The New New Zealand Battle Rifle – Overview of the MARS-L/LSO with Chris Bartocci

    We reported previously on the New Zealand Defence Force’s purchase of new LMT-made infantry rifles, but beyond a brief promo video released after the selection was announced, we haven’t yet seen an in-depth look at the rifles, which are based on the recently released LMT MARS family. Chris Bartocci, a gunwriter and author of The Black Rifle II, has taken a look at the elusive Kiwi LMT in a recent video:

    What I found most interesting was the improved bolt carrier design used in the MARS-LSO, the special forces variant. LMT’s improved bolt carrier includes a number of features designed to improve the function and lifespan of the bolt carrier group versus the standard AR-15. These include hemispherical stress-relieving cuts on the locking lugs, an improved forked gas channel design in the carrier, added underslide to the cam track, and a third exhaust vent on the carrier body. Beyond that, the BCG features sand grooves cut in the carrier body, a different bolt finish, and “lobster-tail” extractor with dual springs and more engagement surface. More pedestrian features of the LSO versus the L include a Magpul CTR buttstock, longer rail system, different muzzle device, and no provision for a bayonet.

    Bartocci mentions in the video something I had heard rumored but not confirmed: The NZDF is using, instead of a NATO standard cartridge or any of the more recent improved 5.56 loads like M855A1, the Mk. 262 Mod. 1 round designed for the US SOCOM. Mk. 262 is a very effective load with additional range versus other 5.56mm loads, although it also comes with higher peak pressure and more limited hard target penetration.

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]taff.thefirearmblog.com.


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