LAS VEGAS -- Aside from checking out new weapon designs, one of the great things about going to SHOT Show is that it offers the chance to get hands-on with unique weapons such as the FightLite Industries Mission Configurable Rifle, or MCR.
The MCR is a version of the older ARES Shrike, a belt-fed 5.56mm AR-style light machine gun.
I have always been intrigued by the Shrike concept, and FightLite Industries had its MCR upper receivers available for demo at the pre-SHOT range day.
The MCR receivers are available in full-auto and semi-auto versions, and come in 12.5-inch and 16.25-inch quick-change barrel models. They are designed to fit on any AR-15, M16 or M4 lower receiver, according to Mike Ruggles of FightLite Industries.
"We are the small-arms division of ARES Defense Systems. We brought it to the civilian market as FightLite," he said. "It's the lightest belt-fed machine gun in the world."
The MCR weighs in at 8.5 pounds with a quick-change 12.5-inch barrel, Ruggles said.
It features an M1913 coplanar handguard with rails on the top, sides and bottom for the mounting of optics and accessories. It also has a short-stroke gas system for running in dirty conditions or using a suppressor.
The MCR can run on M27 belted ammunition or ammo from standard AR magazines. It has a 7075-T6 billet upper receiver, feed cover and charging handle, and a precision-machined billet steel feed tray.
Ruggles blasted away with the MCR at short-range targets.
I got a chance to fire the full-auto version, using belted, 5.56mm ammo. I have fired several U.S. military light machine guns, such as the M249 and the MK48, and the MCR seems every bit as good.
At roughly 800 rounds per minute, it's simple to operate, shoulders well and is relatively easy to control in short bursts.
As attractive as the MCR is, it's not cheap. The uppers retail from $3,800 to $4,400. The complete semi-auto MCO rifles retail for roughly $5,200.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.