It’s no secret that the AR is the best-selling civilian and law enforcement rifle in the U.S., and it’s becoming more and more popular around the world because the U.S. has trained/equipped so many entities since the end of the Cold War. The shiploads of state-manufactured AK-47s generously given by the Soviet Union have dried up. This has caused many manufacturers to jump on the AR bandwagon in recent years. Of late, the most attention seems to be on “improving” the platform via developing piston-driven ARs in lieu of Stoner’s original gas-impingement design. Whether or not piston-driven rifles are superior to their gas impingement brethren often generates heated discussion. This leads us to Primary Weapons Systems’ (PWS) unique contribution to the AR field with its MK1 series of long-stroke piston-operated ARs.
The PWS MK1 series began with the fascination in the simplicity and reliability of the AK-47 combined with a deep-rooted appreciation for the ergonomics of the M4/M16 platform. The MK1 series has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has gained wide popularity with security personnel, law enforcement and civilians alike.
Significant product improvements have been made over both the direct impingement operating system and previous offerings of piston-driven operating systems. PWS product improvements address reliability and performance issues as well as reduced carrier tilt, cam pin wear and carrier bounce. PWS seeks to maximize the 50-year-old AR design in terms of reliability and operating efficiency. The MK1 series is available as complete carbine or rifle or as a “drop-on” upper receiver for use on the lower receivers of existing M4/M16-style lowers, which is the path chosen for this review.