Update on the IAR competition

hk_iar_1-tfb

A couple of days ago I blogged about H&K winning the USMC’s IAR competition. There has been much confusion regarding the IAR competition since then.

Dan Lamothe, who broke the news, updated his The Marine Times article and added that it now appears that the H&K IAR has not officially won but is the frontrunner

With several months of testing ahead, the decision isn’t considered final, but it makes the H&K model the clear front-runner in the competition.

The Corps will now put H&K IAR through five months of testing beginning in January and taking place in locations ranging from Panama to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center and Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in California, Eby said. The Corps has ordered 24 H&K IARs for testing, said Capt. Geraldine Care

Rob Curtis who blogs at GearScout (also part of the Military Times) wrote that the DoD appear to done a downselect, rather than awarding H&K an outright win …

From what we understand, this is actually a downselect to just one system as opposed to a contract win

Dan send me an email regarding my previous comments on the supposed weight of the H&K IAR, which is almost identical to the standard HK416 carbine. He sent me the spec document which H&K provided him with. It does indeed list the weight as just 7.9 lbs!

Daniel E. Watters wrote that he suspects that the Marine command may have been framing the IAR as a partial M249 replacement but in reality they may have just wanted a piston operated full-auto carbine. By procuring what is sold as a new class of weapon they could sidestep the inter-service politics and bureaucracy …

The weird thing is that the HK416 IAR is roughly the same weight as the M16A4, if not lighter when the latter is fitted with the M5 ARS. I’m certain that someone in Congress will ultimately ask what the HK416 can do that their issue M16A4 retrofitted with full-auto trigger groups can’t.

Like others have mentioned, I can’t help but wonder if the USMC didn’t game the IAR requirements so that a basic carbine could win instead of a HBAR. The idea would be to gradually increase the number of IAR issued so that they could later justify standardizing on it to replace not just the infantry squad’s M249, but their M16A4 and M4 as well. By framing it as a service-specific supplement to their M249, they skirted the need to argue with the other service branches over a set of joint requirements.

As for winning the contract, everyone needs to remember that Colt, FN, and HK were already awarded Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contracts for their IAR last year. An IDIQ contract guarantees the awardee that they will have a specific minimum of items ordered, with the possibility of additional orders up to a specific maximum. There is no guarantee that more than the stated minimum will ever be ordered. I’ve long suspected that contracting officers have been purposefully making multiple awards of IDIQ contracts prior to a final downselect in order to head off potential award protests by the disgruntled losers. It is my understanding that by accepting their IDIQ award, the contractor only has grounds to protest if the guaranteed minimum has not ordered before the end of the contract. They cannot protest that they did not receive additional orders in excess of the guaranteed minimum.

Make of all this information as you will. All I know is that DoD procurement was never designed to be understood by a mere mortal such as myself!




Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    I noticed the deal with the weight too. I just didn’t put it together the way that you have. It makes perfect sense too, SOCOM which is willing to try darn near every concept that hits the market isn’t interested and they’ve been pushing this so hard despite the weirdness of it that your conclusions seem spot on.

  • subby

    Pretty funny they have to go to such lengths to stand a chance at changing the M16a4.

  • subby

    Considering the adoption of the scar for socom. Maybe that spooked some people and they thought “Scar the main infantry rifle?, not on my watch!” And they cooked up this bogus IAR replacement, so they would have a rifle that could hold its own against the scar. Or least have an alternative design already in action that they could use to block the Scar going mainstream.

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    I think Steve already said it but I’ll repeat it anyway. The HK416 got bad reviews by SOCOM…it was put into service before the SCAR and only thing heard about it was bad stuff.

    As far as an M16A4 replacement…I still can’t see it. The barrel is too short/range too limited for it to be considered the primary Infantry rifle. Of course the same thing applies to the IAR in this form as a replacement for the M249. I can’t believe that they would give up effective range, effective rate of fire and the only gain being in weight as a reason to switch to this concept. Heck they could have gone with any of the SOCOM or paratroop versions of the M249 as a cheaper and more effective modification of an existing machinegun.

    The last time the Marine Corps went this route was with the M60E3…it was not successful and I can see this IAR (if its to be the M249 replacement…even in limited roles) not being in service long.

  • Lance

    I think the Marines just want to head the way of the Army with there new perposed M-4A2 with a pison system. I dont think they will replace the M-16A4 for a while but it may replace the older M-4 modles in use.

    I dont think this is a scare tactic on the SCAR the gun is have problums in the field and is too expensive to be widely used. But I think the Corps may justwan to look at new guns for adoption at future uses.

  • Big Daddy

    This is just sounding very bizarre, it doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s just basically a piston M-4 with probably a slightly heavier barrel. No larger capacity magazine, no barrel change, a closed bolt which without either a barrel change or a really heavy barrel with maybe some fluting just does not make sense to me. Or like the POF guns they have a large collar to absorb heat around the chamber area.

    The more the DOD does stuff like this the more I just shake my head. To me the only thing that makes sense is a backdoor way of getting a piston rifle in the supply chain. Why bother if you’re still staying with the 5.56mm round. So bow you can have another pea shooter in your squad.

    If they were serious about getting something to bridge the gap between a SAW and a carbine the only weapon of any merit out there is the Ultimax 100 and everybody in the DOD treats it like they’ll catch Ebola or AIDS from it.

  • http://americanmohist.blogspot.com Jimmy W

    Requirements are written by committee. It is very possible that there is a faction in the Corps thinking exactly like Steve does: as a backdoor to a carbine. However, the concept itself, a new auto rifle, is a tactically valid one. The true believers do exist, but they had to compromise on the specifications at the committee to get buy-in from everybody else.

  • Brad

    Lots of competitors participated for the IAR job, including a version of the Ultimax LMG, and seemingly the HK has won.

    Unless someone is going to argue that the USMC rigged the testing, the HK won despite whatever theoretical deficiencies it has. The Ultimax didn’t even survive to the final round against the competition.

    I agree that, on paper at least, the Ultimax 100 is the best weapon for the IAR role. Better luck next time!

    I also think the weirdness of the HK IAR in it’s initial configuration with a 30 round mag is freaking people out unnecessarily. Just because the HK IAR resembles an M-4 too much doesn’t mean the USMC is scheming to replace the M-4 and M-16a4. For one thing I doubt the Corps could afford to replace it’s entire inventory of brand new M-16a4 rifles.

  • Martin

    Given how none of the IAR program makes any sense whatsoever, I’d have to go along with the conclusion that the USMC is just trying to backdoor an M4/AR replacement. I’ve always thought the Corps did a good job when it came to picking and equipping their troops, except when it came to suppressive fire.

    I know that the official reason for removing the M60 family from service was reliability issues. However, in my experience, the problem wasn’t with the weapon, but with the lubricant (CLP). I’ve always hated CLP and thought it was garbage. I could take a M60 that had a stoppage, and without cleaning it, apply some Remington RemOil from an aerosol can and put it back in service with no further stoppages. SO, they go with the SAW, which runs good, but lacks firepower. Now they say a SAW is too heavy, and they’re essentially leaving their squads with rifles and rockets.

    As I’ve said in another thread, the IAR could work if all the riflemen were equipped with it, which may be their goal. I feel sorry for the entrants that will lose this competition because they provided what the USMC asked for. This whole IAR fiasco is going to end in a lot of tears.

  • Thomas

    Not being either a telepath or clairvoyant, I can not speculate on the reasoning behind the USMC’s action. But, that service has been getting “stuck” with weapons systems that the other services want, rather than what the Marines feel is better suited to their mission, for decades. Possibly, fearing either stagnation in weapons system procurement under the current administration or a McNamara like approach to standardization of equipment military-wide, the boys and girls at 8th and I may have decided to procure a weapon system that they prefer through a loophole in the system. This would not be a first for them in recent months. They just managed to procure two of the three main components of the 1911 pistol in a similar stealthy manner.

  • Lance

    m with Brad on this one 100%. The Marines are still buying M-16A4s and the Navy M-16A2s from both FN and Sabre firearm firms. If they want to replace them they wouldnt have, made a last year buy of a huge contract with them. I think theres some in the corps getting new guns ready in case they need them. But more like want a BAR type gun in service for light firepower more than a carbine not as heavy as a LMG. The BAR concept worked in WW2 and Korea while a full size M-1919 would have been way too heavy to lug around every where. The Corps wants the same from a modern weapon line up.

  • AntiCitizenOne

    I wonder why the LWRC IAR wasn’t in the competition…?

  • Daniel

    Lance, just because the BAR worked in WW 2 does not mean we should look to it as our metric for now. There’s a reason we went to a belt fed SAW. The Enfield and Mauser also worked in WW 2, perhaps we should reexamine the concept of a standard issue bolt gun?

    Additionally the BAR weighs a whooping two pounds less than the M249.

    This sounds exactly like the Brits and their LSW, the Germans and the MG36, and even the US and the m14 A1. Mag fed SAW’s in a SAW role are inferior and everyone who has tried them, Britain Germany, US, and i believe one major power I’m forgetting have dumped them in favor of the M249 specifically or weapons of similar profile, MG4 ect.

    The only exception i can think of is Russia with the RPK however, a lightened version of the PKM is moving into the RPKs territory and it isn’t like the Russian small arms TOE has changed much in the last 20 years.

    The Marines are either up to something, or are going to get alot of marines killed when they need to achieve at least fire parity in a crappy situation. Something here doesn’t make sense. you ll loose your weight savings with all the additional mags you’d have to carry to get the same combat load, your going to have cook offs galore when you need the weapon most and burn out barrels with no option for a quick change, as i don’t see them carrying additional uppers in the spare barrel bag.

    Just my opinion take it for what you will.

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    I 100% agree with what appears to be a developing majority view. The USMC is making a weird move here.

    If its to actually accomplish what they’re stating then this is probably the stupidest idea out of a fine organization in years.

    If its a backdoor to a piston rifle, then ok, but the politics of it are going to have ramifications.

    Either way this is worth watching…Keep on it Steve!

  • Lance

    Dan

    Im not saying we need to goto WW2 weapons! Im just saying a idea of a BAR in a squad is sound. The Soviets/Russians use the RPK-74 dose tht make them old WW2 morons? I dont think so. Denmark and Britan use IAR Denmark bought Colt Automatic Rifles. The Brits use a IAR varient of there L-85 assualt rifle. China has both a Type-56 and a Type 95 IARs for there infantry. The US was the only one back in the 60s to replace all automatic squad weapons for a GPMG IE M-60. And While I think both the M-60 and M-240 are exilent MGs I can see the US getting a lighter weapon for some smaller conflict IE Afghanistain. And the M-249 in concept was great. But more reports of M-249s running out of belts quick and jamming on 30rd mags makes the case that M-249 is not ideal for all situations. And that while a light wepons section may still have a SAW gunner a extra man with a IAR may be able to back him up with more accurate aimed auto fire in a fight.

    As for the some who say the Marines I will disagree. For them to do away with the M-16 real shortly wont happen. Well heres a fact to kill that Idea. The USMC is still buying M-16s. The fact of both the Navy and Marines both buying normal M-16s also is a BIG mark against the idea that the Corps is going for a all HK 416 military. Both services bought a long contract with two M-16 makers (FN and Sabre) less than a year ago. They wouldnt have done this if They wanted to get ride of there M-16s in a year or two. All combat reports of normal sized M-16s is fine ever since the M-16A2 went into service in 1983. The only Stoner to have problems which I think are heavly overblowne are smaller M-4 carbines which are not normal M-16s. While the ARmy is the only service to try to use a all M-4 fleet. The Navy and Marines use M-16s alot more and M-4s only used by a few select men in a company, like a carbine should be used. So the Marines never had issues in combat like the army did.

    I think there alot of good men out there who loved another design both US and Euro designs. And when the USMC went one way lot where disapointed. So many think theres a more sinister plot afoot. True? mabie who know what happens in the Pentagon, I work for the USCG for crying out load..lol. the Army just anounced they want a piston M-4 a few weeks ago and hay the Marines a week later adopted one. OR it could be that the men in the R&D in the Marines just liked the 416 design. Most of the test where done in eviroments like Afghanistain where it did very very well. So the Corps buys the design. Next year there going to try in in Jungle conditions in Panama, who know humidady might screw it up and the DI system may work better in high humidity. All yesterdays news shows is that a AR design won and the Marines like a piston squad auto I said a piston is better for automatic fire in prolonged bursts… Its cooler on the gun. For a rifleman who in the Corps is trained more to shoot on semi-auto a piston is not needed due to aimed slower fire. Remember Marines are trained to aim and fire, which is lower and controled a M-16s job. The army teaches to do more spraying which is hard on a smaller M-4 which was not ment for that useage.

    Im just saying what I gathered from all the news the last few days.

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    Dan are you sure that its the piston that’s the big attraction or the ability to fire from the open bolt (which necessitates a piston) to keep the weapon from overheating? I know it might seem like splitting hairs but the ability to fire from an open bolt seems like the real big difference from normal piston AR clones.

  • Daniel

    para is lighter when both are loaded

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    Sorry that should have been addressed to Lance.

  • Lance

    The HK IAR dosnt fire from a open bolt. Its a fixed closed bolt. Some think its a sham that a IAR wont have a open bolt option, I disagree. The piston system fire a bit slower and the heat from the gas operates the piston and keeps the upper reciver cool. The idea of a open bolt would only allow dust and sand to enter when your fireing a hot weapon. The result would be more jams. So a closed bolt on a piston would bypass this problum with a IAR in desert ops.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Lance, the problem is not so much heat, but if the gun is already hot, an open-bolt prevents cook-offs (rounds igniting in chamber).

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    Lance, reread the requirements. It most definitely DOES fire from an open bolt.

  • Daniel

    lance, since my last post got deleted, ill try to rephrase it nicer.

    “The army teaches to do more spraying which is hard on a smaller M-4 which was not ment for that useage.”

    so i should remember the marines are trained to aim and fire while the army just sprays and prays? id like to know why my original response to that got deleted while this blog keeps that obviously credible information up.
    you do realize the army’s m-4s are burst fire right?

    “And the M-249 in concept was great. But more reports of M-249s running out of belts quick and jamming on 30rd mags makes the case that M-249 is not ideal for all situations.”

    why is running out of ammunition a flaw of the weapon, when one can carry more ammunition lighter in belts than magazines? if you are low on ammunition why would you expend your remaining rounds in a weapon with a high cyclic rate of fire?

    “The HK IAR dosnt fire from a open bolt. Its a fixed closed bolt. Some think its a sham that a IAR wont have a open bolt option, I disagree. The piston system fire a bit slower and the heat from the gas operates the piston and keeps the upper reciver cool. The idea of a open bolt would only allow dust and sand to enter when your fireing a hot weapon. The result would be more jams. So a closed bolt on a piston would bypass this problum with a IAR in desert ops.”

    the rate of fire depends on the gas system not the piston, ie adjustable gas systems on the 249 ect

    you do realize nearly every machine gun fires from an open bolt, the open bolt and quick change barrels are essential to sustained automatic fire. why wouldn’t dust and sand enter a closed bolt when the bolt cycles? do you know what a cook off is? the mean rounds between stoppage on the 249 and 240 are in the 10s of thousands open bolts are more reliable.

  • jdun1911

    Open bolt doesn’t prevent cook off. They minimized the chance of it. It still happen if it gets too hot. That’s why most machineguns have quick barrel change. Go do a google search for m249 cook off. The trade off is a very less accurate platform.

    I really don’t want to get into this again but I will point out some facts. The program was started by a highly decorated gunnery sergeant (which the name I have forgotten). The IAR progam is being push hard by the people that have fought in wars and not politicians, paper pusher, and internet commandos. It is push by Marines staff sergeant for some time.

    The m249 is too heavy. So the fireteam either have to wait for the person dragging the M249 or leave him behind. This might not be a problem in the past when a GI didn’t carry much on him but it is now.

    My personal opinion is that a close bolt system was picked due to consistency. They do not want a 17 years old Marine to screw in the heat of battle between an AR open bolt and an AR close bolt.

    Someone posted on AR that the HK416 system doesn’t address the bolt tilt problem. It would be interesting to see how much round count the IAR version take before it destroy the upper receiver and the extension tube.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      jdun1911, it prevents cook off because a round will not be sitting in the chamber when the gun is not being fired. Without it, the operator would need to use the bolt hold open to lock the bolt back after an engagement (or even during a lull in the fighting) and then release it when the action starts again.

      But I agree with what you say – it does not replace a quick change barrel which is needed for “true” machine guns.

  • jdun1911

    Here is an m249 cook off.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      jdun1911, I am confused how this happens. How does it cook off in an open bolt gun?

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    The program is being pushed by Marine Gunners. There is much doubt in the rest of the Corps about whether this is a good idea or not. Even the Commandant has been reported by Marine Corps Times as having doubts but the Gunners were able to satisfy his concerns. I still believe this is all moot though. This is a list of the vehicles/aircraft that the Marine Corps is buying/refurbishing/developing…

    F-35
    AH-1Z
    UH-1Y
    MTVR
    JLTV
    Marine Personnel Carrier
    EFV
    LVSR
    M-ATV
    V-22
    CH-53K
    M-16A4
    Joint Combat Shotguns
    Improved body armor
    Improved rucks
    New Helmets
    New optics
    New Sniper Rifles

    The list really goes on. What project do you think is most vulnerable? I still wonder why they just didn’t go with a para model of the M-249. This is a boondoggle and to repeat myself the M60E3 was the last time the Marine Corps did something like this and it didn’t turn out well.

  • http://tinyurl.com/rootman root man

    Indeed.. the round may “cook off” with an open bolt but the “cook off” will happen when you pull the trigger (and a round is chambered) and you want it to “cook off”.

    IAR is for lighter weight, more accurate, more mobile firepower than the saw.

    Another thing to realize is that the bad guys will always target the guy with the saw. When you are running around in the streets that can be a major problem.

    The idea that the scar is no good is just silly. It may not be perfect but the hk is far from perfect also and we don’t need to get into the problems with the m4. I don’t think the SF community would just accept a piece of junk.

  • Lance

    The HK IAR dosnt have a opn bolt. It was the only design not too. And the M-249 is a closed bolt as well it just has a barrel change. Open bolt in theroy prevents a round cooking off but if its that hot the whole fron of the upper reciver will cook one off anyway.

    And Soloman

    The Marines are buying M-16 still and M-40A3 sniper rifles. I doubt they will get ride of them over night. There brand new.

    And not all Army M-4s are burst fire i know alot of guys who have M-4A1s with full auto options.

  • Lance

    Bye the time the barrel is hot enough to cook a round off the reciver its connected too get red hot as well Since even in a open bolt the whole area the ammo is in will get red hot. Which means a cook off as well.

    I hate to be aginst your side Steve im not just to this???

    You have to agree though Steve the M-40 and M-16A4 which they are buying right now arnt going away any time soon, agreeSeve????

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Lance, no one has to agree with me! All I ask if that people are polite to me and each other.

      I don’t know what the Marines are planning. I have no experience, so my opinion is pretty worthless, but I would be surprised to see them dump the M16A4.

  • jdun1911

    Receiver got too hot.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht9DOM_-Xto

    There were a number of videos that was on live leak few years back that show m240 and m249 getting cook off in Iraq. Only one I could find, right now. Most of them are taken off.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=1c41f25226

    Operational manual for both firearms said 200 rounds per minute max before the need to change the barrel to prevent cook off (assumption).

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/3-22-68/c01.htm
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/3-22-68/c03.htm

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      jdun1911, dangerous! thanks for the info

  • Lance

    Thanks Steve what I ment was I useally agree with you 97% of the time.

    Yeah I dont see the current Marine or Army for that matter invatory go awayanytime soon.

    But I dont get some on this site who think a M-60 and M-240 are open bolt. There closed bolt with a barrel change option.

    And I disagree that the M-60 was bad and a horrible design. You and I can argue over M-60 vs M-240 MGs any day. But he M-60 served well in Vietnam and Gulf War 1. Seals and Coast Guard units still use them too. Ive shoot them and they work just fine.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Lance, I think the big difference is that your compatriots shoot them from boats and ships! Not like the poor grunts in the Army who have to carry the damn heavy M60 ;)

  • Lance

    Ahh but a 240 weighs just as much. But I see your point a 7.62 GPMG is nice to me but many dont like them for there weight. I also know the Army issues them to the sortest man in every outfit every time hece alot more weight complants. lol

  • Daniel

    lance are you serious…. the m 60 and 240 are open bolt

    from FM 3.22-68

    1-1. DESCRIPTION
    The M249 machine gun is a gas-operated, air-cooled, belt or magazine-fed, automatic weapon that fires from the open-bolt position (Figure 1-1). It has a maximum rate of fire of 850 rounds per minute. Primarily, ammunition is fed into the weapon from a 200-round ammunition box containing a disintegrating metallic split-link belt. As an emergency means of feeding, the M249 machine gun can use a 20- or 30-round M16 rifle magazine but increases the chance of stoppages. This gun can be fired from the shoulder, hip, or underarm position; from the bipod-steadied position; or from the tripod-mounted position. See Table 1-1, for general data

    2-1. DESCRIPTION
    The M60 is a gas-operated, air-cooled, belt-fed, automatic machine gun that fires from the open-bolt position (Figure 2-1). It has a maximum rate of fire of 550 rounds per minute. Ammunition is fed into the weapon from a 100-round bandoleer containing a disintegrating metallic split-link belt. It can be fired from the shoulder, hip, or underarm position; from the bipod-steadied position; or from the tripod-mounted position. (See Table 2-1, for general data.)

    3-1. DESCRIPTION
    The M240B is a general-purpose machine gun. (Figure 3-1) It can be mounted on a bipod, tripod, aircraft, or vehicle. The M240B is a belt-fed, air-cooled, gas-operated, fully automatic machine gun that fires from the open bolt position. Ammunition is fed into the weapon from a 100-round bandoleer containing a disintegrating metallic split-link belt. The gas from firing one round provides the energy for firing the next round. Thus, the gun functions automatically as long as it is supplied with ammunition and the trigger is held to the rear. As the gun is fired, the belt links separate and are ejected from the side. Empty cases are ejected from the bottom of the gun. A spare barrel is issued with each M240B, and barrels can be changed quickly as the weapon has a fixed head space. However, barrels from different weapons should not be interchanged. The bore of the barrel is chromium plated, reducing barrel wear to a minimum

    where are you getting this garbage?

  • Daniel

    the m60 is widely considered the WORST modern gpmg also.

  • Daniel

    did you claim to shoot CLOSED bolt m 60s?

  • Lance

    Ok an I dont like your accusations of me.

    Tell GI that most men ive meet thought yes it was heavy but the M-60 was good firepower. Some experts didnt like the M-60 fine but most ive talked to at least said it could hold its own. I fired M-60s and M-1919s which the M-240/MAG is based on. While on vacation over seas. They are closed bolt. They dont have a same action as a M-3 Grease Gun. And im tired you some commeters accuseing me of telling untrue lies.

    If you disagree fine you can say you love M-249s and hate M-60 thats your opion and I respect it. I dont want people name calling and accusing me of stuff. In the end we are on the same side and it hurts to see ideas go to out right cyber warfair.

    Steve any comments?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Lance, wikipedia says they fire from open bolt. I have never used one, nor asked anybody who probably has used them what they thought, but on military forums people are usually complaining about them.

  • Lance

    My father shot the M-1919 in the Army vis M-48 tanks coaxe MG. He spent more hours on them than most he said it was a closed bolt.

  • Daniel

    Lance really you stated “But I dont get some on this site who think a M-60 and M-240 are open bolt. There closed bolt with a barrel change option.”

    i replied with the description from the FIELD MANUEL of the weapons, the official document that describes them.

    you then respond to that with “My father shot the M-1919 in the Army vis M-48 tanks coaxe MG. He spent more hours on them than most he said it was a closed bolt.”

    the 1919 is not the 240 or the 60 or the 249 are you serious, no one has mention the 1919 but you.

    “I fired M-60s and M-1919s which the M-240/MAG is based on. While on vacation over seas. They are closed bolt. They dont have a same action as a M-3 Grease Gun. And im tired you some commeters accuseing me of telling untrue lies.”

    the m 240 has the feed mechanism from the MG 42. i have no idea where your getting this M3 grease gun stuff from as the first mention of it was yours in that post.

    provide me a reference that states the m249, m240 or m60 fires from a closed bolt, i cited FM 3-22.68 which states they are open bolt, you are wrong and i am very unconvinced of your credibility.

    sir the way i see it there are two options at this point prove me wrong and i will apologize or admit your mistake.

  • Lance

    Ok id odmit that ok the M-60 and 240 are open bolts. But im not backing on the idea that the M-60 was carp. I know men who carried it and swar by it. I also know men who hate the M-240. A weapon always has its critics and supporters. I like them both. I fired one and it was OK. I acutally disliked the 1919 more due to its odd shape.

    Im not standing for guys who name call me or any men who agree with me. Be civilized here.

  • Lance

    I addmitted mabie the M-60 mabie open bolt its been years sinced i fired one. BUT Dan your credibility im not conviced either since you been name calling. You dont like the M-60 so do some authors but men I do know who carried them in Nam and the Gulf liked them. The gun was well performed in the Navy. Comment from a ex army man on this site said the only problum with 60s was poor army lubs they gave gunners that attracted too much dust and made jams.

  • Lance

    The M-240 has some MG-42 designs but its mostly based on the Browning M-1919 MG. NOW FOR THE LAST TIME I ADMITT ABOUT the bolts. Thats all.

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

    Daniel and Lance,

    Please feel free to point out inaccuracies, but insulting each other in the process it not helpful. Just state the facts, and leave the personal stuff out.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      also, this debate about M60s is offtopic. Please stick to the topic in question.

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    This is a tough subject. Believe me the discussions are even more fierce inside the Marines. Assault gunner and Riflemen and the need to whether tactics or equipment needs to be changed. The published reason for the desire for the IAR is that the machine gunners can’t keep up with the rest of the squad in the assault. Mags are desired not for the fire power but for the agility gained…the Fallujah experience is weighing heavily here.

    But I think that’s the problem. Urban combat is far different from what’s going on in Afghanistan. Hilltop to hilltop firing. Defense of outposts.

    US Army experience with the need for suppressive fire in the outpost wars is what has them keeping the M249. The Marines haven’t suffered those type hits yet. I really wished SOCOM had picked up this project instead but it appears that they’re sold on the added firepower of a belt fed weapon.

  • Timo

    >The Brits use a IAR varient of there L-85 assualt rifle.

    Sure but I´ve read that this weapon is nowadays used as marksman´s weapon within infantry sections. Brits use L110 FN Minimi as light support weapon.

  • Mad World

    I can understand the Marines on this one, rather than adding more M249 type weapons to the mix they want to add a few rifles that have a higher sustained rate of fire to increase firepower without increasing the weight makes sense to me like that haha i’m not however entirely convinced the HK 416 is the perfect weapon for the job based on what I have heard of it although having never handeled or fired one I can’t claim to be any sort of expert. The only concern I have is the inability to maintain full control the piston system as many have said on various forums, I don’t think a quick change barrel is needed for the intended role of the IAR either as seems to me it’s not intended to lay down continuous suppressive fire just a small boost to the M249. Almost like adding a turbo to a car, the engine is still needed and does most of the work but the turbo gives it a little more power to play with.
    Cheers.

  • subby

    Its seems that they are buying an IAR before anyone has clearly defined what an IAR IS exactly. Its obviously not an M249 so what is it then?

    In my opinion its an M249 that is lighter this takes into account the large amount of foot patrols in Afghanistan. Which is magazine fed, which in dusty environments is more reliable. And that is about it.

    What is hard to believe is that the HK 416 can compete with the M249 regarding rate of fire before cook off. But one shouldn’t second guess it, because I know for a fact that the M4’s barrel blows out after the M16 when being fired continuously. This is contradictory but those are the facts. It just may be the case that the HK 416 has a higher rate of fire before cook off AND barrel exploding than the M249. In which case this whole IAR business isn’t as complicated as it seems.

    What I would like to know is this. How important are changeable barrels in a IAR? Is it just to avoid cook offs or to prevent the barrel from blowing too? Considering soldiers can only carry around 450 bullets, how often is this feature used realistically speaking?

  • http://americanmohist.blogspot.com Jimmy W

    I think one of the more remarkable note here is that the HK416 will have a 16″ barrel. Is it going to have a midlength gas system?

    The M60 was good, the only problem was that they were wearing out, and the army did not want to refurbish them.

    M240 and 249 fire from an open, locked bolt. The bolt is locked when the round goes off, but stays open when not firing.

    M249 para is good, but the ultrashort barrels are bad for reliability.

  • Daniel

    Lance the m 240 is based on the browning 1918 better known as the BAR, they flipped the action and used the mg 42 feed system.
    that is all I’m done correcting you

    timo i think that’s the telling point everyone has switched away from mag fed SAWs. this is the m14 AR all over again.

  • Rusty Ray

    Guys, I carried the L7 GPMG (Gimpy) which is the Brit designation for the M-240, then I changed to the LSW, which AFAIC is the same idea as the Marines are trying to impliment. And I have to agree with the comments about it being a mistake.

    We went to a magazine fed intimet support weapon after the Falklands Conflict in 1982. The Gimpy was very, very well respected but lived up to the epiphet of ‘The lightest Heavy MG, and the heaviest light MG’. And what makes it heavier is that it is a hungry beast. So we changed to an all 5.56mm, magazine fed, ‘unit’ construction platform – The SA80 and the LSW, the SA80 being the bullpup infantry rifle and the LSW being the heavy barrelled and bi-podded support weapon, with many common parts between the two.

    And they took out Gimpys off of us.

    I can tell you now, nearly everybody liked the idea of the increase in firepower for the average squad member (Our FALs were only single shot and had 20 rd mags) but everybody also found that it became very obvious, even from very early use, that a 30rd mag on the squad support weapon denied the squad just that, support. We all noticed that you could not generate the firepower needed to support an infantry squad attack. And this seems to have been born out in the Sand Box.

    They gave back the Gimpys.

    They turned the LSWs over to something that I know it will be fantastic at – The Squad’s Designated Marksman’s weapon. And guys, this rifle is bloody accurate.

    Anyway, I feel that if the Marines are above board and serious about going to a magaizine fed support weapon for their squads, it is a very, very, very big mistake. And I also believe that you’ll see belt fed weapons back in the squads again, very soon after they are taken away.

    The only sliver of reason that I can come up with would be if they have somehow gotten a bigger magazine. I was thinking that this would be a great idea if you could have those Snail Mags with 50rds…….

    Cheers all – Rusty.

  • Lance

    I disagree Soloman. SOCOM command in Product and Precurement has been screwed up in the past few years. Hay they turned down the exilent XCR for a pice of plastic basicly. The Marines dont do remote post guarding. And so they need differnt weapons. The M-249 is not a great weapon for fixed weapons. The 5.56 round is too weak for real heavy killing power. A 7.62mm M240 or M60 is far better for point defence. And which also can destory fast moveing vehicles (pickups and cars loaded with explosives) the Taliban may use in a attack as well.

  • Lance

    Not exactly and respectfully. The Russians and many East Europeans use RPKs and the Chinese do. As for the L-85 SAW I feel 5.56 is too small of a round for support fire thats whay so many use 7.62mm MGs. The IAR is not a weapon ment to shoot and keep shooting for minutes and minutes its to fire accurate bursts at individual targets so a heave 200+ round belt too heavy a IAR with a 90rd drum will due the trick just fine. Im not saying the SAW is useless it has is place and marines wont dump them either. They want a gun for a spacific mission.

  • Daniel

    “The Marines don’t do remote post guarding”

    Lance are you know saying Marines don’t pull guard?

    How do they do security when they are in a remote area?

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    Lance, what you’re saying is true but I wonder what that gives us that we don’t already have in the unit? Accurate fire can be accomplished with the M-16A4 with a modified heavy barrel…add in the 150 round drum that’s being worked on and you can have an entire squad of “semi-machine gunners”! The problem becomes when sustained fire is necessary. Have you seen the video on the reloading of the drum that’s under consideration? TERRIBLE!~! They will miss the chance to just hook another belt to the weapon and keep on firing.

    I also have a problem with the idea of boutique weaponry. The biggest offenders are SOCOM. How many different weapons are in their inventory? It is justifiable … up to a point. But the Marine Corps can’t get caught in that trap. Already you’re seeing that type of creep slipping into the Infantry community thru the Sniper door. How many different types of Sniper rifles are being fielded now that fire the same bullet through a different platform?

    The IAR is a WASTE! Kill it now Commandant!

  • Lance

    What I mean Dan is they dont guard border check points as much as the army and dont have the some tactics they army uses.

    I like Solomans approch for someone who opposes a IAR he has a good argument. In many ways they Army needed to isses M-16s in combat more than the Corps needed to feild carbines. good argument Soloman.

  • Whatever

    “Operational manual for both firearms said 200 rounds per minute max before the need to change the barrel to prevent cook off (assumption).”

    Open bolt means there shouldn’t be cook-offs if the barrel gets hot (and the operator isn’t doing something dumb). The reason I’ve been told why you don’t want to fire so much that the barrel gets red hot is it destroys the rifling which makes accurate fire very hard to accomplish.

  • Ken

    Wow… I would like to point out that the barrel DOES NOT need to be red hot for accuracy to suck. Once the accuracy goes down YOUR BARREL IS HOT AND NEEDS CHANGING. Obviously you have let it go too long without a change at this point. Proper training is key. They need to figure this whole thing out and stop wasting my tax dollars…lol!

  • subby

    If they needed the M249 why didn’t they just upgrade them all to SPW’s? The truth is they aren’t replacing the M249, they are just giving themselves another option. If guys think they will need the M249 then they can get it, if they don’t then they should stick to their IAR’s.

    I think M249’s out in the field are rarely used to their full potential. Instead they just get worn out with superfluous use. An IAR will allow the M249’s to work properly when the marines need them.

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    Two points, the IAR will have a shorter effective range than the M-16A4.

    Second, why do you think that the M249’s aren’t being used to their full potential?

    I’m keeping that question clean because Steve said to but that is a “weird” statement.

  • subby

    By ‘full potential’ I mean, sustained automatic fire with barrel changes to achieve some objective. In Iraq they were lugged around and just used as rifles since the forces were always moving and reactionary in the urban environment. In Afghanistan its worse since the same happens only at much longer distances on foot patrols. The heavy suppressive fire the M249 is capable of is not used. So if not whats the point of having it? Wouldn’t it be better to have a more reliable and lighter weapon in the same role?

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    subby. In my opinion you’re wrong. I won’t dig deeper into it but I believe you’re mixing apples and oranges and don’t understand how the weapon is actually being utilized. M240’s are being used too. Are they too heavy? Should they be retired? What about 50 cal weapons? too heavy?

    The problem isn’t hardware, its tactics. During the assault the machine gunners were being left behind. Maybe if you’re to the point of where you’re outrunning your support, you’re moving too fast.

    SOCOM has this “fast is slow” dynamic about them, maybe its needed in the Infantry community too.

    Tactics are the issue!

  • Lance

    Naw theres no talk about retireing the SAW or the M-16A4 the IAR will go inbetween both systems in performence.

  • Daniel

    its slow is smooth and smooth is fast. its a well used phrase in the military community and not some magical dynamic inherent to a particular unit.

    Snubby when i was in Iraq we didnt use the saws as rifles.

    how about when you were?

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Solomon

    Daniel,
    I used the correct terminology. Its what I was taught at SOI ….and at the combat town in 29 palms. I was specifically referring to room clearing. Its been around for decades and the origin of it goes to the LA Police SWAT team (got that from doing some training with San Bernardino County Sheriffs).

    But back to my point.
    So are you saying that machine gunners aren’t having trouble keeping up? That’s what I think is behind the desire to go to the IAR.

  • Daniel

    so then solomon since you have heard it and i have heard it and swat has heard it then maybe its not a super duper special “SOCOM” thing.

    im saying if you outrun you SAWs your not doing it right. we could save more weight and go to sidearms only, just imagine how agile you would be.

  • Lance

    SWAT and other Specail units can have a lot more experince than you think Dan and most members are exmilitary anyway.

  • subby

    I’m not sure what guys mean by ‘tactics’ and how they ‘leave the saws behind’. But Socom actually uses modified lightened saws, they’re called SPW’s and they weigh 13lbs regular saws weigh 17lbs.

    I’ve never been in the military. But what I’m saying is that the heavy suppressive fire that the m249 is capable of is not being used in the wars we currently are involved in. In Afghanistan especially on foot patrols what are they going to shoot with their m249 when even their M4/M16’s aren’t accurate enough to return fire? I can understand its role in defense but offense in the wars we are now involved in? I am more skeptical.

  • Daniel

    where did i say anything one way or another about their experience?

  • Daniel

    the two SPW’s ARE M 249s. they are lighter and they wear out quicker.

    How do you know that the SAW is not being used in the wars we are fighting, they are trust me. They are going to shoot their 249s where they wouldn’t shoot their m4s because the 249 has a longer range against both point and area targets but of course you knew that. reference FM 3-22.9 and fm 3-22.68 if you don’t believe me.

    i don’t see how you can be skeptical, cite some information support your claims. interviews where they said the 249s were to heavy so they did not bring them anything quantifiable otherwise your just making thing up anonymously on the Internet.

  • subby

    I get the fact that you don’t like what I’m saying so I’ll give it a rest.

  • Whatever

    Maybe this thread is dead but I’ll throw this out there anyway. Someone way back in this mentioned the RPK as a parallel to how the HK416 would be used, both being magazine-fed rather than belt-fed. It got me to wondering about the 7.62x39mm cartridge in that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a belt-fed firearm which uses that cartridge. Is it just nobody has made one, am I unaware of one, or is the 7.62x39mm cartridge unsuitable for a belt fed weapon (maybe due to the case taper)?

  • Lance

    No the RPC used 7.62×39. But like the SKS-45 the Soviets didntuse them for long they where out of Russian service buy the late 50s. In Soviet/Russian doctern any belt fed weapon is chambered for 7.62x54mm ammo for btter firepower and any sqaud auto in rifle caliber will e magizen fed ie RPK-47/74.

  • Daniel

    RPD, was pulled in favor of cheaper RPK

  • Lance

    RPDs also sufferd from over complacated drum/belt system.

  • Whatever

    I guess it seems strange to me that there’s no modern equivalent in the Soviet/Russian military to the M249, a belt-fed open-bolt machine gun firing the 7.62x39mm.

  • http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html Daniel E. Watters

    There is really nothing complicated about the RPD’s drum. You open the lid, roll up the belt, stick it inside the drum, and close the lid. I suppose that if someone were inclined, they could even make a plastic box or belt bag for it like those used with the FN Minimi.

    FWIW: The Czechs and Finns also developed their own belt-fed 7.62x39mm LMG.

  • Lance

    Yeah but none stayed in service for long. Only China and some asian countries use the RPD.

  • Zach

    I would like to see the HK416 replace the aging M4s. But I’m aging the idea of using these new rifles as a replacement to the M249. I wish the Military would look into using the Shrike Upper, it’s a belt and magazine feed upper that could retrofitted to replace the M249.

    http://www.aresdefense.com/

  • Lance

    Yeah I dont see that happening. I dont see the Marines going to another belt fed if they already have one. The M-4 is just fineas per what it was origanaly adopted for.

  • Tinppa

    > Yeah but none stayed in service for long. Only China and some asian countries use the RPD.

    That may be but…
    “RPD was developed circa 1944 and was a standard squad automatic weapon of Soviet army since early 1950s and until 1960s, when it was generally replaced by the RPK light mg, which, in many opinions, was not a good decision. ” -world.guns.ru
    M. Popenker, being Russian, should know what he is talking about. No doubt both ideas have their positive and negative sides. Even though RPD has been replaced by RPK, there´s no doubt that some parts of RPD´s intended usage is now fulfilled by PKM. PKM weighs only 7,5 kg which is pretty light for GPMG and only slightly heavier than RPD. Ironically Finnish kvkk62 7.62×39 LMG is heavier than PKM and kvkk62 is now being gradually replaced by PKM. Kvkk62 will still stay in active use.

  • Rick Randall

    Um, Lance?

    The M240 is based on the BAR, not the M1919.

    It’s a BAR, with the action upside down and adpated for belt feed, basically.

    M1919 – RECOIL operated

    BAR & M240 – GAS operated

  • Rick Randall

    The Soviets dumped the RPDs in favor of the RPK becuase of magazine commonality with the riflemen. Also, the maintenance and operation is IDENTICAL to an AK — the only thing an RPK has that an AK of the same generation doesn’t is a bipod. A very cogent point when training Uzbek short-term draftees who don’t even share a common language with thehir officers or half the training cadre.

    The RPD was the latest evolution of the DP LMG of 1928 (via a belt fed 7.62x54mmR variant), and lacked a quick change barrel, so the RPK didn’t fare worse by comparison in that respect. Both guns had the same fault. But, no quick change barrel means no quick change barrel to get lost or bunged up by PVT Ivan the Clueless. Also, no extra parts, so the kid who is just bright enough to figure out his AK can pick up an RPK and with no additional training whatsoever, be just as good a “SAW” gunner as he was a rifleman. Remember, this was an army that equipped entire REGIMENTS with the same submachineguns in WWII, to simplify training.

    And then there’s the spare parts issue — the only replaceable parts on an RPK that you cannot steal out of the AK bin if need be are the rear sight leaf, the bipod assembly. Sure the muzzle device and stock are different, but AK stuff will work. Now Junior Sergeant Ivan the Clueless, armorer, can ensure his RPKs are up and running as nicely as his AKs. Regardless of supply issues (or who forgot to order/who sold on the black market the RPK parts). Remember, this was an army that had a special tool to zero your sights — which privates didn’t have access to unless their officer handed it to them. I understand the Soviets (and current Russian Army) now actually have privates zero their rifles, but it used to be that you simply shot what the guy at the factory set it for, and sights were ONLY readjusted if the officer thought your gun was especially funky, or the sights had been replaced.

    When introduced, the RPK had a 75 round drum, which, in combination with a faster reloading drill of the AK style system, offset the RPD’s greater ammo capacity of it’s belts. (IIRC, the Soviet doctrine was that the RPK gunner carried two 75 round drums and a bunch of 40-round box mags, with a 40-round box mag stuffed in on patrol. They switched to the 75 round drum for a planned assault or ambush, and kept the second 75 rounder for the “prepare for counterattack” phase.) Remember, this was an army that still practiced “walking fire” at least into the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, where it was shoot (from the hip) and reload at the trot.

    If the Soviets were really bright, they’d have flipped the system over, and made the RPK a “Bren” configuration, so the 40-round box mags didn’t end up acting like monopods. But, that would require modifying parts and the gun wouldn’t be nearly as identical to the AK as the RPK ended up being.

  • Lance

    Umm Rick the Russian stoped useing the RPD in the 1950s.

  • Zach

    @Lance

    The Shrike can accept belts and mags just like the saw but it’s more compact and versatile weapon.

  • Lance

    Yeah but its made by company too small for large scale productioon or political clut.

  • Rick Randall

    Lance — and that is relevant, how?

    I already said they phased it out in favor of the RPD. I didn’t specify WHEN — I was discussing WHY. The fact that the RPD required belted ammo, while the RPK used the same magazine interface as the AK47 and AKM was a prime driver.

    Plus, they didn’t stop using it in the 1950’s.

    The RPK wasn’t even introduced until 1961 — replacement didn’t happen overnight throughout the entire Red Army. Not even counting Category C units (Category A were the highest priority units, like Group of Soviet Forces Germany, facing NATO troops directly, Category B as “run of the mill” Soviet forces, such as many in Russia and Ukraine proper to provide follow-on mass, and Category C units as semi-reserve forces — each category basically had equipment one generation older than the next highest category), many Soviet units were still using the RPD as the standard squad LMG into the mid to late 1960s.

    Just like the AK74 and RPK74 took a while to replace the AKM and RPK, it’s not like they woke up the morning after the adoption of the AKM and just threw out all the old guns.

    The Soviets generally did weapons replacement SLOWER than the US — how long did it take M1 Garands, M1 Carbines, BARs, and M1919’s to be cycled out of Regular Army units when the M14, and M60 were introduced? That didn’t happen overnight, either.

    If a new weapon is fully adopted within 5-10 years of it’s official adoption date, that’s pretty normal.

  • Rick Randall

    Slight typo correction —

    “it’s not like they woke up the morning after the adoption of the AKM”

    should read

    “it’s not like they woke up the morning after the adoption of the AKM and RPK”

  • Some Guy

    Look, the 5.56mm round sucks.

    As well, the military buys cheap barrels, usually only having light rifles. A lot of times the barrels simply don’t have rifling in them, also known as smooth bore, or don’t have very much rifling (a piece of steel with a hole drilled in it is pretty cheap; rifling requires a much more complicated process), which would explain why the M16 is at a contract “7 MOA” and gets 948 m/s at the muzzle from a 20 inch barrel, instead of 920 like the rest of the world.

    Using an already unreliable, weak, easily deflected .223 round in a, basically, poorly rifled, cheap M249 barrel doesn’t necessarily produce a large amount of suppression.

    The failure of the M249 is not in it’s weight, but in it’s lack of firepower. A 17, or even 20 pound weapon really isn’t that big of a deal, if it can provide the kind of suppressive firepower necessary. But the weapon just can’t provide it; nothing like the M240, or even the M60. The Mk. 48 is a wonderful weapon that is roughly 18 pounds, has a 19.5 barrel, and is 39.5 inches long, with relatively good accuracy and stopping power.

    The M249 is, basically, far too bulky, heavy, and large to be of much use when it’s only firing 5.56mm x 45mm NATO rounds.

    Why use a 17 pound, 22 pounds loaded, weapon that’s basically just as good as any modern assault rifle?

    The IAR isn’t intended to replace the M249.

    The IAR is intended to replace a position that the M249 failed to full-fill.

  • Geodkyt

    Some Guy,

    You said, “A lot of times the barrels simply don’t have rifling in them, also known as smooth bore, or don’t have very much rifling (a piece of steel with a hole drilled in it is pretty cheap; rifling requires a much more complicated process), which would explain why the M16 is at a contract ‘7 MOA’ and gets 948 m/s at the muzzle from a 20 inch barrel, instead of 920 like the rest of the world”

    WTF? What video game alter reality do you come from?

    You are quite factually incorrect in your underlying “facts”, making your comclusions ludicrously false.

    First, the M16 gets 948 MPS from the muzzle when firing M855 (US implementation of SS109) ball from a 20″ barrel. The Italian AR70/90 (another roughly 18″ barrel) gets 950 MPS. The L85 gets 940 MPS from a 20″ barrel. The SAR-21 claims 945 MPS with SS109 from a 20″ barrel.

    The FAMAS G2, HK G36, FN FNC, HK G41, and others get around 920 MPS or slower. . . but ALL have significantly shorter barrels than the M16A2.

    The Israeli TAR-21 claims 910 – 920 MPS from an 18″ barrel, and the HK XM8 claimed about 900 MPS from a 12.5″ barrel! (There are good scientific reasons to question the HK velocity claims, leading many military ordnance engineers to question their other claims for the XM8.)

    Second, the US military requirement is that every single M16A2 and M4 must be capable of NO WORSE THAN a 5 MOA group at 100 yards (and they must all be in a set area within the test target, even with the sights mechanically centered, to ensure that there is plenty of adjustment room in any direction for individual soldiers to zero to their personal settings), with 50% of the rounds within a group of no larger than 1.4 MOA at 200 yards. Most M16A2’s and M4’s turn out about 3-4 MOA with service ball (M855). Matter of fact, FM3-22.9 has a wonder example in it of sub-3.5 MOA groups at 300 yards out of both M16A1 (with M193 ball) and M16A2 (with either M193 or M855 ball) rifles — only when the M16A1 was fired with M855 ball did the accuracy go to Hell (roughly 24 MOA), as the 1:12″ twist isn’t fast enought to stabilize the M855 bullet.

    “Smoothbore” they ain’t, not by a long shot!

    Third, the M16 family is widely known for it’s accuracy. Even Mikhail Kalashnikov has commented on the exceptionally high (for a military service rifle) accuracy of the M16 family — it was one of the COMPLAINTS he had with the design, stating to Eugene Stoner (among others) that the rifle traded accuracy it didn’t need for reliability it did need!

    Fourth, while I agree with you that the M249 (a squad LMG, remember) isn’t as good at suppressing large areas as a 7.62x51mm NATO GPMG. Wow, bigger bullets make a louder noise when whistling past your ears, and so are more likely to be noticed (thus initiating suppression through fear). This is my shocked face — 8o

    I also agree that the new MK48 is a better GPMG than the M249 SAW is. The MK48 is almost certainly good enough to replace ALL dismounted GPMGs in US line service. Of course, the additional ammo weight means that dismounted patrols won’t be carrying a lot of 7.62x51mm NATO if they try to use it as a squad LMG, so it will be out of action a heck of a lot sooner.

    Note that even the Marine Corps thought teh SAW accuracy was just dandy — it was it’s WEIGHT they questioned, as it inhibits the SAW gunner from keeping up and using his LMG as if it were a SMG. Since the US issues rifles (to line infantry — Sooper Sekrit Skwirl outfits are different) WITHOUT a full automatic setting (“BURST” is not “AUTO”), the SAW gunner is the ONLY fully automatic weapon in the squad! So the complaint that the Marine squad needs a handheld room broom may be valid — but DOES NOT translate to a need for that same Marine to have a 7.62x51mm GPMG!

    Maybe a better solution would be to find a lighter squad LMG that can actually feed and reliably fire from the standard rifleman’s magazines at need, yet can perform as a true LMG, and junk teh failed expirement with “BURST” — it DOESN’T save ammo (troops can waste ammo just as easily on BURST as on AUTO, they just have to move their fingers more often), it DOES inhibit accuracy (mechanically, what the BURST bits do to the M16A2’s SEMI trigger pull is make it heavier, stacky, and unpredictable), and it DOES inhibit the ability of troops to clear rooms (since they don’t have a fully automatic weapon anymore).

    So, a better solution is:

    1. Replace the M60 and M240 with the MK48 in the roles where it will be normally dismounted and carried (rather than vehicular mounted guns or guns for units that WILL NOT be conducting dismounted patrols with their GPMGs). The M240 is a FANTASTIC gun, just too heavy for the rifle platoon or squad in most situations. (But tits off a tripod in static roles or for the hatch gun for a track or truck. The full size M240s just have a skosh more range, and I’ll bet they hold up to extended firing longer with the larger mass of operating parts.)

    2. Replace the M249 SAW with the Ultimax MK4 or MK5. 2/3rds the weight of the SAW, feeds reliably from M16 pattern magazines, still has a quick change barrel, exceeds the SAW in accuracy, respectable ROF (about 600 RPMs — not too high, not too low), and also has a single shot capacity for those times you don’t want to let off a burst. (Making Hajji have to play the game, “Who’s got the LMG?” before deciding where he wants to break cover first.)

    3. Replace the M16A2 style BURST trigger groups with M16A1 AUTO groups. The parts will just drop in. If it really bugs you, grind off the word “BURST” on the receiver, etch in “AUTO”, and reanodize the bright patch of exposed aluminum. ANYONE qualified to be an assistant armorer (or who can read a freakin’ book) can swap the trigger groups, and even the machine work and reanodizing can be done within the battalion (again, it might require giving someone a set of anodizing instructions that are a whole page long! The horror!) Of course, any depot level repair facility could swap FCGs and remark the receivers as a routine, short turn-around, job in batches — that sort of stuff is why they EXIST.

    Now, EVERY troop (not just one per fire team) will have the CQB capacities of the IAR program, and every squad will have the LMG capacities of the M249, and every platoon will have a GPMG that can keep up no worse than the fireteam SAW gunners are doing now.

    Everyone will be at least as mobile, many will be more mobile, total firepower goes up for CQB, no firepower is traded away, logistics and training aren’t made more complex by introducing an additional operating system, manual of arms, (or worse) caliber of ammunition into the fireteam.