LWRC IAR on FutureWeapons


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Strakele
July 3, 2008, 02:41 AM
Hey guys,

I just saw a future weapons episode about the new LWRC IAR... Infantry Automatic Rifle. Perhaps it has its uses somewhere, but the way they explained it made it sound completely reduntant and useless.

Mack's walking around with an M249 with a belt of ammo slung over his arm like Rambo, talking about how suppressive fire works, and how heavy the SAW is, and how since it fires from an open bolt, all sorts of crap can get into the action. True.

Then they introduce the IAR. Exactly the same as any M16, except a heavy barrel, and the ability to fire from open bolt in full auto, but closed bolt in semi. The idea behind this was to keep the bolt closed normally but to have it stay open during and after automatic fire to cool the barrel faster. Ok. Don't see how that would make much of a difference but let's assume it does. (To demonstrate this remarkable ability, they put a mag through an M4 and dump water over the barrel/gas tube, where it steams, showing how hot it is. Then he puts a mag through the IAR and immediately touches the bolt with his hand, to demonstrate how much cooler it runs. LWRC makes gas piston uppers, so the fact that the bolt is cold is completely unrelated to the fact that it fires auto from open bolt. I'm sure the barrel was just as hot as the M4.) They then talk about how cool it is to be able to get an extra mag from your buddy carrying an M4 in case you run out. The M249 can take M4 mags as well. No gain.

This weapon is being talked about as a replacement for a SAW type weapon. It uses M16 magazines (which is so cool cause you don't have ammo belts that can snag and fall apart, because nobody actually uses the stupid box magazines when they can have 200 rds draped over their arms), so 30rds max, unless they send a drum with it, which they don't.

So basically this fantastic, lightweight, replacement for the M249 is a heavy barrel M16 that fires from an open bolt in full auto. I fail to see how this is any gain. It's probably a loss, because an open bolt system is generally less accurate. This weapon doesn't do anything that any ordinary M4 can't do, especially if it's a gas piston upper.

Sorry if this was a bit of a rant but I was sitting there yelling at the TV wondering why they would put money into something that doesn't accomplish anything. I normally love any new gun invention but this just struck me as particularly stupid. I love LWRC's 6.8 gas piston upper.

Anyone else feel the same way?

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TimboKhan
July 3, 2008, 03:11 AM
It doesn't sound great from what you described, although the concept of a squad automatic rifle is perfectly valid. You know what gun filled this role for a whole lot of years? The BAR. It was a good idea then, it's a good idea now. I am not a particular fan of the SAW, and I am not suggesting that the BAR be pressed back into service, but I do think that a rifle squad needs the capacity to lay down some automatic fire.

It's worth mentioning that the SAW can also use regular old M-16 magazines, so it's not like that is any sort of magical upgrade.

zerosignal
July 3, 2008, 03:14 AM
While I agree that the IAR is a bit redundant, I'll have to challenge a few of your points:

1. Firing from an open bolt has been proven to keep fully-automatic rifles much cooler than their closed bolt counterparts.

2. While the piston upper does reduce heat on the bolt by a small amount, most of the heat coming off the bolt is from the round itself, not from hot gases pushed back into the action. The open bolt makes a MUCH larger difference in the amount of heat that stays in the action.

3. The M249 has always had huge reliability problems when feeding from standard STANAG magazines. No serious SAW gunner uses them unless he must.

4. Accuracy is not a huge issue with a Squad Automatic Weapon. They are used for suppressive fire, not aimed.


Even considering those inaccuracies in your post, the IAR will most likely not replace the M249, mainly due to the normal military stubbornness.

Strakele
July 3, 2008, 03:33 AM
I stand corrected on the heat issue. Thanks.

Yes, the M249 rarely has to use a STANAG mag, but the capability is there if its a really SHTF situation. The TV episode made it seem as though this was not the case.

The show has demonstrated on at least one other occasion in the past that a bolt can be handled immediately after firing a full mag in auto or fast semi when using a gas piston upper. TV magic? I don't know. I don't know how hot the bolt gets using the regular DI system.

While I see how having the bolt stay open after firing could help cool the weapon faster, I don't see how after firing one magazine there would be much if any difference between being an open and closed bolt design. I realize this is more of an issue with how it's portrayed in the show rather than the weapon itself.

I realize accuracy isn't normally a big deal with SAW's, but they had a 4x ACOG on it, and while reading through LWRC's site, they mention taking 1 or 2 shots to take out a guy at like 300m or something, vs spraying the area with an M249, so it is designed for well aimed shots. If all you're doing is shooting 3rd bursts with a 30rd mag, I fail to see why they need the open bolt feature. Any M4 is perfectly capable of doing so. You need all the cooling features when you're laying down heavy suppressive full auto fire.

Anyway, as I said, some of this was just an issue with the way it was portrayed in the show. I don't think this is a viable option for replacing the M249 but I'm sure it has it's place somewhere between the basic assault rifle and the SAW.

zerosignal
July 3, 2008, 03:39 AM
I agree with you there, FutureWeapons almost always sensationalizes the products they are promoting.

I actually forgot to mention the main reason that an open bolt is important on a fully automatic rifle. With an open bolt you do not end up with a round left in the chamber after you release the trigger. This is a huge issue after firing long strings, as a round in a hot chamber can "cook off" fairly easily.

Strakele
July 3, 2008, 03:44 AM
Yes, I remember they did mention something about that. They made it sound like it happens way too easily though. Either way, I don't think its a big issue if they're just tapping out short bursts though.

50 Shooter
July 3, 2008, 01:31 PM
I saw the episode you're talking about, Mac is an idiot and even a non gun person would feel the same. The things he said and did during that whole grand standing for the LWRC upper was horrible. How this guy can even say that he was a Navy Seal is an insult to all former and present Seal's.

All I saw and got from it was that he was trying to promote the LWRC upper with a lot of lies and false advertisement. :barf:

Strakele
July 3, 2008, 02:18 PM
You are talking about thier IAR right? I agree that Mack was stupid in that episode. But I liked the one about LWRC's 6.8 SPC gas piston upper. Probably mostly because I had always thought someone should make a 6.8 piston upper ever since they invented the gas piston uppers and the 6.8 cartridge.

Anyway I can usually tolerate Mack, mostly cause I like the show and would be in heaven if I had his job..

rcmodel
July 3, 2008, 02:53 PM
I stand corrected on the heat issue. Thanks.Nothing for you to stand corrected about!


The whole purpose of the open bolt MG is not to cool the barrel.

It is to prevent chambered rounds from cooking off in a red-hot barrel.

Barrel cooling has nothing to do with it one way or the other, although it probably does help a little.
If you face upwind and let the cool breeze blow through it!

rcmodel

SnakeLogan
July 3, 2008, 03:01 PM
/still waiting for the military to adopt something chambered in 7.62x39. ;)

Acheron
July 3, 2008, 03:02 PM
Futureweapon? This thing is a update on a 60-year-old idea. The concept of a automatic rifle/LMG that fires from a open bolt in auto and a closed bolt in semi has already been done, with minimal success. The Germans introduced the Fallschirmjagergewehr 42 (FG42) in 1942 to fill the role of SAW for their paratroopers. It was heavy and uncontrollable on full-auto. The control issue was caused by the gun's chambering: 7.92x57mm. The weapon itself was reasonably accurate (in closed bolt) and functioned well enough, but it was too expensive to produce and next to useless on auto.

A recurring theme I've noticed about Futureweapons is that rarely are the weapons featured ever that new at all.

MTMilitiaman
July 3, 2008, 03:09 PM
When I was in, I was told the Marine Corp was looking at this:

http://world.guns.ru/machine/mg20-e.htm

But I don't know how serious they were or what ever came of it.

rcmodel
July 3, 2008, 03:09 PM
And if it doesn't have a quick-change barrel, it is way behind the curve already for a modern SAW!

rcmodel

DoubleTapDrew
July 3, 2008, 03:37 PM
...they mention taking 1 or 2 shots to take out a guy at like 300m or something, vs spraying the area with an M249, so it is designed for well aimed shots. If all you're doing is shooting 3rd bursts with a 30rd mag, I fail to see why they need the open bolt feature.
Not to mention the momentum of the bolt slamming forward before the shot might throw off your aim.
I think it's kind of a novel idea but don't see it's advantages over the SAW as enough to make a switch. The thing that kept going through my head was "but you are limited to 30 rds...in a suppressive weapon!"
Maybe if they could use beta mags (which I heard they tried but weren't reliable enough in the sandbox), but with 30 rounders you've only got 15% of the ammo in the gun you'd get with a SAW. I guess the BAR worked in that role, but they were firing a lot meaner cartridge.
Maybe somebody can bring out a belt-fed open bolt M-14 :p

Nolo
July 3, 2008, 04:15 PM
When I was in, I was told the Marine Corp was looking at this:
Yeah, the military should really go to an Ultimax variant. It's a great weapon system and I'm a big fan of drums on the squad level. I think most everyone's used belt-feed guns with the mud-movers and I'm pretty sure that he conclusion has been the same all around: mag feed is better.
Now, drums have their problems, but I think they are fixable problems.

Of course, I could be entirely off my rocker.

rcmodel
July 3, 2008, 04:21 PM
Well, Whisper Boy has never been accused of finding anything wrong with anything they show on Future Weapons.

But if it's a sorta-sniper rifle, it sure shouldn't fire from an open bolt, and it doesn't need burst or full-auto capability.

If it's a sorta-SAW, it needs a quick-change barrel & belt feed capability.

If it's a civilian mall-ninja range toy, it wouldn't matter.

IMO: Drums suck!
They weigh more & take up more room then the ammo they carry, and take forever to reload with fresh ammo.
Same goes for the packing & shipping containers they have to be resupplied in.
And drums are also tempermintal, and often just don't work right.

rcmodel

Nolo
July 3, 2008, 04:38 PM
They weigh more & take up more room then the ammo they carry,
Current drum designs leave a huge space in the center, but that's not the only way to do it. If one used a spiral layout, then much more space would be conserved. Of course, making the drum simpler would be a problem, but I think it's a fixable one.
and take forever to reload with fresh ammo.
And belts don't?
Same goes for the packing & shipping containers they have to be resupplied in.
Well, naturally. Again, it would be solved through redesign of the drum.
And drums are also tempermintal, and often just don't work right.
And mags and belts aren't?
It's all in the design. The design of drums we're working with are outdated, for the most part. Many need lubricant. There is a better way, I'm sure of it.

Strakele
July 3, 2008, 04:44 PM
Ok, I see most everyone is basically on the same page in that, while this weapon may have its uses, the role of squad automatic weapon isn't it.

TimboKhan
July 3, 2008, 05:47 PM
And belts don't?


Belts aren't especially slow to reload once you know what your doing. Even if they are slower to load than a drum, the reliable nature of belts still makes them preferable to a drum. Machine-guns in general and the SAW in particular are not unreliable, but you do have to know how to shoot them. It's really not just as simple as pulling the trigger and sweeping the treeline. SAW's will jam almost immediately if you try and shoot bursts of less than about 6 or 7 rounds. Some guns with slow rates of fire, like the M2, can be shot single shot with no particular problem, but most need an operator with a concept of trigger control to function properly.

rcmodel
July 3, 2008, 05:57 PM
And belts don't?Well, the U.S. Army I was in didn't reload belts.

They come from the factory in ammo cans already loaded.

If any belt loading was being done, it was far from where I used them.

rcmodel

Nolo
July 3, 2008, 05:58 PM
the reliable nature of belts still makes them preferable to a drum.
How are they reliable when they drag crap into the action?
If you're gun is on a pintle mount, I can see why they are preferable. But when you are getting down-and-dirty with the rest of the infantry in muddy, sandy and otherwise cruddy environments, then I think belts lose out. A belt brush definitely helps, but you still have crap coming into the action.
Drums don't have the best record, but I also think they're rather unrefined.

Nolo
July 3, 2008, 06:01 PM
Well, the U.S. Army I was in didn't reload belts.
I know, but you don't have to load either in the field, except in really bad situations. And in those situations belts can't be reloaded.
I understand that drums are heavy. But I think you can make them less heavy. Certainly an all-metal 75-round AK drum is a beast to haul around, but polymers and proper design can help alleviate that problem enormously.

One of the things I was thinking of is a 90-round drum in spiral configuration, with a composite, flexible spring. If you made the spring with maybe two small (4-8mm wide) steel "frame" springs, and then made the body out of a flexible polymer, you could get excellent flexibility out of your spring, allowing spiral and even zig-zag layouts.

CBS220
July 3, 2008, 06:08 PM
Drum mags have a lot more place on the shooting range than on a battlefield.

A royal PITA to load, they weigh a ton, they're harder to carry, and the ones I've used in various cartridges and guns were none to reliable.

All of the reading I've done on the subject has shown that most experts are no fan of drums either. Too many ways for them to get broken and not work when a plain stick mag will work.

Evil Monkey
July 3, 2008, 07:09 PM
There's no such thing as a suppressive fire weapon unless it's belt fed. Case closed.

Jeff White
July 3, 2008, 08:19 PM
Nolo said;
If you're gun is on a pintle mount, I can see why they are preferable. But when you are getting down-and-dirty with the rest of the infantry in muddy, sandy and otherwise cruddy environments, then I think belts lose out. A belt brush definitely helps, but you still have crap coming into the action.
Drums don't have the best record, but I also think they're rather unrefined.

I think you should get some first hand knowledge of these things before you pontificate on how things are in the Infantry. Where did you get your CIB?

Belt fed machine guns have been used to great effect in the mud since they were first invented. No platoon sergeant allows his machine gunners to drape ammo belts over their bodies like you see in the movies. Belted ammo is carried in pouches or cans until it's used. The assistant gunner feeds the belt into the gun, keeping it out of the dirt.

Tell ya what, in a year or so when your old enough, I'll hook you up with my son, his tour as a recruiter won't be over for another two years, and we'll get you some first hand experience at Ft Benning. A few weeks at Sand Hill just might change your perspective.

Jeff

50 Shooter
July 3, 2008, 09:47 PM
That's one of the things that made me lose all respect for Mac, they showed him in a squad formation carrying the SAW with the belt wrapped around his arm. All I could think of was "what a tool"! Total show for dolts that believe that's the way it's done in real life.

My second thought was why wasn't he using the 200 round box of ammo that usually comes with the SAW. Then as I watched the rest of Infoweapons I got the point he was making, "how can I help LWRC sell more stuff".:barf:

I think I've had enough of Infoweapons and the uber tactical bald whispering salesman.

TimboKhan
July 4, 2008, 05:17 AM
As a machinegunner, I can assure you that crap isn't being dragged into the action. Loose belts are a major no-no. Belts have the added advantage of being able to clean out in less time than it took to write this sentence. Sand falls through, mud can be quickly wiped off. Try getting sand or mud into a drum, and you know what you end up with? A drum full of ammo you can't shoot. If you end up with a runaway gun with a belt, you snap the belt at the closest link and thats that. You have a drum, you likely won't be able to pull it out while the gun is firing, making for a particularly dangerous (and possibly harmful to the gun) situation. I would add that you can carry one heck of a lot of ammo thats belted in boxes in an ALICE pack. I know that one from my days as assistant gunner. It's heavy, but relatively compact. Drums would not be as compact regardless how or what you made them of. I also fail to see any advantage with being able to reload a drum in the field. You really think you're going to want to sit around and jam 500 or 1000 rounds into drums? Bleh. That ammo can get reloaded mechanically and extremely quickly at it's source and moved to units in the field far more efficiently than sending an equal amount of loose ammo to machinegunners and expecting them to feed it round by round into drums.

Look man, I was a machinegunner for 4 years. I have fired literally hundreds of thousands of rounds in training and in combat, and from that experience I can tell you that I would definitively not want a drum under any circumstance.

PercyShelley
July 4, 2008, 05:45 AM
IIRC the IAR was made in response to a USMC solicitation, so it's not like they came up with the idea out of thin air.

Is there some huge, glaring flaw in the M249? The US Army is apparently funding development of a plastic cased or caseless AAI LSAT weapon, and HK has their relatively new MG4, which even looks like the minmi! Seems like a lot of people think they can do better.

TimboKhan
July 4, 2008, 09:28 AM
The M249 has never been a particularly well received weapon. I am no defense contractor, but my experience with it was that it was always a bit too tempramental in the field and not particularly forgiving to riflemen not trained properly on how to work a MG trigger. I always thought it seemed a little delicate in general. Thats just my experience with it, so that is obviously just my opinion. I personally have never thought it was accurately named: The "Squad Automatic Weapon", in my mind, should be able to be used by every member of the infantry squad if need be. To go back to the BAR, it wasn't a particularly complex weapon, but it was easily fired from the shoulder and had the ability to be deployed in every situation that the squad might find itself in. For example, the SAW seems like it would be a nightmare to use in MOUT conditions. I wasn't a rifleman, so maybe it's the best thing since sliced bread, but if I was in a fireteam tasked with clearing a house or something, the SAW would be pretty low on the list of weapons I would want to do it with. The SAW is also totally unsuitable for single shots, which is a hinderance. By comparison, the M60 could be fired single shot and from the shoulder. It wasn't really meant to do such, but it was possible and the gun didn't seem to suffer from an reliability issues because of it. SAW's, on the other hand, seemed to jam pretty religiously if you didn't get at least an 8 or 9 round burst out.

As far as caseless ammo goes, I will believe it when it is issued en masse and not a moment sooner. I am 36 now and I did my senior thesis in high school on weapons the military was looking at to replace the M-16. Thats been 18 years ago, and H&K was working on caseless ammo then! I am no expert on why it doesn't work or hasn't caught on, although I would assume the common issues are it being super dirty and not robust enough to withstand field conditions (water in particular.) I don't know the first thing about plastic-cased ammo, although it seems like a decent concept from the standpoint of cost and ease of manufacture. It is like a shotgun shell where the body is plastic but the rim is brass?

MTMilitiaman
July 4, 2008, 02:27 PM
Is there some huge, glaring flaw in the M249?

Most notably, it's a 17 pound poodle shooter. Other than that, it is not without flaws, but is a decent weapon.

I just always thought you should be able to get a poodle shooter into a platform of 12 pounds or less with an interchangeable barrel system. Something like the Ultimax I linked to, or the SAW version of the Stoner the SEALs used in Vietnam, would be a better choice, IMO.

PercyShelley
July 4, 2008, 06:33 PM
It is like a shotgun shell where the body is plastic but the rim is brass?

Pretty much, except that the plastic is actually pressure-bearing.

There's a video out there somewhere on the web of one of the protos firing, not sure if it's the plastic cased or caseless variant. The thing works, at least in controlled lab conditions.

KTALGSTO
June 6, 2009, 03:44 PM
go jeff white!:evil:

skeet king
June 6, 2009, 04:01 PM
I said the same thing

SHvar
June 7, 2009, 01:45 AM
A gas piston bolt does stay cool, it does not get hot like direct impingement does. Fire a few hundred rounds with DI and dont grab that bolt, you will regret it without thick insulated gloves. Gas piston relieves the heat and much increases durability of the bolt, reciever, and barrel from not allowing heat or carbon fouling to be a problem.
The SAW is reliable, its tough, and the barrel puts up with endless heat without problems, only the thing is a bit bulky, heavy and rusts easy (I guess the coating is not near as good as it should be). A worn mag will not feed correctly in many SAWs. Im glad I only fired it several times, I was a grenadier (M203).

P.B.Walsh
June 7, 2009, 02:05 AM
SHvah, thank you for serving. :)

C-grunt
June 7, 2009, 07:14 AM
I was a SAW gunner for the invasion in 03. It can be a temperamental weapon for sure. I whole heartedly agree that its 7 shot burst minimum.

I always like the M240 better and found it to be more reliable. I think because it is a simpler design. I really think a smaller version of the M240 in 5.56 would make a great reliable SAW.

Now that being said. If you knew your SAW they ran well. In one training session in Kuwait in 03, I shot 600 rounds through my SAW as fast as I could reload it and it ran the whole time.

During the war the only time I had a problem was the day of the big red sand storm. After the storm was a big rain storm. We were sleeping on the side of a road that was elevated above the surrounding terrain. During the night the section that my squad was sleeping on kinda collapsed and we were stuck in a mini mud slide. I was over half buried in mud and had to dig myself out. My SAW was in my sleeping bag so it didnt get horribly dirty. The next morning we all function test fired our weapons and my SAW had a few hiccups. All I had to do was give it a good wipe down and clean the bolt and it was good as new.

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