The Marines are considering arming more of its infantry with a lightweight, highly reliable automatic rifle, but there’s one catch: It costs about three times more than the rifle that is currently standard issue.
The standard-issue M4 carbine could be replaced by the M27 infantry automatic rifle. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said the M27s that have already been deployed are “the most reliable, durable, and accurate weapons in our rifle squads,” according to Marine Corps Times.
The M27, a variation of the HK416 built by the German gunmaker Heckler & Koch, sells for about $3,000. The M4, which is used by most Army and Marines combat units, is manufactured by Colt Defense and FN America and costs less than $1,000.
If the Marines equipped 11,000 infantry riflemen – the number under discussion -- with the M27, the price tag would be about $33 million.
The M27 is said to be far superior to the M4, but Marine Corps Times quoted Neller as saying that while he is looking at a new weapon for infantry Marines, “we have to balance improved capabilities and increased lethality with cost.” But, he added, “our infantry Marines should be the most lethal force we can afford.”
There is little question that the M27 is lethal. It weighs about nine pounds, has a 30-round magazine, can fire up to 40 rounds a minute and has single-shot accuracy of 800 yards.
Like the civilian version, the HK416, the M27 uses a solid-rod system similar to the legendary AK-47. Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, a weapons expert, called the M27 “hands down, the best automatic rifle in the world.”