A few weeks ago Jeremy S handed me a Primary Weapon Systems MK116 Mod 2 rifle. As I’ve been busy shooting various piston driven AR15s, I was curious to see if a high end version is worth an extra grand or two.
PWS ships the MK116 Mod 2 rifle equipped with a BCM stock, grip and charging handle to match. The rifle’s buffer tube holds the stock using PWS’ proprietary ratchet lock system, eliminating the need for pinning. You can easily remove and replace the buffer tube with a tunable buffer system like CapArms Quiet Shuttle Tunable Buffer System.
The grip compartment contains an Allen key and a rifle servicing tool for adjusting the piston and removing the rail. The BCM stock and the lower receiver end plate sport quick detach sockets, a feature offered by any modern rifle worth its salt.
PWS went full ambi on the MK116: magazine release, bolt catch and safety selector. One thing to note: this is the only AR I’ve ever encountered that doesn’t contain a forward assist. Not a big issue; the bolt contains a spring at the end which helps it stay in battery.
PWS shipped the MK116 to TTAG with a BCM trigger. As they sell the gun with a ZEV Tech SSR trigger, we installed one. With its bronze color it stood out like Beelzebub at an All Saints Day mass. The ZEV trigger breaks crisply at 5.5 lbs. with a light reset. Too light by my tastes; it made it hard for me to fire consistent rapid strings.
The barrel is a full length 16.1 inch in .223 Wylde with a 1:8 twist. It’s wrapped in PWS’s proprietary PicMod rail, which comes standard with RailScales and a BCM KMSM QD sling mount.
A three position gas piston selector — normal, low and extra low — sits at the far end of the barrel. PWS includes its MOD 2 FSC (Flash Suppressing Compensator).
The PWS MK1 Mod 2’s internals are unique. The rifle’s proprietary gas pistol system is attached to the bolt carrier group, somewhat similar to the AK system. The company claims the system reduces carrier tilt. Makes sense to me. The piston is physically is attached to the bolt carrier group; there’s no way for it to tilt.
I followed PWS’s instructions for breaking in the rifle. I fired a five-round group and immediately cleaned the bore. I repeated the process several times until I achieved consistent grouping. I zeroed my Trijicon MRO and quickly achieved half inch groups from a prone, non-supported position shooting at 25 and 50 yards.
To put the rifle through its paces, I shot it during my Night Combat rifle course. Over eight hours, in sandy and hot conditions I put around 350 rounds through the rifle. Over the next three weeks I fired another 1000 rounds down range. There were zero issues.
The rifle’s ambidextrous features were especially useful for support side shooting and manipulations. When flipping the safety selector to fire, the selector on the opposite would catch on my hand. I had to loosen my grip to flip safety and then regrip to reacquire it.
The PWS’ BCM butt stock was perfectly judged; it was the right width for my cheek without being too bulky. The rail scales came in especially handy (pun intended) for maintaining my grip on the rifle in the hot Texas weather.
The slim PicMod rail system makes it easy to get a sturdy support hand grip. It also eliminates the need to mount rails on the handguard to attach non-key mods accessories.
The rifle’s recoil was soft and easily managed. Whether it was down to the flash suppressing compensator or PWS’ gas piston set up, I found I could rapidly and accurately fire at targets both near and far without losing cadence.
The flash suppressor didn’t seem to make a big difference during the night shooting. In fact, I couldn’t tell the difference between shooting the MK116 or another AR with a standard bird cage compensator.
The PWS shot its best group from a supported bench rest position using Federal .223 69 gr Sierra Match King. I shot a .753 MOA group at 100 yards. Other groups shot were as follows:
- IMI 5.56mm OTM 77gr – .942 MOA
- Hornady .223 ELD 73gr – 1.394 MOA
- IMI M855 – 1.845 MOA
- Wolf Gold .223 55gr – 2.427 MOA
At the end of the day, some AR’s are more equal than other. I reckon the PWS’ ambi features, light recoil, PicMod rail and overall quality are worth the extra money.
Primary Weapons Systems MK1 Mod 2 MK116 AR15
Caliber: .223 Wylde – available in 300BLK
Length: 33 inches
Barrel Length: 16.1 inches
Barrel Twist: 1:8
Gas system: Piston – Mid Length
Weight: 6lbs 7.7 ounces
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
Zero issues with the rifle in dusty and hot conditions with over 1,300 rounds through it.
Accuracy * * * * *
Extremely accurate with the right ammo. The pricing on the rifle matches the sub MOA grouping.
Aesthetics * * * * *
A well designed rifle with a modest yet tasteful design on the upper receiver.
Ergonomics * * * *
The rail scales, slim rail, and BCM furnishing made it a comfortable and easy to shoot. Ambidextrous features are nice, but the safety selector is somewhat uncomfortable.
Overall * * * * *
You get what you pay for: a high-quality AR with little features that make all the difference.