Assessment: PWS MK116 MOD 2-M Ambidextrous AR-15

What is the large cope with ambi AR-15s? Whether or not you’re right-handed or left-handed, wanting a catastrophic harm or amputation, you’ll by no means be totally depending on one hand. That is why many skilled shooters now not use the phrases “robust aspect” and “weak aspect,” as a substitute favoring dominant/non-dominant or robust hand/help hand. Your “weak” aspect can’t be weak, as a result of it’s important for recoil administration, reloads, and different crucial duties. Simply as you wouldn’t kind an essay or cook dinner a meal with one hand tied behind your again, you shouldn’t put all of the workload in your dominant hand whereas utilizing a firearm.

By utilizing dominant/non-dominant or robust/help phrases, it’s simpler to recollect to work on maximizing the effectiveness of each arms. In different phrases, we’re making an attempt to develop into ambidextrous, even when we nonetheless naturally favor one aspect. This enables us to shoot from both shoulder and profit from out there cowl, and in addition streamlines two-handed weapon manipulations. Reaching ambidexterity largely requires apply, however choosing a weapon that’s arrange for ambidextrous use can be an vital piece of the puzzle.

Above: The PWS MK116 MOD 2-M options totally ambidextrous controls, together with a left-side magazine launch.

That is why many firearm producers have moved in the direction of ambidextrous designs lately — other than primary mil-spec fashions, it’s uncommon to see an AR-15 with out a minimum of an ambi security selector or ambi charging deal with nowadays. Nonetheless, totally ambidextrous ARs are nonetheless comparatively uncommon.

To be thought of totally ambidextrous, the next controls must be simply operable by the left or proper hand:

  • Security selector
  • Charging deal with
  • Magazine launch
  • Bolt launch
  • Bolt catch/hold-open

The final merchandise is very unusual in ambi kind, however fairly helpful for fast malfunction clearance or “unload and present clear” necessities between competitors levels or coaching drills.

The PWS MK116 MOD 2-M

During the last 14 years, Main Weapons Techniques (PWS) has made a reputation for itself by manufacturing premium ARs with its signature long-stroke piston system. For individuals who could also be questioning what a long-stroke piston is, we’ll level again to Editor Iain Harrison’s abstract from Concern 13: not like the short-stroke pistons present in rifles such because the SIG MCX, FN SCAR, and Heckler & Koch MR556, “the long-stroke piston and op rod are hooked up to the bolt service in a lot the identical manner as an AK platform. Whereas this long-stroke system often ends in a contact extra felt recoil resulting from elevated reciprocating mass, there are advantages available when it comes to fewer elements to fail.” Present PWS fashions additionally function an adjustable gasoline regulator that permits the consumer to tune the system for suppressed or unsuppressed use.

The PWS MOD 2-M is the corporate’s flagship AR line. Till lately, the MOD 2-M featured a cast decrease with an ambi security selector, magazine launch, and bolt launch. The decrease additionally incorporates a flared magwell, integral set off guard, and refined contours that make it clear it isn’t an ordinary mil-spec element. The solid higher options comparable contours, no ahead help, and a Radian Raptor ambi charging deal with. One other distinctive function of the MOD 2-M is its PicLok handguard, which has sections of Picatinny rail with recessed, threaded slots that additionally settle for M-LOK equipment.

In June 2022, PWS rolled out an replace for the MOD 2-M household of rifles. This centered round a cast decrease receiver which was redesigned to accommodate a brand new bolt catch/bolt launch lever with double-sided paddles on the left and proper. This addition makes it a real totally ambidextrous rifle, permitting the consumer to simply maintain the bolt or ship it ahead utilizing one finger on the dominant hand.

After testing this up to date MOD 2-M design at our CANCON 2022 occasion in Georgia, I knew I needed to spend some extra time with it. I already personal a couple of billet receiver units with ambi controls (ADM and Ascend Armory) however these receivers could be fairly costly and aesthetically flashy. The more-utilitarian cast decrease is interesting, particularly as a part of an entire package deal with PWS’s long-stroke system, so I chosen a PWS MK116 MOD 2-M. To interrupt that identify down, MOD 2-M is the household, MK1 means it’s an AR-15 platform (MK2 is AR-10), and the 16 clearly corresponds to barrel size.


I arrange my PWS MK116 MOD 2-M with an Atibal XRD pink dot sight, which gives 40,000 hours of battery life and a motion-activated operate to maximise longevity. The XRD makes use of an Aimpoint Micro footprint, which allowed me to connect it to a taller ADM 1.93-inch Light-weight mount. I discover the heads-up capturing place with this mount extra snug, and it additionally allows simpler use for passive aiming underneath evening imaginative and prescient. The short-detach operate permits quick removing of the dot so I can entry the Geissele backup iron sights I put in.

For low-light use, I needed a weapon-mounted mild that might combine easily into the PicLok handguard, however I made a decision to go somewhat exterior the field. This HRT Tactical AWLS mild produces 1,700 lumens and 90,000 candela from an 18650 rechargeable battery. Essentially the most distinctive function is its Valhalla Tactical ODA tailcap, a joystick-like activator that may be pushed in any route for momentary mode, or clicked in for constant-on. The included MLOK screws are threaded straight into the PicLok handguard to safe the sunshine. Though the pictured pattern is a pre-production prototype, the HRT Tactical AWLS is now in full-production and out there for buy.

Lastly, I added a BCM MLOK Vertical Grip to match the BCM pistol grip and buttstock PWS offered, and I put in a pair of Walker Protection Analysis NILE silicon carbide MLOK rail panels for additional grip. This MOD 2-M already got here with a few of my favourite AR add-ons — Radian Raptor charging deal with, Radian Talon security selector, and PWS’s personal QD-socket-equipped Ratchet Lock Citadel Nut and Finish Plate — so I had no have to swap out these elements. I did, nevertheless, disassemble the Talon selector and reinstall it in 45-degree configuration moderately than the 90-degree configuration PWS selected.

Above: The included Radian Talon security selector could be set to 45 levels (pictured) or the extra conventional 90 levels.

On the Vary

Above: The MK116’s recoil impulse felt clean with 55gr M193 ammo. This photograph reveals the usual lower-1/3 mount on the pink dot, moderately than the 1.93 ADM mount we upgraded to later.

I loaded up the included Lancer L5-AWM magazine with some 55-grain coaching ammo, flicked the 45-degree security, and began capturing. After a few years behind direct-impingement (DI) ARs, PWS’s long-stroke system feels noticeably completely different. The recoil impulse is clean, extra like a gentle push than a sudden punch. Fast strings of fireside really feel manageable.

Above: A cutout within the prime rail behind the entrance sight offers entry to the gasoline regulator, which could be adjusted utilizing the included software or the tip of a bullet.

The piston system must also preserve the gun cleaner than a DI gun; this seemed to be the case after my time on the vary — the BCG wasn’t coated in practically as a lot crud as I’d usually count on. One other benefit of a piston-driven AR is its means to accommodate a suppressor with out the disagreeable gasoline blowback and dramatically elevated fouling/carbon buildup usually seen on suppressed DI weapons. With this in thoughts, PWS’s built-in gasoline regulator has three positions:

  1. Place 1 – Unsuppressed
  2. Place 2 – Suppressed with lighter hundreds and/or suppressors with decrease backpressure
  3. Place 3 – Suppressed with heavier hundreds and/or suppressors with greater backpressure

I plan to put in a suppressor on this rifle sooner or later, however for now I evaluated it unsuppressed. The PWS FSC 556 muzzle system is primarily designed as a compensator, so it does a pleasant job of moderating recoil, but it surely additionally gives loads of flash discount for low-light/no-light capturing.

As for the ambi controls, I discovered them intuitive and straightforward to make use of. The left-side magazine launch is analogous in dimension, form, and placement to the right-side button, solely ¾-inch decrease on the receiver for clearance. The bolt launch/catch can be comparable on each side of the rifle, however positioned barely additional again on the fitting aspect to clear the ejection port cowl. All of those controls are raised and textured sufficient to be discovered and manipulated simply with gloves on. Granted, customers with smaller arms might have some hassle with stretching an index finger to press the right-side bolt launch, however I had no such concern with my outsized catcher’s mitts.

General, the PWS MK116 MOD 2-M looks like a top-shelf manufacturing AR, and I’ve little doubt it’d maintain as much as obligation use. Subjectively, I believe it seems to be nice as effectively — not too plain or too flashy. Though I did add an optic and some equipment for private choice, I didn’t really feel the necessity to begin upgrading inside elements, controls, or furnishings — it’s good to go proper out of the field. One potential exception is the PTFE-coated Mil-Spec Enhanced set off; whereas clean and exact, its 6-pound pull weight is certainly heavier than what I’m used to. Wanting a suppressor, that’s the one improve I’m planning on.

PWS MK116 MOD 2-M Specs

General Size: 33 inches

Barrel Size: 16.1 inches

Caliber: .223 Wylde

Capability: 30+1

Weight: 8.2 kilos (with equipment, unloaded)

MSRP: $2,050



  • Atibal XRD pink dot sight ($150)
  • ADM Micro T1/T2 Light-weight Mount ($130)
  • Geissele Folding BUIS ($200)
  • HRT Tactical AWLS ($295)
  • BCM Vertical Grip Mod 3 ($21)
  • Walker Protection Analysis NILE 3-Slot MLOK Panels ($39)

Worth as Configured: $2,885

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