The military’s Individual Carbine Competition may have foundered, but the rifles designed for that replacement program are slowly trickling onto the market. The latest gun to enter civilian distribution is the MARS-L rifle from Lewis Machine Tool. The concept behind the rifle is that every feature is mirrored almost exactly on both sides of the gun, making operation both fast and easy. Not only is there a magazine release of some sort, but the placement and the surrounding guard is identical. Which makes it a ton of fun to fire on the range . . .
The real benefit of the mirrored controls is that it removes the need for a lot of the gimmicky levers that people throw on their gun. Instead of needing an extra part to lock the bolt back with your trigger finger you can do it directly on the right side bolt catch lever. Releasing the bolt is just as easy, too.
I had the pleasure of firing the gun at Media Day, and I liked everything about it. The controls were functional, the trigger was crisp and clean, and the gun ran beautifully. The best part: this lower works with any upper receiver. No special cuts or changes needed — it’s a drop in replacement.