USMC to Issue M27 More Widely?

A dog’s-breakfast of an article at Marine Corps Times suggests that the Marines are considering issuing the M27 IAR, now issued to squad automatic riflemen, for issue to all riflemen — not all Marines, in the sense of “every Marine is a rifleman,” but to MOS 0311 Riflemen, who apparently haven’t been named Genderfluid Riflepersons yet, in a crushing blow to the one USMC initiative of late unlamented SecNav Ray Mabus.

The 0311 Rifleman, we are assured by no less an authority on all things Marine than R. Lee Ermey as Sergeant Loyce, “is the &%$ing United States Marine Corps.” Let’s pick up a few things from the article, starting with why the Marines love the IAR:

While the M249 can put more rounds downrange, the IAR allowed Marines to provide suppressive fire with greater precision, Marines said.

“It’s been almost a paradigm shift in understanding what suppression is,” 1st Lt. Tom Rigby told Marine Corps Times. “It’s always been understood by the junior Marine that volume of fire and the sound of the machine gun equaled suppression.”

For the love of God, random noise was never “suppression,” but we suppose that’s what the reporter gets for interviewing a lieutenant. “In my experience…” it’s Baby Duck’s First Day!

Only accurate fire suppresses enemy fire. This is not a new discovery… people throughout history have had better luck shooting right at the enemy than sort of at him.

What’s next, on this Baby Duck’s First Day when All Is New? The distilled wisdom of a mosquito-winged PFC, speaking from his six months’ Marine experience?

Well, funny you should mention that:

“On single-shot, you can hit 800 yards no problem,” Lance Cpl. Joshua Houck told Marine Corps Times. “I love that you can go from single shot to full auto with the flick of a switch.”

Gee, what a novel feature. The Marines never had it before… except in the M16A1. And the M2 carbine. And the Thompson Submachine Gun, designed in 1918-1919, and bought by the Marines in the twenties, for crying out loud. But you can’t expect a boot PFC to know that.

Then, on the superiority of the HK 416 (which is all the IAR is) to the M4, the authority they cite is — a long retired Army Major General, a professional camera hound who has zero combat (or even training) experience with either weapon. Seriously, look at this (emphasis ours):

The M27 that the Marine Corps currently uses for the IAR, is “hands down, the best automatic rifle in the world,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, author of the 2016 book “Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk.”

“It outclasses the M4 in every single category,” said Scales, who is not affiliated with Heckler & Koch.

FFS, it is an M4, except with two 1980s-vintage improvements, a free-floating barrel and a gas tappet system.

“The key category is reliability — particularly in dusty, sandy, muddy terrain. The HK has a solid rod system, like the AK-47.”

“Solid rod system?” Is that a thing? And no, the HK 416’s gas tappet system is nothing like the AK’s gas piston system. Unlike Scales, we have examples of both, and have shot and maintained ’em. (From a Larry Vickers video, this is the HK 416 gas system).

The M27, sold to civilians and overseas as the HK 416, uses a piston to control the function of the bolt, and that eliminates problems with gas-tube operating systems used in the M4 ­carbines and M16 rifles, according to the company’s website.

“Uses a piston to control the function of the bolt?” This is retarded, although it’s not Scales talking, but the reporter. It’s pretty clear that neither of them has the foggiest notion what goes on underneath the handguards of any modern military rifle.

But hey, Scales does step up to double down on the Full Retard:

If you have a solid rod, then the action can literally blow through things that would normally slow down a bolt action, because you’ve got more mass,” Scales said in a March 27 interview.

This is beyond being stupid about weapons… he’s galactically stupid about physics, too. Hey, we just noticed that there’s a solid rod on all our bolt actions, and you actually have to grab it and waggle it around to load a new round. That definitely slows things down.

“Whereas, the M4 has a floating bolt that’s not attached to the rod. The gas goes down a long, thin tube — and the gas itself blows against another tube on top of the bolt, which throws the bolt back instead of carrying the bolt back.”

Two little sentences, more fail than we can count. Proof positive that one can “be ‘tarded, and still live kick-ass lives.”

Now the reporter gets to to paraphrasing rather than quoting Scales, so you can’t be sure whose retardation is radiating stronger in this particular Superfund Site of a sentence:

The HK 416’s floating barrel makes it much more accurate and stable than the M4, especially in automatic fire, he said.

Aargh.

The rifle also gives troops between 100 and 150 extra meters of effective range than the M4.

Mostly, as Shawn at LooseRounds has demonstrated, because we underestimate the M4 and undertrain with it… but yeah, the longer barrel and free-floated barrel of the M27 are helpful at longer ranges. Where, alas, the terminal ballistics of the 5.56 are comparatively anemic, and where an infantry unit has much more effective weapons, something Scales would know if he were still an infantry officer and not a quote-generator-for-hire.

And let’s close the quotes with another direct quote from Scales:

“It’s the only weapon better than the AK-74, according to people I’ve talked to,” Scales said.

Oh, Lord. “People that he’s talked to.” Well, we defer to that! 

If the AK-74 is so awesome, why is Russia only exporting them to places that get them, essentially, for free, courtesy of hard-working Russian taxpayers? Has he shot an AK-74? Of course he hasn’t! He’s a general, he has people for the shooting stuff. And he talks to people, who may be complete random souls but we’ll defer to him because we are impressed with the Argument from Authority logical fallacy.

If you want to read the whole article, it’s not entirely retarded. There are quotes from Marine Commandant Neller, and those are OK. The reporter has also stealth-corrected his original error in which he said the Marines envisioned issuing the IAR to every mortarman, anti-tank infantryman, etc., while what he meant was that the Marines don’t envision issuing the rifles to infantrymen who are not MOS-designated riflemen.

56 thoughts on “USMC to Issue M27 More Widely?

  1. Aesop

    Bearing in mind Field Marshall von Moltke’s four types of officer, the Marine Corps has historically not shitcanned the energetically stupid, instead putting them into slots like PIO. And, as damnably apparent, into weapons procurement/pimpage.

    Sadly this leaves wiggle room for career progression to the general officer level.
    Or, in Neller’s case, commandant.

    The short story is that the Marines, having played with the M4 for some few years, have decided that the longer barrel of the A2, and the full-auto on demand feature of the A1, were assets, not liabilities.
    But the M4 mostly gets the job done, esp. for troops like armor, artillery, and the clerks and jerks, without unduly burdening them with a longer, larger, heavier weapon system.
    And with the F-35 dragging their budget into the abyss for years out, they frankly can’t afford widespread adoption of another service rifle. (Nor an AAV newer than the 1970s, nor a host of other necessary things, because tied by the neck to the albatross that is the F35 Thunderjug.)

    Fair enough.

    Until, sooner or later, they’ll find out that HK hates them, and they suck, and 2:1 this experiment ends as well. Or that it starts shooting minute of grid square when it gets hot, like in combat.
    And it’s too heavy for Combat Barbie, which balances out on the win/loss scale. (They’ll just let them carry the M4, which will become the weapon equivalent of female PFT scales.)

    But at least it may reward due diligence in PMT with higher qual scores.
    Whatever.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Maybe I’m more charitable, but I don’t automatically ascribe dumb output from a 1LT or PFC to congenital idiocy. Sure, lieutenants are mentally retarded, but many of them are educable mentally retarded, given the right input from the commander and XO above, and the NCOs below.

      The basic difference? The ineducable young officer is a write-only device, whose lines are jammed with output to the extent that the input receptors can fail without notice.

      1. Aesop

        The PFC is a PFC. You get what you train for.
        The PIO, OTOH, was put there. Usually, but not unfailingly, for cause.

        And after long looks in both OCS, and six months of daily observation at TBS, before MOS training, and all before he ever hit the fleet. If he was a product of ROTC or Canoe U., even worse for him.
        (This is why 2nd lieutenants in the wild are as rare in the Corps as E1 privates are: with the current length of the training python pipeline, they’re all almost guaranteed to have been automagically promoted before you ever get your hands on one freshly pooped from the snake’s tail.)

        If the best use of an officer, from the Corps’ perspective, with from 18 months to 4 years in the service is talking to Marine Times (itself teats on a bull, but I digress), the best thing to do is view everything he says and does with the tender loving care usually bestowed on soiled baby diapers. Or Courtney Massengale.

    2. Looserounds.com

      after a few years I have had some experience with most of the semi auto variants of the HK 416 and I can say without a doubt that its nothing special

      on a recent “friday night live” Q&A live stream with John Shrek McPhee, noted former Delta Operator and now trainer , some one asked him about the HK416 and he said he would never chose one over the M4s. saying in his opinion its not better and does nothing better. this was a bit of a surprise to me just because I wrongly assumed most of those guys had really bought into the HK thing just because of the suppressor use.

      1. seans

        The 416 doesn’t do any better in terms of running suppressed than either the MK18s or M4a1 Sopmods. And at the cost of breaking more and being heavier. Most of the guys I know who were bitching about not getting 416s who made the leap into JSOC are bitching about wanting their M4s back.

        1. Miles

          Oh the 416 is a pig. I 1/2 jokingly always told my guys that if they ever wound up in water over nose deep that if they didn’t ditch the rifle, it would drown them.

      2. Miles

        It wasn’t about suppressors, it was about OAL of a rifle with a suppressor. The plan was to field a short 5.56mm carbine that, with a suppressor, was no longer than a M4 without one. This was the basic parameter for the ‘Confined Space Assault Weapon’.

        The only thing the 416 did, at that time – 2005 – was work with a 10″ barrel when nothing else did. That’s the reason the unit went with the 416; because NSW Crane was still trying to iron out the teething problems the MK18 was having with reliability.

        In CT, and especially HR, a weapon that might choke when you absoeffinglutely must have it work is not good.

    3. archy

      ***The short story is that the Marines, having played with the M4 for some few years, have decided that the longer barrel of the A2, and the full-auto on demand feature of the A1, were assets, not liabilities. But the M4 mostly gets the job done, esp. for troops like armor, artillery, and the clerks and jerks, without unduly burdening them with a longer, larger, heavier weapon system. … .

      Until, sooner or later, they’ll find out that HK hates them, and they suck, and 2:1 this experiment ends as well. Or that it starts shooting minute of grid square when it gets hot, like in combat.
      And it’s too heavy for Combat Barbie, which balances out on the win/loss scale. (They’ll just let them carry the M4, which will become the weapon equivalent of female PFT scales.)
      ***

      Wonder why the Marines didn’t just add an HK416 upper to the existing M4s and call it the M4A5 or Mark-whatever-mod-whichever. The 3-shot burst triggers could have been removed during rebuild programs, and would have avoided the H&K M416/M27 magazine well that turned out to be incompatable with MagPul Gen II magazines.

      Or even better for a SAW replacement: use the top half of a Taiwanese Type 91, [gas piston and no forward assist, and underbarrel grenade launcher capable] and put the same gas piston upper on the riflemen’s rifles. That Taiwanese 91 lower has a four-position selector; safe, semi, 3-shot burst and rock-and-roll full auto, not that I’m suggesting the use of the Taiwanese rifle; its’ M4-type stock only has 3 positions. But I bet they could outfit an entire fire team with T91s for the price of a single M27.

      If it just had quick-change interchangeable barrels, overheating wouldn’t be as much of a concern, and a ruptured or stuck cartridge case would be curable in about three seconds via a barrel change. While you’re at it, field an 18″ or 20″ DMR barrel and the fire team’s SAW could double as the fire team’s DMR when needed. Need a shorty version for mech infantry/AAV/SP artillery drivers and tank crews? Remove SAW barrel, install shorty version. And for one more polyvalent trick, build a suppressed barrel suitable for no-flash nighttime work with NODs/NVGs….

  2. Jim

    You know PFCs and LCpls arent the same thing right? I’m on board with not taking boots’ word on all (any) things military…buuut…LCpls aren’t always boots. Senior lances get used as TLs and even occasionally SLs, and many have a whole enlistment under them, some more. Plus the bulk of actual, you know, riflemen…are lance coolies. So they aren’t exactly an opinion to avoid on actual rifleman things. Just sayin’…

  3. robroysimmons

    Was once a terminal L/cpl but not a weapons expert, I assume it functions well with all ammo that is issued and not the usual throw together frankengun much complained about on Arfcom.

    And I assume unlike the Ruger it does not have a tiny spring situated right above the gas port.

  4. Keith

    Even this ignorant civilian knows more than the quotes above. Pathetic.

    Keep your powder dry and your faith in God.

  5. LFMayor

    When I was in junior high school that solid rod system was a detriment more than it helped.

  6. KevsBlogBrother

    Every day I read something on your blog that makes me glad that I don’t drink coffee.

    “In my experience…” it’s Baby Duck’s First Day!

    Priceless.

  7. DaveP

    When the M27 first came out, I bet a buddy that it was the USMC’s way of getting a new service rifle without having to jump through the usual hoops and that before too long you’d see calls for “wider distribution ” that would end in a general issue. So far it looks like my money’s safe.

  8. 2hotel9

    Its hard hitting journalism like this that keeps me toddling through from time to time. You made my day, Hawg, thanks! “Superfund Site of a sentence” I got to find a way to use that one. Maybe at realclimatescience.com or wattsupwiththat.com Folks at those august establishments like a well tuned term of derision from time to time.

    As for a weapon with longer/heavier barrel and full auto for “suppression”, d’uh. As you say, the retard is strong in some people. And a WHOLE bunch of them have been deeply involved in the weapons procurement and issuance systems of the US military for a very long time.

  9. Jim Scrummy

    “The M27, sold to civilians and overseas as the HK 416”, umm the ‘tard is strong with this one too. I’d love to buy an HK416-because it has a fun switch, but alas I (a lowly civilian) can only buy an HK MR556 (out of production for the time being until the Columbus, GA plant is finished, plus about $3K in lunch money) sans fun switch.

    It does look like a backdoor way to get the HK 416. So, if the Marines wanted to, just buy one less POS F-35B in FY 2018 at the fly-away cost of $166.4 million, they could get around 47.5K HK 416s at $3500 per copy. Priorities I guess.

  10. Kirk

    Anyone else see the evidence for what I’ve been saying for years, that our small arms procurement system is fuckered up beyond all possible comprehension?

    Look, I get that the Marines are basically re-inventing the wheel, here: I defy you to show me the essential differences here between issuing the M27 to everyone vs. what the Germans were doing with their late-war Volksgrenadier squad and platoon structure. It’s like… Jeezly, someone is reenacting history, or something.

    I mean, dear God, the cutting-edge approach, here: Let’s issue everyone a weapon capable of fully-automatic fire, instead of having a machine gun with a bunch of riflemen hanging around together in a squad!

    I wouldn’t mind so much, but geezus fark… This is essentially a recapitulation of the experience the Germans went through in the WWII era. And, for some of the same damn reasons–MG teams too heavy to move with the rifle squads, etc..

    Does anyone in the friggin’ US military ever read a fucking history book for content, and try to apply what lessons are in them to the real world? Or, is it all just window-dressing, like elementary school students writing book reports calculated to impress their barely-more-literate teaching drones?

    1. Aesop

      Junior officers do, esp. in the Corps. But then they run into field grades, selected with tender loving care by the prior era’s calcified cadre of craptastic fossils, mainly adept at apple- and knob-polishing, themselves selected by the most generally calcified stratum of military management in existence, those of the rarified air from O-7 and above.
      The last 8-16 years of weeding out all warriors in favor of unmitigated waves of kissasses, from E7 to SecDef (inclusive), hasn’t helped things along much either.

      So our bright young company grade killers, after being beaten to their knees, heads bloody, with lectures from safety, to gender equity, to sexual harassment, the amount of time studying and actually applying the lessons of, y’know…the whole combat thingie are such a fractional part of their everyday existence for years on end as to be arcana of the sort only the most ardent post-doctoral students usually get into. And by mathematical certainty, even in the combat arms, 50% of the officers are below average in intelligence, initiative, and/or enthusiasm. Courage fares even worse.

      The best cure for this sort of nonsense is several weeks beating the stupid out of individual officers and all formations from battalion down to squad at places like NTC or Twentynine Palms, but most of the formerly available budget for that sort of thing has gone down the rabbithole of sequestration, and the forty-year old JSF, AKA the F-35 Thunderjug, as I noted earlier.

      A solid twelve months of nothing but field work for every unit, with no rules save to minimize needless training deaths, and to ruthlessly apply lessons learned, would do much to cure the present ills, if we simultaneously gutted the Pentagon and left only 10% of those assigned there in uniform by the end of that calendar year. The latter would also pay for the former.

      1. Gray

        …and since the military is nothing more than a cross-section of the culture in which it resides, that will not happen.

      2. Roger V. Tranfaglia

        From what little I’ve read of past and present conflicts, it seems to me you have touched upon why most sergeants are just happy to stay at the rank they have. Better to keep their men alive to accomplish the job their given.

    2. robroysimmons

      Back in the mid 80s one of the experiments I read about was with 9 man squads built about 2 SAWS, obviously the MC never went with that widespread.

      1. Kirk

        One thing I have to give the Marines–At least, when they thought about changing the squad, they actually did the requisite testing. The Army? LOL… Yeah, guys… We can only fit X number of guys into the Bradley; that’s our new squad. And, then they tested to justify it. Funny how that worked out, in testing, and then failed big-time in Iraq.

        Numbers matter. Build your squads into what amount to reinforced fire teams, and then keep the missions/planning the same? Recipe for success, that is…

        The traditional Marine triangular squad is something I envy. I got to try that out in reality when we went short-handed for a period in the ’90s, and we had to shut down one of our squads in the platoon, due to a shortage of leadership and manning. Two heavy squads actually turned out to be more effective than three light ones, surprisingly enough to all and sundry. Me? I was thinking back to the glory days before the ERI bullshit came in, and I’d actually had enough guys in the squad to do real dismount ops, with 11-man squad structures. Nine, in my opinion, is too big to be a fire team, and too small to be a squad. Plus, I like the triangular structure, where you can put either one up and two ready to deal with unexpected eventualities, or have two up, and a third ready to exploit success or backstop failures. Having two maneuver elements in a squad is just too damn inflexible, and way too limiting.

        Honestly, I think the Marines have got it right when it comes to squad structure, and everyone else in the world with their two-team 9-ish man structures are the ones who are wrong.

    3. parvusimperator

      Whatever happened to that Volksgrenadier squad/platoon concept? Did it fail in testing somewhere?

      1. archy

        ***Whatever happened to that Volksgrenadier squad/platoon concept? Did it fail in testing somewhere?***

        Helicopters. They couldn’t quite handle a squad that large in a single lift.

    4. William O. B'Livion

      > Anyone else see the evidence for what I’ve been saying for years, that our small arms
      > procurement system is fuckered up beyond all possible comprehension?

      Has anyone argued that it’s *not* fucked up?

      I could see someone arguing that it’s only mildly fucked up, as opposed to FUBAR, but that’s about as far as rational thought would let me go.

      Or that “it’s perfectly fine because the point of the system isn’t to field good weapons, but to build careers for important people”.

  11. Looserounds.com

    Anyone care to guess why reading about that has made me have a real irritable bowel kinda day all the sudden?

    I would argue over the claim that the piston operation is an improvement over the M4.. I would argue that heavily. And I would argue very heavily over the claim the piston FF barrel is more accurate than a FF DI M4.

    Wow 100 -150 meters more range!! holy wow-shit!! I guess having colt start putting 16 inch barrels on the M4 never occurred to them. Or maybe that’s just too much a leap in thinking. Not that it’s really even needed. I’m gonna stick my neck out really far and assume the vast majority of rifleman in all branches can’t make a first round hit at 800yards with their service rifle. I’d gladly love to be proven wrong on that,

    ignoring all the idiocy and HK shilling going on there. I humbly maintain all of those issues could be solved with showing the average fella’s what can be done with a rack grade M4 to begin with,.

    In the 90s, a US Army Colonel ( If I remember correctly ) wrote up a paper on the designated marksman concept for the army. And to show it did not need a purpose built and expensive rifle, went out in full gear, lay prone and took and M4 with M855 and the TAO1 NSN ACOG and rang steel out to 800 with it.

    I will try to remember later this evening an make an additional comment on the name of the Officer and the year/publication for those interested. His write up on the future role of the DM and the things that shortly came to pass showed he was really thinking ahead.

    1. Kirk

      Whenever actual innovation happens, usually under fire, you can generally find someone, somewhere, who was a prophet without honor in his hometown.

      Frankly, I think the M27 is a bit of a dog’s breakfast: Sure, the Marines are making it work out better, but they got there via some really convoluted and expensive thinking that could have been done a lot more affordably if they’d just said “Hey… Y’know, that A2 idea? That didn’t work out; our model of combat based around the Camp Perry shooting thing don’t work real well in real life… Let’s try out this idea where every rifleman is actually an LMG guy, like the Germans came up with back in WWII…”.

      There isn’t anything that the M27 can do that a suitably configured M4 couldn’t do; all that program really amounts to, in my mind, is the Marine Corps being unable to make the mental leap from ye olden days of individual riflemen armed with bolt-action rifles to modern automatic fire in everybody’s hands. The general issue of the M27 is just the Marines finally acknowledging that the damn assault rifle concept really works…

      Seriously: Show me something that the M27 does that the M4 couldn’t, were it configured similarly. I really, really doubt you can. About all the M27 really brings to the fight is a way for the Marines to shift over to what they should have been doing, all along, and do so without having to admit that they were going down a blind alley with the M16A2. Ego, in other words–They can’t admit that the way they’ve been doing marksmanship and riflery for the last fifty years is flawed, in any way whatsoever.

      Which, I’m sure, is going to engender a bunch of flaming from people, but all I suggest is that they try to tell me what the hell they’re doing with an M27 that couldn’t have been done with an M16A1?

      1. robroysimmons

        Going out on a limb here, but from what I’ve seen The Stan would be the place for Marine Corps riflery

        1. Kirk

          I think Afghanistan is a theater whose lessons are mostly misunderstood, and used in ways inimical to actual learning taking place–The whole thing has been politicized beyond belief, and you can take whatever lesson you like from the place.

          I think the basic thrust of what Afghanistan has to say to us is that we’ve really screwed the pooch on our small arms systems. We’ve got a situation in Afghanistan where the small arms fight is now centric, instead of being out on the periphery–There are no Bradleys or other vehicles to take up the slack in capabilities, and the non-organic fire support is drastically limited due to various reasons stemming from both ROE and the nature of the theater. As such, a lot of deficiencies in our small arms suite are showing up–Things like the M16-sized range of weapons being too heavy and unwieldly in close quarters, the M240 being too heavy, and stuff like the tripod being basically too inflexible to be of real utility in returning long-range small arms fire rapidly while on the move.

          Now, understand this–I’m not speaking from a position of authority, here: The ability to do that really doesn’t exist, because a lot of the questions we’d need to answer in order to do that simply haven’t been answered to any real satisfaction. I have my suspicions about the state of things, but I’m unable to provide quantified numbers to support my beliefs. Key among those beliefs? We’ve got a barely adequate set of small arms, in a lot of ways–The weapons we do have are not optimal.

          First things first, from the basics: The cartridge “envelope” we have on issue does not support the way we try to fight in Afghanistan, in a lot of ways. The individual weapon cartridge, the 5.56mm NATO, does not have a set of characteristics that actually meet the needs we have in terms of range and lethality. What we have works, but it could be better. Likewise, the MG cartridge is also sub-optimal, in that it does not possess the range or the lethality we need at longer ranges. Further, the systems we have firing these cartridges are also lacking in a lot of respects, such as weight, size, and ability to sustain fires.

          To address this, we can do two things: One, we change ROE to enable less restrictive uses of supporting fires, and deploy more fire support assets forward, or we revamp our suite of small arms. What we have works, so long as it is used within the loving arms of the rest of the supporting arms we’ve come to take as being available for combat in theaters like Central Europe.

          Of course, that assumption may not actually be true, that we’ll have a “weapons free” policy for support weapons in Europe. That’s something to be considered, due to the constraints we may find ourselves under dealing with combat in civilian-heavy areas like Central Europe–If we’ve got to fight campaigns like Afghanistan there, in terms of counter-insurgencies and the like, well… We may find we need more focus on small arms, just like Afghanistan.

          If it were I, based on my entirely personal and highly subjective evaluation of the situation, I think I would go with a somewhat heavier and longer-ranged individual weapon cartridge, and a substantially heavier MG round. Probably something like the .264 USA for an individual weapon, and something like the old Swedish M32 8X63mm cartridge in a modernized format for the MG role. I don’t think the .338 Norma is really an optimal solution in that role, but I’d be open to experimentation on the issue.

          Part of the problem with a lot of this is that we’re really not doing the requisite research on these things, down where rubber meets road. I’m of the opinion that there is a lot we don’t know about what goes on during the firefight, and we absolutely ought to be able to apply quantifiable numbers to a lot of shit we just can’t, right now. All too much of what is “known” is purely subjective shit, that doesn’t really tell us what we need to know–A perfect example of things I’m talking about would be the “operational testing” of the XM-25 that they conducted. Basically, they took a toy into theater, handed it out, had people shoot it a few times at the enemy, and then claimed it was a game-changing success story. Only thing is, they never closed the fucking loop, and produced actual BDA from the engagements where it was used, per my informants. I stand to be corrected, but the story I have gotten is that there was not one single casualty that someone was able to examine and directly attribute to the XM-25. It was all “We received fire, and returned fire with our XM-25 wunderwaffen, and the enemy quit shooting at us…”. Magical thinking at its finest: There were no attempts made to recover bodies, no attempts made to see if the damn things actually killed anyone, or much of any real attempt to proved quantifiable evidence that this multi-million dollar glory hole of a weapon actually did what it was supposed to.

          All too much of our small arms suite has this same basic problem, and then there is the huge disconnect between how these things get developed vs. how we come up with the tactics and operational technique to use them. We keep setting the cart out in front of the horse, and then trying to figure out why the hell we keep having problems with that poor horse not working efficiently.

          Tactics and operational intent should drive weapons design; not the other way around. You don’t develop your weapon and then try to figure out how to use it, except when it’s a cutting-edge new bit of technology–Something we’re well past, with cartridge-based small arms. And, even then? The idea that you’d develop something without regard for how you intend to use it is just ‘effing backwards, because you run the chance that you’re going to wind up with something totally unusable or wasteful.

          I see signs of this syndrome with the LSAT, in that the parties developing it are doing so in a developmental stovepipe, well away from tactical considerations. The current 6.5mm LSAT cartridge is being optimized for effect, while the guys out on the tactical side are not intimately involved with the question of “Is this the best way to do this…?”, or “How are we going to take advantage of this capability in terms of range and lethality, and do we even need it…?”.

          The concern I have is that the current ballistic path they’re on may be one that isn’t optimal for how we will use it–The 6.5mm option may be too much of a heavy-hitter, and not controllable in terms of an individual weapon. Additionally, the provision they’re making for a 20-round magazine capacity seems to be predicated on “Well, that’s what was standard for the 7.62mm NATO rifles…”, and not on “What does the rifleman actually need…?”.

          There’s all too much sloppy thinking in this realm of human activity, and not enough actual quantifiable research or original thought.

          1. Jakew7

            Am former SF guy. Am about done with reading Kirk.

            Massively voluminous, fantastically sharp sometimes.
            Has burnt out my hospitality in reading them.
            You’ve burnt a good bit of my O2.
            We’re done.
            Eval: Guy loves himself. Narcissist. Loves any replies that can answer to because that is more food on his table.
            You’ve overstayed and overused your place at my reading blog.
            I turn my back to you.

    2. seans

      Due to the loss of the MK12s due to the adoption of the MK20s. NSW has started issuing M4a1s with the free floated rails to its snipers. It was found that when coupled with MK262, the biggest limit on range with the rifles was the optic in terms of being able to get real world hits. So they just stuck what I remember as a 25 power optic on it and now they got a solid 5.56 DMR. Able to hit a man size target at 800 yards and head size at 400 yards with ease.

  12. Jack

    So much fail, even if you give these guys credit for the reporter not being able to understand what you are saying even if you do a good job describing how a gas system works. When the Marine Corp says they want to give M27’s to riflemen, I have no problem understanding that they mean people listed on an infantry squad org chart as a rifleman, but maybe that’s just me. Honestly,It seems to me like the Marines are wishing they still had the M16A4’s that they recently gave up. Maybe they didn’t want to maybe someone made them. On the whole the M27 is probably a better rifle than an M16A4, with the cleaner gas system and full auto available but I imagine it costs more. And, compared to an M4 you also get more muzzle velocity which is never a bad thing for a 5.56mm. I guess what I’m saying is that (for what the opinion of a Desert Storm era Army Signal officer is worth) the M27 seems like a better choice for the guy with rifleman next to his name on the org chart than an M4 , especially if an M16A4 is not one of your options for whatever reason.

  13. Seacoaster

    Minor edit: the good Major General was never an infantry officer, but an artilleryman by trade, albeit one with a Silver Star earned in close combat.

    Hognose, any interest in reviewing his new book? Maybe as an act of penance, with Easter still more than a week away?

  14. nick

    I was a lowly LCPL with a hash mark when I got out (honorably).
    I didn’t like 2nd Lt’s talking the talk and not walking the walk,but my Btn CO liked me.
    The only good takeaway from the article was- “I believe that our infantry Marines should be the most lethal force we can afford”.
    Semper- Fi

  15. S

    How much of the “success” of the Mk27 could be due to the rifleman getting the same one every time? If he “owns” it, and has a smidge more training than the average, and the armourers and their friends keep their grubby mitts off it, it might actually be better adjusted and have a better chance of staying that way…

  16. archy

    ***FFS, it is an M4, except with two 1980s-vintage improvements, a free-floating barrel and a gas tappet system.

    And sometimes, a 225- round drum magazine.

  17. Bryan m

    Maybe the blog author should read what the General wrote before dismissing him out of hand. Many of the issues raised about the M4 he discusses, as well as other infantry-specific issues.

    Scales on War. It’s his book in case you belatedly decide to do your due diligence before slandering someone who earned a Silver Star for ground combat in Vietnam.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Slander? I describe how jacked up these statements were, and how his 2nd career as a media hound looks.

    2. Aesop

      A Silver Star is a fine thing, but last I looked, they aren’t awarded for perspicacity regarding individual small arms design and engineering.

      The hold otherwise is from the same school of thought that thinks an Oscar or Grammy confers geopolitical wisdom.

      But in fairness to the general, it’s probably uncharitable to assume out of hand that the media dweeb in this case in any better than any other media dweeb at quoting verbatim, accurately, or even in broad terms.
      It would be helpful to the reader if their articles were printed in crayon, to better appreciate the true quality of the offerings, in only about 99% of known cases.

  18. Jakew7

    Am former SF guy. Am about done with reading Kirk.

    Massively voluminous, fantastically sharp sometimes.
    Has burnt out my hospitality in reading them.
    You’ve burnt a good bit of my O2.
    We’re done.
    Eval: Guy loves himself. Narcissist. Loves any replies that can answer to because that is more food on his table.
    You’ve overstayed and overused your place at my reading blog.
    I turn my back to you.

  19. H

    “On single-shot, you can hit 800 yards no problem,” Lance Cpl. Joshua Houck

    I would be willing to bet one hundred dollars that Lance Cpl Houck, as he stands there today, has not received sufficient training in wind reading skills or long range marksmanship to make that shot on a torso-sized target (an IPSC target will do) with that rifle and normally issued ammunition in a 90-degree 10 MPH cross wind unless (a) he’s on the Marine Corps rifle team or (b) somebody from the Marine Corps rifle team was standing behind him giving him a wind call on a rifle that has a true no-wind 800-meter zero already established. This on simulated battlefield conditions where wind flags and wind meters and fancy smart phone apps and other such square range gadgets are not available.

    Increase the wind speed to 15 MPH and I’ll increase my bet to one thousand dollars. I’ll accept the possibility of luck intervening in favor of LC Houck as being quite unlikely, but if he did make a first round hit, then I’d be willing to go double or nothing that he couldn’t do it twice in a row.

  20. Cap'n Mike

    Isnt this the same General Scales was helping spread “The Big Lie About Wanat”?
    If he is not getting paid by H&K, he is selling himself short as a lobbyist.

    1. Jorge

      Yes, he did spread Wanat: The HK Story.

      Maybe he really wants to make a difference, and is getting bad info from the gunshop commando sewing circle.

  21. Tennessee Budd

    Aw, c’mon, Jakew7, don’t hold back–tell us how you really feel.
    Twice.
    Perhaps I should have phrased that, “tell us how really feel”.
    Hognose, I know that part of serving in SF is keeping secret that which should not be generally known, but you never told us that the master of Greystoke, his own mighty self, served among y’all.

  22. Paul from Canada

    The Brits were looking at this idea with the EM-2. Their idea was the all-purpose Infantry Weapon. Everyone got an EM-2. There would be a clip on bipod “easily carried in the pocket”, for turning the assault rifle into an automatic rifle/light support weapon. Yes, it was not a BREN gun, yes it could not do sustained fire, but now everyone in else in the section (squad), had a select fire weapon and that would give the section a lot of firepower (at least for a little while, long enough to complete the assault/take the position). Rather then the “rifle group” and the “LMG group”, they planned on a balanced squad concept

    Even if the EM-2 with the clip on bipod were to prove too light, a heavy barreled version could be made with 80%+ parts commonality and common training. The Canadian Army agreed with this idea, and kept it thru the cold war with the C1 rifle/C2 automatic rifle, even though the bigger 7.62 NATO round meant that the C2 didn’t work as well (dispersion/accuracy never matched the required specs).

    The Brits were looking at a repeat of the last couple of wars, total war with massive expansion of the army by conscription, with limited training time. This made a common weapons system desirable for training, and a common cartridge and rifle desirable for logistics. If you didn’t have time to train everyone to be an expert rifle shot, and mechanization/camouflage/urban combat etc. was already reducing the range of combat, reduce the range you expect small arms to be used. Yes, a Vickers Gun could produce support fire to 4000+ yards, but a 60mm mortar could do the same and more.

    Commonwealth doctrine for the post war/EM-2 era was based around individual aimed fire against individual targets to 300 yards/metres, “collective fire” (covering/suppressive fire against “collective targets” ) to 600yards/metres, support fire by LMG/AR/Snipers to around 800 yards/metres, and support fire from GPMGs to around 1200 yards/metres. Their plan was to have the EM-2 for the whole platoon, and a belt fed BREN derivative for the Weapons Company in the Battalion, and for vehicle mounts etc. Interestingly, these ranges remained in the doctrine even after the standardization of the more powerful 7.62mm round, which is why FN-FALs have sight settings out to 600 yards/metres.

    I have often wondered, if Rene Studler had not been in his place in 1947, if we might still be using an updated EM-2 or .280 FAL today, and the whole “5.56 is too small for Afghanistan” issue would never have come up. Indeed, even if the EM-2 were to have proven too radical for the 1950’s military mind, imagine a .280 FN-FAL at around 8 pounds, and an FN-MAG/M240, at around 16-18 pounds. No M249 at all, and one small arms’ cartridge. The Canadian C1/C2 concept would also likely have been more successful with the original lighter cartridge.

    The Collector Grade Publications books on the M-14 and FN-FAL go into this in illuminating detail, best yet, read “The EM-2 Concept and Design”, also from Collector Grade, but long out of print and hard to find.

    I am totally in agreement with Kirk about this stuff. Doctrine and tactics should dictate procurement, and not the other way round.

    Same same with machine gun tactics. His rant about using small arms in isolation in Afghanistan due to ROE is right on the money. If our squad is outranged by Taliban with a PK, the answer, in the absence of Arty etc. is a GPMG on a tripod with a dial sight, not a bigger rifle/cartridge combo. While not as sophisticated as the German tripods, look at the FN tripod with it’s HI/LO setting. Peter G. Kokalis (R.I.P) used to rant on this topic as well. The art and science of machine gunnery is dying out (Commonwealth armies still train SF (sustained fire) MG teams, but don’t make them available down to Platoon level like they perhaps aught to).

    If you watch WWII newsreel footage, there are lots of examples of German MG teams displacing forward with the gun STILL MOUNTED ON THE TRIPOD, being carried at the RUN by two or three members of the team, with the rest carrying a couple of ammo cans and a spare barrel carrier slung across their back. If you have a “heavy machine gun section” attached to your Platoon (i.e. 4-6 guys to carry the tripod, spare barrels and ammo), you can have an SF MG maneuvering with your most forward Platoon, or even with your most forward Squad.

    (I’ve just realized that I am starting to rant just like Kirk, and at similar length, so I’ll stop this post here).

    1. Kirk

      If the mark of genius is how much someone agrees with you… Well… You, sir, are a genius. For whatever value that makes for.

      I think the whole post-WWII small arms program picture is really quite FUBAR, and we Americans bear a heavy responsibility for it all. The UK did excellent work, and the whole EM-2/TADEN systemic approach to small arms was an excellent answer, and based on actual wartime experience.

      It is a tragedy of epic proportions that the US didn’t do similar work, but we didn’t, and that forced the small arms program for NATO down a blind path. What’s really ironic is the observation that we essentially recapitulated both the German and the Soviet small arms experience, to arrive where we are today–The two-caliber solution, with a relatively low-power individual rifle cartridge and a more powerful MG caliber still in the platoon for long-range fires. One wonders if actual experience with the .280 British would have led to similar problems showing up, and a similar reversion to the older full-power rifle cartridge for MG use.

      I’m thinking all this kind of leads to the inevitable conclusion that we might want to back off, and do some serious thinking about how this is all supposed to work. None of the supposed solutions like 7.92X33 or 7.62X39 have actually proven out in combat, by themselves–Nor has 5.56X45, when you get down to it. All of them have had to be supplemented by a heavier MG cartridge, whether it was 7.92X57, 7.62X54R, or 7.62X51 NATO–Which leads me to further suspect that the current hope for a “One size solves all” solution with the 6.5 LSAT may be doomed to failure. I’m going to lay out that a cartridge that can be effectively fired on full-auto in an individual weapon may not be capable of also working well as a MG round in the squad/platoon–And, interestingly, I think the Chinese are reaching that conclusion as well, with the retention of 7.62X54R weapons in their platoons. If that’s actually happening–I keep seeing a bunch of different claims about that issue.

      The UK did a lot of good work, in terms of thinking through what they meant to do with their weapons suite after WWII. It might be smart for us to go back and look at that work, and try to emulate it.

      1. Paul from Canada

        Re: the return to two calibers. Part of the British thinking was to try their best to not do that. They looked at and really liked the 7.92×33 and 7.62×39, but recognized the limitations. If you kept the full diameter, the only way to make a lighter bullet is to make it shorter, with the attendant ballistic compromises. They saw that both the Germans and the Russians were stuck keeping the original bore diameter for war production/economic reasons. Given that the rimmed .303 was definitely obsolete, and that they would have to start from scratch anyway, the Brits took the opportunity to start with a clean sheet of paper.

        Given the reduced ranges, could you make a round with low enough recoil to be used in a hand-held automatic weapon, while at the same time having a good enough range/trajectory/retained energy to make a good machine gun round?

        The Brits looked at the way things were going, and decided that yes, they could certainly try. Rifle caliber machine guns were no longer good enough for aircraft use (except maybe in helicopter door guns). Aircraft armament was going to be a minimum of .50, and more likely 20 or 30mm cannon, so you didn’t need a full power rifle cartridge for that. Likewise, any vehicle mounted MG would be ineffective against even the lightest armoured vehicle unless it was a .50, so you didn’t need a rifle caliber machine gun for that either.

        A full power rifle cartridge firing MG could be used for long range indirect fire, and the Brits certainly used the Vickers that way in North Africa and in Europe (particularly in Holland), but they used them that way because they had them and they could. In the future, you would have mortars, rockets, more air support etc,. In the same way the MG eliminated the volley sight and long range rifle fire, the mortar and other things would eliminate the need for ultra long range MG fire.

        So, if your targets for small arms fire were going to be soft skinned people and soft skinned vehicles, and your max range was going to be around 1200m, a VLD 6-7mm bullet could probably do that. They did consider a heavier MG loading of the same basic round (they had done that with the previous .303 MkVIIz), but still figured that the logistics and war production benefits of a single cartridge was worth it.

        I definitely concede your point that no matter how hard we try, we still seem to end up with the two caliber system. The Brits tried. The SA-80 was supposed to have a 5.56mm rifle and LSW combo at the Platoon level and the 7.62mm GPMG kicked upstairs to the Support Weapons Company. The Russians tried. The AK/RPK supposed to be the Platoon level arms and the 7.62 relegated to support. Even in the cold war Canadian doctrine, the C1/C2 was supposed to be the Platoon level arms and the GPMG relegated to higher echelon support fires, but all three armies ended up with 7.62mm GPMGs at a lower level, even if unofficially. Even the advent of the 5.56mm SAW didn’t change that. You can see lots of pictures and video of Canadian and British patrols in Afghanistan with an L7/C6 FN-MAG GPMG along for the walk even with the SAW in the same patrol.

        If it were possible to make a single cartridge do both jobs, the British 7mm/.280 would be a better platform to try with . The various 6.8 rounds are all limited by the need to keep the overall length compatible with the 5.56mm mags and bolt. If we are going to go the “one round to rule them all” route, it will have to be with a fresh start, and I can’t see the economics working until the next new technology, like electric rail guns or lasers or something. The current cartridge combos are here to stay because they are “good enough”. Maybe the polymer telescoped case technology might work to give us a 6-7mm general purpose cartridge. We will see…..

  23. Kirk

    To all y’all who read here regularly… If I’m not productively contributing, and I do like to think I am, at least somewhat, then please say so and I’ll cut back on posting.

    I agree I do tend to run on, but that’s the problem when you’re not taking the time to carefully edit for brevity–Most of what you guys see on here is stuff I crank out in passing, because, well… I can. If I’m going for carefully considered brevity, it takes me a lot longer.

    I have kind of figured that since I’m not coming into anyone’s home and putting a gun to their head, and forcing them to read until they cry, that those who aren’t interested can always skip anything with my name on it… And, with electrons being free…?

    Now, if I were coming in with a gun, and making people read what I write, I’d agree that would be offensive. Since I’m not… Just keep scrolling, if you don’t like what you’re reading.

    Should Hognose feel differently on the matter, I’ll defer to his taste. This is, after all, his site, and we’re all just guests here commenting. And, for me, it’s therapeutic, because without being able to vent to people who actually understand what the hell I’m raving about, I’m probably going to wind up as one of his “When Guns are Outlawed, Only…” posts…

    1. Cap'n Mike

      Keep posting Kirk.
      I enjoy reading what you write and always find it insightful.

    2. John M.

      Pascal is said to have included the following in a letter:
      “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.”

      En anglais:
      “I have made this [letter] longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”

      I enjoy your missives because I learn stuff. [shrug]

      -John M.

    3. archy

      ***To all y’all who read here regularly… If I’m not productively contributing, and I do like to think I am, at least somewhat, then please say so and I’ll cut back on posting.***

      I notice that insofasr as the stuff that’s based on fact goes, Mr. Kirk and I are pretty much on the
      same page. Where opinion based on experience is considered, we differ a good bit, understandable since our experiences have not been the same, thank God. I’ve never picked apart any of his conclusions as completely out of left field, and i’ve caught the odd detail here and there that I’ve known to be spot-on. I conclude that he is not only [or just] a subject matter expert, but also a reasonably knowledgeable individual/ RKI.

      And more than once I’ve been saved having to spout of my two cents worth on something when I continue reading and find a post by him that pretty much says what I have in mind. In fact, he’s such a swell guy, I think we should all chip in and get him a M2/M122 tripod. Maybe have in chrome-plated at the bumper shop?

      i

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