Those who have not recognized the potential of a magazine fed, light automatic rifle are still fighting the last war and not looking to the great majority of operations undertaken today. The LWRC (Land Warfare Resource Corporation) IAR (Infantry Automatic Rifle) was born of a solicitation by the U.S. Marines to address these developing issues. The Marines have a set of criteria they want in the next automatic infantry rifle. The basic concept is to keep the weapon as simple as possible while having a lightweight, magazine-fed rifle capable of continuous, accurate fire. The weapon should fire from standard M16/M4 magazines and be provided with an optional 60- to 100-round magazines for use in the sustained fire role.
To the casual observer, LWRC’s IAR looks very conventional. Many of the parts in service to maintain the M16/M4 are cross compatible with the IAR. The armorer’s tools and troop training remain relevant. Soldiers and Marines really do like the M4. It is probably the most ergonomic of modern assault rifles, highly modular, lightweight, and simple to use. There are several generations of Marines that are familiar with its controls, balance and handling. Marines develop what is termed “muscle memory” throughout firearms training, making the weapon’s operation a seemingly unconscious affair.
A heavier barrel profile was used to help deal with the increased demands of a light machine gun role. Radial fins similar to those found on the Thomson submachine gun were included in the barrel profile to lighten the barrel and allow greater surface area for convection air-cooling of the barrel. While longitudinal flutes may reduce weight and help stiffen a barrel, they do little to increase the surface area that aids in the dispersion of heat. The radial fins of the LWRC IAR increase the surface area of the barrel by 15 percent.
The rifling chosen is polygonal. Polygonal rifling forms the bullet to the lands and grooves instead of cutting into the bullet jacket. It improves barrel life, reduces friction, and creates a better gas seal behind the bullet, thus increasing velocity and stability. Cold hammer-forged barrels of 4150 steel are used for extreme durability and the chamber profile is optimized for reliability.
For these reasons, LWRC has taken the USMC solicitation, integrated it into an M4-style platform, added a dual-fire mode, and the reliability of their gas piston operating system. They have envisioned a solution that can be integrated with the least amount of burden to the government and its warriors.
Dual Fire Modes
What truly sets the LWRC IAR apart from the rest of the pack is that it has two modes of fire. As a semi-automatic, it functions as a typical closed bolt rifle. If you toggle the selector from “semi” to “open bolt automatic,” the rifle’s bolt remains closed for the first shot, increasing ignition probability to 99.7 percent, allowing the infantry automatic rifleman to take point on patrol, initiate an ambush, or be the first through any door. After that first shot, the weapon reverts to an open bolt, allowing light-automatic fire support. When you release the trigger between strings of fire, the bolt remains to the rear, allowing convection air cooling of the barrel and chamber area. When you pull the trigger again, the bolt closes and fires continuously until the trigger is again released, with all the advantages of an open-bolt machine gun. To go back to closed bolt, semi-automatic fire, the operator switches the rifle’s selector back to semi. The bolt closes and chambers a round, but does not fire. When you pull the trigger, you get single shots with each pull. This offers all of the advantages of both types of systems with the disadvantages of neither.
Development of the dual-fire mode module came about as they envisioned a multi-role weapon, which is exactly what the Marines are asking for. They want a weapon that is light and handy enough that the automatic rifleman can use it for the everyday duties in the squad including patrol, counter sniping, and house clearing and others. The weight and overall dimensions must be in line with usual mission requirements. This also means that the operator must be able to take accurate, deliberate shots in semi-automatic mode, yet be capable of delivering fire support or suppression at sustained rates when required.
Made To Order
The LWRC IAR is rounded out with a quad rail fore-end that has a removable “return-to-zero” top rail that allows access to the piston operating components. The multi-position collapsible stock is manufactured by VLTOR and is the only sliding stock tested that survived every fall of the USMC drop-test protocols: 12 drops from every angle at a height of 1.7 meters. The rifle comes standard with an integrated folding sight in the gas block and a removable folding sight mounted at the rear of the receiver. The LWRC IAR is truly an evolutionary step forward in battlefield weapons in that they have combined the best features of an assault rifle with those of a light machine gun, with none of the drawbacks.