The U.S. Marine Corps wants to order 50,000 additional Heckler & Koch M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles, or IARs. The Marines adopted the M27 to replace light machine guns starting in 2010. The IAR can also be fielded as a designated marksman’s rifle as necessary.
While this notice is focused on Heckler & Koch, the contract is available to any source that believes they can deliver suitable support rifles that meet or exceed the current M27’s functionality.
“Any responsible source who believes it is capable of meeting the requirement may submit a capability statement, proposal, or quotation, [shall] be considered by the agency,” reads the notice.
This is still good news for Heckler & Koch since the company has newer, improved versions of the rifle the M27 is based on. The current M27 has a proprietary lower receiver that limits magazine interchangeability with M4 and M16 rifles. The updated design has a standard lower.
Companies don’t have a lot of time to respond. Responses must be submitted by August 28, 2017.
The decision to use a heavy carbine to replace select light machine guns was controversial at the time of adoption. Today it’s clear that the Marine Corps is happy with the decision as they steadily increase the number of IARs in service.
While an M27 weighs more than an M4 or even an M16 rifle, it weighs almost half of what an M249 does. While the M27 doesn’t have the same sustained fire capacity, the lighter gun gives Marines a lot more flexibility and mobility.
The M27 and the HK416 it’s based on are part of the AR family of rifles. They share some parts compatibility which is always a good thing from a logistics perspective.
They feature a heavy barrel and gas piston system, which runs cooler and more reliably than direct impingement rifle, particularly when used as a light machine gun providing sustained fire.
Because the M27 outperforms current rifles in use by the Marines there are rumors that the Corps is looking to switch entirely over to the IAR as its standard issue rifle.
Another advantage of the IAR is its adjustable gas system. This lets users increase the amount of gas used to cycle the action if the gun is fouled as well as decrease the amount of gas when running guns suppressed.
The only major trade-off is the weight difference. An M4 has a dry weight of 6.5 pounds, compared to just under 8 pounds for an unloaded M27. By comparison, M16 rifles weight 7.2 pounds and M4A1 carbines weigh 7.5 pounds.
It sounds like the Corps is willing to add a little more weight to increase their effective infantry range.