Skip to comments.Corps Set to Field SAW Replacement
Posted on 07/01/2010 10:04:14 PM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld
The Marine Corps will field its new, lightweight auto rifle this fall to five combat battalions preparing for war-zone deployments.
Commandant Gen. James T. Conway gave Corps officials the green light in April to issue approximately 450 M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles, enough to replace every M249 squad automatic weapon in four infantry battalions and one light armored reconnaissance battalion.
The limited fielding is a final test to find out if the Heckler & Koch-made weapon performs as well in an operational environment as it has in testing, said Charles Clark III, who oversees infantry weapons requirements at the Corps' Combat Development and Integration office at Quantico, Va.
"The battlefield test will be a verification of what we have already established through extensive operational testing," Clark said. "We want to get a user assessment prior to full-rate production." Conway's decision comes despite his past concerns about replacing the M249 with a magazine-fed automatic rifle. His main worry is whether the M27's light weight and accuracy will be enough to make up for the loss of suppressive firepower Marine gunners will give up when they go into battle without the belt-fed M249.
Program officials acknowledge that a 30-round magazine cannot produce the high volume of fire the M249 is capable of when loaded with a 200-round belt. The Corps is considering high-capacity magazines that can hold 50 or 100 rounds of 5.56mm ammo, but Marines that deploy with this first batch of IARs will carry only 30-round magazines.
(Excerpt) Read more at military.com ...
Haven’t these guys heard about the Shrike?
Perhaps some 0300s will comment, but that doesn’t seem like a very robust magazine capacity for a squad weapon.
A friend who recently retired hated the SAW and it’s 5.56 bullets. He said when you need a machine gun, you really need a MACHINE GUN, not a 5.56.
Not to mention, you can go through 30 rounds in half a heartbeat.
The junior guy in the squad will probably have to hump the extra magazines and reload them.
I’m not real bright but isn’t a belt fed weapon desirable for a squad?
I know we could argue about the caliber all day, but If I needed a round of suppressive fire, I would choose the .308 with a belt, not just another mag fed 5.56. The other guys in the squad could give me that. The SAW was for special occasions that needed a special weapon.
This doesn’t sound good to me. In fact, this “new” weapon doesn’t sound much better than the full auto M16A1s we used 30 years ago. With a couple of taped-together banana clips we could dish out 50+ 5.56mm rounds very quickly. I remember some nighttime, end-of-exercise “get-rid-of-your-ammo” shoots where the barrel of my rifle actually turned orange.
I’m not sure I get the point of this switch.
BUMP what you said. As I mentioned in #12, this new weapon sounds like little more than an old full-auto M16.
Guys thought that it was pretty rad in that it could spray bullets really fast and Lance Corporals acted like they were hot stuff because their rank filled the role of Squad Automatic Rifleman.
Later on, they were happy to make Corporal because they could give the thing to some new Lance Corporal who wanted to be hot stuff.
They jammed a lot. You'd clear it, the SAW would rip off a few dozens rounds, then misfeed again. They made the M60E3 look reliable, and that's saying something. I don't think I ever saw the magazine feed slot work for more than three or four rounds with an M16A2's magazine locked in.
You also sounded like a giant Maraca when you moved around when the high capacity pouch was mounted and loaded with a full belt. Shooga-shooga-shooga... every step you took. Like marbles in a wooden box.
Range shooting out past 550 meters, you felt like you were shooting Styrofoam pellets. With a 7.62 M60E3 or larger, you knew where your rounds were impacting way downrange. With the SAW, sometimes it felt like your rounds were just disappearing in flight somewhere downrange.
When I think of the SAW, I regard it as the gun that looked a hell of a lot cooler than it actually was.
Of course, my oldest grandson told me I wouldn't be satisfied unless the Corps went back to an M1 Garand...I did so enjoy the ping as the clip was ejected...
When you set a M240 in position, it’s more or less staying there until a real deliberate move is made. A SAW is to stay with the rifle squad as they maneuver, and there is no AG, so that means no linking of rounds. It’s there for overwhelming suppressive fire by a standard light squad and being able to move quickly. The SAW does have the ability to take M4 30-rd magazines, but it doesn’t work. The weapon malfunctions almost every single time before it can get through a single mag. The SAW’s also a maintenance nightmare. It needs to go, but I don’t see the advantage of dropping the belt-fed capability. The SAW was right to go for both, but it needs to work.
Maybe they could replace the SAW qith a reliable, proven system, say
RPK (or RPKM) - oh, wait, it has only a 40 rd magazine
OK - how about a RPK-74
Oh, wait, it’s magazine fed as well./
Ok, how about a PK
250 rd belt, oh, wait, too much like an M-60 - called the Hog for a reason.
The Brits L86A1? - 5.56 and - yup - magazine fed.
Well, Oz troopies use the Lithgow F89, Standard Light Pattern. Nope, just the SAW with a different name.
JSDF use the SAW, so no help from them.
The Singaporean army adopted the new squad automatic weapon, known as Ultimax 100, in 1982. Uses a 100 rd drum magazine. Uses 5.56 NATO. So, maybe this one - eh?
New Zealand - nope, they use the SAW
How about the Swiss SIG MG 51? An updated MG-42 the grunt in your squad better be prepared to hump some ammo, they bad boy can shew it up.
Norwegian Army? NOpe, the SAW again.
The Germans will use the H&K MG4 - belt fed 5.56 NATO.
France? NOpe, the SAW once more.
My point? Not a whole lot of choice out there. THe few that are different are , by and large, magazine fed. Maybe we can score some of those Unimat 100 rd magazines....
The M240 gunner carries a “starter belt” (usually about 50 rounds) and the AG carries the bulk of the remaining ammo. Ammo bearers are only there if you happen to have enough people in the PLT, which hardly anyone ever does. The gunner also carries some ammo in some pouches on his body armor. The M240 is about 27 pounds, I believe, and is pretty solid as crew-served weapons go. We still do crew drills much the same way you guys probably did. M240 range cards were an EIB lane at my unit, as was basic load, fire, correct malfunction of the M240.
It’s funny you mention the sound. Some of our old timers lament the sound of the M240 as not being nearly as badass as the M60. “When the hog speaks, everyone listens.” Sounds like, based on your experience, that’s not entirely a bad thing!
Here’s a clip of the IAR at the testing ground (the IAR demonstration starts around the 4 minute mark on the video):
I dunno enough about infantry tactics to say whether it will be an effective replacement for the SAW or not. It kind of reminds me (conceptually) of a throwback to the Browning Automatic Rifle, though admittedly a lot lighter and more compact.
- the SAW is jam prone
- the SAW is unweildy when clearing structures (think Fallujah)
- the SAW makes the gunner visually standout from the squad.
I see nothing wrong with SAW. Its a good rifle.
If they are going back to a Mag fed SAW, why not just give the old M1918’s a go. At least you have a solid .30 cal round with them.
The Shrike looks like it has a number of advantages over the competition. Also, it looks like a lot of fun on a Saturday morning. ;-)
With today’s technolgy, why can’t we make the BAR a lighter weapon? The firing system is rock solid but it is magazine fed. The BAR was designed to be the Squad Automatic Weapon and served us well. It is time we brought back the 30.06 round and stop fooling around with plinking rounds. I want a bullet that I can kill with at 500 yards. I don’t want the enemy up close and personal.
Right. They can keep up a sustained rate of fire. How is this rifle any different from another M16?
They have reinvented the wheel. If I want a sustained fire machinegun, I want something in .30 cal flavor, beltfed, and allows me to maintain a field of fire in which nothing lives without my permission.
Or just set me behind Ma Deuce and keep the ammo coming!
But what's wanted is a magazine-fed 5,56 SAW, one whose belts are not subject to fouling from sand, nor in those locales where vegetation is more prevalent, where belts constantly foul and snag on the wait-a-minute vines.
It'll be interesting to see if the magazine for a Marine 5.56 SAW like the H&K guns can be adapted to the M16A3/M4 as well. If so, then we'd be in a partity situatuion with the Russians, whose RPK magazines work just dandy in AKs and AKM, and whose RPK74 magazines work in the standard AK74 and AK74SUs. They've only been ahead of us on this for, oh, 45, 50 years or so. Not that the fixed-barrel RPK doesn't suffer some flaws of its own. But a quick-change barrel setup could change that.
Myself, I kind of like these:
I don't get it.
Hey wait! You left out the Israeli Negev, the Spanish Ameli, and that cute little lead-spreader from Singapore, as well as the old Stoner 63/Mk23....
Why not a 7.62x39 SAW in regions where there is plenty of supplemental ammo locally? It may not always be ideal, but if your run out 5.56, you’re SOL. Whereas if you capture enemy combatants and/or a cache, you’ve just re-supplied in the field.
I got the Unimat 100...
Anyway, no matter what the Corps winds up fielding, someone is going to have to hump all the ammo.....
It may be a sly way of replacing the M-16 and M-4. The M27 can fire full automatic as opposed to programmed bursts. It would become the standard assault rifle. There may be a replacement for the SAW on the horizon. Hopefully.
[After extensive trials in 2009 USMC finally selected the HK IAR rifle, which, in fact, is no more that heavy-barreled version of their HK 416 automatic carbine (assault rifle), and it hardly looks like adequate replacement for a dedicated squad automatic weapon with belt feed and quick-change barrel. By all accounts, it looks like USMC played the whole IAR trick to get the replacement for their M4 carbines without entering the political hassle and budgetary debates. In May 2010 the USMC representative officially anounced the adoption of the Heckler-Koch IAR as “M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle”. It is not clear when HK will begin delivery of the M27 rifles, and how much rifles will be delivered to USMC. . .]
If that’s the case they are playing politics with the lives of Marines.
This thing is supposed to replace a belt fed weapon and they put the magazine well on the bottom?
It certainly looks compact!
Anyway, no matter what the Corps winds up fielding, someone is going to have to hump all the ammo.....
I got the ammo for the SAW. You hump the baseplate and ammo for the 120....
Yeah, like on the SAW it's replacing in part because the top-fed magazine feature is problematical.
Why would anyone field an AR or SAW with a bottom-mounted magazine...?
Your logic seems to be that since the SAW has problems with the magazine feed, only bottom loading magazines will work. You ignore the Gatling gun and the Sten, as well as the Bofors, and any side fed gun such every single belt fed machine gun ever produced.
A weapon used for suppression fire needs to be able to fire more than 30 rounds before reloading. If not, then you need to change your tactics such that squad members will only advance if they can reach cover before the machine gun empties a 30 round magazine.
Naw, I’ll hump the PRC-66 to call in CAS....
Nope, and not even that dual feed systems, belt AND magazines are a bad idea- only that it doesn't seem to have worked real well with the M249. Which may well be why the USMC wants something better.
You ignore the Gatling gun and the Sten, as well as the Bofors, and any side fed gun such every single belt fed machine gun ever produced.
As well as the German FG42 and Johnson M1944 and the Israeli Dror, all of which fed from magazines from the side, and the German Knorr-Bremsen and MG13, which used box and double-drum [trommelmagazinen] In weapons that used full-power rifle magazines, they were clunky and unbalanced; I've handled all of them, shot a FG42 and owned an MG13. Clunky.
And I don't even want to think about a Gatling [.45-70!] with the Accles feed *doughnut* drum as a handheld weapon; though some .30-40 caliber Gatlings were fielded, those used by Cpt. *Gatling* Parker in Cuba were .45-70...and on wheeled mounts.
A weapon used for suppression fire needs to be able to fire more than 30 rounds before reloading.
If not, then you need to change your tactics such that squad members will only advance if they can reach cover before the machine gun empties a 30 round magazine.
My view: having the SAW in use by a squad of riflemen makes it desirable that the weapon can be fed from the same magazines as the squaddies rifles, assuming that a more powerful cartridge or loading for the SAW isn't used; that's the trade-off. Having the weapon feed from either a belt or magazine seems okay, IF and only IF reliability isn't compromised. The tradeoff penalty here is additional weight and complexity, but it can be done.
The real answer could be reliable large capacity drum magazines such as the 75-round RPK mags or Beta-C 100-round magazines some USAF teams use. They're a bit fragile, but as a first generation prototype, could be better developed. Or we could just go with belts.
An alternative: an interchangable barrel system for the AK, allowing a cutdown short barrel to be fitted for assault vehicle crews, or a standard one for Joe Snuffy, Rifle Grunt, or the RPK barrel for the big guy in the squad who can hump the extra weight and extra ammo...or the corporal who better knows what to do with it. That way if in use a firing pin or extractor lets go, the squad is not out of business until it gets the SAW back running again, but the SAW gunner simply removes his barrel and hands it off to anyone nearby with another interchangable-barrel AK. The second guy fits the heavy barrel, and the team is back in business again; either the RPK gunner can give his ammo belt to the new SAW gunner or he can simply trade guns with #2, leaving the other guy to clear the stoppage in the receiver of what had been the SAW and get back to work. Having a few extra heavy spare barrells around could be a nice idea, too: sounds like prime trade goods for scroungers to me.
Two other deseriarta: belt-fed guns ought to be capable of being fed from either side, as per the Browning M37 .30 and the .50M2. this makes such activities as use in vehicles a lot less complicated [you do know that US AFVs mount the co-ax MG on the left interior side of the turret, while the ex-Soviet vehicles fit them on the other side, don't you?] this also allows twin-gun mounts that feed to each gun.
And the possibility of having platoon MMGs *downsized* to use the smaller primary rifle caliber is possibility, as seen in the South African SS77, both a 7,62 and 5,56mm capable gun. This could result in an over-heavy 5,56mm gun, but the Navy has beenn going in the other direction as well, turning the 5,56mm M249 into a 7,62mm gun as...but eliminating the magazine feed.
Naw, Ill hump the PRC-66 to call in CAS....
Eeeek! Where do you find 'em, an antique shop? Ours were replaced with PRC-113s back about the time our PRC-74Bs were swapped out for the PRC-117F, which is itself now being replaced by the handheld PRC-152.
You go ahead and call in your CAS *Danger Close.* I'll use a 74Bravo and get us a NUCDET from a long way off....
The trouble with the magazine well in the bottom is that the weapon has to come off target to reload.
The dual feed was a clever idea, and it would have been great if it actually worked. Considering the amount of time, money, and energy spent on the SAW, it’s safe to say that they will never get the dual feed system to work right. This doesn’t limit it’s role. It’s still good for suppression fire, but it’s not a rifle and it needs more than one man to keep it running.
antique guy = antique radios... they were a tad long in the tooth when I worked on ‘em.