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.
I managed to purchase for my self an ACOG EREK cantilever adapter.
Now to be honest, I’m not exactly sure what EREK stands for. I’m guessing something like Eye Relief Extension Kit.
So why did I buy it? Because I wanted one. Some time back, I saw some pictures of the USMC trying a cantilever mount for the ACOG on the M16A4. Since them I have wanted to give it a try.
When you read about people complaining about the ACOG, the first complaint is always price, the second tends to be about the short unforgiving eye relief. Once you take that short eye relief of the ACOG and have to mount a BUIS behind it, combined with a fixed stock, it can be annoying. Personally, not only have I gotten used to it, I am rather fond of the ACOG mounted forward as I shoot nose to the charging handle.
So at some point the USMC had some adapters made up that moved the ACOG back and over the Knights 2-600m rear sight. This makes the ACOG easier to use with the A2 fixed stock. Now I tried to find pictures of it in use again, but I was unable too. My guess is that the USMC tested it and for what ever reason decided not to use them.
Why? I don’t know. Perhaps raising the ACOG up make it more unacceptable to damage or abuse changing the zero. It might not have been worth the cost. Or someone might have come to their senses and said use the M4 instead. In any event, I have one to use now, and it is rather nice. It lifts the ACOG up enough that the charging handle is easily accessible, and moves the ACOG far enough back that you don’t need to crane your head forward for nose to the charging handle.
Every so often on firearms forums I see people talk about how great the L85/SA80 is, and how much of a shame it is that no one sells them in the United States. They then proceed to claim that if someone were to offer a semi-auto version, they could make a fortune off all the guaranteed sales.
To put it bluntly, they are wrong. When I was in the Corps, I got to cross train with the Royal Marines. They got to try out our M16A2s, and we tried their SA80s. We have the better rifle. Most of the appeal of of the SA80 is due to our not being able to buy one. Other then that, it is crude, heavy, bulky. The SA80 is around 11 pounds unloaded with SUSAT optic. While it balances well when shouldered, that is still plenty of extra weight to carry. This rifle isn’t all that good looking too, the design is rude and crude. Mag changes are slow and awkward, more so then other bullpups. If these were to be sold in the U.S., some people would buy them for fun or collection, but most would turn it down due to its weight, poor appearance and controls, and the higher cost of a less common rifle.