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MA5B assault rifle

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MA5B assault rifle
Production overview


Misriah Armory[1]

Model series:

MA5 ICWS series[1]


Bullpup Assault Rifle[2]


Ammunition type:


Feed system:

60-round detachable box magazine[3]



Rate of fire:

15 rounds per second automatic,[5] semi-automatic,[6] 3-round burst[7]

Effective range:

~500m[8][note 1]

Service history

In service:

Insurrection, Human-Covenant War


The MA5B assault rifle, or simply MA5B, is a standard-issue automatic rifle utilized widely by the UNSC, particularly the Marine Corps.[9] It is part of Misriah Armory's MA5 Individual Combat Weapon System (ICWS) series.[1]



The MA5B is a gas-operated automatic rifle chambered in the widespread 7.62x51mm cartridge, most often used with standard M118 FMJ-AP ammunition,[3] though also employed with shredder[5] and hollow-point.[7] MA5Bs typically feed from 60-round detachable box magazines,[3] which are marked with red paint when loaded with hollow-point rounds.[7] The weapon's automatic rate of fire is 15 rounds per second,[5] but it can be limited to semi-automatic[6] or 3-round burst via a fire selector to conserve ammunition and alter firing pattern.[7]

One significant aspect of the MA5B's design is its capacity for modification. During the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV, SPARTAN-IIs made use of MA5Bs that had been altered in order to mount silencers, combating the conspicuous audible report of the weapon's firing.[10] Early in the Covenant War, SPARTAN-IIs also frequently employed MA5Bs with underslung M301 40mm launchers to fire HE grenades, notably during Operation: SILENT STORM[11] and the salvage operation on Netherop.[12]

A schematic view of the MA5B.

The most characteristic part of the MA5B's architecture is the accentuated shroud situated atop the barrel, which houses the weapon's integrated computer and display. While most MA5 ICWS rifles feature this to some extent, on the MA5B, it is tallest and most bulky. The magazine which feeds the rifle is inserted behind the thumbhole pistol grip in a bullpup configuration, another trait typical of the ICWS series. The charging handle is an inconspicuous rounded-off protrusion on the left of the weapon's body, and the ejection port is situated on the right. The weapon's horizontal foregrip plays host to a forward-facing flashlight, bearing a prominent green button on both sides of the weapon. The barrel of MA5B lacks any form of muzzle device (unless modified to mount a silencer).[10] The finish of the weapon is a dull grey, with a darker grey color for the foregrip, pistol grip and stock.[13] As the cowling appears to mount no optical device, the only evident means by which the weapon is aimed is via HUD-based targeting reticle, such as that of MJOLNIR Mark V,[14] or by eyesight alone.[15]


The display of the MA5B's integrated computer, showing the prominent ammunition counter and compass.

As is typical of human firearms, the MA5B is fired by the depression of a trigger positioned at the top of the main grip. When the trigger is pulled, the round in the weapon’s chamber is fired, and the weapon’s gas system harnesses some of the energy from the deflagrating propellant to cycle the bolt back into its open position. As the bolt travels back, the spent casing from the expended round is pushed out of the ejection port. After the bolt opens, the weapon’s recoil system pushes it forward again to strip a fresh round from the currently loaded magazine and lock it into the firing chamber. Over the course of these actions, the ammunition counter situated on the display of the weapon’s integrated computer will register the expenditure of one round from the total supply provided by the magazine and tick down by that value.[3] From this point, one of three things will occur. If the weapon’s fire-selector was set to the semi-automatic mode of fire, the trigger will have to be released and pulled again before another round fires.[6] If the weapon is set to the 3-round burst fire mode, each pull of the trigger will result in 3 successive shots.[7] If the weapon is set to fully-automatic, however, the firing action will repeat successively while the trigger is held down until the magazine is expended or the trigger is released.[3]

Once the weapon is empty, the bolt will close with no round in the chamber.[8] The magazine can be removed from the receiver via the manipulation of the magazine release control with the thumb.[16] Once a fresh magazine has been inserted, the charging handle must be pulled back and released, or "cycled", in order to chamber the new round and prepare the weapon to fire again.[8] The magazine can also be replaced before the weapon is completely emptied.[16][note 2]

The MA5B's prominent integrated display features both an ammunition counter and an electronic compass. This can be assigned to highlight a specific point to orientate the user in combat or confusing terrain; during the Battle of Alpha Halo, this point was the relative direction of the gas giant Threshold.[4] Additionally, in low-light conditions, the flashlight mounted beneath the barrel of the weapon can be activated to provide illumination.[3]


Sergeant John Forge, armed with an MA5B during the Battle of the Etran Harborage.

The capabilities of the MA5B are seemingly deemed to be sufficient by soldiers of the UNSC, with John-117 regarding the weapon as "powerful."[16] While the rifle is very capable of harming foes wearing physical body armor, and even light vehicles,[17] personal energy shielding represents a significant detriment to its stopping power, as a great deal of concentrated fire from multiple MA5Bs - or an extended period of continuous automatic fire from a single rifle - is needed to overwhelm such systems.[16] When shredder ammunition is utilized, the weapon appears to be highly effective against infantry targets such as Covenant grunt soldiers,[5] and also capable of obliterating construction materials such as marble tile and wood.[18] When firing hollow-point ammunition, the weapon is highly effective against unprotected personnel, but is less likely to penetrate hard surfaces, a favorable trait when fighting on a starship and intending not to cause undue damage to items such as equipment cabinets, hulls, or viewports.[7] The MA5B's range has been indicated to be approximately 500m in the hands of a competent shooter.[8]

One positive attribute of the weapon is the high capacity of the 60-round magazines with which it is typically used, an attribute that was comforting to UNSC marines wielding it in battle.[9] So well-liked was this attribute that even in light of reliability issues brought on by spring wear, the switch toward 32-round magazines with the later MA5C assault rifle was met with frustration by the marines of E2-BAG/1/7.[19]

When firing this weapon, it has been noted that short, controlled bursts are more accurate than continuous automatic fire. While the cyclic automatic rate of fire is high,[5] actual rate of fire in combat is dictated by the user's own proficiency at aiming, firing and reloading.[4] When the weapon is altered to mount a silencer, the report of its firing can be reduced to what can be reasonably described as a "cough."[18]


Sergeant Avery Johnson fires an MA5B during his escape from the compromised Flood Containment Facility on Alpha Halo.

The MA5B was in service to some extent during the Insurrection, being considered a standard weapon in September of 2525,[20] and played a significant role in the Covenant War that followed. MA5Bs were employed by various SPARTAN-IIs during Operation: SILENT STORM and the ensuing Netherop engagement in 2526.[11][12] In 2531, the marine compliment of the UNSC Spirit of Fire made use of the MA5B on Harvest, Arcadia and Etran Harborage,[21] while members of Blue Team deployed with it on their mission to the decommissioned Platform 966A the same year,[22] and again during the Battle of Jericho VII in 2535.[5] The MA5B saw particularly heavy use in 2552. On Reach, it was wielded by Orbital Drop Shock Troopers sent to engage John-117 during the live-fire test of MJOLNIR Mark V and Cortana,[23] John-117 and by Spartans of Red Team during the defense of Orbital Defense Generators.[24] John-117 and the marine compliment of the UNSC Pillar of Autumn utilized the MA5B throughout the Battle of Halo Alpha,[3] and in the skirmish over Threshold that followed.[24] Spartan personnel during the Onyx conflict also made use of the weapon.[25]



The MA5B in both offensive and suppressive situations remains one of the UNSC's most reliable weapon. When fired in short bursts, or even single shots, there is a significant increase in accuracy, and the rifle's armor penetrating ability makes it key for handling even the toughest of infantry, having the ability to kill an Elite in about 45 rounds in close quarters. The MA5B rifle is effective at killing light armored infantry at close-to-medium range, and the high rate of fire combined with the high ammunition capacity allows its user to spray the whole area with suppressing fire. The MA5B also gives the user an ammo count on its digital readout, as well a compass pointing toward the arbitrary magnetic "north" position. In the hands of someone who can control their trigger finger, the MA5B becomes a deadly weapon in CQB situations.


The MA5B is not without disadvantages, its main disadvantage being its horrible accuracy when fired at a range of more than forty meters. At that range, enemy infantry may be hit by a few bullets, or not be hit by any bullets at all. The MA5B Assault Rifle performs poorly against energy shields unless firing on full automatic at close range without giving a shielded infantry time to cover. In comparison to modern assault rifles it can be more related to an oversized sub-machine gun, as it is underpowered and lacks the ability to select a fire mode. The MA5B is also not the ideal weapon to use against Flood Combat forms, as Combat forms dropped by one are likely to rise again soon afterwards if not damaged with another weapon prior. A way to counter this is to kill the Combat form and with the remainder of the clip, fire at the body.


  • The MA5B was heavily inspired by the MA–75B assault rifle from the Marathon series.
  • Robert McLees at Bungie has compared the basic design of the MA5B to that of the Fabrique-Nationale FN F2000. According to The Art of Halo, McLees did not know of the F2000 until after the game was even finished; "I don't know when the images of the FN F2000 appeared, but I didn't see them until three or four months after the game shipped, and I thought 'Oh great. Now everyone's going to think I swiped the design from Fabrique National.' It was surreal to see how close the Halo assault rifle was to its real-life counterpart... and it was all totally by accident."
  • There is a second melee animation for the MA5B, in which the user holds the weapon vertically and clubs anyone in front of them with the back end of the weapon. This animation is used in a few Halo Custom Edition maps, but was taken out of the official game. This animation is similar, if not identical, to the melee animation used for the M90 CAWS.
  • In Halo: Combat Evolved and Anniversary, the gas giant Threshold is considered arbitrary north by the MA5B's compass.
  • In the early version of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, the MA5B used the MA37 as a placeholder render, before using the MA5C for the final game.


List of appearances[edit]


  1. ^ This is indicated in an exchange between Linda-058 and Captain Dkani of the UNSC Wheatley. When Linda tells him to have his men open fire at "50 paces", he responds by saying that the MA5B's range is almost ten times that. In reply, Linda tells him that if they open fire at 500m (the product of 50x10), being inexperienced shooters, they will waste their ammunition. This indicates that in the context of this exchange, "paces" is being used to refer to meters, as opposed to the term's real-world designations as a non-standard measurement unit (~0.75m in the US).
  2. ^ The account of an empty MA5B being reloaded in Halo: Oblivion Chapter 9 somewhat contradicts the gameplay of Halo: Combat Evolved, in which, whether the weapon is dry or not, the bolt is first manually locked open, then the magazine removed and replaced, and the bolt manually closed. However, the former interpretation is presumed to take precedence because an exchange of dialogue between Linda-058 and the castoff Roselle no longer makes sense otherwise. It is possible that the weapon can function in both ways and that Linda-058 indicated that Roselle needed to pull on the bolt to make the weapon fire after loading a magazine because she had not already opened it, but if that is true, the method employed in Halo: Combat Evolved should not be necessary, making it unlikely.