It’s a fair observation that hunters have been among the last groups within the shooting community to fully embrace today’s modern tactical rifle platform and indeed, among a proud contingent of traditionalists who love their bolt actions and smooth contoured stocks and receivers, the love has still yet to be showered upon the platform. But these attitudes are certainly changing, more and more everyday, led primarily by the growing contingent of predator and hog hunters among the ranks, who were quick to recognize the AR’s amazing utility and put its standard chambering—the 5.56/.223—to work on game for which the caliber is up to the task.
Indeed, familiarity breeds fondness, and after more than a decade of highly publicized deployments of our military; news footage of our men and women in uniform valiantly serving in action; adrenaline-fueled video games, television shows and movies in which ARs are visibly employed; and their respected performance among the high-volume, competitive shooting crowd and now simply by plinkers on the range who love the look and rapid-fire fun of the firearm, the tactical rifle has become as ubiquitous as the bolt-action .30-06 or the semi-auto 12 gauge.
While the classic gun designs used primarily for the field and forest for generations still do their job just fine and will always maintain an air of beauty and form-to-function timelessness, the increased interest in and use of ARs among hunters has spawned a plethora of expanded chamberings and design features made to appeal and serve this important segment of the shooting market.
On that front, Rock River Arms LAR-15 in either their WYL-Ehide or PRK-Ehide finishes certainly delivers—and in a way that is one part novelty, two parts practical and all pure design genius. After completing my first book on which I wrote about ARs, I jokingly quipped to my publisher upon looking at the page layouts that to the casual enthusiast, we could have virtually used only a handful of rifles to illustrate the hundreds of AR models covered because for the most part—except for a rail here, a muzzle attachment there or the stock used—they all looked pretty much the same. That’s where this Rock River Arms (RRA) model departs from the crowd. It stands out visually among its competition on the shelf or at the range, but blends in in the field where it should.
The LAR-15 Hunter boasts all of the features a true tactical rifle fan will want in an AR with RRA’s nod to quality and design infused throughout.
To begin, the LAR-15 boasts a 16-inch chrome-moly lined barrel shrouded in a free-floated, half-quad rail that allows for multiple attachments on all sides at the fore end of the rail, but a comfortable ¾-grip aft. I like this design as it provides the utility of a full quad rail, but won’t chew up ungloved hands, particularly during frequent fire, like full-radius uncovered rails might. The barrel is fitted with a tactical muzzle brake to reduce flip and further reduce recoil for quick on-point follow-up shots.
The 1:9 twist is a good choice as it’s capable of delivering standard 55-grain or even slightly heavier bullets downrange accurately, yet launches the lighter 40-grain bullets designed for varmints more accurately than a 1:7. The gun is guaranteed to print 1 MOA at 100 yards.
Additional features include an LAR-15 lower paired with an M-4 upper, both forged, a low-profile gas block, an RRA two-stage trigger with a Winter trigger guard, Star safety selector and an RRA Operator CAR six-position adjustable stock and comfortable Hogue pistol grip. A 10-round magazine is included.
What really separates this rifle from the standard AR is the anodized Ehide digital finish. The WYL-Ehide design mimics the fur of a coyote, while the PRK-Ehide is a precise image of a wild hog’s coarse hair. Unlike other many other camo finishes, these patterns aren’t dipped or a rolled on appliqué, but rather digitally integrated in the hard-coat anodized finish. The process makes the pattern much more durable and prevents it from chipping over time from rugged field use or wearing from harsh cleaning compounds.
It certainly gives the rifle a unique look from other ARs, which in an increasingly competitive market may not make as much a difference in the field as the gun’s shooting ability, as it will on the store shelf and in the company of other interested shooters clamoring to check out your new rifle.
The LAR-15 is only available in 5.56/.223, a great chambering for coyote-sized game and smaller, and certainly in use and adequate for dispatching hogs. But for the latter, I’d love to see a future offering in some slightly harder hitting options in perhaps 6.8mm SPC or 300 AAC Blackout. For now though, this gun will definitely hunt.
Rock River Arms LAR-15
Caliber: 5.56mm/.223 Cal.
Lower Receiver: Forged RRA LAR-15
Upper Receiver: Forged A4
Barrel: 16-inch Chrome Moly, 1:9 Twist
Muzzle Device: RRA Tactical Muzzle Brake/½-28 Thread
Gas Block: Low Profile Gas Block
Trigger: RRA Two-Stage/Winter Trigger Guard
Safety Selector: Star Safety
Handguard: RRA Half Quad Free Float with 3 rail covers
Buttstock/Grip: RRA Operator CAR Stock/Hogue Grip
Weight/Length: 7.6 lbs /37 inches
Accuracy: 1 MOA @ 100 yards
Included: One magazine, RRA Case, Manual, Warranty
This article appeared in the February 25, 2013 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine. Click here to learn more and load up on a subscription.
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