USMC to receive fewer M27 infantry automatic rifles

As reported by Jared Keller on Task & Purpose, a U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command spokesman told Marine Corps Times that the last of the service's 14,000 M27 infantry s have officially arrived in the Corps's inventory. But while the Corps's procurement contract with manufacturer Heckler & Koch provides for a maximum of 50,184 weapons, MARCORSYSCOM said that the service doesn't plan on purchasing more than its current arsenal.

USMC to receive fewer Heckler and Koch M27 infantry automatic rifle
U.S. Marine firing an M27 rifle in full auto (Picture source: USMC)

The M27 doesn’t appear on the USMC 2020 budget request, which details a $17 million need for procurement and fielding of the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS), M320A1 grenade launchers, the Modular Handgun System (MHS), M4 carbines, and various small-arms suppressor systems. More importance is indeed granted to drone and counter-drone specialists that USMC Commandant Gen. Robert Neller envisioned as critical additions to the Corps' newly-reformulated rifle squads.

First wielded by Marines in Afghanistan in 2011, the M27 quickly became a favorite among many infantrymen, Jared Keller reminds. With an effective firing range between 600 and 700 meters, the 5.56mm rifle significantly outranges the M4 carbine in precision fires and offers comparable suppressive fire capabilities to the M249 Squad Automatic Rifle with less ammunition.

Army and Marine Corps "are divergent on their small arms programs because they are divergent on their doctrinal employment of the squad," as retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, former gunner for the 2nd Infantry Division, told Task & Purpose at the time. "The Marine Corps has a different squad size with a different composition and different weapons."

Marine Special Operations Command Raiders opted to keep their M4 carbines in lieu of an M27 upgrade, citing the flexibility provided by former's lower receiver and SOCOM-specific upper receiver for special operators who frequently swap out different components for different missions.