The MA5C Assault rifle is an air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine fed weapon designed for automatic fire. The MA5C is the third rifle in the MA5 Series and has been in service for more than 50 years. The MA5C has an attached electronics suite that provides information on rounds remaining in the magazine, compass heading, as well as several other "housekeeping" functions. The rifle performs well in a variety of environments especially given the perceived delicacy of the attached electronics suite. The MA5C Rifle can be outfitted with a number of modifications including sound suppressors, a grenade launcher or a standard issue flashlight. More “exotic” ammunition types, like Shredder Rounds, are available for use, however these modifications are available only by Mission Conditional Requisition (MCR).
The MA5C Assault rifle is easily one of the most versatile weapons in the UNSC’s arsenal. Due to this versatility, the MA5C is complimented by many of the UNSC’s other weapons as either the primary means to a kill or in a secondary role as the fallback weapon. The MA5C Rifle has received technical, as well as physical improvements over the MA5B Assault rifle that include: a heavier barrel with a 1 in 7 twist; a redesigned cowling to house the electronics suite that reduces weight and increases portability of weapon; and a redesigned handguard which is sturdier and provides a more positive grip. The magazine capacity has been reduced to 32 rounds from the original 60 in the MA5B, and the rifle’s range and accuracy has been substantially improved over its predecessor, making it a more formidable Assault rifle.
The MA5C is made of Titanium Alloy and Polymer. Although not seen during gameplay, the MA5C has concealed iron sights used by Marines and other personnel who do not have a Heads-up display or Neural Interface.
The MA5C Assault rifle and the MA5B Assault rifle uses M118 7.62x51mm Armor Piercing, Full Metal Jacket Rounds. 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 over the steel, titanium, etc. shell. Actual energy from this round is 2472 ft·lb force. This is quite high for a rifle cartridge, and the round has been historically noted for its power and range.
"7.62mm" is the diameter of the bullet itself, which equates to 0.3 inches, or .30 caliber. The "51mm" comes from the length of the case (not the entire cartridge, just the case, also known as "shell"). Often being associated with a considerable amount of recoil, the MA5C appears to be able to absorb it so the weapon remains steady even during cyclic fire. Armor-piercing rounds have the obvious advantage of being able to deal with protected targets, but instead of causing larger wound channels by tumbling like lower-caliber ball or non-jacketed munitions, AP rounds have a tendency to over-penetrate the body, causing less overall trauma.
The MA5C in both offensive and suppressive situations remains the Marine Corps' most reliable weapon. When fired in short bursts the MA5C Rifle can be effective at hitting targets at longer ranges, and the rifle's armor penetrating ability makes it key for handling even the toughest of infantry. The MA5C Rifle is effective at killing armored infantry at short-to-medium range and its high rate of fire allows its user to spray an area with suppressing fire in defensive situations. At close range, the MA5C is arguably deadlier than the M7/Caseless Submachine Gun, as the firepower is approximately equal. The MA5C also provides the user with an ammo count on its digital readout, as well a compass pointing toward the arbitrary magnetic "north" position. In the hands of someone with a practised trigger finger, the MA5C becomes a deadly weapon in close-quarter situations.
The MA5C's main disadvantage is that it is grossly inaccurate when fired in full-automatic. Even though substantially better than the MA5B, it is too inaccurate for use at longer ranges, which makes the user an easy target for long range weapons - at long range a high ratio of misses to hits is likely, especially if the target is moving. The magazine can run out very quickly in fully automatic fire and has relatively low power per round compared to many other weapons; an engagement with numerous and/or particularly resilient enemies will likely require the user to reload a few times before they die. It should be used as a secondary weapon for shorter ranges, paired with a long range weapon like the Battle Rifle.
The MA5C Assault rifle is one of the weapons which players will love and loathe in equal measures. The rifle's rate of fire makes it a devastatingly powerful weapon in close range combat, and it's melee attack usually ensures victory in close quarter battles. In a skilled player's hand, the Assault rifle can easily be a formidable weapon. At medium range, accuracy will drain away quickly; burst-firing can provide some remedy to this issue. The rifle is nearly useless at long range, other than a covering weapon to make enemies duck.
- All pre-release public pictures of the MA5C in first person showed Battle rifle animations as placeholders before the final animations were in place in the final game.
- On the butt of the MA5C, a small Marathon Symbol can be found. The symbol can easily be seen in the renders shown in the Halo Encyclopedia. It is also found on the left side of the weapon just below the charging handle.
- When tested, each individual round of the MA5C actually does slightly more damage than the BR55HB SR. However, this is offset by the MA5C's lower accuracy at mid-long range, and the fact that it has no headshot bonus.
- In most Matchmaking games in Halo 3, you begin with this weapon as a default primary weapon. From Title Update 2, you now start with a secondary Magnum.
- In the Halo 3 Beta, the charging handle of the MA5C had an animation. This is, however, not present in Halo 3.
- When Bungie was designing the Assault rifle, they stated they wanted "the ultimate spawning weapon"; being very balanced, and not overly powerful.
- Although the MA5 series of Assault rifles have a very similar outline as the real world FN F2000 assault rifle, the weapons designer Robert McLees claims he wasn't inspired by the FN F2000 and similarities are purely coincidental.
- In Fable 2, the MA5C can be obtained in the Knothole Island Expansion pack. It is called "Hal's Rifle."
- The MA5C appears quite commonly throughout the campaign of Halo 3: ODST, but is not featured in Firefight mode.
- The reload animation of the MA5C is slightly incorrect; John-117 pushes the charging handle forward after reloading, though he would have to pull it back slightly before it launched forward by itself. Also, he is seen riding the bolt (keeping his finger on the bolt while it slides forward). This is both incorrect and can cause jams in modern-day weapons, though it is possible that by the year 2552 such problems may have been corrected or at least reduced.
- The green button on the MA5C is a power on/off switch for the weapon's flashlight, which is never used in game by playable characters.
- In Halo 3 Multiplayer, the Assault rifle deals 7.5 points of damage per round.