A Leaked Report Details More Problems With The M27. A Marine Weapons Expert Says They’re Old News

Military Tech

The Marine Corps’ much-hyped M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle may have picked up a much-needed cost reduction, but the rifle’s troubles are still on full display.


Just days after the Marine Corps announced its intent to buy 15,000 M27 IARs from Heckler and Koch at around $1,300 per weapon — down from the eye-popping $3,000 price tag that rankled lawmakers in March — The Firearm Blog published a leaked copy of a 2016 report on M27 testing that raises questions about whether the new rifle is ready to field. A Marine expert, however, told Task & Purpose the Corps has already addressed the issues that emerged in this troubling report.

The test, conducted by Marine Corps Systems Command’s Infantry Weapons Product Management Office at with 9 IARs outfitted with suppressors and firing some 2,700 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, appears troubling on its face. The platform reportedly experienced frequent bolt-over-brass malfunctions associated with a high cyclic rate, resulting in frequent stoppages from the weapon’s failure to fully feed each round from its magazine. That high cyclic rate, The Firearm Blog argues, will pose serious issues for the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round that, officially adopted by the Marine Corps last year, has faced problems with the M27 in the past.

When reached for comment by Task & Purpose, however, MARSYSCOM declined to comment on both the authenticity and contents of the M27 report. So Task & Purpose called up recently retired 2nd Marine Division Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, who oversaw infantry modernization efforts that included the IAR and authored a strong defense of the platform in March — and according to Wade, the issues detailed in the 2016 report weren’t about the platform itself but the magazine and rounds used.

U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment fire the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle during a live-fire weapons exercise at range F-18 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017.U.S. Marine Corps/ Lance Cpl. Michaela R. Gregory

“At the time, a whole bunch of different elements came together and didn't fall into place,” Wade told Task & Purpose. “For one, the followers in aluminum magazines don’t particularly like to feed the last 5 rounds into the weapon. The Corps immediately fixed that problem.”

According to Wade, the stoppage and loading issues were solved shortly after testing detailed in the 2016 report through three adjustments. First, the Corps replaced those problematic aluminum mags with Magpul’s polymer GEN M3 PMAG, which solved the ammo feeding problems that were resulting in stoppages;  Second, the Army (which owns the M855A1 EPR round technical data) has made “adjustments” to the cartridge in recent years to accommodate high pressure and excess heat posed by platforms like the M27.

But third, and most importantly, Marines downrange don’t even use the EPR anyway, despite the Corps’ recent adoption of the round and statements to the contrary by Corps officials.

“I was involved with the Marine Corps forces who deployed as part of Task Force Southwest [under Operation Freedom’s Sentinel],” Wade told Task & Purpose, “and the Marine gunner who deployed there with the first detachment in the spring of 2017 arranged to use the 5.56mm Mk318 Mod 1 Special Operations Science and Technology (SOST) round.”

Related: Why Marines Absolutely Love the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle »

It’s worth noting the report isn’t just about the M27 platform. The testing was actually focused on the M38 Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, designed to evaluate the “feasibility and practicality” of fielding the M27 as a “Special Purpose Rifle (SPR)” like the Mk 12 SPR.  While the M38 variant isn’t explicitly mentioned in the report, the testing explicitly focused on examining “the use of a ‘more advanced optic’ than the Squad Day Optic (SDO) and ‘suppressing’ the M27 IAR in order to enhance the capabilities of this weapon system,” according to the report.  

Indeed, December 2017 DoD photos show the M38 rocking both suppressors and, according to Soldier Systems, a Leupold TS-30A2 Mark 4 2.5-8x36mm Mid-Range/Tactical Illuminated Reticle Scope. But while the Leupold scope met requirements during testing, the War Zone notes that the scope itself “a dated design that the Marine Corps reportedly chose because it already had them in inventory, left over from the Mk 12 Mod 1 rifles” — a choice that doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence that the Corps is trying to field its best possible equipment to troops downrange.

That’s OK! After all, the M38 will end up fielded with the Leupold scope to meet an urgent forward-deployment requirement for riflemen in the designated marksman role while Marine scout snipers get to lay with the new Mk 13 and CSASS sniper systems the Corps plans on adopting. “We knew the scope isn’t optimal,” explains Wade. “It’s not the best, but it fills an urgent, universal needs statement. It’s meant to be fielded quickly, not fielded permanently.”

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(Photo: CNN/screenshot)

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL sniper on Wednesday contradicted earlier testimony of fellow SEALs who claimed he had fired warning shots to scare away civilian non-combatants before Chief Eddie Gallagher shot them during their 2017 deployment to Mosul, and said he would not want to deploy again with one of the prosecution's star witnesses.

Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege before Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh gave him immunity in order to compel his testimony.

Graffam testified that Gallagher was essentially justified in the shooting of a man he is accused of unlawfully targeting, stating that "based off everything i had seen so far ... in my opinion, they were two shitheads moving from one side of the road to the other."

Spotting for Gallagher in the tower that day, Graffam said, he called out the target to him and he fired. He said the man was hit in the upper torso and ran away.

Graffam, who joined the Navy in 2010 and has been assigned to SEAL Team 7's Alpha Platoon since September 2015, deployed alongside Gallagher to Mosul in 2017, occasionally acting as a spotter for Gallagher when the SEALs were tasked with providing sniper support for Iraqi forces from two towers east of the Tigris River.

Another SEAL, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dalton Tolbert, had previously testified under direct examination by prosecutors that, while stationed in the south tower of a bombed-out building in June 2017, he had observed Gallagher shoot and kill an elderly civilian.

"He ran north to south across the road," Tolbert testified on Friday. "That's when I saw the red mark on his back and I saw him fall for the first time. Blood started to pool and I knew it was a square hit in the back." Over the radio, he said he heard Gallagher tell the other snipers, "you guys missed him but I got him."

Former SO1 Dylan Dille, who was also in the south tower that day, testified last week that he watched an old man die from a sniper shot on Father's Day. He said the date stuck out in his mind because he thought the man was probably a father.

Later that day, after the mission, Graffam said he spoke with Dille about the shooting and they disagreed about the circumstances. Dille, he said, believed the man was a noncombatant.

"I, on the other hand, was confident that the right shot was taken," Graffam said, although he said later under cross-examination that the man was unarmed. Dille previously testified that the SEALs were authorized to shoot unarmed personnel if they first received signals intelligence or other targeting information.

Photo: Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

Graffam described the man as a male between 40 and 50 years old wearing black clothing, giving him the impression of an ISIS fighter who was moving in a "tactical" manner. He testified that he did not see anything like Dille had described.

Graffam further testified that he didn't see Gallagher take any shots that he shouldn't have on that day or any other.

Although Graffam said he did not hear of allegations that Gallagher had stabbed a wounded ISIS fighter on deployment, he testified that he started to hear rumblings in early 2018. Chief Craig Miller, he said, asked him at one point whether he would "cooperate" with others in reporting him.

When asked whether he would like to serve with Miller again in a SEAL platoon, Graffam said, "I don't feel as confident about it." A member of the jury later asked him why he'd feel uncomfortable deploying with Miller and he responded, "I just wouldn't."

Graffam said he would serve with Gallagher again if given the chance.

Under cross examination by prosecutors, Graffam said he couldn't say whether there were warning shots fired that day, though Dille and Tolbert both said happened. "There were multiple shots throughout the day," Graffam said.

Prosecutors also asked him about his previous statements to NCIS, in which Graffam said of Miller that "he has good character" and was "a good guy." Graffam confirmed he said just that.

Defense attorney Tim Parlatore, however, said those statements were back in January and "a lot had happened since then." Parlatore said Graffam had also said at the time that Gallagher was a good leader.

"That part remains unchanged, correct?" Parlatore asked.

"Yes," Graffam said.

The defense is expected to call more witnesses in the case, which continues on Thursday.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexi Myrick)

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(YouTube via Air Force Times)

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Air Force is investigating an airman after he posted a video on YouTube rife with homophobic slurs and insults.

A man in an Air Force uniform, identified only by the YouTube username "Baptist Dave 1611" ranted in a recent video, calling gay people "sodomites," "vermin scum," and "roaches" among other slurs, according to Air Force Times, which first reported the story Wednesday.

"The specifics of the situation are being reviewed by the airman's command team," said service spokesman Maj Nick Mercurio, confirming the incident. Mercurio did not provide any identifying details about the airman.

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Two U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, defense officials have announced.

Operation Resolute Support issued a terse news release announcing the latest casualties that did not include any information about the circumstances of their deaths.

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