February 2nd, 2018

No More M4 — USMC Adopts H&K M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle

USMC Marine Corps M27 IAR heckler koch
Photo by USMC, public domain.

The U.S. Marine Corps will be adopting a new rifle to replace the M4 select-fire carbine. Designated the M27 IAR (Infantry Automatic Rifle), the new rifle is based on Heckler & Koch’s HK416, which looks like an AR, but runs with an internal gas piston system. The HK416 has been used by the German Army and some USA Special Operations units. This change-over has been in the works for some time, but the “protest period” has concluded, so now it is official.

The adoption of the M27 was announced at SHOT Show 2018. GunsAmerica reports: “H&K has officially received the contract for the USMC to replace the M4 carbines. The H&K model selected is the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, a derivative of the famous H&K 416″. The U.S. Marine Corps initially planned to purchase 6,500 M27s to replace a portion of the M249 light machine guns employed by automatic riflemen within Infantry and Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalions. In December 2017, the Marine Corps revealed a decision to equip every Marine in an infantry squad with the M27, so this is a major change. (Source: Wikipedia.com.)

According to Wikipedia: “The M27 is a lightweight, magazine-fed 5.56mm, select-fire weapon based on the Heckler & Koch HK416. It features a gas-operated, short-stroke piston action with a rotating bolt and a free-floating barrel. The handguard has four MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rails for use with accessories and optics. The simpler gas-piston rifle system reduces the amount of time it takes to resolve malfunctions on the IAR compared with the M249 light machine gun.”

USMC Marine Corps M27 IAR heckler koch
CLICK HERE for full-screen M27 Photo by Heckler & Koch.

As deployed, early versions of the IAR have done well in combat: “The IAR was initially fielded in December 2010. 1st Battalion 3rd Marines were deployed to Afghanistan in April 2011 with 84 IARs. Former SAW gunners initially did not like the M27, but appreciated it as time went on. It weighed 9 lb. loaded, compared to 22 lb. for an M249 — a significant difference when on 5-hour long missions. It also blended in with standard M16-style service rifles, making it difficult for enemy forces to identify the machine gunner. Marines issued with the M27 [report] it is friendlier to troops [than the M249] due to its cleaner, lightweight system having fewer moving parts and jams. IAR gunners consider the rifle-grade accuracy to be a huge improvement over the SAW, despite the loss of sustained firing.” (Source: Wikipedia.com.)

Heckler & Koch Expands American Production Center in Georgia
Heckler & Koch operates a production center in the state of Georgia, not far from Fort Benning. A $28.5 million expansion, started in 2017, is adding a new 50,000-square-foot factory in the Corporate Ridge Business Park. “HK’s new U.S. factory will make use of advanced manufacturing technologies and will be staffed by German and American engineers and technicians,” said Francisco Hidalgo, CEO of HK USA. GunsAmerica notes: “H&K USA will be designing and building guns directly for the U.S. market in the USA now. Now, we can look forward to weapons built specific to the U.S. market. [We] can’t wait to see the first one stamped ‘Made in Georgia’.” It is unknown when H&K will start delivering American-made M27s to the USMC.

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January 18th, 2010

Flaming Carbines — How to Destroy an M4 Barrel

On January 12, 2010 the New York Times “At War” Blog focused on the combat performance of the M4 Carbine, one of the preferred weapons of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There has been some concern that m4s used in sustained fire-fights are overheating the barrel. It’s no surprise that guns firing magazine after magazine of ammo can over-heat the barrel. In a video found on the N.Y. Times site, Testers for Colt Mfg. recently shot an m4 in full-auto mode, loading magazines as fast as possible. The point was to test the gun to the point of catastrophic failure, something that occured after about two minutes.

CLICK HERE to watch m4 Rifle Test Video (Catastrophic Failure).

This is a pretty amazing video. As the NY Times author notes: “Watch the video closely. After several magazines, the barrel smolders. Then it becomes red hot. After 1 minute and 20 seconds the barrel begins to droop between magazines — like a piece of warm licorice. Then comes the catastrophic ending, at 1 minute and 51 seconds and after the 535th round, when the barrel ruptures.”

m4 Destruction Video

We hate to see any firearm abused like this. On the other hand, we’re glad a manufacturer testing the limits of extreme performance. Lessons learned can help improve the m4 design. The U.S. Army is considering fitting a heavier-contour barrel that may not heat up so quickly. A second video on the same NYT Blog page shows an m4A1 carbine with a heavier barrel. This second gun delivered 911 rounds before the gas tube ruptured. Note, in both the video demos, the m4s were modified to shoot full auto (not 3-round bursts like most m4s). This allowed a much high sustained rate of fire than would be possible with weapons limited to 3-round bursts.

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