Last year at SHOT Show 2019, I had a chance to take a look at a prototype rifle by MARS Inc. Back then it was in an early development stage with most parts being in white. Later, during 2019, we learned that MARS and Cobalt Kinetics submitted a rifle to NGSW trials that was based on the general design of the gun we saw at SHOT 2019. For SHOT Show 2020, MARS brought the civilian version of the rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. This final iteration of MARS rifle is called M19 Mustang.
First, let’s see how the company describes this rifle on their website:
The MARS M19 “Mustang” represents the next step of evolution in the MARS Rifle series. While taking a great leap forward in design and functionality, the M19 stays true to the MARS ideals of modularity and customization that fits the needs and desires of the user. The M19 “Mustang” is a multi-caliber rifle that functions primarily on modern long recoil, utilizing recoil impulse, to operate the rifle without gas. The resulting system runs clean, is free of carbon fouling, and fires high caliber cartridges with minimal to no perceived recoil. The rifle features an ambidextrous, non-reciprocating and self-returning forward charging handle, and a folding stock that maintains the ability to fire with the stock folded. The rifle can also be disassembled to its bare components, by the operator, in the field, and without any special tools. R&D, while competing for the US Army’s NGSW contract, has brought the MARS M19 “Mustang” to the cutting edge! Shooting is believing!
Both the appearance and internal design of this rifle have significantly evolved from what we saw last year. They dropped the gas-assisted recoil system and now its operation mechanism is purely a long recoiling action. In such a system, upon firing, the barrel and bolt remain locked together as they recoil all the way back in the receiver. Once these parts reach their rearmost position, the bolt and barrel unlock but the BCG is held in that rear position. The unlocked barrel travels forward driven by its own spring, on its way exposing the spent case and allowing it to be ejected. Once the barrel reaches its forward position it releases the BCG, which driven by the recoil spring rushes forward stripping a new round from the magazine and closing the action.
The consistency of the barrel alignment in the upper receiver is achieved by two tapered mating surfaces on the barrel and the upper receiver – one at the front of the chamber area and another one at the front end of the receiver. The front alignment point on the barrel is a separate two-piece part (see below) which also captures the barrel return spring.
The disassembly of the M19 Mustang rifle starts with pressing in the rear end of the recoil spring guide rod and pivoting the upper receiver open. At this point, the BCG and charging handle rod can be removed. If you want to change the barrel, you need to separate the upper and lower receivers by removing the pivot pin and then you can slide the lower handguard off of the upper receiver getting access to the barrel. By pressing back the barrel and removing the above-shown barrel return spring retainer/front alignment taper, you can then remove the barrel spring and barrel.
The M19 Mustang shown in the images has an 18″ barrel and an overall length of 40″. Obviously, folding the stock makes it more compact, however, you can make it even shorter without disassembling. All you need to do is to push the barrel all the way into the receiver and lock it in place by inserting a chamber flag into the gap between the barrel and ejection port. Eventually, we may see a receiver mounted latch added to more conveniently lock the barrel back. In this stow mode, the length of the rifle is 25″ – only 7″ longer than the barrel.
Lastly, here are some closeup pictures showing other design elements of the rifle.
The MARS M19 Mustang rifle chambered in .308 Winchester is available for preorder at an MSRP of $3,499. The shipping should start by the Summer of the current year.
More short action caliber options (such as the 6.5mm Creedmoor) will be available in the future. The company also may experiment with larger action lengths and calibers depending on the demand.