MasterPiece Arms is gearing up to launch the MPAR 556 rifle: a new piston-driven, AR-style gun.
Although clearly influenced by the AR platform, to my eye, the gun more resembles a SIG 556 than the typical Stoner gun. While maintaining compatibility with many AR15 parts, including magazines, the MPAR 556 is not just another M4 clone.
First off, the MPAR 556 uses a short stroke piston, which is generally associated with a cleaner running gun. A cleaner gun can help enhance reliability, though the buildup of carbon is rarely a serious issue for the typical civilian shooter.
Aside from the arguments about greater reliability, the use of a piston system allows the MPAR 556 to be equipped with a foldable stock. The stock is also expected to be adjustable for length of pull. Unlike the typical AR15/M4, the buttstock will be fully machined aluminum, allowing for greater strength and durability.
The charging handle is side mounted. I am not sure if the handle will be swappable for left-handed shooters as other modern rifles have done. The rifle does maintain a forward assist.
The foreend is a two-piece, floated design made of aluminum. It is adorned with Picatinny rails on all sides, which allows for the addition of all sorts of gear and accessories. While some people seem to go overboard, I am definitely in favor of adding a white light to my rifles.
The MPAR 556 rifle foreend uses a front cap that strengthens the assembly and keeps debris out of the system.
Flip up sights are standard, but a full-length Picatinny rail is integrated into the upper receiver allowing for the use of other optics.
No specifics on the barrel have been released yet, but it will ship with a muzzle brake standard. Since MasterPiece Arms has gotten into the suppressor market, I would assume that the barrel will be threaded and ready for a can. The CAD drawing above seems to support my thought on this.
According to MPA:
Disassembly will be very user friendly, both for access to the internals of the weapon as well as piston assembly housed in the front handguard.
Currently, MSRP is set at $959. That makes this gun very competitive as many piston driven guns go for hundreds more. Assuming this gun is well built and reliable, I expect MasterPiece Arms can sell a few boatloads of them at this price. Initially, the rifle will be chambered for the 5.56 NATO cartridge. Perhaps we might see one in .300 BLACKOUT later?
The new MPAR 556 is set to begin shipping in the first quarter of 2013, and the gun will be on display at the 2013 SHOT Show. We will be at the show again this year, so expect to see photos and videos of the gun.