Thoughts on the IAR, Part 1

CAMP HANSEN — Lance Cpl. Zachary A. Whitman, a shooter with the III Marine Expeditionary Force detachment, familiarizes himself with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle in preparation for the Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting 2012. AASAM is a multilateral, multinational event allowing Marines to exchange skills tactics, techniques and procedures with members of the Australian Army as well as other international militaries in friendly competition. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brandon L. Saunders/released)

Image taken from Wikipedia.

Thoughts on the IAR, Part 1

For a variety of reasons I’ve been thinking a good bit about the USMC’s M27 IAR and the concept of the automatic rifle.

Generally my first thought is annoyance that the USMC wouldn’t buy anything cool until after I got out.

While I was in, along with having the M249 SAW, we also heard and believed that the USMC needed rifles.  It was often said that we used rifles because of the greater accuracy, reliability, and lethality.  I found it funny when we got to Iraq and the SAW gunners were issued PARA barrels (13.7 inch long according to FN).  It made the SAW shorter than a M16.  Even funnier is how we were told we needed 20 inched barreled rifles for fighting, yet the 16.5 inch barrel on the IAR is apparently good enough.

The M249 was a good light machine gun, but a fair automatic rifle.  When you could stay in a stationary emplacement and lay down a wall of lead it was a whole lot of fun.  Carrying it around and trying to engage rapidly was not so great.  I think the biggest issue is that we generally did not have as much trigger time and confidence in the SAW.  Guys graduated Bootcamp thinking they knew how to use the M16.  Handing them a SAW was giving them a weapon there were not familiar or proficient with.  Not to mention that the SAW was usually given to the new boots who didn’t know how to employ it well.

So the question becomes, does the increased portability and identical handling and controls to the M4/M16 make it worth giving up the capability of massive volume of fire of the belt fed.


  1. The IAR is just a flawed concept as implemented. It sorta made sense in WW1 and WW2. But these days it offers nothing but negatives as implemented.
    First the 416/IAR is giving no real world advantages over a far cheaper free floated M4A1. The heavy barrel is more than capable of keeping up a realistic rate of fire. And NSW is currently issueing free floated M4A1s to their snipers as a replacement of the MK12s due to their actual performance being more than capable.
    And once the IARs start getting the same amount of maintenance the M16/M4s have been getting you are going to see all the same complaints on them.
    As for employment. No mag fed weapon can keep up the same rate of fire or suppression. Not to mention the impractical nature of trying to actually keep 600 rounds on your body in mags vs belt.
    It makes no sense to them try to turn the IAR user into a semi DMR but give him only a 3.5x optic. And not issuing them MK262 as the norm.
    The three biggest issues with the M249/MK46 are had maintenance. Crap ammo. Replace the belts with MK318 or M855A1 and the weapon performs far better. And the guy running it having barely little training. Way to many times as you said new guys get it or its giving to guys who are scrawny to toughen them up. You want to give the belt fed to a guy who a is more than capable of running it as a rifle. Is aggressive yet intelligent. And has hopefully put around 50,000 rounds in a variety of positions thru one before he ever deploys with one.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here