Easy & Simple : M27 I.A.R Review

A few weeks ago, after seeing the announcement of their latest line-up of HK416 based assault rifles, I contacted relatively new company Easy & Simple and asked if they would be interested in us reviewing their products.  With the HK416 series not yet produced, and currently available for pre-order only, I was contacted back and kindly offered their previous product, the M27 I.A.R (Infantry Automatic Rifle) instead.  This rifle has been out since September of this year, but for some reason I had missed it the first time around, so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on one.

For those of you who are not familiar with the M27 (as was I only a few weeks ago!), let me give a brief introduction.  Contrary to initial appearance, the M27 is not a general purpose ‘infantry rifle’; it is in fact intended as a replacement for the squad automatic weapon, or M249 SAW.  Currently only in service with the USMC (with the US Army showing no signs of adopting it for their uses), the M27 will replace approximately 6,500 of the M249s in active service.  The rifle was brought into service in 2011 and although met with a little scepticism, has overall been well received by the troops who have been using them.  This has been especially helped by the dramatic increase in accuracy and the huge weight reduction with a difference of over 13 pounds fully loaded!  Other improvements include the similarities with M4/M16 platforms and the compatibility of the standard 30rnd magazine.

It is then, with great delight that something slightly different from the usual offerings makes it to us in small scale to outfit our 1/6th creations with.  But, Easy & Simple recognise that not everyone is into kit-bashing action figures, and some people just like to collect the guns by themselves.  To assist with this E&S provide you with a custom ‘weapons rack’ platform, which is configurable and interchangeable to display your latest purchase.

So let’s take a closer look at the M27 set and what you get for your money:

The presentation of the M27 I.A.R is nothing short of superb, and on par with what you would expect from a premium boxed figure.  The format of the box is very much in keeping with a full figure, in that it has an outer sleeve and foam lined inner trays which keep all the parts safe and neatly displayed.  The outer box art work is in the style of a ‘technical drawing’ on both the front and rear cover, detailing the rifle and some of the included accessories.  The rear cover also has a bullet point list as to what is included, which is:

M-27 IAR Infantry Automatic Rifle *1
TA11SDO-CP USMC Issued Squad automatic-weapon Day Optic Sight *1
PEQ-16 USMC issued Mini Integrated Pointing Illumination Module *1
Foldable Front Sight *1
Foldable Rear Sight *1
PTB Extendable Grip *1
Tactical Bipods *1
HK 30 rd Magazine *3
E-Mag 30 rd Magazine *2
Tactical Rail Cover *2

Removing the outer sleeve, you are presented with the inner, foam lined tray, on top of which is a piece of black card with E&S classic ‘snowflake’ logo; on the underside of this piece of card are the instructions for assembly of the weapons racking.  The removal of a further piece of thin foam and you’re down to the rifle plus all of the accessories, safely and neatly displayed.  Remove the top foam ‘tray’ and the secondary layer is exposed revealing the modular weapons rack and all of the required fixtures.  In terms of presentation, certainly impressive and obviously a lot of thought and effort has been exerted.

Removing the rifle from the box, the first thing that immediately grabs my attention is the quality of the tiny details and markings, including the HK logo on the lower receiver.  They are in fact so small, that I can barely read them (and I don’t have poor eyesight!); but as you can see from the pictures taken on macro mode, they are indeed perfectly legible – amazing attention to detail!

The quality of the moulding work on the piece is very good.  A lot of the smaller details are very sharp and crisp so there really is very little ‘lost in translation’ throughout the moulding process.  The general construction is very sturdy also, with not a suggestion of wobble from the free floating barrel or surrounding RIS rail fore-grip, usually a weak point on M4/M16 models.  The overall appearance of the paintwork is also top quality and I did have to initially check to ensure what I was holding was indeed a piece of plastic and not a combination of die-cast parts; that speaks volumes in terms of realism.

Over the past few years we’ve come to expect a certain level of realism in our 1/6th figures and accessories, and the M27 IAR doesn’t disappoint in that department either.  Fully extendable stock, spring loaded charging handle with moving bolt and ejection port cover, all included on this model.  In addition, and like of lot of M4 models now produced from the various manufacturers such as Soldier Story, the M27 is also ‘field strippable’, that being the removal of a tiny pin (tweezers very much necessary!) and you can pivot and even separate the upper and lower receivers, the bolt and spring mechanism that slides into the buffer tube is removable also (more on that later).  It was whilst I was fiddling with the separated receiver halves that I noticed a further little surprise, the fire-select levers are movable too!  They are a little stiff, but they do indeed rotate, albeit independently of each other, but on this small scale what can you expect; a nice touch Easy & Simple!

Whilst we are looking at this area of the rifle, a brief note on the spring loaded charging handle.  Originally when I took the piece out of the box and inspected it, I wasn’t actually aware the charging handle was in-fact spring loaded, due to the very stiff operation.  The handle actually remained locked back, so I thought perhaps that was part of the design, it wasn’t until I stripped the rifle down did I notice this wasn’t intended.  The cause of this was due to a very tight fit of the bolt carrier into the buffer tube, simply too much friction for it to overcome and return to its normal position.  A few quick passes with some fine sandpaper on the bolt allowed it to move freely within the buffer tube which quickly resolved the issue.  No big deal, and easily fixed in the space of a few minutes – and worth noting my only slightly negative observation of this entire piece.

Moving on from the rifle itself, let us now look at the individual accessories that provided, starting with the optics.  Easy & Simple have produced a faithful replica of the Trijicon ACOG sight, which is a 3.5x35 specially developed machine gun optic, originally intended for the SAW; on top of which sits a reflex sight for close-quarters engagements.  This is a lovely and unique piece to see on 1/6th scale, with working lens covers including anti-reflection filter on the objective lens, my only slight criticism of this piece it was by far the hardest to slide onto the rails; a very tight fit that needed a little sandpaper attention to make it easier.

The PEQ-16 laser designator is a nice piece in tan colour with distinctive and accurate markings, again wording that is barely visible to the naked eye; excellent detailing.

Next up is the ‘grip-pod’, the ingenious melding of vertical fore-grip and bi-pod that has become common place in the military now.  This one is not just a moulded piece, but is fully functional with pull down bi-pod legs.  What is interesting is that this weapon features this functionality, along with a dedicated bi-pod; but a little research showed this is accurate to current USMC specifications.

My favourite piece from the range of accessories has to be the tactical bi-pod.  This is a truly remarkable piece of small scale engineering with real spring-loaded legs that retract as per the 1:1 version.  If any retailers have parted this kit out as individual parts, that one piece is bound to be one of the more popular loose parts.

Some of the smaller parts are the RIS rail covers and excellent flip up KAC iron-sights.  These tiny sights are not single piece moulded, but fully functional in that they flip up and down as would the real 1:1 versions; amazing accuracy at such a small scale.

And last but not least we have the magazines, five in total.  Three of these are the standard ‘STANAG’ NATO 30 round M4 compatible type, of which we are all pretty much used to.  The other two however are E-Mags (Magpul industries) which are beautifully unique in 1/6th scale.  As you can see from the photos, the rounds are removable (albeit in one piece) but it would not be difficult to cut those casings free with a sharp scalpel and have individually removable rounds you can load one at a time!  My personal preference is to display the rifle with the E-Mags, as it’s just not something that you see a lot of in the 1/6th world; another thumbs up for E&S.

You will notice I have included a few comparison shots against the nearest available model, which is the Soldier Story HK416 included in their CIRG figure set.  Whilst not a completely accurate comparison, it does adequately highlight differences in the construction quality and appearance between both rifles.  Soldier Story has often been held in very high regard for the quality of the weapons included in their box-sets, and I have to agree that they are superb.  However, this particular example of the E&S M27 does slightly over-shadow them somewhat in terms of finish.  Three notable points are the overall appearance, the E&S model is slightly more matt and less plastic looking, the E&S model has working fire-select lever whereas the SS version is moulded and finally the E&S has accurate manufacturer logos… although we understand Soldier Stories decision to change it slightly to avoid copyright violations.

The last thing to look at in the M27 set is the included modular weapons rack.  I must say, this is a nice touch for the collectors who may not necessarily display entire figures and perhaps just enjoy displaying scale fire-arms models.  The weapons rack is designed to be compatible with all E&S future release allowing you to slot them together to make a larger version.  Included in the set is a small pack of plastic pegs to facilitate this.  You can display the rack in either an upright vertical position or a horizontal position, with various hooks and slots to accommodate the storage and display of the rifle, along with a small shelf for accessories such as the magazines.  A nameplate logo finishes off the display nicely, which is stuck on with a small piece of included double-sided adhesive tape.

So in conclusion, what do we think of the M27 IAR set?  Well, from a relatively new company it is a fantastic start to what hopefully becomes an extensive line-up of 1/6th related products.  We’re already aware of the HK416 rifle sets that will be released shortly, which includes 6 different design variants.  E&S have also advised me that a third product is to be announced in November and within the first quarter of 2014 an entire boxed figure set is to be released… some pretty exciting news indeed!

Special thanks to Easy and Simple for providing us with a review sample, and we look forward to seeing what you have to offer in the near future!

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