Lewis Machine & Tool has developed a strong reputation for…

Lewis Machine & Tool has developed a strong reputation for building solid rifles with many capabilities. This MRP Defender is no exception—it’s perfectly suited to any operation. Shown with an Aimpoint Micro H-1 red dot and Huldra folding backup sights.

The ability to change barrels on a combat rifle has been around a long time. They have been doing it on light machine guns and other belt-fed guns for years. In that case, it is about replacing them as they are burned up. Eventually, someone got around to trying to do it on an AR rifle. The operational need was geared towards our Special Forces operators and their need for a multi-purpose weapon. Their missions often require vastly different equipment. For some, a 20-inch barrel is fine; for others, a 14.5-inch barrel is too long. The mission may require a suppressor. What if operators need a larger caliber?

The AR platform really lends itself to the barrel-change idea, as the standard receiver pretty much holds the barrel in place. The barrel, chamber, and bolt all lock together and contain the pressure from the discharge, so the receiver does not need to be particularly strong. On a standard gun, it is a simple matter of threading the barrel on and lining up the gas tube. As long as all that stuff lines up and stays in place, you should be good to go.

But the devil is in the details, and that is where most of the issues have come up. Some of these barrel-change systems have resulted in cracking receivers and iffy operation. Others are so complicated that an armorer is needed to complete the change. For the platform to really succeed, barrel changes need to be easy to perform—preferably by the operator—and the parts have to stay in place once it’s done. The trick was making it work for an operator in the field, and one of the first to do so successfully was Lewis Machine & Tool, with their MRP (Monolithic Rail Platform).

LMT’s one-piece Monolithic Rail Platform is incredibly strong. The forend allows the barrel to free-float, provides plenty of real estate for accessories, and has a narrow design so operators can install rail covers without it becoming too bulky.

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