ARES Defense ARES 2012 Shrike 5.56

ARES Defense are selling a new 2012 version of the ARES Shrike 5.56. The Shrike 5.56 is an AR-15 compatible upper receiver that can be magazine or belt fed. I am not sure what the changes are from last years model.

The new 2012 Shrike 5.56 – Advanced Weapons System™ is a robust, ergonomic and lightweight upper receiver assembly that is designed to fit MIL-Spec quality AR-15, M16 and M4 type lower receiver assemblies. Once fitted to the host firearm’s lower receiver, the Shrike 5.56™ provides an individual operator with the firepower of a US M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) at one-half the weight of the current SAW.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Samopal

    “New” version? I lost interest in the Shrike about 6 years ago. At that point it had been “available in about two weeks” for four years.

    Did they ever produce it in any sizeable number? Is this “new” version going to go the same route?

    • noob

      did anyone ever say if they got the problem with needing teflon on the links to make it function reliably?

  • Tyler Marcoz

    Shame this thing never seemed to catch on; it’s a very good idea. From a logistics and trainung standpoint alone it would be amazing to realize the dream of one weapons system filling the role of service rifle, automatic rifle, and DMR.

    • Sian

      like Colt’s SP901? Add an upper that can handle belt-feed, and you’ve got a platform that can do it all, and in a variety of calibers.

  • Raoul O’Shaughnessy

    I’ve seen plenty of talk about ’em, but never seen one in the wild. Until I actually see one outside a YouTube video, review website, or Oleg’s living room, I’m calling it vaporware.

    • Gregory Markle

      Saw one at a shoot in February (running badly when it ran at all) and one just arrived and got stuck in the safe at our shop. Only took ’em 15+ years to make it for us. Not vaporware…just a lot of shady business practices.

  • Chase

    Twenty inch long barrel please. Why does everyone insist on short AR barrels these days?

    • Chase

      Wait, I think I see one there. I’m an idiot.

    • Tyler Marcoz

      Mostly because for urban and mobile ops, anything longer than 14.5 is cumbersome. That said, it does bring up the other aspect that having your service rifle capable of taking a 10.5 inch barrel for your crew or M-ATV guys and a 20 incher for the ones climbing Afgan mountains would be nice. LMT has their new barrel switcher too. Wonder if that’s the next big thing. Barrels and mag wells, ala MGI’s Hydra?

  • John

    Oh look, they made one for 2012 too !

    • Other Steve

      Comment Winner.

  • D

    I like the belt feed, but one has to wonder at the odd naming convention. AMG, AMG-1, AMG-2? Why not start at 1, go to 3?

    Mall Ninjas would love it, though.

  • John Doe

    Where would one find belt links anyways?

    • 032125

      Ebay, et al.

    • charles222

      I don’t own any belt-fed weapons, but I seem to remember seeing links (I THINK M27 would be the specific model for 5.56 NATO) for sale at various places.

  • charles222

    Sooo half the weight equals twice the breakage rate, right? 😀

  • Lance

    Rather have a 7.62 NATO machine gun any way better firepower and so a M-60 or M-240 would be better than this or a SAW.

    • charles222

      Feel free to attempt to keep pace with riflemen carrying around 7.5-9 pound rifles with your 18 or more pounds of gun and 30+ pounds of ammo.

  • Tony

    Stoner’s 86 series design?

    • charles222

      I think-and take this a big grain of salt-that it either is the Stoner 86, or closely related.

    • Ian

      Sort of. Worse gas system, better bolt. Depending on the top cover design it may or may not work more reliably.

  • spc fish

    for thos of you tht dont follow ARES ridiculous company. they have ramped up production and are offering them for sale again through a third party dealer in florida. Even though they have not filled all the back-orders from guys who ordered them 10 yeas ago. and now ares is trying to get out of a lot of the sales contracts that by sending original depositors letters saying they will not fullfil the ordrs for certain states that have magazine capacity bans, including ohio. ARES has always had shady business practices. And the system is nice but it is in no way near as reliable as a m249 or its variants. But it is one hell of a fun gun to shoot, especially in full auto.

  • spc fish

    for thos of you tht dont follow ARES ridiculous company. they have ramped up production and are offering them for sale again through a third party dealer in florida. Even though they have not filled all the back-orders from guys who ordered them 10 yeas ago. and now ares is trying to get out of a lot of the sales contracts that by sending original depositors letters saying they will not fullfil the ordrs for certain states that have magazine capacity bans, including ohio. ARES has always had shady business practices. And the system is nice but it is in no way near as reliable as a m249 or its variants.

    • Gregory Markle

      We FINALLY received one unit that a deposit was placed on 15+ years ago (they’ll argue that they weren’t even taking orders then, they are full of crap according to the canceled check) and are currently still arguing with them over a second one they claim they have no record of. I can’t say I don’t blame them for not wanting to accept a total of $1,995 for an item they now want to charge $7,000+ for but that was the deal they offered for people to help finance them to develop the product.

      The new game they playing was outlined by a friend in New York state who contacted us the other day and apparently ARES is now claiming the Shrike is a “post ban high capacity feeding device” thus making it illegal to ship to NY for an individual to possess. This is in direct conflict with the fact that several manufacturers ship semi-auto belt fed firearms for individual purchase to NY without incident.

      As for the reliability I have only really had a chance to mess with one that showed up at one of our shoots in February and we never got it running well enough to determine whether it was reliable or not…other than a few shorts bursts it would fire one to three rounds before stopping. According to the owner he had just received it and it had never been fired…but I can’t verify that he hadn’t fiddled with things. It was also an EXTREMELY cold day (about 20F with high winds) and problems were had all around with normally reliable guns…but my buddy’s M60E4 Mk43 ran flawlessly in the next line position and a PPsH 41 was merrily fountaining casings 20 feet straight up in the air on the other side!

  • Other Steve

    Because what’s better than Vaporware?

    NEW Vaporware!!!

  • AR

    I haven’t used the Ares Shrike in ages. Need to find some time and play with it again. It’s the best LMG/AR in……Jagged Alliance 2 games. 🙂

  • charles222

    I’d personally go with KAC’s Stoner 96 if a super-light 5.56mm SAW is in the game plan. Sure, you can’t use magazines, but ARES has 1) a cheesy-ass name and 2) never seems to actually produce anything. Or you could just be patient with Magpul, wait for their quad-stack to show up, and get an FN HAMR when they do. 😛

    • Nater

      Surefire already has a quad stack that works.

      • charles222

        Yeah, but it’s priced way high and doesn’t include an anti-tilt follower; I’m good with potentially rendering a 60-round magazine useless. Especially with an open bolt going back and forth.

    • Nater

      It’s priced high because quad stacks are hard to build. They’re a much more complicated undertaking than a double stack/double feed magazine. They still probably are a bit more expensive that they would be if another manufacturer had a quality quad stack on the market, but no one does. I still don’t see the 60-round mag ever being much cheaper than $75.

      Both of the followers in the Surefire magazines are anti-tilt designs as well.

  • Darrel

    Want very badly. Probably not too much reason to use this without a registered lower though.

  • Mike Knox

    Imagine some moron buying one of these uppers when he has six Century Magazines already..

  • Alan

    The 2012 Shrike: arriving at a gun store near you in late 2025. Place your pre-order today!

  • Cymond

    As always, more hype than product from Ares Defense. I’d still like to get my hands on their little RCU, but the only source I can find won’t ship to Kalifornya. The RCU received a fair share of attention at SHOT and even made it into a few magazine articles (and one cover), but production numbers seem to have been quite small. I don’t understand why they even bother with the R&D for things they don’t intend to produce. Anyone remember the Herring? It was a traditional style lower that took any milspec AR upper, basically creating a politically correct AR. It seems that ARES didn’t bother to produce even a single commercial unit.

  • Paul Brown

    Here’s one Shrike owner’s perspective. I pulled this from their Facebook page.
    “I have owned my Shrike for 17 months since March 2011. I have owned NFA firearms for over 17 years and this is one of my favorites iif not the best of all I own. NFA weapons that I have owned include a Colt DEA 9 mm M16 subgun, Uzi, 45 ACP Thompson, HK 51, HK 21, HK 21k, HK MP5 K, HKmp5, Lakeside machine LM 7, BRP XMG ,FN PS 90, Streyer Aug, MM23e, MM21E. Colt LMG M16, BAR 3006. The gun that comes out of the gun safe most frequently is my Shrike. I thorougthly enjoy shooting this platform with my alterations slowing the rate of fire. Currently using a MAGPUL adjustable full length stock with a MG 34 spring cut down to 36 coils, and a Colt LMG buffer giving a rate of fire with M855 or M193 of between 640 to 690 RPM with any barrel 12 ,16, or 20 inch fixed or adjustable. I have put in excess of 75 thousand rounds thru this beast in 17 months since early March 2011.My boys and I have attended multiple NFA shoots and have delighted the the crowds with the Shrike’s performance. I have six adult boys to help me burn ammo-one son is in the US Navy having served one combat tour already in the Middle East. Yes, I’ve had a few problems which have been quickly addressed and corrected by Ares. Tracy , Delaine and Mr Herring have been quick to respond and correct problems often at their expense. I have been so impressed that I recently purchased another upper from Ruben. He is also a fantastic gentleman to deal with. I am so delighted to own a platform as close to a FN SAW as posible. I wholeheartedly endorse their products and I’m glad they had the guts to bring this product to the civilian world for all of us to enjoy. I appreciate that it hasn’t been easy for Ares and I’m personally glad we are at this point where we regular gunnuts can own a lightweight 556 beltfed platform. Michael R. Land, M.D.”

  • Prexybill

    ARES Defense should consider developing the Shrike in other calibers, e.g. 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 Remington SPC and 7.62 NATO. other calibers to be considered are 7.45 Russian and 7.62 X 39 Russian. ARES should also try the U.S. Special Operations Command. If they have the kinks worked out and can manufacture in quanity, then they may be well received. It definitely needs to function in all temperature extremes because U.S. troops are expected to fight in all climates.

    • Nmate

      They should get the 5.56 version working first. 7.62 NATO is a completely different animal. I can’t think of anyone outside of Colt that knows more about the AR-15 than Knights Armament and it took them some time to get a completely reliable SR-25. Granted, they were going for sub-MOA accuracy, but it gives you an idea of the technical difficulties of that cartridge in an AR-pattern rifle.

      6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC don’t have a link system. Without a military standard link system they’re going nowhere (not to mention the other logistical issues). 6.5 Grendel isn’t even a really good fit for the AR platform. It has serious extraction issues in that type of rifle (I think it would work well in an AK).

      5.45 doesn’t have a link system, so it is out too. Not to mention it being a relatively unpopular cartridge outside of the former Warsaw Pact client states.

  • Bill

    I realize Ares took forever to get their product to market, but, as far as the quality of the Shrike/MCR, it’s a fantastic product. It’s got an inch thick barrel up to (@ 1/2″ from)the front sight block, that’s .250″ thicker than the M249. It’s got super strong radiused lugs on the bolt. It has a beautifully machined upper receiver, very thick sidewalls. Very reliable feeding. Obviously a SUPER fast barrel change, and very robust quick change gas piston system. The best quality LMT lowers too.
    I’ve only put a few thousand rounds (3,000+), which isn’t alot, but it’s alot more than most of those commenting, who’ve not seen, let alone used one. Comments regarding the quality, or reliability of these weapons, should be made only after one actually sees, and uses them.
    (The belt feed conversion kit is crazy expensive though, and really don’t like the rear sight, or optics being mounted on a top cover, as their is a (though small) potential for some minor movement, affecting downrange accuracy).
    And NO, have the weight does not necessarily mean twice the breakage rate, and in this case,

    • JoeySDC

      Where can I get parts or a kit to convert my MCR to an AMG2. I have a registered 16 lower. This may be worth the effort.

  • ARES is delivering each and every day,. We have a huge supply of ARES Product.
    No need to wait, and the delays are long gone.

  • Justin Rouanzoin

    I just purchased a new shrike upper when I went to charge the weapon the slide fell out and jammed the bolt open so I smacked the charging handle trying to get the bolt closed and the handle broke now I have a broken charging handle and the bolt is still stuck open I do not suggest the upper it very expensive and the quality just is not there

    • Bill P.

      What “slide” fell out? You must have “smacked” the living “tar” out of the charging handle to break it like that. Did you replace the buffer, recoil spring, and install new spacer in the buffer tube. Did you read the instruction manual? You’re not clear on what happened.

    • Bill P.

      You got a new Shrike upper, and put it on a lower, which had a non-milspec buffer tube, that was about 3/4 of an inch or so, longer that a real milspec tube. That allowed the charging handle to go further than it’s supposed to go in normal operation, up to the point where it can be removed from the upper receiver. Normally, you need to separate the rear of the receiver, to remove the charging handle, but if you use an extra long non-milspec buffer tube, you can do what you did. You probably didn’t use the proper buffer, buffer spring, and spring spacer either. Maybe if you took the time to find out how your lower is to be set up, and use real milspec parts, instead of just publicly bad mouthing the product, and company, you’d have a properly working gun, and be much happier.

      • Bill P.

        Maybe you could have even bought it complete, with the LMT lower, instead of cobbling together your own lower, hoping it works. Nothing wrong with putting you’re own lower together for it, but you should really know a little about it first. That’s the problem in the vast majority, if not all, of the operational problems you hear about. The owner did something wrong. The guns are great, and all those guys who say it’s “not as reliable as the M249”, never ran a bunch of mags thru an M249 either. Better off using it as a club.