Marines Magazine

The Official Magazine of the United States Marine Corps

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The next evolution in firepower has arrived.

For 27 years the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon has served as the Corps automatic rifle standard. In December 2010 initial fielding of the M249 SAW’s replacement, the Heckler and Koch M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, was fielded and is now set for implementation throughout the Corps.

The M27 IAR is less than half the weight of the M249 and allows the automatic rifleman to carry fewer rounds because of its improved accuracy. With a lighter load to carry, enemy combatants will now face a more lethal and mobile Marine with better firepower to boot, allowing the Marine to move faster and engage his enemy in record time.

The Corps plans to purchase more than four thousand M27s – replacing nearly all the existing Squad Automatic Weapons. By the end of 2013, the Marine Corps intends to supply M27s to every infantry and light armored reconnaissance battalion in the Corps.

Click here to read about more gear that could be in store for Marines.


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188 Responses

  1. Cole says:

    What’re they usin now? Somethin called an AMR or something?

  2. Cole says:

    Don’t get all touchy. How fast can you lay down a few well placed HEDP grenades on foot mobile enemy targets that are spread around in different buildings and corners of the street?
    The purpose of the M203 grenade launcher is primarily to launch 40mm grenades over deadspace into covered positions while the SAW gunner provides direct fire on the enemy at the fireteam’s 12 o’clock. One might, sure, launch a smoke grenade into the street to disrupt the enemy’s vision, but even that doesn’t make the Corpsman impervious to bullets. You set up the SAW, and start sendin rounds down range. It’s inarguable, having a light machine gun on the fireteam level works wonderfully, and has done well for the Marine Corps so far. Why dick around with the set up?
    I would prefer to see a tweak in the current set up, making the SAW lighter and more reliable. Making the occasional jam easier to fix, shaving some excess weight. NOT replacing it’s firepower for something we basically already have and do not need more of.

  3. Cole says:

    ……..why not just make M16s fully automatic again and save money?

  4. Cole says:

    These people are simply stating what i am thinking. It’s rediculous to think that carbine could replace the firepower of the automatic rifleman. the M27 is nothing groundbreaking… essentially it’s just the HK take on the M4A1 carbine with some differences. The M249 SAW has 200 rounds ready to go down range, that’s a lot of firepower that can be used consistantly to *keep the enemy’s head down* to allow friendlies to move or provide more accurate fire with their M16s, which are designed for precision point-target firing.

  5. james breslin says:

    In Afghanistan
    at a strong point in RC South, I out fought an insurgent with an RPK (40rd Mag)
    with my MK48 (200rd belt). I can still remember seeing the insurgent’s A-Gunner
    through my M145 sight, constantly changing magazines and trying to keep up with
    my sustain rate fire and failing therefore resulting in their deaths. We both
    had cover (me/ sandbags, insurgents/wall). There are three reasons why my
    rounds were accurate; (1) I had a M145 to achieve first round accuracy, (2) the
    sustained fire from having a belt fed weapon in which increased combat stress
    and fog on the RPK Gunner and A-gunner due to the rounds landing accurately at
    their position and nullifying their cover decreasing their combat
    effectiveness, (3) I also did not lose target ID/SA from having to change
    magazines like the RPK gunner and A-gunner did.

    The Marine Corps is going in the wrong direction. Ask the
    European Vets in WWII about the German MG42 MG and they will tell you it was
    devastating for them. There is a reason we dropped the BAR and .30cal MG for
    the M60 (based in the German MG42) and the M240B/G then added the SAW in the
    early 80s. The Marine Corps should’ve stayed with the Army program in the
    MK46/48 style family of machine guns for the team level, but in today’s day of
    inter service politics, God forbid one service admits that another service has
    a good idea and follows it. Just look at the Army with its ACUs because it
    wanted to be different. We are almost back to the days of the early 80s as far
    as inter service politics and a lot of Marines are going to die because of this

    You want first
    round accuracy in a machine gun you must have good sights/optics; teach,
    enforce and reinforce machine gun marksmanship and fire discipline and
    rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. The situation the Marines Corps is facing is not
    equipment but failure at the leadership levels (NCOs & SNCOs) to retain,
    teach and mentor the knowledge of SAW/machine gun marksmanship.

    The young Marines poorly judging the older Marines
    because of the so call “dinosaur mentality” need to remember combat history and
    see current history and how both experiences are going to be apply to future
    wars and battles. Not all deployments are the same and neither are all wars
    fought the same but the foundations of basic infantry tactics never do change
    but can be tailored to meet the current and future threats. The M27 IAR will
    not be an asset to the individual Marine or Marine Corps but a liability.

  6. Daniel says:

    Essentially its the HK416 with a hardened longer barrel.

  7. Mike Gonzalez says:

    You have a point; but though they didnt have SAWS they had BARs and utilized the Browning 30 cal as well; those old Devildogs understood they needed suppressive fire as well as precision fire…I like the M27 but agree with one of the other posts about integrating all. The M27 smacks of nothing more than the old M16A1 and its use in the same vein…thus why the Corps and the Army went in search of the LMG that became the piglet to even this gap. Dont be so enamored with the new that you forget why the old was created. M2 still a fine weapon and has been around longer than anyone on this post.

  8. mike14706 says:

    They would be better off with a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) at least it was a 30cal and had much better stopping power and would even work well against trucks.

  9. Terry Bond says:

    Ditto Bud Semper Fi! You can reach out and touch something. Had one with the full auto selector, that was a switch I only used once.

  10. JJ says:

    having been a SAW gunner and a real “gunner” in actual combat, only hits count, haj doesnt care about fire superiority, which is an outdated concept left over from force on force static attacks on defenses ala WWII. I love the SAW, the ’60 and the 240, but the M27 looks badass, allows for precision fire and put a 60 rd surfire mag or a beta on it and ill take it over the SAW.

  11. M27 facts says:

    Can you define for the class what suppressive power means? It sounds like that elusive expression “knock-down power”

  12. M27 facts says:

    I’m pretty sure the SAW was designed to straight up kill an enemy.

  13. Okechukwu Ihenacho says:

    Finally!!! SOmeone who understands. Preach on brother!!

  14. Okechukwu Ihenacho says:

    A fireteam still needs the automatic rifleman, not a light machinegunner. Back in WWII they had the BAR, the Browning Automatic Rifle. So the Marine Corps is returning back to it’s roots as giving the automatic rifleman an automatic rifle, vs. a light machine gun.

  15. Okechukwu Ihenacho says:

    Suppression has nothing to do with your volume of fire, rather employing your weapon systems and achieving the following effects: preventing the enemy from affecting your scheme of maneuver. I am appalled this argument on suppression is coming from the infantry community. Everything we do is about effects of the weapon, and trust me noise has no effects on the enemy, you only affect them when you are “hitting” them.

  16. Okechukwu Ihenacho says:

    All you gentlemen making arguments about removing the M2 and CAS, suppression, achieved through fire superiority is relative: to effects on the target. If you unleash hundreds of round and not affect the enemy, then you do not have fire superiority!! It is just a waste of ammo. Now on the case of M2 and CAS, think engagement criteria and the effects you desire to achieve. I do not think you want to engage troops in the open with an M2; it is more for light skinned vehicles and appropriate enemy infrastructure, maybe a machine gun bunker. So your argument does not hold water. I have seen the IAR in action vs the SAW and my Marines who used it both in training and combat agree the IAR is the way of the future for the automatic rifleman. Remember effective warfare is achieved through the synergy of the art and science; that is the art and science of warfare.

  17. Evil-Gunner says:

    finally someone with common sense not another lifer

  18. Evil-Gunner says:

    that’s wasted ammo and lots of noise how many rounds hit target?none

  19. Evil-Gunner says:

    Wow so much misinformation so much speculation.
    IAR use same magazines as m16-m4 and 416 variants it use same ammo 5.56 as m16-m4416 and the Saw (saw dont use 7.62 like someone wrote).It can use the same drums made for the m16 also Armatec has a 150 rounds drums eliminating the not so reliable exposed belt that can come undone at the very worse moments,also reloading a drum is way faster than reloading a belt under fire i dare someone to differ.It operates much cooler than 249 no need to change barrels no chance for melting barrel or for in your face cook-off.

    It has way less recoil, more precise than 249 so more hits where it counts the target.Its ability to work with very little maintenance is a big plus for fast moving units. Since 249 is easily identifiable is a hot target for enemies now gunner is just another soldier.It is way more versatile than even the 249 short variation making it good for clearing buildings and or tight spaces.rate of fire is 640 rpm vs 750 of the 249 but being more precise more hits are achieved vs the les accurate basically can use all the same attachments as any M16-M4.its lightweight easier to sling(try that with 249) no charging handle poking your kidneys(gunners know what I mean).I can’t see a single thing bad against the 249 also H&K make great quality weapons no wonder the British are best equipped than US.

    And yes I carried a 249 yes I fired 249 and yes I was in the military and back then there was no options so 249 ruled but now people have the chance of their lifetime and some are bitching about it.

    Same ammo basically same capacity,more precise,less recoil,more lightweight,more maneuverable more reliable if not search H&k 416 is basically same design what is not to like?Of course the are lifers that thinks the wasting ammo shooting at walls is suppressing fire, that’s why there is Navy Seals an SF guys and then the rest of the military.Shots that hit the target are the only ones that count period not making noise with a SAW.

  20. sillyppl says:

    The SAW wasnt made to be accurate. it was to keep the enemy at bay or keep their heads down, and if it got a few then great. how the hell are you suppose use talking guns with an IAR. Its a great weapon. but not for what it is replacing.

  21. RandomGrunt says:

    Ended up shooting the IAR today. All in all, i found it to be MUCH more accurate than an m16/m4. Insanely so in fact. If you asked me if i thought we should completley phase out m4′s and 16′s for the IAR, the answer would be an emphatic YES.

    Would i phase out the SAW with it though? Hell no. Maybe if they had a perfected 100 drum mag. Maybe. But the suppression power of the SAWs 200 rounds is much more effective to a fire team than 30 rounds, otherwise we would still be using the M16A1.

    All you people who say accuracy is more important than suppression are mistaken. In a firefight that involves movement, accuracy is the job of the other THREE people in your fire team (or however many are in the squad who do not have a SAW). The SAW is meant to suppress the enemy. Period. It works.

    As far as the Marine dropping his rounds, and not being able to employ it properly, well it is exactly that, a failure to employ. Shooter error, and a lack of remediation on the part of the squad/team leader. (Unless you are talking about weapons malfunctions, which is not what i gathered)

    Everything has its place gentlemen. For a reason.


  22. Grunt says:

    The M249 SAW is noy being replaced. Both weapon systems have there pros and cons. Situation dictates witch weapon would be suppior in that certain engagement. I can’t sides but the IAR is extremely acurate, more so than the m16 ot m4.

  23. Shane says:

    There will be two M249 to each squad in a platoon.

    the M27 is just a way to bridge the gap between the ROF of a M249 and the precision of the M16.

  24. M27 facts says:


  25. M27 facts says:

    I don’t know Christopher, but why not ask any Marine veteran on WWII or Korea what they did?  They didn’t have SAWs back then, and for sure were faced with a lot of enemy in similar situations…Oh wait…news flash, maybe the grenadier should employ a few well-placed rounds of HEDP to kill multiple enemy and allow the corpsman to get across the street.  The horro if the TL thought to employ the full range of weapons available to him
    Thanks for the dramatic scenario, but it does not make your point.

  26. M27 facts says:

    None of my personal background has anything to do with the bare facts involving the development and procurement of the IAR.  Seeing as how your are an LAV crewman, your personal experience with either a SAW or IAR has about as much bearing as mine = zero.  This isn’t about me, so stop making this sound like you are trying to make things into a penis measuring contest.  It’s trite and childish.

  27. Kyle. says:

    Wow, the IAR looks like a M4 on a bi-pod, or at the very least is very reminiscent.

  28. Loydm3 says:

    I think what matters MOST here is that actual MARINES in combat in Afghanistan right now prefer the IAR over the SAW. How do I know, because I’m here right now.

  29. Shayn says:

    I know I’m a little late on this discussion, but i would just like to say that i have deployed with an Automatic M4 and the corps does have them, It’s the socmod I believe. There are more than a few on my squad. However i do not think it could replace the saw by any means. If the M27 was designed from the ground up a an automatic rifle than why is anyone trying to compare it to a M4a1. I would like the reassurance that my AR is as reliable as my m4. I have seen to many cases of “bolt action SAW” (meaning weapons malfunctions preventing the saw from firing more than one or two rounds at a time. for those who have never heard the term) I totally agree with this change for our new dynamic battle ground. I’m not an expert on the subject by any means but I never really thought the SAW was all that reliable. The interchangeability of magazines within the squad is also a huge plus.( i know the SAW could use magazines but i had problems with misfeeds almost every time i used it.) I have done ZERO research on the topic though so these are just my thoughts.

  30. Shannon Payne says:

    I had the most kills with few with fewer rounds fired in 03.It was an M2 .50 cal. fired from an upgws on an AAVP7A1RAM/RS….but in its carrage it was an area weapon not point of imact weapon.I lifted grunts and I never heard any complaints about the SAW.If you can’t clear a room with 30 rounds somethings wrong

  31. Williambattee says:

    Has anyone who made this decision ever been in a firefight, the SAWs keep the bastards shooting at ya head down, until you can manuver and put him on his A** permanently, id rather have 100 rounds going downrange at my enemy any day as opposed to 30

  32. M27 facts says:

    Why?  If I can conduct a 2-3 second magazine change using more reliable 30-round magazines, why would an IAR gunner need to use more cumbersome 60-round magazines?

  33. Guest says:

    i would rather take an M14-ebr ri over any model of an ar-15. now i know it isnt the best choice up against guys with ak-47s and other automatic weapons but its just my opinion.i just like it because it is an assault rifle with less moving parts and faster reloading once your out of ammunition.and the gun seems to be easier to learn due to the fact that it has less parts.

  34. Mike Hubbert says:

    doesn’t matter, I still had to carry a 60 and sometimes a 50 cal receiver as far as are co could make us go.

  35. Bryan Peake says:

    I was a SAW gunner and I never thought the system was reliable, and too heavy……….. Half dozen BETA mags and this might do the trick, as long as it keeps runnin when it’s red hot and dirty?????? If it’s gas piton system it might. But iff it’s direct impingement?????

  36. Madhatter187 says:

    As long as they are issuing the 60rd Surefire mags to the guy carrying the M27 then I think the trade off for speed will be worth it. What Infantry Man doesn’t love it though when the SAW gunner or machine gunner just opens up? Sole purpose of the SAW or machine gunner is to put heads down allowing the adjacent fire team / riflemen to close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver.

  37. Logan Waller says:

    I will say this for the M-27 vs the SAW, the M-27 will be much more reliable and maneuverable in MOUT ops. In my 1 tour of OIF I believe we never used the SAWs for clearing rooms. They just guarded the halls and alleys. 

  38. gunnut says:

    Im curious to see how this system works in the feild. Any body in a lab can say it will pass but as weve seen before the m16/ar15 design is not capable of sustained fire with out warpingthe barrel or the gas tube. I just hope this isnt another one of those systems that some one in an office picks over what combat hardened vets need to survive. It sounds like another robert mcnamera and wiz kids blunder.