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Individual Weapons Replacement

This project replaced the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Steyr rifle with a new individual weapon, the MARS-L.

The Individual Weapons Replacement project replaced the NZDF 5.56mm Steyr rifle and 40mm grenade launcher with a new individual weapon and grenade launcher.

Steyr rifles had been introduced into service over a period from 1987 to 1991, and their original planned 'life of type' had been able to be extended from its expected end in 2011, in part because the number of Steyrs that had been purchased was greater than required over time. This allowed progressive retirement of the rifle while a new weapon was sourced.

A three-month trial period assessed a range of potential weapons. Technical testing included accuracy at various ranges, recoil and muzzle jump on fiting, noise levels and weight distribution. User testing included overall usability of both the rifle and the grenade launcher - alone and in combination - and the results of comprehensive shooting trials. 

The components delivered under this project included the MARS-L (Modular Assault Rifle System-Light), Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, combat torches,

Government Approvals

May 2014
Tender process approved to begin.

November 2015
Project Implementation Business Case is approved.

7 December 2015
Project is approved.


  • Lewis Machine & Tools Company Incorporated - delivery of Modular Assault Rifle System – Light (MARS-L), signed December 2015.
  • Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) (Trijicon Incorporated USA), signed 18 December 2015.
  • Combat Torches (Quality Imports Limited New Zealand), signed 21 December 2015.


Current Status

This project is complete with the MARS-L introduced in to service across the entire Defence Force.


Updated January 2021