Image courtesy Masterpiece Arms
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Image courtesy Masterpiece ArmsIf you never really wanted a semi-auto MAC-11, you probably never looked twice at anything from MasterPiece Arms. But I’ll bet you’re looking at this piston-driven, side-charging, free-floating, side-folding 5.56×45 carbine. Go ahead and look twice; it’s okay. I did, too . . .

From the MasterPiece Arms press release:

“This feature-heavy design has been under development throughout 2012 and will feature some serious upgrades, including a short stroke piston design and a lightweight, free floating, two piece aluminum handguard with user located picatinny rails. It will also include an innovative front handguard cap to keep debris out of the internals of the handguards while providing strength and stability to the assembly. The MPAR 556 Rifle will also contain a side folder 6-position polymer buttstock, locked bolt action, and a side charging-handle with forward-assist. The MPAR 556 Rifle is compatible with AR15 / M16 magazines…

MSRP is $959.00.”

An All-American SCAR-ternative for under a grand? Now that gets my attention. But how much does it weigh? What’s the barrel twist rate? Does the charging handle reciprocate? Is the front handguard too bulky? Can I have one? We’ll try to get some answers for you (and a T&E sample gun for ourselves) at the SHOT Show next month.

Don’t touch that dial…


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  1. Hmmm… What is the weight on this puppy? I do look forward to the review. What would really be nice would be a long-term test review of many weapons that get a snap shot review here. Many of the car magazines (as a reference point) do long term testing of vehicles, typically for a year. Logging the good and the bad. Just food for thought.

  2. I’ve long been wondering why the AR platform never went to side-charging (perhaps ambi) handles. Maybe it’s just me, but I always have to break my cheek weld to charge my AR10/15.

  3. i would be willing to wager that the charging handle is directly connected to the bolt and thus reciprocating. Watch those fingers, lads!

  4. I bought one of thier semi-auto mac-11 pistols, quite accurate since it was closed bolt; the model I had was with the charging handle on the side, non-reciprocating, I would bet the rifle would be the same like an FN-FAL.

    If the rifle was reliable, I would buy it in a heart beat.

    • Yeah, I think you nailed it. Reports from early adopters as to whether or not the gun actually runs will determine how many they sell. If the rifle works, that’s a lot of features for a low price…….

  5. I like where this is going. I have a bizarre love/hate relationship with the AR platform, but it seems like the piston-based 5.56 rifles that have come out (the SIGs, the FNs, hell the Mini-14) have always hit a soft spot with me. For a price not much more than a Mini, I could totally get into one of these.

  6. Seems they are too late Army’s ICC is dying and SOCOM dropped the SCAR L maybe they should have made a .308 model? Overall looks like a SIG knock off not a nothing really a break threw.

  7. For me, concerns seems to outweigh any advantages…

    A bit heavier
    I don’t see a real advantage with the piston AR platform over DI with the extra moving parts, weight, etc
    Non chrome lined barrel (the heart of any AR)
    No Bolt Hold Open (ouch, that’s a huge disadantage to me)
    Non ambi charging handle (i run the Raptor on my AR’s)

    In return, i get a side folding stock (on a non standard platform, with limited real life reliability testing compared to DI AR)

    ….I think I’ll pass.

  8. Just bought one of these MPAR’s a couple of weeks ago. Put 250+ rounds through the rifle. Had 1 FTE, but no other functional issues. Accuracy was very good, recoil was minimal and overall, really liked the weapon. Pro’s – short stroke piston, side folder and the side charger. Cons – a little heavy. Put a full mag through the weapon with the stock folded – which was a neat experience. The side charging handle is really a great feature. Being able to keep the weapon shouldered while charging the weapon is a definite plus. The handguard is big, but has lots of rail space for accessories. The full length top rail has lots of potential. It does not have bolt hold open, but that really is a minor issue compared to the other unique features. Overall, pretty nice weapon.

  9. I picked one of these up used at my local gun store for a decent price.
    It’s is a little on the heavy side but extremely accurate. The folding stock makes it quite easy to transport but it is impractical when shooting given the fire-arms weight. Not to say the gun is not pleasant to shoot. You barely feel any recoil making follow up shots very easy.

    I am disappointed with the lack of support for a number of AR mods, but that comes with owning a non AR rifle, and I had heard that the first generation MPARs did not accept polymer mags, but mine does. I’m not sure if this was a modification made by a previous owner or not.

    All in all, it is a rock solid weapon that I have had no problems with and has really proven to me what MPA can make a decent non MAC style weapon.

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