As part of his Vickers Tactical series on interesting and rare firearms, Larry Vickers got some trigger time on the ARES-16 belt-fed upper receiver for the AR-15. This upper receiver, formerly known as the “ARES Shrike” (a much better and more creative name in my opinion), attaches to a standard AR-15 lower receiver giving it the ability to use M249 belts in a very lightweight and accurate package.
Unlike most light machine guns, the ARES-16 operates from a closed bolt for greater accuracy. Because of this, and the emphasis on its ability to also reliably use USGI magazines through the magwell of the lower receiver, there’s some implication that the weapon was designed with special reconnaissance in mind.
According to the manufacturer, the whole package can weigh as little as 7.5 pounds in some configurations, a great improvement over the 17 pound M249. The ability to use a standard lower receiver is very attractive, and reminds me of the Stoner 63 concept, whereby assault rifles and light machine guns would share most of their parts, allowing for much cheaper production of automatic support weapons.