bring back the German MG42, possibly the most effective machine gun ever fielded. It chopped up a goodly portion of our 1st and 29th Divisions on Omaha Beach.

    • Ryan

      Its called the MG3 now and some contries still use it chambered in .308 (7.62X51)

  • I saw somewhere that H&K was working on an IAR version of the 417 along with a 50 round magazine to use with it. I’ve never had the honor of serving so I don’t have first hand experience to go along with my opinion, but it sounds like a better fit to me.

    • Lance

      It would be way too heavy in .308!

  • Lance

    Amen to that!

  • Fitz

    I loved my M-1 Garand and had to turn it in for an M-14, I was not happy but life goes on just do it.

  • Riceball

    Somebody has already done that:

    The only problem with a belt fed rifle is the lack of a quick change barrel, the barrel of most rifles aren’t designed to take the heat from near continuous automatic and the lack of a quick change barrel will possibly result in destroying your rifle (at least the barrel) during a long and heavy firefight.

  • Ryan

    Check out the Shrike, Belt fed upper for the M16, will also accept M16 mags.

  • JoeLiberst

    No quick change barrel…. I think this is a problem waiting to happen.

  • Alan Hodges

    There is already a belt fed M16 upper out there.

  • Cy X

    As long as you don’t mind the weight of the Magazines, it shouldn’t be an issue. Having Humped a SAW 20+ miles, I’d like a lighter weapon. In a live fire exercise once, my peers didn’t like cleaning weps, so they gave me extra ammo for my m16a2 (couple dozen extra magazines) and one of the evaluators thought we had 2 saws in our fire team. That said, I do like belt fed weapons…

  • Charlie

    Not impressed. H&K makes a good product, but it’s a standard 5.56 round. Why send anybody into COMBAT with a round that u can’t go DEER HUNTING with in most states. See how many Generals will be making money off of it.
    I think the best thing to do is buy new upper receivers for the current piece of **** our guy’s are using like a 6.8 mm or 300 Olympic (new round by Olympic Arms) with the gas piston impingement system and upgrade them. It would save a ton of money!
    Since Vietnam no self respecting MERC uses an M-16. S O F Mag has published several articles on this. Our guy’s have been begging for M-14’s in the desert.
    For years our Generals have fought to keep the 223 round, because it caused a wound and didn’t kill the enemy, hopeing it would take 2 or 3 of the enemy to remove the enjored to the rear. Someone please tell them PIN HEADS our current enemy doesn’t play by the same rules we do!
    USMC Retired
    Disabled Vet

  • Marsh-n

    ok….. i get the rifles are lighter, but the SAW puts more round out there. IT IS THE PERFECT GUN THAT IS GOING TO BE PUT IN THE TRASH! I mean ya the rifles are more portable and more accurute but atleast keep some around.

  • Marsh-n

    50 round mags would be nice. Just something where your not reloading every 2 minutes.

  • Dan

    Needs a bigger magazine but the 5.56 is a perfect round for SF..

  • howard

    i agree with Sev… make it the basic issue.
    longer range better accuracy and don’t run out
    of ammo. i didn’t see on a few of the webpages
    i checked what grenade options it has.
    bullets are fine as long as you can
    throw a big dude out there at max range
    close to what incoming RPG fire you might
    expect. i’m constitutionally against fighting
    RPG vs bullets myself.

  • larry24416

    in vn we were (close). in tight the m60 was a relief and a good sound and highy effective.

  • Joe LittleBear

    I felt the same way when I was forced to give up my M-14 in the field for the M-16…The M-1 was a great weapon on the target range,…but, I experienced the following problems with it …….. (1) the “M -1 thumb ” ( to lose a nail in the middle of a firefight doesn’t improve your accuracy…) (2) only had 8 rounds, and then that damned sheet metal clip went out with a distinctive ” ka-ching ” to announce to the enemy that your weapon was empty… The M-14 corrected those faults by using a bolt release lever which did not require sticking your thumb into the “bear trap ” and the internal box magazine was replaced by an external box mag which held 20 rounds…also some of the weight was trimmed off… also, the shortened bolt travel of the .308 cartridge improved over the longer 30-06 cartridge…..( The Germans knew this back in WW-2 )…. I grew up in the country and was familiar with the “pistol grip stock ” from the age of 6 yrs…. the separate pistol grip of the M-16 was awkward to me… The .223 was a glorified version of the old .222 varmit cartridge…. One of the guys sung out,…” It’s SWELL kids,,,it’s made by MATTEL….” Sure enough…there was the Mattel logo molded into the stock… The flash hider became known as “the daisy picker ” as it latched onto every weed, flower and branch it came in reach of….. Cross a river and the barrel plugged up with water…due to the small bore,…and something called “capillary action” so we had to carry CONDOMS and rubber bands to keep the water out… I am persuaded that more emphasis needs to be put on marksmanship during training rather than the “spray and pray ” fully auto scenario….this not only conserves ammo,…but greatly increases the life and accuracy of the weapon…. If any of you think that sheet metal receivers and fully auto is the answer…..the old .45 cal “grease gun” of WW-2 could be produced for about $ 11.00 each…

  • Joe LittleBear

    Surely this must be a typo and you refer to the 7.62 mm The 7.65 has been defunct since WW-2

  • Joe LittleBear

    The MG-42 probably scared more soldiers than it killed…due to it’s high rate of fire…The MG -38 was almost identical but fired slower….didn’t burn up the barrels quite so fast.. probably an upgraded version would be ideal..

  • alexandriacarpetone

    Heck, I still can’t believe the M60 is gone… brings a tear to my eye.
    Semper Fi

  • Bman

    This guy is a fighter jock that doesnt know squat about infantry weapon. The barrel cannot sustain the rate of fire a 249 can nor can a magazine fed rifle. How about getting rid of the M-4 and giving every marine one of these rifles.

  • David D. Rowley

    Although, when I carried a SAW in 1993, the damn thing was more likely to jam than to fire…maybe it got better over the years?!__

    • William C.

      From what I’ve read, the military had been doing a poor job at replacing old, worn out SAWs that saw a lot of use. As a result they behaved like unreliable pieces of junk.

      In more recent years the Army and USMC have stepped up their purchases of new M249s so I’d imagine they are now functioning as they are supposed to. They do have a pretty good reputation among European forces so I don’t think the design was at fault.

  • Johnny Quest


    • Joe LittleBear

      Beg your pardon….it was the MG 34 ( good catch there….shows you were paying attention )….. They were almolst identical but the MG 42 had a higher rate of fire and thus burned the barrels up faster……this has been the curse of single-barreled weapons since the old “Coffee Mill” of the Civil War days…. they don’t have enough cooling time between rounds….this was the roblem addressed by Richard Gatlin when he invented the multi-barreled weapon…to allow the barrel to cool before it fired again… This concept is still used today in the Vulcan cannon and Mini-guns…

  • Johnny Quest

    General Dynamics MK43 Mod 1 is what the M60 should have always been and is a lighter, handier package than any form of the M240 including the new “light weight’ version. All I can say is better late than never.

  • Johnny Quest

    HK’s rifle is an overweight and bloated piece of kit.


    The Britsh Army has just done this exercise in reverse. When we moved from the 7.62 FN BREN/ GPMG and SLR combo to the 5.56 SA-80 weapon system we did away with belt-fed squad weapons in favour a Light Support Weapon which was basically the standard rifle but with a longer barrel and a bipod.

    We took the new combination to Gulf War 1 and suddenly all the infantry units were getting hold of as many GPMG (M240 to you) as they could because the SA80 and LSW combo just wasn’t provding enough Dakka-Dakka when it counted.

    By the time we went to back to Iraq for round two there was a purchase programme for Minimi (M-249 a-likes from Belgium) which was rushed to completion as an Urgent Operational Requirement in order to prop-up the insufficient firepower of our squads, along with underslung grenade launchers and helmet mounted night vision.

    Personal view – you need both.

  • Billywhat?

    Give everybody an M-27 to increase capability above the M4 and give the saw gunners the new negev 7.62 light machine gun. Weighs much less than the M240 and does the same thing better.

  • John D

    It is not belt fed so the rate of fire is no better than an M16! This is a sneaky way for the marines to get the IAR as a replacement for their M16/M4s without going thru the jumps and hoops! The SAW is heavier has changeable barrels and belt feed. The barrel length is 16″ not 20″ like the M16. It really is not a comparable replacement for the SAW,just another inter service peeve like the camo. Since when is the world so different that all services need a specific camo pattern? Need some common sense here!

  • Chris McG

    If you remain belt fed there is the simple option of taking the Mk48 and fielding it in place of the SAW. Operation, drills and maintenance are essentially the same as the SAW but you get 7.62mm.

    Australia did this and fielded them with both SF and regular forces with no implementation bumps along the way now there squads generally roll with a 5.56 and a 7.62 Minimi so they get best of both worlds.

  • Buckethead Vet

    Being a two Tour Vietnam Vet, (our Tours were 12 moths, the Corp was 13), I trained in Basic & Infantry AIT with an M-14. We were, due to normal stupidity from Washington, issued the M-16 when we hit Nam. We were “trained” for a few hours with the “Matty Mattel”, gee what an intense course!! We were, in 1968, issued nothing but 20 round mags for our 16s!! I understand that Special Ops got the new 30 round mags but very few made it to the normal “Grunts”. I spit some “baccy” juice near our “Butter Bar’s” feet & told him, (with a straight face), that I was a 60 Gunner & I needed to be issued my 60 ASAP, Sir!! I got it, my “A” Gunner chose to grab one of the very few 14’s around, good move, he could always barrow ammo from a 60 belt. After many, many years of weapons of training on almost every type of weapon, this is my breakdown of what should have been done waaay back in 1964; manufacture 30 round mags for the M-14s, they should be the ONLY rifle issued for a “long shot environment”, Desert, Mountains, Arctic, etc. There are a lot of mods currently available for the M14s now, get them!! Of course keep some as Sniper rifles, we called them M21s, uncertain of the newer model numbers for them?? Install the same rails as are currently used on the M4s/16s!! Purchase the new FN 16 type rifles, (I think it’s the FN?), with the rail kits & all the gear that’s hung on the M4s/16s. Make certain that our current Mags will work in this rifle!! Issue BETA Mags across the board, at least one per Troop!! The M27 IAR could really use them!! I am VERY concerned by once again issuing everyone a fully automatic rifle!! When you run the numbers for rounds used to kill an enemy, (can’t remember the numbers but these are in the ball park), WWII used @ 100 to 300 rds per kill, Korea was somewhat higher but not crazy yet, Vietnam was bat s**t crazy, by issuing fully automatic weapons to everyone when a Firefight ensued almost everyone went to full auto & “sprayed & prayed” resulting in a total waste of ammo!! Remember, all you have is what you brought with you!! Vietnam used in excess of 100,000 rds per kill!! I’m afraid this will happen again!! The fully auto rifles should be two per squad as they are now I think, the rest can go from single to 3 rd burst, works great, saves ammo, which in turn saves lives!!

  • MTNpatrol

    The M27 is a PISTON driven rifle, as opposed to the hot and dirty direct gas impingement original AR design. And BTW, why not give these soldiers the available wide magazines with 50 rounds since they will be using them much more on full auto.

    The very best thing that could happen now (since the AR pattern seems to be not going away) is to give every grunt an M27. Ruger has done it and done it very well with their SR 556 and SR 762 rifles. And they are far more adaptable at using suppressors than direct impingement rifles.

    But Nooooooo, the military clings to the direct impingement system for the average grunt. The ONLY one of all modern armies’ assault rifles. The rest are all piston driven.

    Just mothball one aircraft carrier and its support fleet and we’d have enough money to do it and much more. After all, we are the only nation with more than one aircraft carrier (what is it? 6?, 8?), not to mention the many similar assault landing carrier ships.

  • MTNpatrol

    The M27 is a PISTON driven rifle. Why not give EVERY grunt an M27? They run far cleaner, don’t slam bolts, wear out bolt lugs and break extractors, don’t get bolts so hot they cook-off rounds, don’t get nearly as dirty and can have a nice ADJUSTABLE piston for running suppressors.

    Direct gas impingement AR type rifles are dinosaurs. No other modern assault rifles use that system, and for good reasons. Goodness gracious sakes alive, Ruger’s SR 556 piston rifle is a better rifle than Any AR 16 or M4. And I’ll bet Ruger could underbid Colt any day and have better quality.