B5 Systems

USMC M27 Update – Designated Marksman Role Added

During this week’s NDIA Armamement Symposium, Mr Chris Woodburn, Deputy, Maneuver Branch of the Marine Corps Capabilities Development Directorate discussed the expanded roles for the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. Adopted in 2011, the M27 is based on Heckler & Koch’s 5.56mm HK416.

The Marine Corps has determined that the M27 has the longest range in the squad and plans to capitalize on this capability. In the near-term, they are planning to reconfigure an undetermined quantity of M27s with 3-9x optics for use as Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDM-R). This will happen starting in FY18, with fielding completed by FY19.

Additionally, evaluation of squads equipped solely with the M27 continues by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory. However, signs continue to point to a Marine Corps move to field the M27 to all Infantry. The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen Robert Neller has a saying, “All Marines are riflemen, but not all Marines are infantrymen.” Based on the current resource constrained environment, his modernization priorities have been the infantry. For instance, the Marines plan to replace their M203 40mm grenade launchers with the M320, which is incidentally also made by H&K, like the M27. While the M320 assuredly adds capability to the squad due to its compatibility with a wider range of ammunition, it is also compatible with the M27, unlike the M203 it will replace.

On another note, Mr Woodburn was asked during a Q&A period about when we should expect the test report for last year’s suppressor evaluation. He said that it should be ready by Fall but that the Marine Corps’ suppressor priority was for its Medium Machine Guns. Scuttlebutt suggests that the Marines noted a decrease in range during the evaluation when used with the M4 and M27. Furthermore, Mr Woodburn mentioned that the Marines are interested in finding a suppressor that is compatible with the M27, which could be construed as further evidence of the Marine Corps’ intent to field more M27s. Or, it could mean that the IAR would be next in line after the suppression of the medium machinegun fleet.

The M27 Sources Sought Notice, released in February by the Marines, received several submissions from industry. MARCORSYSCOM is currently evaluating those submissions in order to help formulate an acquisition strategy. While the Marines are keeping their cards close to their chest, I believe they do intend to field the M27 to at least the Infantry. We will keep an eye on the M27 SDM-R implementation and update you when the USMC takes further action to increase the density of M27 in the rifle squad.

22 Responses to “USMC M27 Update – Designated Marksman Role Added”

  1. Strike-Hold says:

    Interesting. A lot of people speculated / made-an-educated-guess right p front that the M27 program was the USMC’s Trojan Horse strategy to get piston-driven AR-type platform into every infantryman’s hands. Looks like tha’s exactly where this is heading.

    Its also interesting that just as the Army is looking to roll out a 7.62x51mm DMR program, the USMC is pushing out the 5.56mmx45mm option…

    At any rate, HK must be pretty happy.

    • Joshua says:

      It’s no so much they wanted a piston gun, it was more of a way to get a rifle they can be program manager of.

      The 416 was the closest rifle to the M4, despite being utterly destroyed by one other entrant who absolutely made the 416 look like a child’s toy in comparison.

      However that entrant wouldn’t have made a good M4 replacement.

      That said they will have to run a new competition, and I would expect said entrant to come back…And HK may not win this time.

      • Nhero says:

        Who was the other entrant?

      • Strike-Hold says:

        I’m curious – what was that other entrant that trashed the 416?

        • Joshua says:

          The HAMR.

          By far the best performing rifle entered.

          However the HAMR would have made a horrible replacement for the M16/M4 with it’s open bolt firing system when things get hot.

          • Joshua says:

            No parts on any HAMR rifles broke, and it had 3x the reliability of the 416.

            • First I’ve heard of the FN entry being dramatically better than the HK. Not saying it isn’t true but your argument doesn’t hold water. The SCAR is easily configurable into whatever configuration the USMC would have wanted. I’ve got a few connections in this business; I’ll see what I can find out in regards to all this. Nothing personal ‘Joshua’ but I need a bit more proof than some random dude on SSD in the comments section. Another thing that has me scatching my head on this topic is if the SCAR is a dramatic improvement over the HK416 why did the French pick it over the FN product ? Like I said – I’m going to do some digging ….

              • rusty shackleford says:

                It does seem odd. When has a scar l even been chosen over a hk 416 in military trials? HK seems to win just about every time.

  2. Joe says:

    I pushed for a LPVO where I could, disappointed to see the 3-9x choice but glad they’re finally matching the weapon with an optic that can meet the role.

  3. Ed says:

    Good for the Corps!

  4. Ed says:

    Is this platform just like the 416 in that it only will recieve a USGI STANAG mag or EMAG??

  5. Evan says:

    Why do I get the feeling that they’re just going to slap on the same 15 year-old Leupolds we had on our SAM-Rs?

    • SVGC says:

      You might not be far off. I know at least some of the 3-9 Leupolds from the Mk12 program in the corps got refurbished last year. It stands to reason because they have those and some arms levers ready to go. If I was a thinking man in certain units with an IAR, I’d be trying to score a spare M521 (CQBSS) from the HMGO suite. Wouldn’t be the first time in the Corps a units done that. I’d like to know though what their thinking in terms of a solution for an optic on the long term.

  6. Cuvie says:

    It sounds like they reached the same conclusion that the British did with their L86

    • REMF Tacticool says:

      We never *really* pushed the the LSW in to a marksman role though, which is lucky because the bi-pod and outrigger make the front of the gun obnoxiously heavy and unwieldy compared to the standard rifle (which I know is despised across the US).

      I’m still pretty surprised the the USMC going with an LSW type weapon. Did the Russians even make many RPK-74s? I know the LSW style M16 was never brought in in American service. The advent of the Minimi and similar MGs killed that idea off in many places. I don’t know enough to say whether a modern short-stroke rifle with a heavy barrel and 60+ in a mag can really provide the volume of fire needed; certainly portable but still ‘only’ 556.

      I’d just love to see an M-LOK forend on all these guns, the amount of picatinny we’re all carting around these days is kinda bonkers considering barely any of it actually gets used.

      • Kit Badger says:

        But without all that picatinny, how are you going to scrape up your knuckles and tear up your gear?

        • REMF Tacticool says:

          Great question my friend.

          I’d say just find some suitably gnarly volcanic type porous rock and go to town. Or carry some piece of gear with exposed hook velcro, that’ll rip everything else to shreds in no time.

  7. Joshua says:

    Hey SSD, a question.

    What happens if they run a new M27 trial and something other than the 416 wins?
    Does it go on to replace every current M27?

    I’ve honestly never seen a situation like this unfold before.

    • SSD says:

      They aren’t going to run a new trial. They have the IAR they want. What they are trying to do right now is figure out how to legally buy more of them. My suggestion is to buy them as Upper Receiver Groups.

      • Joshua says:

        Do you mean uppers to replace the M16/M4 uppers?

        I wouldn’t, the 416 has a habit of breaking disconnector when run in full auto. It’s why HK added a protective steel plate to cover the disconnector and take the blows from the hammer.

        On top of that they then would also have to put up with the S-1-3 fire control group.

        Biggest issue is the disconnector thing. I don’t think they would appreciate snapping disconnectors.

      • Joe says:

        If needed they could rebuild all the way down to the stripped receiver. Maintaining the serial numbered part is a huge advantage; upgrades are simple, outright procurement is hard.