The Stoner 86/ ARES LMG-1 unfortunately never received much fanfare in the time that it was produced. Originally intended as Eugene Stoner’s concept idea for the SAW trials in what would later become the FN Herstal M249, it never reached full production potential. Truly a shame considering the well thought out features of the weapon system. Essentially Stoner was really updating his Stoner 63 LMG from the Vietnam era, bringing it into the 1980s. Whereas the Stoner 63 was conceived as a modular small arm with the ability to be converted from rifle to carbine, or even to an LMG, the Stoner 86/ARES LMG-1 was produced with the sole intent of being a lightweight LMG that could either be belt fed or magazine fed.
Some of the forward-looking features of the LMG was the Weaver rail that was a part of the receiver, the ability for the buttstock to be completely taken off, a number of interchangeable parts with the M16A2 then in service, and a transparent drum where a soldier could see exactly how many rounds were left in the box.
Today the design lives on as the Knight’s Armament LAMG through almost two decades of improvements and modifications done at the facility in Florida. There is also a 7.62x51mm NATO version as well.