MagPul Masada Adaptive Combat Weapon System (ACWS) Makes Its Debut

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by David Crane
david at

All photos contained in this article were taken by and are the
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January 24, 2007

The MagPul Masada Adaptive Combat Weapon System (ACWS) a.k.a. MagPul Masada Rifle / Carbine, made by MagPul Military Industries Corp., was one of the hottest new items at SHOT Show 2007. It’s basically an AR-18/AR-180-based gas-piston/op-rod-driven modular assault rifle/carbine/subcarbine/SBR (Short-Barreled Rifle) that utilizes an AR-15/M16-compatible barrel and AR-15/M16 30-round magazines (4179 STANAG NATO box mags), including Magpul’s own Polymag a.k.a. Pmag polymer AR-15/M16 mags that utilize the drop-in MagPul Enhanced Self-Leveling Follower (Gen 2). It’s being reported on other websites that future variants of the Masada will be available in 7.62x39mm Russian, 5.45x39mm Russian, 6.8 SPC (6.8x43mm), and 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Win. a.k.a. 7.62mm NATO. DefenseReview does not yet have confirmation on the future availability of Masada rifles / carbines in all of these calibers.

DefenseReview got to view and handle the Masada ACWS (Masada Rifle) at the MagPul Military Industries booth, and we liked what we saw, overall. While it’s not exactly revolutionary technology from a design, materials, or lethality-enhancement perspective, it’s still a pretty impressive system, considering it’s commonality of parts/components with the AR-15/M16 series of weapons and its extremely quick development timeline. Richard Fitzpatrick, MagPul’s owner/president, told Defense Review that…

they designed and developed the Masada assault rifle/carbine to the functional, pre-production prototype status we witnessed at the show in approx. three months. Three months. Anyone with any experience in infantry small arms design and development knows that 3 months is an amazingly short amount of time when it comes to designing and developing an infantry small arm (an assault rifle/carbine, for example) from scratch. It’s mind-bogglingly fast, actually.

Bottom line, if the final/fully-developed version of the weapon (Masada Rifle) proves to be reliable, durable/rugged, and accurate under adverse/combat-type conditions and high round count, then it should compete quite well against the rest of the gas-piston/op-rod rifle/carbine/subcarbine/SBRs out there. God knows there are a lot of them, and more show up every year.

MagPul Masada Adaptive Combat Weapon System (ACWS) features and attributes:

Externals (External Components) and Ergonomics/Usernomics:

1) The Masada rifle features an Impact-Modified Polymer Lower Receiver, which accepts standard 30-round AR-15/M16 magazines (4179 STANAG NATO box mags). The lower takes a drop-in modular trigger pack/system, and features an ambidextrous mag release button/lever and bolt release/hold-open button/lever, as well as an optional single-point (a.k.a. one-point) sling mount. The magazine well grip is textured for better purchase. The primary grip (shooting hand) is textured and has internal storage space for batteries, etc.

2) 7000-Series Aluminum Box Receiver (Upper Receiver), which features an aluminum trunion mount, steel carrier bearing surface (hardened internal bearing rails), and a full-length Mil-Std-1913 top rail (a.k.a. Picatinny rail or Picatinny-type rail). The upper receiver sports an integral flip-up front sight a.k.a. front BUIS (Back-Up Iron Sight).

3) Tool-less Quick-Change Barrel System (QCBS). The MagPul Mosada rifle’s quick-change barrel system utilizes standard AR-15/M16 barrels (a.k.a. "M16/AR15-compatible barrel), which require no tools to remove (thus the "tool-less" description) and are user-removable in the field. The barrel is freefloating (free-floating).

4) Handguards are pushpin-removable. Defense Review can’t remember whether or not the handguards come with aluminum heat shields. Hopefully, they do. We’ll try to find out.

6) Removable Modular, "User-Removable" Folding/Telescoping (a.k.a. Length-Adjustable) Buttstock, which allows for adjustable length of pull (LOP). This stock features a height-adjustable cheek pad, integral rubber buttpad, integral 3-point sling mount, and internal storage.

6) Ambidextrous, Non-Reciprocating Charging/Cocking Handle with Forward-Assist.

7) Integral Forward and Rear QD (Quick-Detachable) Sling Mounts. A single-point sling mount is optional.

Internals (Internal Components) and Operating System (Operating Mechanism):

1) Adjustable Piston-Driven Gas System (Gas-Piston/Op-Rod-Driven System).

2) 8-Lug Rotating Bolt (rotary bolt)

3) Spring-Loaded Firing Pin


Airborne Combat Engineer (A-C-E) has a good post on the MagPul Masada assault rifle/carbine with links to video clips and an thread started by "Hawkeye" that contains lots of great photos of the weapon and it’s components. On page 4 of the thread, "MiamiO2TJ" posts the following (edited for punctuation):

"The charging handle is way too high. When mounted on either side, you nail your knuckles on your optics. When mounted on the right side, you nail yourself with the shell deflector."

You can see what "MiamiO2TJ" is talking about from some of the photos that both "Hawkeye" and DefenseReview shot of the weapon. We noticed the same thing when we examined the weapon at Magpul’s booth, but our time was limited (we had to make the rounds), and the MagPul staff were all very busy. We subsequently forgot to come back to the booth and ask about this. Since the Masada is still under development, it’s quite possible that MagPul is already addressing this issue, if it’s even addressable (considering the design constraints). Actually, angulating the knob would probably do it (solve the problem). DefenseReview would also like to see a quad rail system/forend rail tube with full-length Mil-Std-1913 rails at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions (in addition to 12 o’clock, of course) for mounting accessories. Currently, the 6 o’clock rail doesn’t go far enough back to allow for mounting a vertical foregrip in the best spot (towards the rear of the forend, closer to the magwell). Finally, the safety/selector switch (firing mode selector) will most likely have to be modified or repositioned so it doesn’t interfere with the firing hand while it’s in the semi-auto firing mode position. We’ll contact MagPul about all these issues and update this article accordingly.

It should be noted that a MagPul staff member demonstrated to us just how smoothly the bolt carrier group/recoil spring assembly rides back and forth on the internal (steel) rails. Actually, they handed the assembly to us and let us demonstrate it for ourselves. It was very smooth. "Hawkeye" used the phrase "smooth as glass" in describing this, and Defense Review must agree with him. The bolt carrier group/recoil spring assembly comes out of the weapon as one unit, by the way (see photos).

The Masada’s folding/telescoping stock, as per all MagPul buttstocks, appears to be very well designed and executed, so that was no big surprise (since it’s one of their specialties).

If the production-version of the Masada ACWS proves reliable, durable/rugged, and combat-accurate under high round count in adverse conditions (sand, dirt, mud, snow, water, etc.) and MagPul gets the aforementioned ergonomics/usernomics issues solved (as well as any other developmental issues/problem areas we might have missed), the Masada will be a winner.

Can’t wait to shoot one, preferrably a 16-inch (16") carbine version.

Click here to view the inside section of the MagPul Masada Adaptive Combat Weapon System (ACWS) Fact Sheet/Brochure. (PDF Format)

Magpul Masada ACWS Video Clips:

MagPul Masada Rifle/Carbine Test Firing (Magpul Video)

MagPul Masada Rifle/Carbine Disassembly (YouTube Video)

Company Contact Info:

Mailing Address:

MagPul Industries Corp.
PO Box 17697
Longmont, Colorado 80308-0697

Shipping Address:

MagPul Industries Corp
400 Young Court – Unit 1
Erie, Colorado 80516-8440


877-4MAGPUL Toll Free
303-828-3460 Office
303-828-3469 Fax Email

Military Cage Code: 1LX50

Additional Photos:

MagPul Masada Adaptive Combat Weapon System (ACWS) Makes Its Debut by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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