MKA 556 Semi-Automatic Rifle Review
The MKA 556 is a semi-automatic rifle chambered in 5.56x45mm that is manufactured by Kalekalip in Turkey. This versatile modern sporting rifle has gained popularity in recent years for its reliability, customization options, and affordable price point. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the features and capabilities of the MKA 556 platform.
Overview and Background of the MKA 556
The MKA 556 was first introduced in 2007 as Kalekalip’s entry into the global market for AR-15 style rifles. Kalekalip is a Turkish firearms manufacturer located in the city of Düzce that got its start producing handguns and shotguns in the 1990s.
When Kalekalip set out to design the MKA 556, their goal was to create a high-quality and affordable AR-pattern rifle to compete with other brands on the market like Bushmaster, Windham Weaponry, and Smith & Wesson M&P15. The “MKA” name stands for Milli Kore Atış which translates to “National Core Shooting” in Turkish.
The MKA 556 is modeled after the AR-15 platform originally designed by Eugene Stoner for ArmaLite in the late 1950s. It shares the same gas-operated rotating bolt system and ergonomics as the AR-15, but with modifications and manufacturing optimized for high volume production.
Key Features and Specifications
The MKA 556 brings several notable features and capabilities to the table for its price point. Here are some of the key specs:
- Caliber – 5.56x45mm NATO
- Action – Semi-automatic direct impingement gas system
- Feed System – Detachable STANAG magazine
- Magazine Capacity – Ships with one 45 round magazine
- Barrel Length – 16.5 inches
- Twist Rate – 1 in 7 inch twist
- Muzzle Device – A2-style flash hider
- Furniture – Polymer handguard, pistol grip, and adjustable stock
- Weight – 7.4 pounds unloaded
With its 16.5 inch chrome lined barrel and carbine length gas system, the MKA 556 generates low felt recoil while still delivering the ballistics of the fast and flat shooting 5.56 cartridge. The 1 in 7 twist rate effectively stabilizes both 55 grain and heavier 62-77 grain projectiles.
The MKA 556 feeds from standard STANAG magazines with a capacity of 45 rounds in the included magazine. Higher capacity magazines from other brands will also work. The rifle comes with a total of two magazines from the factory.
The polymer furniture helps keep weight down for carrying and maneuverability. The 6-position telescoping stock adjusts length of pull for better shooting form. M-LOK slots along the handguard give ample mounting points to attach accessories.
Reliability and Accuracy
One of the MKA 556’s strong suits is its reliability, even under adverse conditions or high round counts. The chrome lined barrel resists fouling and corrosion. Both the bolt carrier group and charging handle utilize durable steel construction and effective coatings.
The semi-automatic action cycles smoothly and ejects spent cases cleanly thanks to the direct gas impingement system. MKA rifles built to proper spec should run well with both brass and steel cased ammunition.
In terms of accuracy, the MKA 556 can deliver reasonable groups for a fighting carbine. With quality ammunition and optics, 2-3 MOA is achievable. The trigger break is somewhat heavy at 7-9 lbs from the factory. Upgrading to an aftermarket trigger can help wring out better accuracy.
The MKA 556 isn’t designed as a tack driving bench rest rifle. Within normal combat distances, it’s more than capable of hits on human sized targets. The accuracy is suitable for self-defense, home defense, training, and medium range recreational shooting.
Customization and Accessories
One of the major advantages of an AR platform like the MKA 556 is the massive aftermarket for customization and accessories. As a user, you can transform and optimize the rifle in endless ways. Some popular upgrades include:
- Triggers – Drop in units from brands like CMC, Rise Armament, LaRue. improves trigger pull
- Optics – Red dots, scopes, magnifiers. Improves aim.
- Muzzle Devices – Compensators, flash hiders, suppressor mounts. Manage recoil/muzzle rise.
- Grips – Enhanced ergonomic pistol grip options.
- Stocks – Adjustable, folding, or fixed stock. Improves fit and cheek weld.
- Handguards – Free float M-LOK or KeyMod for accessories and heat dissipation.
- BCG – Nickel boron coated or lightweight BCG options.
There are almost too many accessories and configurations to list. Part of the fun of the platform is mixing and matching to build a set up tailored to your specific needs and preferences.
Models and Variants
Kalekalip has expanded the MKA line to offer diverse models beyond just the base MKA 556:
- MKA 556R – Features a picatinny top rail in addition to the M-LOK handguard for more mounting room.
- MKA 556K – Short barreled rifle (SBR) model with a 10.5 inch barrel and carbine gas system. Ideal for CQB.
- MKA 556DMR – Designated marksman version with an 18 inch stainless steel heavy barrel, bipod, and scope mount.
- MKA 1919 – .308 caliber AR-10 style semi-auto rifle with 20 inch barrel and rifle-length gas system. Takes SR25 magazines.
There are also special editions like the MKA 556 Izer with winter camo cerakote, or the MKA 556 Transformer with an integrated Mechanical Tech AR stock adapter.
The wide range of models can satisfy needs from home defense to hunting big game at extended ranges. The MKA platform has grown well beyond just a single 5.56 carbine model.
Prices and Availability
Here in 2023, MKA rifles offer a lot of value at their price point. Expect to pay around $900 to $1,100 for a new MKA 556 standard configuration. Compared to brands like Daniel Defense or BCM charging $1,700+, the MKA presents a more budget friendly option without sacrificing much in the way of quality or features.
The rifles imported from Turkey are subject to a certain degree of supply and demand fluctuations in the US market. They sold out quickly during peaks in demand during 2020 and 2021. Availability has improved going into 2023, but prices from some retailers remain inflated.
When prices are gouged too high over MSRP, consider buying a complete upper separately and pairing it with a stripped lower receiver purchased via FFL transfer. This allows piecing together the rifle at a more reasonable overall cost.
Who is the MKA 556 Good For?
The MKA 556 hits a nice sweet spot that appeals to several demographics of shooters:
- First Time Buyers – New AR owners can get a solid introductory rifle without breaking the bank. MKA checks the key boxes of reliable and accurate out of the box. Budget friendly to pair with ammo and accessories.
- Experienced Shooters – Veterans and competitive shooters appreciate the MKA as a high value training and range rifle. The platform is extremely familiar. Quality exceeds price.
- Preparedness – Severe shortages and price hikes in 2020-2021 made apparent the value in having an affordable and reliable modern semi-auto rifle available for protection. MKA fits this need.
- Hunters – Versatile hunting rifle for medium game like hogs, deer, coyotes. Lightweight and durable for carrying in the field. Customizable for optics and other accessories.
The MKA really provides something for everyone. First time buyers, experts, and everyone in between can enjoy what this Turkish rifle offers.
The Turkish made MKA 556 brings proven AR-15 performance and reliability to the table at a budget friendly price point. It lacks some of the refinements found in premium brands, but costs significantly less. A forged shell deflector and weaker trigger hold it back from excellence, but are also easy upgrades.
For the money, the MKA 556 punches above its weight. This semi-auto 5.56x45mm rifle built on Eugene Stoner’s legendary AR-15 platform continues to gain popularity and value in the crowded modern sporting rifle market. What it lacks in fancy pedigree it makes up for in affordability and real world functionality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions about the MKA 556 rifle:
Q: Does the MKA 556 come with iron sights?
A: No, the MKA 556 does not ship with iron sights. It has a picatinny rail to allow easy mounting of folding back up iron sights or various optics. Back up iron sights are a recommended addition.
Q: What length is the MKA 556 with the stock fully extended?
A: With the stock fully extended the MKA 556 measures approximately 35.5 inches long. This length allows for a good balance of maneuverability and ballistics from the 16.5 inch barrel.
Q: How do MKA 556 magazines compare to PMAGs?
A: The Turkish made MKA magazines are a bit more affordable but quality tends to be less consistent than Magpul PMAGs. The steel MKA mags are durable but heavier. For critical defensive use, PMAGs are a smart upgrade.
Q: What sling mounting options does it have?
A: The MKA 556 has ambidextrous sling loops integrated into the polymer stock near the rear. The front handguard will need an aftermarket QD sling socket or sling mounting rail added to attach a two point sling up front.
Q: Does accuracy improve with higher end ammunition?
A: Yes, the MKA 556 will generally shoot tighter groups with heavier high performance ammunition in the 62-77 grain range. The 1 in 7 barrel twist optimizes these projectiles. Accuracy improves noticeably stepping up from cheap 55 FMJ range ammo to quality self defense rounds