Rifle Roundup: PWS MK114 MOD 2-M

We team up this gas piston AR-15 with a combination red dot/scope optic from Burris.

posted on February 2, 2024

Primary Weapon Systems MK114 MOD 2-M AR-15: MSRP $2,049.95

The AR-15 started off using what’s called a direct impingement (DI) action. This is where a portion of the gas that’s sending the bullet downrange is redirected from the barrel back towards the action via a long gun (called, appropriately enough, a gas tube). The gasses are routed through the gas key on top of the bolt-carrier group, moving that unit backwards and in turn ejecting the spent cartridge and loading a new one as it returns forward.

You may be wondering, “Ok, so what happens to all that foul and nasty propellant gas after it’s used to cycle the action?" Well, for the most part, it winds up getting sent out the ejection port or back through the charging handle opening or even down into the magazine itself, resulting in carbon residue and messing up the appearance of everything it touches.

Which brings us to the action inside of the Primary Weapon Systems (PWS) MK114 MOD 2-M rifle we’re shooting today. The MK114 uses a long-stroke gas-piston system, rather than direct impingement. This means that instead of a long tube shuttling the gas back to the bolt, those gasses push on a piston up near the exit port (aka “gas block”) in the barrel. The piston moves backwards, and everything then happens like it does in a DI gun, but with much less noxious fumes flung back in your face.

The downside to this? For starters, price. There are more moving parts involved with a piston gun, which means more parts to make. Speaking of parts, there is no “universal mil-spec standard” for a piston-driven AR like there is for DI AR-15. As such, each system is a bit of a unicorn. The added size of the piston means that handguards aren’t interchangeable with DI-style guns, and forget about changing bolt carrier groups. Other important bits, though, like the lower receiver, trigger, stock and grips can be swapped out and upgraded.

The question with the PWS MK114 is, though, why would you bother? It comes with upgrades like ambidextrous safeties, bolt releases, magazine releases and an ambidextrous charging handle. It has a three position adjustable gas block if you want to run a suppressor. The magazine well is flared for faster reloads. Maybe the only thing I’d change out on this gun is the mil-spec 5.5 pound trigger for something a little lighter, but other than that, it’s a premium rifle with better than premium features.

Burris RT-6 Tactical Kit: MSRP: $720

There is a lot of cross-pollination between the worlds of practical shooting matches and the best-trained members of our military. Special Operations Forces are known for bringing in top-level competitors to help them develop their skills. This is also true, in some cases, of their gear. Running a red-dot optic along with a low-power-variable optic (LPVO) is popular in the Open division of the sport of 3-gun, and that same optics setup is popping up more and more in military circles these days.

The Burris RT-6 Tactical Kit is a quick and easy way to set up your AR for both a magnifying optic and a red dot. This sight has a 1-6x RT-6 scope with a set of rings that can mount a Fast Fire red dot. What you wind up with is a combination that allows you to switch between the wide field of view and very forgiving eye box of a red-dot optic to the narrower field of view/higher magnification of a scope.

Some of you are thinking right now, “But wait, there’s a throw lever on that optic? Why not use that, and just quickly zoom between 1x and 6x?”

Well, I’ll tell you why. First off, the field of view of a scope, any scope, is not going to be as wide as a red dot. This means you’ll see not only the target through the red dot, but most everything around it as well. Secondly, it takes time and effort to flip that lever, much more time and effort than is needed to just raise your chin a bit and look through the red dot. The best way to use this setup is to leave the RT-6 scope at the highest magnification you need and then leave it there, engaging close-range targets with the Fast Fire dot and switching to the scope when a longer range shot is needed. The one-two punch of a dot for fast target acquisition and a higher magnification scope for precise, longer-ranged shots is an unbeatable competition in 3-gun, and it’s an increasingly popular choice for those who rely on an AR-15 to protect life and limb.


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