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FightLite Industries MCR Belt-fed Rifle

By Oleg Volk

Ares Defense, now FightLite Industries, produced the dual-feed MCR upper to fit the gap between automatic rifle and light machine gun. Available with 12.5-inches, 16-inches (standard) and 20-inches (DMR) quick-detach barrels, the MCR is a short-stroke AR15/M16-compatible upper that works with 5.56mm M27 links and magazines. In government use, the MCR is a lightweight alternative to the M249 SAW; in private use, it’s an accurate semi-auto rifle with sustained fire capability similar to the British L86 in DMR role. FightLite Industries kept the Ares brand as well.

Designed in the 1990s, the MCR went through a number of modifications and was finally shipped to consumers around 2008. The barrel quick-change mechanism is a development of the Stoner 63 system, while the feed cover is an improved MG42 pattern, with spring-loading to place the cam raceway always on the correct side of the receiver. The MCR is one of the most recent examples of a long line of light machine guns that started with magazine feed and later progressed to belt feed. The German MG30 evolved into the MG34, shedding box magazines in favor of belts. So did the Soviet DP28, becoming the RP46, likewise with belt feed instead of the bulky pans. The heavy DshK started as a drum-fed weapon (the 1930 DK) and eventually evolved into a belt-fed design. The reliance on belts in light, medium and heavy machine guns comes from two factors: 1) sustained fire capability, especially in remote mounts where magazine swaps are impossible; and 2) greater reliability, especially at high cyclic rates. Because the belt motion is dependent on the bolt position, a machine gun bolt cannot cycle ahead of the next cartridge being available for chambering. The spring pressure required for box magazines to keep up even with relatively slow machine guns becomes unreasonable beyond 40 rounds, and even then most successful rifle caliber designs use top mounting magazines to get gravity assistance. Drum magazines can get up to around 100 rounds, and double drums to 150, but at the cost of substantially greater weight, volume and complexity attached...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N6 (July 2017)
and was posted online on May 19, 2017

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