M27 First Impressions


M27 with magazines and SDO removed. Notice the interconnecting monolithic 12 o’clock rail. Display of various magazines. From left; standard issue 30 round STANAG magazine with green follower, similar magazine design but has orange follower to show it has an anti-tilt follower, H&K steel 30 round magazine, works very well with M27(not issued), popular PMAG will not fit in M27.

M27 with magazines and SDO removed. Notice the interconnecting monolithic 12 o’clock rail. Display of various magazines. From left; standard issue 30 round STANAG magazine with green follower, similar magazine design but has orange follower to show it has an anti-tilt follower, H&K steel 30 round magazine, works very well with M27(not issued), popular PMAG will not fit in M27.

(This Article first appeared in Small Arms Review in 2012)

Miles Vining
This is the first part of a two-part article on the new M27 automatic rifle, now in service with the United States Marine Corps. The first part will cover initial use and training while the second will cover performance in combat. The author is a Marine infantryman serving with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, deploying to Afghanistan in 2011.
Note: All dimensions, acronyms and official terms are from Marine Corps terminology and references.

Background
Finding the perfect balance between firepower, weight, reliability and ammunition capacity has constantly been a challenge for Light Machine Gun (LMG) development. These support weapons for the traditional infantry squad have usually been a compromise among these four factors. The BAR lacked the magazine capacity to be truly successful, while the M60 gained the infamous nickname of the “Pig” due to its excessive weight and bulk. The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) came very close to being the exemplary LMG but quickly lost its glory through its high malfunction rate and weight. Recently, the United States Marine Corps has decided upon a solution that takes the Squad Automatic Weapon to whole new level.

Displayed are three of the Marine Infantry squads current issue weaponry; M16A4 for riflemen, M27 for IAR gunners, and M4s with M203s for team and squad leaders. The M27 and M16A4 displayed have 3 point slings while the M4 has a 1 point. M4 and M27 have their stocks fully extended. Positioning of the laser emitting PEQ16 is up to the individual Marines discretion.

Displayed are three of the Marine Infantry squads current issue weaponry; M16A4 for riflemen, M27 for IAR gunners, and M4s with M203s for team and squad leaders. The M27 and M16A4 displayed have 3 point slings while the M4 has a 1 point. M4 and M27 have their stocks fully extended. Positioning of the laser emitting PEQ16 is up to the individual Marines discretion.

Several years ago, while observing a Marine unit conducting pre-deployment training on Range 410 Alpha in Enhanced Mojave Viper, Twentynine Palms, California, a high-ranking officer watched a squad clear a trench as part of the training exercise. The squad’s SAW gunners established a support by fire position while the squad rushed into the trench and continued on with the range. After it was over, the officer asked the battalion Gunner (Chief Warrant Officer, an expert on Infantry small arms and tactics) why the SAWs couldn’t come into the trench with the main effort. The answer given was that the SAWs would slow the squad down and could not be effective in the trench because of the guns weight and open bolt operation. Finding this tactic detrimental to the way Marines fight today, the officer and battalion gunner decided to act. Requests were made to the firearms manufacturing community and a competition for a new squad LMG ensued.
The competition was designated the “Infantry Automatic Rifle” and the Marine Corps made it very clear that it had to fill the place of the SAW but also be a lighter and more portable weapon. Changing the designation from SAW to IAR showed that the Marine Corps was dedicated in finding a mobile automatic platform instead of being burdened down with the old technology. It had to weigh less than 12.5 pounds and accept 30 round STANAG magazines. It had to fulfill the function of the SAW but also be lighter and more mobile. Six commercial companies accepted the challenge, and three made it down to final testing: FN Herstal, Heckler & Koch (H&K), and Colt. FN’s contender was a modified SCAR, H&K’s and Colt’s weapons were both modified versions of their respective entries into the Black Rifle market. All except H&Ks were open bolt. After months of exhaustive testing, H&K came out on top. Trumping its competitors in areas of accuracy, reliability and malfunctions, the H&K submission produced outstanding results. Most of the malfunctions were classified as “user error” and accuracy was unparalleled compared to the other two. In fact, it is reputed to be the second most accurate weapon in the Marine Corps inventory after the M40A3 sniper rifle. Designated as the M27, H&K had proven itself once again.

Trijicon SDO gear pouch with accessories. The gear bag is manufactured by Eagle Industries and is issued with every M27. Marine Corps T M 11758A-OR for the SDO/RMR and TM11810A-OR for the M27 are displayed top and bottom respectfully. M27 wrench is shown disassembled to left of SDO Lens Pen. Left of bag are H&K rail protectors. Extra pamphlets are data tables, SDO care guides and LaRue Tactical throw mount lever care information.

Trijicon SDO gear pouch with accessories. The gear bag is manufactured by Eagle Industries and is issued with every M27. Marine Corps T M 11758A-OR for the SDO/RMR and TM11810A-OR for the M27 are displayed top and bottom respectfully. M27 wrench is shown disassembled to left of SDO Lens Pen. Left of bag are H&K rail protectors. Extra pamphlets are data tables, SDO care guides and LaRue Tactical throw mount lever care information.

In 2010 Marine Corps Systems Command bought a pilot batch of M27s slated to replace or compliment M249 SAWs in four Infantry Battalions and one Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (LAR). All units will have an opportunity to train and deploy with the M27 throughout 2011 in the War on Terror. If the M27 operates well in combat, plans to buy additional M27s are in store. The current recommendation is to replace all the former SAWs with M27s throughout the rifle platoons but current individual assignments are at the discretion of the company commanders.
Function/ Nomenclature
Due to the M27s commonality with the M16/M4 rifles, user operation is similar. Instead of direct impingement, it is gas piston operated. It has a free floating barrel, and uses a more efficient bolt than a M16A4. These are the only major functional differences to the standard issue M16A4 that all Marines are familiar with. Cleaning the weapon is made much easier by the gas piston that keeps a good portion of the carbon out of the bolt carrier and upper receiver. Also, unlike the M16A4, the M27 is highly ambidextrous. Sling mounts, fire selector, and charging handle can all be made left or right handed with little modification. Point target range is 550 meters while area targets are 700 meters and maximum range is 3,938 yards. There are two barrel lengths; 19.5 inch and 14.5 inch with the 19.5 inch being the primary length used so far in the Fleet Marine Force (FMF).

The rail mounted BUISs are Knight’s Armament Corporation Flip Up Front Sight and the Micro Flip Up Rear Sight. Iron sights are peep hole types with a blade and protecting ears on the front sight. The rear sight is graduated from 200-600 meters with a Z setting for zeroing adjustments. Note USMC marked on front end. Also see the two pins on charging handle that can switch the lever to either side. Sling mounts are ambidextrous as is seen from this angle.

The rail mounted BUISs are Knight’s Armament Corporation Flip Up Front Sight and the Micro Flip Up Rear Sight. Iron sights are peep hole types with a blade and protecting ears on the front sight. The rear sight is graduated from 200-600 meters with a Z setting for zeroing adjustments. Note USMC marked on front end. Also see the two pins on charging handle that can switch the lever to either side. Sling mounts are ambidextrous as is seen from this angle.

The butt stock is similar to the M4 four position collapsable stock except that it is less sluggish and is six position. Unlike an M4 stock, it is easily removed by depressing the position toggle. It has one circular and two lengthwise sling keepers mounted at the rear allowing a diversity of slings to be used. The butt pad is rubber and can be removed with a hard twist counter clockwise. This reveals two battery compartments capable of storing AA, AAA, or Lithium 3 Volt batteries. Fully extended, the M27 is 37 inches (M16A4 length: 39.63 inches) and with the stock collapsed it is 33.66 inches (M4 collapsed length: 30 inches).
The M27 has a three position fire selector; “Safe”, “Fire”, and “Auto”, with the traditional H&K pictograms for each. Controls are on both sides of the receiver. The pistol grip is very comfortable and has a polymer pebbled surface to enhance grip. There is a battery compartment in the pistol grip that is held in place by a pivoting slider and the grip itself is more ergonomically designed than the standard M16A4 pistol grip. The magazine well has a flared opening that aids in magazine insertion but prevents Magpul PMAGs from being fully inserted. This leaves room for further magazine improvement if any manufacturer is up to the challenge. The weapon serial number is stamped upon both the upper and lower receivers right above the magazine release catch and left side safety in traditional European fashion. All M27 serial numbers begin in “USMC”. H&K proof marks are to the left of the serial number on the upper receiver.
The upper receiver has a 12 o‘clock rail that is interconnected with the Free Floating Rail System (FFRS) by a U-shaped lug. A captive locking screw adjacent to the magazine well additionally secures the FFRS. To take the FFRS off, grasp the bolt carrier with the thumb or index finger on the extractor in order to turn the strongest lug into a screwdriver. An important reason for a finger being on the extractor in such a position only the strongest lug is engaged and not the weak ones opposite the extractor. After only a quarter turn, the bolt carrier is unnecessary; hand strength is sufficient enough to complete disassembly. Only the 12 o’clock rail is marked with reference numbers up to 42 while the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock rails are left blank. Unfortunately, few attachments can be mounted directly underneath the handguard screw due to its proximity to the 6 o’clock rail.

Buffer and buffer spring. The buffer tube has three vent ports at the rear and the buffer is marked HK on the tube face with a red dot in the center as well. The buffer spring is marked with red to distinguish it from a M16A4 or M4 buffer spring.

Buffer and buffer spring. The buffer tube has three vent ports at the rear and the buffer is marked HK on the tube face with a red dot in the center as well. The buffer spring is marked with red to distinguish it from a M16A4 or M4 buffer spring.

The M27 also comes with H&K rail protectors that take up most of the rail when mounted. They are secured at the end of the protector with a plastic indent. These too have a polymer pebble surface and provide good grip. There is no permanent sling mount but all M27s come issued with a rail mounted sling mount that uses a single screw to secure it in between rails. The ejection port cover is polymer. The charging handle has an extended release lever and pins so that it can switch to the other side. Right above the chamber on the left hand side of the barrel, it reads “HK 5.56mm” alongside an H&K proof mark. The bird cage flash hider can mount all attachments that an M16A4 can such as Blank Firing Adaptors (BFAs), muzzle caps and Bayonets (bayonet stud is included for the USMC OKC3S bayonet).
The bolt carrier and gas piston system are the true moneymakers of the M27. Their design is what makes the gun run so well and so reliable. The bolt carrier is similar enough to a M16A4 for it to lock into one and chamber a round. Whether or not the hybrid weapon will function reliably is unclear. On the flip side, a M16A4 bolt carrier cannot fit in an M27. The firing pin retaining pin is captive while the firing pin has a spring that keeps the bolt forward. The weapon will function regardless of the spring in the bolt or not. Operation will have minor degradation and there will be more frequent malfunctions but it will not interfere with function of the weapon.

M27 gas system disassembled. Top left is the gas piston, this is the dirtiest part on the entire gun and is very simple to clean. Top right is gas piston rod which has a captive spring enclosed. The rod beyond the beveled half casing intrudes into the upper receiver and makes contact with the bolt carrier during operation. The Gas block is positioned just behind the bayonet stud and has a gas port facing downrange.

M27 gas system disassembled. Top left is the gas piston, this is the dirtiest part on the entire gun and is very simple to clean. Top right is gas piston rod which has a captive spring enclosed. The rod beyond the beveled half casing intrudes into the upper receiver and makes contact with the bolt carrier during operation. The Gas block is positioned just behind the bayonet stud and has a gas port facing downrange.

The gas piston system consists of the piston rod, piston and gas block. The piston rod has a captive spring and its lateral movement is no more than an inch at the most. The piston is the dirtiest part of the weapon after firing and is simple to clean. It fits into the gas block, which has a vent port facing downrange on top of the barrel. The gas port is only a few nanometers larger in diameter than the HK416 but this change in design cost the Marine Corps in excess of several hundred thousand dollars.
The M27 comes with three sighting systems; Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS), Squad Day Optic (SDO), and the Ruggedized Miniature Reflex (RMR). The Sight Unit, SU-258/PVQ Squad Day Optic was created for the M249 SAW with a contract from Trijicon in 2009 but has been since mounted on the M27. It is a 3.5×35 machine gun optic that is mounted to the rail via LaRue Tactical throw mount with duel locking lugs. It has Tactical Tough flip up dust covers and comes with an Anti Reflection Device (ARD, known as a honey comb for its pattern) screwed onto the objective lens. The reticle is an illuminated horse shoe around a center dot with a small post below. For distances of 100 and 200 meters the aiming markers are the top and bottom tips of the dot respectfully. For 300 meters it is the tip of the illuminated post and further ranges are marked on down the mil scale below the tip. The cross hair mil scale goes out to 35 mils on the horizontal lines and 40 mils on the vertical lines. On the vertical range scale there are range estimation stadia lines (Bullet Drop Compensator) that can provide accurate range estimation based on the shoulders of an average sized man (19 inches). It also has brackets for vehicle estimation both side and frontal views by using the tires.

SDO and RMR mounted on top. Adjustment dials for elevation and windage are the two screw caps in front of RMR. Dust covers may positioned at any angle that the gunner is comfortable with. Also note tape over the Fiber Optic light collector to maintain a more crisp sight picture. Dust covers may be readily positioned at any angle to the SDO for ease of operation.

SDO and RMR mounted on top. Adjustment dials for elevation and windage are the two screw caps in front of RMR. Dust covers may positioned at any angle that the gunner is comfortable with. Also note tape over the Fiber Optic light collector to maintain a more crisp sight picture. Dust covers may be readily positioned at any angle to the SDO for ease of operation.

On top of the SDO is the RMR, a small reflex sight intended for engagements under 100 meters. Unlike the M240B MDO (Machine Gun Day Optic) RMR, which is rail mounted to the optic, the RMR is screwed in and cannot come off except with the use of tools. An important aspect of the RMR is that the dot is rather large in the holographic image and proper cheek wield cannot be maintained while acquiring a sight picture. A gunner must take careful measures to secure a proper zero and maintain it with good muscle memory. The RMR uses adjustment dials that require a flat blade and don’t have a dust cap. The SDO has turn knob adjustment dials with dust caps.
Performance

SDO Reticle Mil scale as depicted in T M 11758A-OR. For range estimation of a human target, the average measurement of a height of 1.5 meters and a chest width of 19 inches is used. For a man sized target at 100 meters, the shoulders will touch the two mil dots opposite the center red dot. For 200 meters, shoulders will touch the lateral sides of the illuminated horse shoe and for 300 meters, shoulders will touch the two disconnected end at 6 o’clock. For 400 and 500 meters shoulders will align with the lateral line at 4 and unmarked 5. From 600-1000 meters the shoulders will fit between the respective mil dots and lateral mil scales. For vehicle  estimation the tires will fit between the mil dot and the end of the solid lateral mil line in the front/rear view and from edge of mil line to mil line in the side view.

SDO Reticle Mil scale as depicted in T M 11758A-OR. For range estimation of a human target, the average measurement of a height of 1.5 meters and a chest width of 19 inches is used. For a man sized target at 100 meters, the shoulders will touch the two mil dots opposite the center red dot. For 200 meters, shoulders will touch the lateral sides of the illuminated horse shoe and for 300 meters, shoulders will touch the two disconnected end at 6 o’clock. For 400 and 500 meters shoulders will align with the lateral line at 4 and unmarked 5. From 600-1000 meters the shoulders will fit between the respective mil dots and lateral mil scales. For vehicle estimation the tires will fit between the mil dot and the end of the solid lateral mil line in the front/rear view and from edge of mil line to mil line in the side view.

On live fire ranges the M27 has preformed flawlessly with sub Minute of Angle groups typical. Transitioning from Semi to Auto is simple and very effective when switching from long range targets to quick bursts on close engagements. On a recent live fire training evolution, the unit’s M27s went through more than 300 rounds per gun in the span of an average of 20 minutes in completing an evolution. The author only experienced one jam, caused by a double feed while simultaneously gripping the magazine well and magazine.

 

Close up display of magazine followers. From left; PMAG, H&K steel, original follower, tan anti-tilt follower. Issued STANAG magazines and those without the tan anti-tilt follower often have difficulty being inserted. The anti-tilt magazines were also introduced with the M27 in mind because the rate of fire was too much to keep up to with the previously standard issue magazines. Interestingly enough, H&K steel 30 round magazines have no issues whatsoever and in fact, are drop free unlike the others.
Close up display of magazine followers. From left; PMAG, H&K steel, original follower, tan anti-tilt follower. Issued STANAG magazines and those without the tan anti-tilt follower often have difficulty being inserted. The anti-tilt magazines were also introduced with the M27 in mind because the rate of fire was too much to keep up to with the previously standard issue magazines. Interestingly enough, H&K steel 30 round magazines have no issues whatsoever and in fact, are drop free unlike the others.

 

The gun is extremely controllable on fully automatic provided a proper stance and proper technique are used. M27 gunners were engaging targets well out to 500, 600 meters with one shot hits and immediately taking out near targets of opportunity with bursts and magazine dumps. For Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), the M27 performed at the same level as an M4, if only a little longer and heavier (7.9 lbs unloaded). The RMR holographic sight was perfect for live fire kill house evolutions where Marines couldn’t afford to be tunneled into the SDO while in a MOUT environment.

Bolt carrier group and charging handle disassembled. This is relatively the same condition of parts after extended firing. Charging handle will function in M16A4.

Bolt carrier group and charging handle disassembled. This is relatively the same condition of parts after extended firing. Charging handle will function in M16A4.

But the M27 is not without drawbacks. Since the magazine capacity can barely match the rate of fire, gunners would routinely empty entire magazines in seconds only to reload and repeat. Marines were running through evolutions with an excess of sixteen magazines in pockets, pouches and whatever else was improvised. Many more magazines were split up among the squad to carry extra. In comparison, standard load for a rifleman is seven magazines and M27 gunners were carrying nearly three times that amount (21 non tilt follower magazines). Magazine couplers helped with reloads but they take up space on flak jackets and in pouches. PMAGs will not work because of the frontal plastic bevel, which prevents full insertion into the magazine well. The bevel can be filed down to work but, this is highly questionable and against regulation. Questions have been raised on the use of drums designed for the M16A4. These work reliably but have not been tested in military operations overseas. They also cannot stand up to extreme temperatures that military equipment operates in. Surefire has just come out with 60 and 100 round magazines that work reliably in the M16A4, but not in the M27. Currently, Surefire is working to redesign the new magazines in order to work in the M27 as of March 2011.

Top view of bolt carrier with captive spring fully extended. The large lever on top of the carrier serves two purposes: to keep the firing pin secure during disassembly and it acts as an internal safety. It prevents full travel of the firing pin unless it is struck by the hammer which pushes it up and the firing pin forward.

Top view of bolt carrier with captive spring fully extended. The large lever on top of the carrier serves two purposes: to keep the firing pin secure during disassembly and it acts as an internal safety. It prevents full travel of the firing pin unless it is struck by the hammer which pushes it up and the firing pin forward.

Grippods were an issue as well. Some gunners had theirs broken within the opening minutes of evolutions. These fore-grip combinations are not designed to be used with machine guns, which need a rugged platform to anchor themselves to the deck. The Grippod does not provide enough elevation for a gunner to successfully engage targets at an incline. Also, it is worth noting that occasionally the screws on the LaRue throw lever mounts would come loose after an extended period of sustained firing. Inside the mount there are five screw holes for connecting the optic but only two screws in place.
The M27 barrel is not meant to be readily replaced if there is a hot barrel. Tests have shown that the sustained rate of fire is 36 rounds per minute (rpm) at 120 ℉ for a 600 round load. The cyclic rate of fire is 700-900 rpm (M249 SAW 850 rpm). Little guidance has been provided in the event of a hot barrel except for the shooter to be careful and conserve rounds. During the early testing of the M27 there was a torture test of the guns reliability that was called the “Wells Test” named after the Captain who implemented it. It took 1 minute and 36 seconds to fire through 22 fully loaded magazines all lined up next each other without a single malfunction. Standard issue red M16A4 BFAs mount to the flash hider but 5.56x45mm blanks prevent full operation of the M27. On Semi, rounds cannot fully cycle the M27 and it must be charged every round. On Auto, the gun goes through an average of two rounds before it must be charged again. Currently, yellow M4 BFAs are now standard and their performance is expected to be substantially better.
Small parts begin coming off after extended use of the weapon both in evolutions and everyday use. Battery compartment covers, optic dust covers and ARDs have all been seen to come apart and off if not constantly checked. Most units have it as Standard Operating Procedure to secure serialized gear to the weapons with zip ties and 550 cord. Gunners must be wary of placement with such extremities because if positioned in certain areas they melt if in contact with the barrel (PEQ16) or interfere with disassembly of the weapon (SDO to FFRS).

M27 disassembled into major components. Note silver ball bearings on the buffer tube. Also, on the barrel below the silver captive spring cap of the gas piston rod is the melted remains of a ziptie previously used for securing the PEQ16.

M27 disassembled into major components. Note silver ball bearings on the buffer tube. Also, on the barrel below the silver captive spring cap of the gas piston rod is the melted remains of a ziptie previously used for securing the PEQ16.

Conclusion
The most pressing changes that need to be addressed on the M27 are the bipod and magazine predicaments. Issuing efficient, rugged bipods and higher capacity magazines are what the M27 needs in order to be more effective to the infantry squad’s mission; other problems pale in comparison. Apart from these issues, the Heckler & Koch M27 has made a significant impact on the way Marine squads conduct operations. However, the jury is still out on the M27 and many are waiting on results of the gun in country. The M16A4 familiarity makes it perfect to issue to Marines already so ingrained with that weapon. Its reliability and weight take away the M249 SAWs principal drawbacks. Some have even speculated that this weapon is an indirect path that the Marine Corps is taking to get more reliable squad level small arms into the hands of Marines without going through the headache of replacing the M16A4. Such programs and rifles have faced opposition ever since their inception (SPIW 1960, ACR 1986, OICW 1990, XM8 2002, SCAR 2007). Overall this is a very fine weapon and has definitely exceeded expectations. The grunts love it, and that is the most enduring compliment any firearm or piece of gear could earn.

FFRS captive locking screw extended out. Sling mount is on left side and can be moved anywhere on the rails. Note the close proximity of screw block to rails, preventing some attachments to the rail.

FFRS captive locking screw extended out. Sling mount is on left side and can be moved anywhere on the rails. Note the close proximity of screw block to rails, preventing some attachments to the rail.

 

Article by Miles Vining. Special thanks to David Dimaruo, Tom Durwood, Liza Ponomarenko, Edward Young and the Marines and Corpsmen of 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines.


Miles Vining

Prior Infantry Marine and currently studying at Indiana University. Avid shooter and hunter, you’ll find me most at home picking apart an interesting rifle or pistol. When not receiving horrible results at Steel Challenge competitions I’m busy learning Pashtu, cycling long distance, and getting outdrunk by the English. Feel free to contact me at miles[email protected]


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  • William C.

    Regarding the “high malfunction rate” of the M249 SAW, I’ve read that most of the problem was due to many M249s being worn out and overdue for replacement. This seems more likely than some sort of design flaw.

    Doesn’t the 3rd generation PMAG (and the EMAG) work in the HK416 and M27?

    The USMC should make getting some quad stack 60 round magazines for IAR gunners a priority. They should work with Surefire and other companies to speed this process if need be. In the short term, aren’t there some reliable 40-45 round magazines on the market? Or would those be too long to use while prone?

    Years ago I thought I had read that H&K was working to develop a more reliable variant of 100 round C-MAG for the XM8 LMG. I wonder if anything came from that?

    • Nmate

      The M3 PMAG and the EMAG will both work in the IAR. As for the Surefire 60-round mag; it would need some serious testing before deployment. Some not so reassuring signs have recently been popping up with them. Maybe the issues could be fixed, maybe not. When and if the United States goes to a polymer cased, telescoped cartridge, then a quad stack magazine will in theory be much easier to achieve. Traditional, bottlenecked rifle cartridges and quad column magazines have never seemed to work particularly well together.

      Out of the current drum-style magazines, the Armatac seems to be the more functional. That said, they have not been out particularly long and not in large numbers. Time will again tell. Unfortunately, they’re by their very nature always going to be more complicated and less reliable than traditional box magazines.

      • http://www.facebook.com/stawff میر طالېان

        The problem with all these great after market parts is just that, they
        are after market. In order for the Marine Corps to issue them out to the
        grunts, they have to be military tested in the extremes, so they have
        to work in temperate conditions such as well as places such as
        Bridgeport, CA where we do our cold weather testing or in 29 Palms,
        where our desert training mostly takes place.

    • El Duderino

      As a former USMC infantryman, I found that most SAW problems had to do with lubrication. SAWs, like most machineguns, liked LSA which was done away with due to cancer concerns. CLP just burned right off. If you were in a dusty/sandy environment and had to go with little or no lube, good luck. You probably had a bolt action .223.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        So what lube did you use? Militec etc.

      • n0truscotsman

        bearing grease makes a SAW run like a raped ape!

        yes, the same stuff that you buy a shucks auto for 2 dollars a syringe.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      The PMag works yes.

    • Suburban

      60-round Surefire magazine “explodes.” That was a while ago. I don’t know if Surefire has further perfected it.

    • Lance

      This is old article the EMAG wasn’t out yet.

  • Ryan

    Just curious, doesn’t monolithic mean the forearm and upper are machined as one piece? Or does it only mean that the forearm is paired/matched with the upper?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      On AR types for instance it means the upper and rail are one piece

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.mew.3 Nicholas Mew

    Off topic but, we could try and reduce weight by bullpupping a machine gun.

    • Nmate

      One, that looks horrendously awkward. Two, bullpups don’t really reduce weight. They make for a shorter over all package, but at a cost of general awkwardness. While IMI seems to have taken the bullpup about as far as it can go with current technology, the idea of a belt-fed bullpup with typical 1980s Russian human engineering doesn’t sound appealing unless you REALLY need the capability.

      • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.mew.3 Nicholas Mew

        Seems to work ok according to the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGRYxgsw7O8

        • Nmate

          I’m sure that it works, it is based on the PK-series of machine guns after all. That said it looks ridiculously awkward to use. Especially since the PK machine gun feeds from the right and ejects to the left. Good luck if you’re left handed as well. It basically looks like it was designed for someone that absolutely has to be able to shoot an LMG from inside of a vehicle. The tradeoff is probably worth it in that situation, probably not in most others.

    • Manny Fal

      The steyr aug had a lmg version with integral bipod and 42 round mag. Was never adopted by anyone to my knowledge.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      The SEALS did a cut down version of the M-60 in Vietnam.

      • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.mew.3 Nicholas Mew

        However this is a concept that if done correctly, could make it easier for mobile troops to carry firepower.

    • n0truscotsman

      they did “try” it already. with the M60.

      I couldnt think of anything more awkward than a PKM bullpup. Or Pecheneg (?)

  • Burst

    It seems like the major problems with this weapon are that surefire and grippod aren’t up to the task of outfitting it.

    I’d be willing to bet HK could make compatible bipods/magazines, if enough lucre was thrown their way.

    • http://www.facebook.com/timothy.t.yan Timothy G. Yan

      I think the USMC is replacing the grip-pod with the LaRue LT706 modified Harris bipod.

      • http://www.facebook.com/stawff میر طالېان

        We are, and as I said above I don’t like them very much, way too fine tuned for a rugged machine gun as the M27 is. The Grip pod is complete garbage in actual practice. It’s main purpose is to keep the weapon off the ground and lightly set it down while back in the rear. It can’t be slammed down as is often the case with actual combat.

        • n0truscotsman

          how hard can it be to field a good, lightweight bipod???

          jesus christ, they act like they’re building rocket ships.

          • http://www.facebook.com/timothy.t.yan Timothy G. Yan

            $$$ and connection.

        • http://www.facebook.com/timothy.t.yan Timothy G. Yan

          The Corps need to get the Bobro Type 3 bipod that’s made for SOCOM’s Mk 17. It uses a locking claw design that’s super strong yet very simple to use.

          http://www.bobroengineering.com/view/product/1/

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      I wouldn’t say they aren’t up to the task. There may be considerations we aren’t aware of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/giwam Martin Grønsdal

    ok, I am an idiot: what does SDO and RMR stand for?

    • gilk10180

      squad automatic weapon-day optic, and Ruggedized Miniature Reflex

  • Tom – UK

    The problem with weapon systems like this is that the moment they hit genuine combat all to often the “37 rounds a minute” controlled rate of fire goes out the window as hundreds of rounds get thrown down range against an enemy who is more capable with their belt fed, easy barrel change weapon.

  • The Swede

    So it’s pretty much a HK416 with a heavier barrel? Who would have tought it would be popular… The Norweigans seems to like it.

    • Anonymoose

      Of course it’s popular. It’s made by HK.

  • Manny Fal

    So didn’t they just effectively get rid of the LMG role in other words? It’s obvious this rifle is practically no different than a M16. More reliable and accurate but that’s it.

    Strangely alot of militaries are going the complete opposite way, instead of getting rid of the LMG they are instead replacing it with a heavy machine gun. (Ausralia) That seems better in my view, as it gives you improved suppression at longer distances. The lower velocity at 600 metres of the 5.56 ain’t going to suppress much.

    • rob

      “Suppressive fire” is a psychological tactic, hits are a bonus.
      In this light (e.g.
      ignoring chance hits), supersonic velocity is the only real advantage
      you have with higher power rounds over 5.56x45mm at ranges of 600m+

      • Manny Fal

        I read the area size of the ‘zing’ that people hear when bullets are flying past their heads is alot larger with larger calibres. Making for more effective suppression.

        • rob

          No doubt that is true to some extent, so I guess my previous comment isn’t entirely accurate. Conversely, the “degree of miss” is more accurately/easily determinable with larger rounds.

          This is a very dated study, there are surely newer/better. I doubt the USMC has released any internal study to the public, however. Open to correction.
          http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=AD519874&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

          I think the bigger focus was on maneuverability, magazine compatibility, volume of fire and rounds carried.

          • Anonymoose

            The M249 can use STANAG mags too. Switching to a mag-fed-only gun from a belt-or-mag-fed greatly reduces the volume of fire though.

    • n0truscotsman

      more accurate? Yes.

      More reliable? No. The MRBF on the M27 is lower than the M16A4.

      • Anonymoose

        Yet the MRBF of the HK416 still higher than the M4…So why are the US Armed Forces not all going to M16A4s? Oh that’s right…full-length rifles aren’t tacticool enough!

        • n0truscotsman

          LOL

          yup.

          and yet the concept of putting a…wait for it! collapsable buttstock and free float tube on the M16 was totally out of the question.

          I can see the use for a Mk18 and M4. No doubt about that. But for the entire armed forces? yeah, not so much.

  • Lance Terminus

    Most of the problems here with the M27 were already adressed prior to it being deployed. The bipod, as issued is a standard Harris, stud mounted on a picatinny stud adapter at the front end of the rail.
    PMAGs aren’t allowed anymore, so that solves that problem; There’s an updated HK416 that accepts PMAGS, but the government has already gone for this one.
    The biggest problem really isn’t the need for higher capacity magazines, but more the need for a quick-change barrel. When it was first fielded there was an incident during training where a Marine put about fourteen magazines through his rifle in five minutes and suffered a cook-off.
    In terms of accuracy.. well, yes, it’s accurate, but I’d wager the M39, M110, and M107 are more accurate. Comparing it to an M40 is going a little far, I think.
    It’s different from an M16 in that it has full-auto capabilities, whereas an M16 has only burst- and even then, burst is usually not authorized to be used, if ever used at all.

    • http://www.facebook.com/stawff میر طالېان

      It’s been often quoted as being the second most accurate weapon in our arsenal. Remember the SASR doesn’t hold 1 MOA and the M110 is technically good out to 800 meters, although in it’s defense it came in rather late in the M27’s development so the officers talking about the M27 probably had little knowledge of the M110’s capabilities. I’ve personally hit ivans out to 700 meters at Fort Pickett with it. In my opinion the Harris bio pods shouldn’t be issued, their too finicky. They break occasionally with snipers so what do you expect with 03s?

    • n0truscotsman

      The quick change barrel is a must and so is a open bolt.

      Other designs HAD open bolts except the marine corps was dead set on the 416-derived IAR design. WTF!? :(

      Then again, there is this http://www.knightarmco.com/portfolio/stoner-lmg/?cate_cm=military&term=stoner-lmg&features=stoner-lmg

      and the military refuses to even look at it. stupid.

      • Anonymoose

        The HAMR, Colt IAR, and some other designs originally has a temperature-triggered switch from closed to open bolt, but HK didn’t want to add that to 416, so the Corps dropped that from the requirements. It’s almost like it was totally tailored for HK…

  • Lance

    This is a OLD artivcle why post it again most of these arguments are long over in the military. M-27 is here to stay. So is the M-4 and m-16A2 and A4.

  • big daddy

    It seems they gave the Marines a pretty nice weapon and they don’t know what to do with it. That’s because it doesn’t fit anything they really do, it’s a tweener, neither this nor that. But it looks like a really good weapon all the troops should be carrying not as a specialty weapon. Right now the Marine and Army infantry squad has less firepower than they had in Vietnam and even WWII.

    In Vietnam the squad had the M16 with full auto, the M79 and usually attached a M60 to it from the weapons platoon, if I am not mistaken. Some squads kept a M14 here and there. In WWII they all had Garands and a BAR or two per squad, some carried a Thompson or M3 or some Carbines. Plus they introduced the lighter weight M1919A6 30 cal belt fed Browning to increase firepower. That’s more firepower than now. The weapon’s weight was more yet they carried them just fine in the jungles of Burma and those little Islands as well as the Army did all through North Africa, Italy and western Europe. I carried a M60 just fine.

    Lack of firepower. That’s why it seems slowly most of the western militaries are going back to rifles for the infantry with machine guns as support weapons in 7.62mm NATO, 5.56mm NATO does not do the job. They are taking the smaller designs and up-gunning them to 7.62mm NATO so they in essence have a PK. A PK is a lightweight GPMG. The Germans have the new M121, the Israelis the Negev in 7.62NATO, the MK48, the South Africans too. How many are going back to the MAG or coming up with a lightweight 7.62 NATO machine gun? Some of these LMGs in 7.62 are having a closed bolt and semi fire (Negev?) or the ability to fire semi with a tap of the trigger as with the M121.

    The whole problem would be solved with going to a new intermediate round like the 6.8mm SPC. Having a LMG in that round would work well. The squad would have so much more firepower with a SAW in 6.8mm along with every soldier having a 6.8mm in their battle rifle. As long as you use the 5.56mm round you will have a gap to 7.62mm that can never be filled unless you go with an intermediate round.

    The Russians had it right years ago and that’s one reason the western forces have trouble matching up with Russian equipped forces. They have the AK, PK and RPG within the squad, even RPK and SVDs. That’s so much more firepower per squad. It seems since Vietnam we’re always trying to match that combination and coming up short. The Germans had it right also during WWII, with the MG42 and the STG44 with Mausers and some SMGs, they figured it all out.

    Keep lighting the load not the firepower and train, train, train.

    • William C.

      Western forces having trouble matching up with Russian equipped forces?

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        Not really but they do have a different approach.

      • n0truscotsman

        on infantry tactics and equipment doctrine, YES!!!

      • Anonymoose

        In a way, yes, but with the M27 we’re kind of going backwards. Right now we’re having to deal with the Afghan environment, which is why they developed the Mk48, M240L, HK121, PKP. Intermediate-cal automatic rifles like the RPK-74 and M27 are less than ideal in protracted firefights like those in Afghanistan. The M27 was not made with Afghanistan really in mind; it was made with Iraq in mind, but we’ve already left there so it will be up to the next war we enter to determine whether adopting the M27 was a good decision or not.

        • n0truscotsman

          THe IAR concept should have been implemented a long time ago. Its something the US has been flirting with since the M14 but it never materialized simply because we went straight into the M60 and then the M249. The M27 is simply the wrong approach however.

          We have the technology to have a lightweight belt fed machine gun (knights LMG) but, then again, the USMC decides for the M27.

          and afghanistan is a tactical anomaly. It is the country where general purpose machine guns (like the PKM and M240), designated marksman rifles, and mortars reign supreme while individual infantry weapons take a largely secondary role.

          Comparing the RPK to the M27 is like comparing the AK to the M16. The M16 is geared more towards accuracy rather than machine gun characteristics and vice versa.

    • orly?

      Wait, did the USMC drop the M240?

      • Anonymoose

        No. They’re upgrading from the G to B version though.

        • orly?

          Good. But why is big daddy acting like they are?

          • Anonymoose

            He’s not. The M240 is only used in a completely different role (general-purpose machine gun, normally on a hard mount or tripod), whereas the M249 is used by infantry fireteams in a mobile role. big daddy is going into the old “7.62 is better than 5.56! Equip everyone with .30 cals!” speech. Many parts of SOCOM and some Army platoons iirc, on the other hand, ARE dropping tripod-mounted M240s (including the M240L lol) in favor of the Mk48mod1, which is lighter than both the PKM and M240 (not sure how it stands up to the HK121, but it’s surely lighter than the HK221) and has far greater firepower than an M249 (but it’s still used primarily in a bipod/tripod-mounted GPMG role afaik).

  • Hitch

    I think it’s going to end in tears for you guys.

    We (British Army) had the LSW which seems to be the same concept (lightweight support weapon issued 1 per fireteam) but the lack of quick change barrel and the magazine feed made it impractical and it was killed off sharpish to be replaced by the FN MINIME Para almost completely.

  • 2wheels

    Looks like a great rifle.

    But a horrible LMG/SAW…

    Can’t quite figure out what the Marines are thinking here, I know the M249 isn’t perfect but going to the M27 can’t be the best solution. No quick change barrel, currently still stuck with 30 round mags… How is this any better than an M16/M4 again? Oh… It’s an HK… Must be awesome then!

    • rob

      This is purely speculation, but I think there is probably a psychological correlation with separation of roles & type of weapon. For (an obtuse) example, if someone has an M249, they’re not going to try and fill the role of someone with an M16.

      But, as you said, the M27 is so similar to the M16/M4 that it would seem like the “difference” factor really just becomes a “special” factor.

      • 2wheels

        I do see what you’re saying, but calling this gun the replacement to the M249 still doesn’t make it a light machine gun even if the guy carrying it knows his job is fire support. A small part of it may be psychological, but a large part of it (IMHO) is having a weapon that can throw out a lot of bullets for an extended amount of time.

        But of course, I’m a mere armchair general. If the Marines like it, good for them. I just worry that it’s not the right tool for the job.

  • YoungEwok

    I think it’s kind of funny how the Russians seem to have pre-empted all of our small arms advancements decades ago with the AK-74U (roughly equivalent to the M4 and western PDW’s) and with the RPK (roughly equivalent to the M27).

    • Anonymoose

      Except that the RPK was found to be ineffective at long range and lacks the volume of fire that the PKM/PKP can put out (just like the M27, although that’s arguably more accurate than the M249, so in the end it will probably be used more like a DMR than a SAW). Also it’s “AKS-74U,” not “AK-74U,” and those have been found to be ineffective at anything beyond short range (even moreso than the M4 and many other short-barreled carbines).

    • n0truscotsman

      The AKS74U is not like a M4. The original AK74 is like the M4 in that it has a 16″ barrel (i know, i know, the M4s is 14.5″ but whatever its similar)

      There is no AR15 equivalent to the AKS74U except maybe the short pistol variants like the PWS Diablo or others.

  • Anonymoose

    They use 16.5″ barrels, not 19.5″ barrels, and they have given up on creating a large-cap magazine for it. If they REALLY wanted a light, reliable, mag-fed SAW they should have gone with FN’s HAMR and those Armatac SAW-mags. The M27 ultimately turned into a search for a new DMR with full-auto capability.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.mew.3 Nicholas Mew

    I would just go with a RPK-74M with a modification for a quick change barrel.

    • n0truscotsman

      Hell yeah!

      The ergos of a AK12 in a RPK platform. Molot! get to work!

      • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.mew.3 Nicholas Mew

        I am sure they are working on it.

  • Manny Fal

    Marine don’t make the best weapon choices. They continue to use the too long M16 (even though it’s extra length is of no use in the huge distances in Afghanistan and it’s length is a negative in urban areas like Iraq and mounted combat)
    MARSOC picked a steel single stack 1911 as their new pistol for CQB.
    And now we have the M27

  • northor

    That gas piston head in that image needs to be cleaned its the one part of the system you have to be really thourough with.

  • dagh

    “For range estimation of a human target, the average measurement of a height of 1.5 meters ”

    Seriously WTF!

    No enemy combattant will be 1,5m short that’s a dwarf!

    Average northern European or Amercan is 1,8m tall and South american, Southern Europé 1,7m

    Some Asian countries 1,65m tall.

    Not even women have an average shortness of 1,5m in any european country, Think the shortest is 1,57m

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Average_height_around_the_world

    • orly?

      Most armies tend not to train their men to fight standing in the open.

  • idahoguy101

    What does the new M27 do that the WW2 Bren Gun in 7.62 NATO wouldn’t do better?