The Shrike 5.56 comes in varying barrel lengths of 13, 16 and 20 inches with the 16-inch length being the standard option. The weapon is chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge while the action is of a gas-operated piston (short-stroke tappet). Rate-of-fire is listed at between 625 and 1,000 rounds per minute while the barrel is air-cooled. The Shrike 5.56 can be set to semi-automatic and full-automatic fire as need be.
The original prototype (and proof-of-concept design) was known under the designation of EXP-1 while the improved form became the EXP-2. The EXP-1 was displayed to public sometime in 2000 and characterized by her revised M249 handguard as well as a Stoner 63-type quick-change barrel latch. The EXP-2 made use of the Picatinny rail handguard and incorporated more M16 parts to the firing action. The quick-change barrel was in line with that of the M60 GPMG. "Shrike 5.56 03A" was the designation used for the third-generation production models which sported slight improvements and revisions while being marketed as a more robust and reliable form.
The family of Ares Shrike 5.56 weapons includes the AAR (Ares Automatic Rifle). This variant features a telescopic stock with MIL-STD -1913 optics mount as well as a quick-change barrel. The AAR fires from the standard 30-round magazine as well as a 100-round drum.
The AAR/C is the "Ares Automatic Rifle Compact" and is differentiated from the AAR by its purposefully designed compact layout. This is made possible by its side-folding stock (fold along the right side of the receiver). Like the AAR, the AAR/C also makes use of a quick-change barrel function, the MIL-STD 1913 optics mount and can feed from the standard 30-round magazine or 100-round drum.
The ARES-16SPW (Ares Special Purpose Weapon) maintains aspects similar to that of the M16. In fact, all of the internal fire components and stocks are common to the family of rifles that is the M16, AR15 and the M4 Carbine. The major difference between this Ares product and the Colt/Armalite rifles and carbine is that the ARES-16SPW only fires from a belt feed. This belt feed is similar to that as found on the M249 SAW. Compared to that weapon, the ARES-16SPW offers the same level of firepower without the excessive weight.
The ARES-16 AMG (Assault Machine Gun (Dual Feed) allows fire from both the standard M16 4179 series STANAG magazines as well as the M27 disintegrating link belts common to the M249 SAW. There is no configuration required of the receiver for it accept either ammunition feed type. Magazines operate from the lower receiver while the linked-ammunition is inserted into a feed along the side of the receiver.
Optional accessories for any of these weapon systems includes a foregrip, varying scope optics and stocks, a bipod or tripod, carrying handle, underslung flashlight and underslung single-shot 40mm grenade launcher.
Development of the Shrike 5.56 has covered some seven years producing several patents. ARES Defense Systems, Incorporated is based out of Melbourne, Florida, USA.
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