The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

See the Rifles MARS Inc. and Cobalt Kinetics Submitted for the Next Generation Squad Weapons Program

At RECOIL, we review every product fairly and without bias. Making a purchase through one of our links may earn us a small commission, and helps support independent gun reviews. Learn More

Sometimes great things can happen when two companies put their heads together instead of competing with each other. MARS (Modular Automatic Rifle System) Inc. recently teamed up with Cobalt Kinetics to work on new rifles for the US Army. That doesn't mean dual-drop bolt releases or automatic empty magazine ejection, but a whole new level of the most advanced machining coupled with top tier materials in rifle construction.

Take a look at what comes to fruition when a company focused on military applications, joins forces with a manufacturer geared more toward competitive shooting. I can't wait to try one of these out when they are available for public consumption.

The press release from Cobalt Kinetics said:

The US Army has been soliciting design and manufacturing firms for a next-generation squad weapon (NGSW) platform. This NGSW program is expected to produce a replacement for the M16 battle-rifle and M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon). Along with the request for this all-new weapon, this project demands a new cartridge to be developed alongside and incorporated into these new firearms.



The initial call-out for the program seeks to dramatically increase the terminal power and effective distance of the 5.56 NATO and even the 7.62 NATO. The performance of the new cartridge will rival the exterior and terminal ballistics of some current commercial magnum hunting cartridges. It seems a worthwhile endeavor to outfit each soldier with an 8lb rifle that can hit a 1 MOA hardened target, and penetrate that target up to and exceeding 1000 yards. If that’s not enough to impress, this new weapon will fulfill these requirements without compromising the control and handling characteristics currently accepted in the M16 and SAW light machine gun.

5.56, 7.62 x 51 and 6.8 Short Magnum

MARS, INC of Montana teamed up with Cobalt Kinetics of Utah early in 2019 to realize this seemingly-impossible task. The brain-trust of MARS approach the modern semi-auto rifle from a fresh perspective while Cobalt Kinetics’ skill and expertise at precision manufacturing made the idea a reality. The resulting weapon presents as an extra-large framed AR-patterned rifle- with a huge magazine well to accommodate the new cartridge. Inside the handguard one can identify a large recoil spring wrapped around the barrel- an essential part of any long-recoil operating system. For those unfamiliar with this type of mechanism, it’s not unlike your grandfather’s Browning Auto-5 shotgun. But make no mistake, this is not your grandfather’s battle rifle.

NGSW-R Suppressed

The bolt and barrel, while locked, are allowed to travel freely within the action under the recoil impulse generated by the 6.8mm short magnum cartridge (the guns fire 140gr .270 caliber bullets at 3200FPS). This operating system causes a great deal of recoil energy to be spent and dissipated before the total recoiling mass delivers a blow to the shooter’s shoulder. Similar systems have been employed over the past few decades in some soviet rifle and machine-gun designs. This operation has been labeled as “shifted pulse recoil”. The recoil impulse is effectively distributed over time, while its speed is reduced by a spring and buffer system before the stroke is complete. The result is a slower and softer impulse to the shooter- more to the point- This rifle is as controllable and comfortable to shoot as the old low-impulse 5.56 platform, while doubling the effective distance and energy.


Besides reduced recoil, there are many other advantages of long-recoil semi-auto operation. No gas escapes the barrel into the action- this rifle, with full-auto capability, runs as clean as any bolt action. When operating with a suppressor, the long-recoil system actually runs more reliably and with less recoil than unsuppressed. Of course, the added mass slows down the barrel/bolt assembly but that extra mass and resultant momentum to the recoiling assembly help the system power through dirt and particulate that can foul other semi-auto mechanisms. And the addition of suppressor does not contribute to increased fouling in the action as the system operates so slowly (relative to DI or piston) the propellant gasses and powder-charge fallout have fully evacuated by the time the bolt unlocks and opens to eject and reload the weapon.

MARS and Cobalt have developed 2 versions of the “MARS” rifle. A 13” barreled lightweight carbine and an 18” barreled light machine gun have been supplied to the ARMY for testing and evaluation. Both are fed from proprietary 20 round box or 70 round drum magazines. Both are capable of semi and full-auto fire. The MARS rifles have been designed to incorporate the newest “smart” battlefield tech to keep the soldier connected and adaptable as battlefield tactics become more advanced.

NGSW-AR with SmartTech

These technologies include a central power source to supply all peripheral accessories while tracking and displaying their performance and status. Light, illumination, direction of fire, total rounds fired between service intervals, ammunition supply in the magazine, and operating temperature can be tracked by a central command module on the gun. This information can be communicated to remote command to support the soldier of tomorrow.

NGSW-AR rear


Michael Merino, President and CEO of MARS Inc. adds: “I can't think of a better collaboration in this industry. Our MARS rifle design, coupled with the innovative approach to rifle manufacturing of the Cobalt Kinetics team, has been incredible. We believe that we have a rifle design that meets the requirements of the Army's ambitious NGSW program. We are excited to be part of evolution of military effectiveness. We also plan to release a commercially available version of this rifle, in the first few months of 2020.”

More information on the MARS rifle can be found at

The Army is due to announce the winner of this contract in the next few days. It will be interesting to see who earns it. Will it be the best platform or will we hear the cliched “lowest bidder” argument once again?

To read the NGSW notice on, click HERE.

Enter Your E-Mail to Receieve a Free 50-Target Pack from RECOIL!

NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOIL

For years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included).

Get your pack of 50 Print-at-Home targets when you subscribe to the RECOIL email newsletter. We'll send you weekly updates on guns, gear, industry news, and special offers from leading manufacturers - your guide to the firearms lifestyle.

You want this. Trust Us.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to the Free