Halo Alpha
Halo Alpha

“Hey, soldier, is that an assault rifle in your hands or are you just happy to see me?”

The MA5B Individual Combat Weapon System (MA5B ICWS or MA5B assault rifle) is a standard-issue service rifle of the UNSC Marines.



MA5B schematic

The MA5B assault rifle is an air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed weapon designed for automatic fire. The MA5B rifle is a bullpup design and made of titanium alloy and polymer. The MA5 rifle can be outfitted with a number of modifications including sound suppressors, a grenade launcher, or a standard-issue flashlight and more “exotic” ammunition types like shredder rounds; however, these modifications are only available by Mission Conditional Requisition (MCR). It has concealed iron sights.[5]

Assault Rifle

Screenshot of the MA5B ICWS in first-person view, in Halo: Combat Evolved.

The MA5B has an attached electronics suite that provides information on rounds remaining in the magazine, compass heading, as well as several other "housekeeping" functions. The electronics suite is integrated along the top rail guard of the weapon. The MA5B is designed for the toughest of situations, able to be subjected to elements that would otherwise jam and render a weapon inoperable.


The MA5B assault rifle uses M118 7.62×51mm Armor Piercing, Full Metal Jacket. These rounds are designed to pierce body armor, so the rounds are reasonably large, and are surrounded by a molded jacket of either steel or titanium, which enhances its armor-piercing capabilities. The round might also have a carbide or similar hardened tip, and might also be coated in copper or another metal (steel, titanium, etc.) over the shell.

However, despite these advanced rounds, the damage done by a single round is very limited, made even worse by the rifle's low accuracy at long ranges. Although performing poorly against Covenant shields, the AP-FMJ round can tear through flesh very quickly.



The MA5B in both offensive and suppressive situations remains the Marine Corps' most reliable weapon. When fired in short bursts, 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 a Sangheili in approximately 45 rounds in close quarters. The 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. In the hands of someone who can control their trigger finger, the MA5B becomes a deadly weapon in CQC situations. 


The MA5B is not without disadvantages, the main problem 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 fully automatic at close-range without giving a shielded enemy time to recover.


The MA5B Assault rifle is one of the weapons that players will love and loathe in equal measures. The rifle's rate of fire makes it a devastatingly powerful weapon in close range combats, and its melee attack usually ensures victory in close-quarter battles. The only disadvantage is its reloading time, which takes about 1.5 seconds, allowing your opponent enough time to put you down with a hail of plasma bolts. In a skilled player's hand, however, the Assault rifle can easily put down 2-4 opponents per magazine.


  • An efficient strategy is to approach while firing in short, controlled bursts, then when in close range, break out into full auto, followed by a melee or two. This is a tried and true tactic for taking down shielded Sangheili and reducing wasted shots.
  • Combined with grenades, the MA5B decimates enemy ranks. Charge forward and toss some fragmentation grenades to clear out the weaker enemies and soften up the stronger ones, then before the dust clears, hose down anything that's still moving.
  • If you can't find a Shotgun on a Flood-infested level, don't panic. Use the MA5B as a primary weapon while backing it with a Plasma Pistol as secondary. When the Flood gets too close, just hold down the trigger and watch them wilt under the large volume of bullets. However, do not just stand there shooting, back-pedal into a previously secured area as the Flood can be overwhelming in waves, or get your back up against a wall so they can only approach you from the front.
  • Use melee on Flood Infection Forms to conserve ammo - though if your shields are full, don't even worry about them. Unless there is an entire swarm of them, they will simply burst on your shields, doing no substantial damage.
  • On Normal, less experienced players find that a good tactic is to use a Plasma Rifle to deplete a Sangheili's shielding and then switch to the Assault rifle to finish them off. The player can do the same thing with an Assault rifle, followed up by a headshot from the M6D, if the player chooses not to carry two full auto weapons at once. This is handy as even on Heroic, the Assault rifle can drop a Sangheili at close range by emptying a magazine followed by a melee attack to drop the shields and stun it, leaving him open for an easy headshot.
  • When you fight a large number of Unggoy of any kind, hold down the firing trigger to send a full-auto landslide of bullets, and if the group consists of more than half a dozen, side-to-side sweeping motions will result in every target receiving fire. Since they are unshielded and will flinch when hit by anything, the bullets will kill them quickly. This is one of the most convenient ways to kill a medium-sized group of Unggoy.
  • Do not underestimate the Assault rifle's strength against Zealots. It can be useful against them if you can maint a certain distance. It's best to empty out the entire magazine at a Zealot before he charges at you. If you need to reload, backpedal. Repeatedly unload magazines until the Zealot is dead.


  • The MA5B's accuracy degrades after exactly 1.5 seconds of sustained fire. In order to use this weapon to its fullest, you must learn the most efficient bursts to use at different ranges.
  • When used effectively with grenades, the AR can hold its own. Backpedal and use any grenade you have handy, and let the weapon take care of your enemy after his shields are down. This should work unless the enemy has a more powerful weapon.
  • If your enemy is using a Banshee in Halo PC multiplayer, this weapon is a good choice. Just point it in the direction of the Banshee and fire full auto at close range with controlled shots at mid-range.
  • It is quite effective against Warthogs. Move in a perpendicular path to the Hog and fire full automatic to quickly bring the driver down, coupling this with a correctly timed grenade or two.
  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, pick up a Plasma Rifle or Plasma Pistol to deplete the shields of an enemy and then use the MA5B to shred their health in seconds. This strategy is known as the Noob Combo.
  • It's effective at disrupting your enemy's vision since the sustained fire will cause many flashes on an enemy's screen enabling for a more effective retreat. This helps when facing vehicles since it can give the driver a hard time keeping control.


  • Robert McLees at Bungie has gone on record comparing the basic design of the MA5B to that of the FN F2000. According to The Art of Halo, McLees didn't 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."
  • Many of the operational aspects of the Assault Rifle appear modeled after the Steyr AUG with the crossbolt safety, is fully automatic with no semi-automatic selector, is bullpup in design, and most notably has the Heckler & Koch-style bolt that is locked back while reloading and slapped forward after changing magazines.
  • There is a second melee animation for the assault rifle 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.
  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, the compass on the MA5B points "north" to Threshold, seen in the sky.
  • In the Halo Graphic Novel, many Special Operations Unggoy and Sangheili are seen wielding assault rifles.
  • In Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, the MA5B uses the model of the MA5C assault rifle from Halo 3.
    • Additionally, in Halo Wars the MA5B uses the same firing sound as the MA5C.
  • Despite being wielded by a SPARTAN in Halo Wars 2 in the main menu, the MA5B doesn't appear in gameplay, being replaced by the MA37.



Related Pages[]


  1. Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 16
  2. Halo: CEA Kinect Voice Library
  3. Halo: Contact Harvest, page ??
  4. i love bees, hey_soldier.ogg
  5. Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 136-138