Military Review

Stoner 63: development. Model 86 and 96


Folding software ARES FMG

In 1971, Eugene Stoner founded ARES Incorporated / ARES Inc. Its co-founder was Robert Bihun. The company is still developing, testing and producing small arms. weapon, automatic guns, combat modules, fire control systems, as well as industrial equipment.

It is worth highlighting the production of trunks, which currently occupies several buildings with a total area of ​​2,2 thousand square meters. m. ARES is proud of the lathe, which is capable of processing blanks for shafts with a diameter of up to 27 ”(68,58 cm) and a length of up to 244” (6,2 meters).

From the company's developments, the author remembered the experimental product ARES FMG: a submachine gun for hidden carrying, which folds in half. The author, Francis Warin, developed it because in the early 1980s, cases of abduction of high-ranking officials and executives of large companies became more frequent in South America. It is generally accepted that the author conceived the ARES FMG software as "a personal weapon for the self-defense of businessmen." Later, similar weapons were developed in Russia (PP-90) and in the USA (Magpul FMG-9).

Stoner 86 / ARES LMG

In 1986, the company introduced the ARES LMG 1 light machine gun, which is a development of the 1963 Stoner system, to the market. Therefore, the new modification is often called the Stoner 86. The barrel, as on the previous model, is quick-detachable. The machine gun is equipped with a tubular fixed butt and folding bipod. Combined type of ammunition: carried out either by a ribbon of 200 rounds (main), or by stores of 30 rounds (reserve). It is difficult to say whether Eugene Stoner spied a solution with combined power supply for the Soviet post-war development RP-46 machine gun (tape + disk).

Scheme from the patent for Convertible automatic gun (variable automatic weapons)

Pay attention to the form of the combat stops and the locking pattern.

To switch from tape power to magazine power, you need to dismantle the unit with the tape feed mechanism and replace it with another one, with the receiver of standard stores for M16. The store is mounted on top of the bolt box, as with the ZB-26 / Bren machine guns. In order to prevent the store from interfering with aiming, the store receiver is not located vertically upwards, but is shifted to a left at a slight angle.

A left-leaning receiver with a magazine on the Stoner 86 / ARES LMG 1 machine gun

A similar type of ammunition was used on the Czechoslovak machine gun Vz. 52, which was developed after the Second World War in the early 50s. Later, a combined type of ammunition was used on the FN Minimi.

At the end of the 70s, the US Army and the ILC announced joint requirements for a light machine gun under the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), "Automatic Separation Weapons" program. By then, Colt had already developed and tested the XM106 machine gun. It was a modification of the M16A2 with a heavy barrel, which is also known as the M16 HBAR. However, the military rejected her. The Colt Machine Gun 2 (CMG-2) also failed the test. ARES also decided to participate in the SAW program with the Stoner 86 machine gun. In addition to the above models, the following models participated in the competition:

Maremont XM233.
Ford Aerospace XM234.
Rodman XM235.
FN Minimi XM249.
HK XM262.

As a result of the tests, the FN Minimi XM249 machine gun was chosen the winner, followed by the HK XM262 with a small margin.

Stoner 63: development. Model 86 and 96
Stoner 86 / ARES LMG 1 light machine gun with tape power. Photo:

A better photo of the Stoner 86 / ARES LMG 1 machine gun with tape power. Pay attention to the holes in the shutter box. Photo:

Stoner 86 / ARES LMG 1 Machine Gun

However, the Stoner 86 / ARES LMG 1 was not interested in the US military, and there were no foreign contracts either. According to unverified data, the Stoner 86 was produced in limited quantities. Its only customers (and subsequent modifications) were private military companies that liked its exceptional accuracy, compactness and relatively low weight.

Stoner 96 / Knight's Armament LMG

In 1990, Eugene Stoner left ARES and began working with Knight's Armament Company (KAC). There, among other things, he continued to work on improving the light machine gun of his own design.

At the turn of the 70s and 80s of the last century, Knight's Armament managed to acquire the rights to manufacture the Stoner 63 complex from the developer. The buyer received original drawings and all necessary equipment from Cadillac Gage. Knight's Armament managed to establish the production of the M63A. At the very least, there is evidence of the existence of a “belt powered machine gun” configuration.

Machine gun Stoner 63 with serial number 144. Manufacturer Knight's Armament. Photo (here and below): Rock Island Auction

At the auction, the machine gun was sold in the following configuration:

- a spare barrel in the original case;
- folding bipod;
- cartridge boxes for 100 rounds (2 pcs.);
- a set of spare parts;
- operator's manual (original);
- links for loose cartridge tape (8 packages).

After the transfer of Eugene Stoner to Knight's Armament, the designer began working on the development of the Stoner 63 and 86 weapon systems. So, in 1996, the KAC Stoner LMG machine gun, also called the Stoner 96, was released. In the new model, they refused combined ammunition: they excluded the store and saved only the tape. Also, the Stoner 96 received a shortened barrel and as a result, a decrease in mass. Theoretically, thanks to a shorter barrel and less weight with a machine gun it is easier to control, especially in a limited space.

There is evidence that the FN Minimi (M249), which was adopted by the US Armed Forces in 1982, continued to suffer from "childhood illnesses." And the Stoner 96 was designed specifically to push the FN Minimi out of the market amid these very diseases.

One of the first modifications of the KAC Stoner 96: with a canvas bag for cartridge belt. Please note that there are no openings in the shutter box. Photo:

KAC Stoner LMG has long been in the "preparation stage" and has undergone many changes in the process. It was launched into production only in 2016. Its modifications in various designs and configurations were announced both on the manufacturer’s website and at various exhibitions. Below I give photos of only some of them.

KAC Stoner 96 with a box of 200 rounds, a telescopic butt, ACOG optics, a rail system on the forearm and tactical handle. Photo: imfdb

KAC Stoner 96 at SOFIC 2010 (Special Operations Forces Industry Conference). Pay attention to the tactical grip with bipod type Grip Pod. Photo:

Modification of KAC Stoner LMG A1, introduced in 2015. Only round holes on the bolt box give out their “ancestor”

Stoner Assault Machine Gun / KAC LAMG

LAMG (Light Assault Machine Gun) - light assault machine gun from the company Knight's Armament. The company's website is offered as a replacement for the Stoner LMG and is another upgrade to the Stoner 96. An alternative name is the Stoner Assault Machine Gun.

Pay attention to the shape of the cartridge box and the stock. Photo: Knight's Armament

Outwardly, Stoner's brainchild has changed almost beyond recognition. Here you have the regular PBS, and the cartridge box of an unusual shape, and the butt, and even the color of the product. True, there is a version of the traditional, black color.

New cartridge box

Already in the early version of the belt machine gun (Stoner 63), the designer provided a solution that could reliably protect the open area of ​​the cartridge belt from clogging. Pay attention to the photo below. Ian McCollum (Forgotten Weapons) prepares the Stoner 63 machine gun for firing. The arrow indicates the “door” covering the tape from the box to the receiver.

And now, thirty-odd years later, the successors of the Eugene Stoner case proposed a reasonable compromise between efficiency and the number of operations performed.

Cartridge designed for LAMG

The manufacturer developed for the KAC LAMG machine gun a version of the cartridge box for a tape of 150 rounds. It differs in angular shapes and a flat lower part. The lower plane of the box can be used as a support for the machine gun, without folding the bipod. Thus, the shooter saves valuable time.

From the box of the new model, the tape passes through a rigid sleeve, which was called belt feed control lips. The developers tried to bring the "lips" of the cartridge box as close as possible to the receiver window. The photo shows that they are slightly above the level of the hook for fastening. The designers considered that the smaller the portion of the tape will remain open, the less likely it is that the tape will be affected by external factors. For example, it does not collect thickets, does not cling to surrounding objects. In addition, this design should provide a smoother feed tape.

New shutter box lid

On the Stoner 63 belt machine gun, as well as on the German MG-34/42, as well as on the Soviet RPD or PKM, the lid covers the receiver from the butt to the barrel. And already in the next model (Stoner 86) and further, the lid of the shutter box is distinguished by its small length. It is slightly longer than the receiver itself.

KAC LAMG bolt box cover. Pay attention to its length. Here and below - photo of Soldier Systems Daily (SSD)

And behind the lid, above the rest of the slide box, is the Picatinny rail. A folding rear sight has already been installed on it and it is possible to mount any compatible optics. The manufacturer’s website states that this solution allows the use of attachments with greater convenience. In addition, when replacing the tape in a limited space, a small cover is also a plus. Agree, this has its own logic.

The manufacturer does not specify what materials these or those parts of the KAC LAMG machine gun are made of. Judging by the only picture from the official site, it can be assumed that polymers were widely used. However, the publication Soldier Systems Daily (SSD) notes that the rail mounting system on the receiver (under the collimator) is made of material "weapons-grade aluminum." Perhaps we are talking about alloys 6061 or 7005.

Pay attention to the flame arrester, the protective cover, and the folding front sight KAC LAMG

Rate of fire KAC LAMG ranges from 575-625 rounds per minute. The model supports quick change of barrel and is compatible with NATO detachable cartridge tapes of type M27. Let me remind you that the tape type M27 was developed in the 60s specifically for the machine guns of the Stoner system.

1. Flame arrester of improved design to increase the disguise of the shooter. 2. Handguard for venting the barrel, securing the body kit, and easier trunk replacement. 3. Barrel Release button + Barrel latch latch (Lock-Up Mechanism). 4. Receiver with oblong holes to save weight, and mounts for body kit. 5. Recharge handle. You can cock weapons from both the right and left sides.

6. Mount for cartridge box. Fully compatible with metal boxes for 200 rounds, canvas bags for 100 rounds, as well as new items: angular box for 150 rounds. 7. Trigger Pack. 8. Removable butt. You can install any butt that meets the defense standard MIL-STD (US Department of Defense).

The length of a standard barrel is 15 inches (38,1 cm), the rifling pitch (twist) is 1: 7. But for the use of weapons in a limited space, a shorter and lighter barrel is offered, as well as a barrel with integrated PBS, which provides an optimal result (it is bought separately). PBS is made removable (for maintenance).

Barrel with integrated PBS for the LAMG machine gun

Flame arrester and universal PBS for machine gun LAMG

Different models of stocks for the LAMG machine gun

Key differences KAC LAMG

Among the key qualities, the manufacturer notes:

1. Forged trigger and barrel. After forging, the trunks are subjected to heat treatment, and then the barrel channels are chrome plated. This allows the barrel to withstand the effects of high temperatures during intense shooting, while maintaining accuracy, durability and reliability.

2. The patented Quick Detach Coupler (QDC) system is a quick disconnect clutch for muzzle attachments such as a flame arrester, compensator and PBS. Thanks to her, the muzzle nozzle is not wound onto the barrel, but is precisely mounted on the barrel until it clicks. All nozzles and most Knight's Armament barrels are equipped with a QDC system.

3. Modular M-LOK system for mounting accessories.

4. The system of reduction of return * (constant-recoil / spring run-out operation).

* The author turned to the manufacturer with the question: how does the system for reducing returns work? There has been no answer to this day.

Judging by the comments on the English-language forums, the Stoner LAMG recoil reduction system is somewhat similar to the one used by James Sullivan when developing the Ultimax 100 machine gun (Singapore). The same designer, one of the assistants to Eugene Stoner, whom he lured from ArmaLite to develop the Stoner 63 complex. I recall that Mr. Sullivan (L. James Sullivan) took part in the development of such rifles as the M16, Ruger Mini-14, Ruger M77.

To be continued ...

Shooting from the Stoner LMG, aka the Stoner 86 machine gun from Knight's Armament. Demonstrated by Jerry Mikulek (record shooter)

Shooting from the Stoner Assault Machine Gun / KAC LAMG, aka the Stoner 96 machine gun from Knight's Armament
Photos used:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, The World's Assault Rifles (Gary Paul Johnston, Thomas B. Nelson)
Articles from this series:
Stoner 63: Eugene Stoner's modular weapon system
Stoner 63: Survival Carabiner and Bullpup Rifle
Stoner 63: Shutter box. Baptism of Fire in Vietnam
Stoner 63. Service at SEAL. Auction prices

The editorial board of Voenniy Obozreniye urgently needs a proofreader. Requirements: impeccable knowledge of the Russian language, diligence, discipline. Contact: [email protected]

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  1. Catfish
    Catfish April 1 2020 19: 47 New
    Thank you Michael! No words, another brilliant article !!! good
    1. Mister X
      April 1 2020 19: 52 New
      Quote: Sea Cat
      Thank you Michael!

      hi You are welcome!
      Quote: Sea Cat
      No words, another brilliant article !!!

      If you say so ... Re-read - I think I could have done better wink
      1. Catfish
        Catfish April 1 2020 20: 00 New
        So she is not the last. smile I count on this very much.
        By the way, a surprisingly talented person, Eugene Stoner, someone else will do one thing and feed on this all his life, and this man is constantly on the lookout, and he finds it. smile
        1. Mister X
          April 1 2020 20: 15 New
          Quote: Sea Cat
          Eugene Stoner, someone else will do one thing and feed on it all his life

          Isaac Singer (and the trust he created) was fed from the patent for a sewing needle with a hole at the end.
          The patent originally belonged to Elias Howe.
          Exaggerate, of course.
          Co-founders lived not only from the hole in the needle wink
      2. serezhasoldatow
        serezhasoldatow April 1 2020 20: 08 New
        Interesting article. We look forward to continuing.
        1. Mister X
          April 1 2020 20: 55 New
          Quote: serezhasoldatow
          Interesting article. We look forward to continuing.

          hi Thank you Already sent to the editor, waiting in line.
  2. Operator
    Operator April 1 2020 20: 03 New
    All the small arms models described in the article belong to the class of light machine guns with tape feeding by low-pulse cartridges.

    This niche is tightly occupied by the Belgian machine gun FN Minimi and its licensed clones, so for small manufacturers of such weapons from the United States nothing shines commercially. Moreover, they (unlike Eugene Stoner) can not offer anything fundamentally different from Minimi.

    As for the tape power as such - loose tape in combination with a nylon bag remains the lightest multi-charge cartridge carrier compared to a magazine of any design. Nevertheless, lately, two-drum plastic stores have begun to appear, which catch up with the tape + bag in specific gravity and overtake in terms of the change of cartridge carrier speed.

    Another thing is that the well-known two-drum stores are badly arranged (in this connection they fail not for children), but this is a problem with their designers, and not the idea laughing
    1. Mister X
      April 1 2020 21: 22 New
      Quote: Operator
      so small manufacturers similar weapons from the USA

      hi I do not agree.
      In the 60s, the manufacturer of the Stoner system (Cadillac Gage) could not be called small.
      After all, during the Vietnam War, he supplied hundreds of Commando armored personnel carriers to the US and South Vietnam armies.
      And this is an indicator.
      1. Operator
        Operator April 1 2020 21: 36 New
        I was referring to ARES Inc and Knight's Armament Company named in today's article.
        1. Mister X
          April 1 2020 22: 26 New
          Quote: Operator
          I meant ARES Inc and Knight's Armament Company

          I believe that it is more correct to take into account the times of the war in Vietnam.
          It was then that this complex was tested, and it could completely displace the M16.

          Knight's Armament is also not the smallest firm.
          KAC participates in the SOPMOD project.
          It supplies some elements for a set of additional equipment for weapons, which is intended for special forces of NATO countries.
          The project involves Insight Technology, Trijicon, and several others.
          This is a lot of money.
          However, the relevance and novelty of the Stoner 63 has already been lost.

          As for ARES Inc - I agree.
          1. Operator
            Operator April 1 2020 23: 35 New
            Currently, large Western manufacturers of army small arms are FN, HK, SIG Sauer, Colt and IWI (the rest have already left the game due to non-competitive products or have not yet entered the game due to the incompleteness of the NGSW competition).

            Knight's Armament Company lags behind them by two orders of magnitude in its capabilities.
            1. Mister X
              April 2 2020 09: 06 New
              Quote: Operator
              Currently, large Western manufacturers of army small arms are FN, HK, SIG Sauer, Colt

              Quote: Operator
              Knight's Armament Company lags behind them by two orders of magnitude in its capabilities.

              I did not analyze the financial statements of these companies, but I agree.
              It is one thing to supply the army with weapons, and quite another is weapon accessories. Moreover, for certain units.

              Also "by eye" I estimate that Knight's Armament is a higher level than Robinson Armament (written in the next part) or Excalibur Arms.
  3. irontom
    irontom April 1 2020 21: 19 New
    I don’t understand anything - a bunch of articles what a wonderful Stoner was, and fought in Vietnam later, and was even in service with several small countries, but nowhere is there a logical explanation why this wonderful rifle complex did not fly.
    1. Mister X
      April 1 2020 21: 33 New
      Quote: irontom
      nowhere is there a logical explanation why this wonderful rifle complex did not fly in.

      hi I still use the expression "did not fly" out of habit only to startups laughing
      Your question is more philosophical.
      As for the possible reasons, each reader is free to answer it himself.
      In a previous article (Service in SEAL), I hinted at one of the reasons.
      1. Okolotochny
        Okolotochny April 2 2020 04: 55 New
        The advertisement is engine of the trade? Or did Stoner consider it unnecessary to “roll back” to someone in Hollywood?)))
        1. Mister X
          April 2 2020 08: 58 New
          Quote: Okolotochny
          The advertisement is engine of the trade? Or did Stoner consider it unnecessary to “roll back” to someone in Hollywood?)))

          hi Humor understood, appreciated laughing
          I doubt that the US Armed Forces are adopting samples that are more often seen in feature films.
          Example - Finnish JaTiMatic submachine gun
          In 2014, I published an article on VO.

          The situation on the civilian arms market is different.
          An example of this is a Wildey gun (Wildey).

          Campaign founder Wildie Moore often repeats: "As soon as the film" Death Wish "is shown on cable TV, orders begin to pour in."
          Read about it on VO, in my article "Weapons of Robert Hillberg" (Part 5)
  4. Bongo
    Bongo April 2 2020 03: 24 New
    Michael, a wonderful article! I enjoyed reading a lot! good
    But it seems to me that there is a slight inaccuracy:
    It is difficult to say whether Eugene Stoner spied a solution with combined power supply for the Soviet post-war development RP-46 machine gun (tape + disk).
    On the RP-46 machine gun, which was created on the basis of the PDM, the possibility of using disk stores was formally really retained, but in practice they have never been used. Somewhere in 2003, I watched as old small arms were sent for disposal. For RP-46 stored in warehouses there was not a single disk. Only the box under the tape.
    1. Mister X
      April 2 2020 09: 45 New
      Quote: Bongo
      Michael, a wonderful article!

      Thank you!
      Quote: Bongo
      formally, the possibility of using disk stores was really retained

      Like the FN Minimi. In reality, this feature is used in extreme cases.
      There is evidence that the store food FN Minimi in terms of reliability leaves much to be desired. Allegedly, the manufacturer himself does not recommend getting involved in store food.
      Quote: Bongo
      For RP-46 stored in warehouses there was not a single disk. Only the box under the tape.

      Perhaps the discs were disposed of earlier, along with DPM machine guns.
      Power RP-46 was carried out by disk stores for PDM 47 rounds. Let's just say this: optional.
      Standard - ribbons from SG-43 for 200 and 250 rounds.
      The practical rate of DP / PDM with a disc was 75-80 rounds per minute,
      while the power of the RP-46 tape increased this figure to 230-250 rds / min.
      This is closer to the easel machine guns.
      It is unlikely that the performance of the RP-46 with the disc was very different.
      Naturally, they preferred tape nutrition.
  5. YOUR
    YOUR April 2 2020 09: 04 New
    I read it with pleasure. As always, excellently developed material. good
    1. Mister X
      April 2 2020 09: 54 New
      Quote: YOUR
      I read it with pleasure.

      Thank you)
  6. IImonolitII
    IImonolitII April 2 2020 12: 41 New
    The author did a good job, the articles are interesting. But some points are striking - "Trigger Pack", what is it anyway? How could the trigger be called that? For those who are fond of small arms, it is strange to admit such wording.
    1. Mister X
      April 2 2020 14: 31 New
      Quote: IImonolitII
      The author did a good job, the articles are interesting.

      Thank you.
      Quote: IImonolitII
      "Trigger Pack", what is it anyway? How could the trigger be called that?

      When translating, I was guided by the term Trigger Set.
      Used in Armalite

      Agree that the Trigger Set on the trigger does not pull.
      I was not sure of the translation, so I added the original term (Trigger Pack) to my text.
      How do you translate the term Trigger Group?