[Review] Rock River Arms LAR-15

I am a fan of the Modern Sporting Rifle. The “Black Rifle.” The MSR seems to have a polarizing effect on shooters and non-shooters alike, at least in my experience. To an old-school rifle shooter, an AR-style rifle is anathema to his or her way of thinking…rifles are supposed to be wood and metal with no plastic. But, if you’ve kept up with modern trends, you might understand that the MSR is here to stay. From its inception in the 1950s to its adoption as our main battle rifle, the AR is here to stay.

So, I acquired a 5.56/.223 Del-Ton rifle a few years ago. I am not much into changing things around – I have not really upgraded it much past a trigger job and additional magazines. I am an OK shot with it, especially with my handloads. They are nothing special, but they generally hit the target. I left the iron sights on it so it is very handy to grab and go. So, it was with a bit of enthusiasm that I accepted the offered test gun from Rock River Arms, their LAR-15 BTB 5.56×45 rifle, in tan and black.

Rock River Arms LAR-15 in case

As you can see, it is a rather handsome specimen with its two-tone finish and furniture. It was a really decent shooter, as well.

Before we get on with things, let’s take a brief look at the history of the AR platform, both military and civilian.

Eugene Stoner’s Brainchild

Stoner Kalishnikov
Eugene Stoner and Mikhail Kalishikov with their rifles, 1990

It started in 1956. Eugene Stoner had designed the AR (Armalite Rifle) -10 in 7.62 NATO. That cartridge had been adopted two years earlier and the Army was looking to possibly replace the M1 Garand. They had even considered re-chambering the Garand…they were open to suggestion and this was as good a time as any to introduce a new rifle. So, Stoner submitted his rifle but it wasn’t adopted. (It was, however, looked upon with interest by a few foreign militaries). In the end, as we know, they settled on Springfield’s M14. But, it was big and heavy. Some of the powers-that-be wondered if we needed a full-size battle rifle that was good to 600 yards when modern confrontations were occurring at closer ranges, usually under 300 yards. It was about this time that some observed that Russia had introduced a mid-range .30 caliber round and had really started to deploy it in earnest in the 1950s, the 7.62×39 in the AK-47. This was not a full-power rifle round, a fact that we duly noted.

AR-10
AR-10

It was around this time that Remington introduced the .223, which became the 5.56×45 in military rifles’ chambers. (For a concise description of the difference between .223 and 5.56, go here. One is safe to shoot in both rifles but the other way around could be problematic…check it out).

Enter Colt

In 1959, Armalite was having financial difficulties. They could not meet manufacturing needs, so they sold the AR-15 to Colt. Colt undertook production of the AR-15, which morphed into the selective-fire M16.

M16
M16

In the early 1960s, America was sending observers, trainers and Special Forces troops to a small, backwater Asian country called Vietnam. This started out as an effort to train indigenous forces in an effort to fight the communist North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong. They ranged from North Vietnam, employing standard military operations and guerilla tactics in forays across the border with South Vietnam.

As we know, this was to grow into the Vietnam war, as we called it. We all know the story, how that relatively few troops were committed at the start but by the time we left Vietnam in March of 1973, we had placed over 550,000 military personnel in country at the height of our involvement. This is not a comment about that war – I have only admiration and respect for all who served – it’s just to demonstrate that we needed a whole of rifles and ammo. We did not have crates and crates of 5.56 ammo lying around like we did .30 caliber, so the ammo companies geared up and got with the program.

Another interesting side note – Defense Secretary McNamara was the one who ultimately decided the fate of the M14. He decided that the M14 was too expensive to produce, was too big and heavy, and fired a needlessly-overpowered round, so he asked that the AR be put into production, but with selective-fire capabilities. So, we went from a full-power .30 caliber battle round to a .22 caliber, mid-range round. Some folks liked it, others not so much.

You probably know the rest…how Winchester (who had been brought on board to help produce ammo) went from a stick powder to a ball powder and how that caused increased pressure and fouling, which translated into battlefield travails when troops who had trained with the gun were told initially they really didn’t need to clean their M16s. This put a whole lot of soldiers and Marines in great danger and worse when some of their rifles quit working in the heat of battle due to fouling and general jungle crud build-up. We eventually figured out that these rifles did indeed need to be cleaned, and that helped to lessen the problem. Other positive changes included the inclusion of the forward assist on newer models and Winchester going back to the original stick powder. (If you served and have experience with this situation, please leave a comment below – I’d like to hear your take on it). For an interesting read, check this out – a history of the AR-15/M16 rifle. It is very well-written.

OK…we’ve seen where the AR-15/M16 came from…what about the company that made the one I reviewed? Let’s check it out.

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A Bit Of History

Two brothers, Mark and Chuck Larson, worked for Springfield Armory; Mark was the head armorer. They formed a partnership, leaving S.A. in 1991 to work with Les Baer in production of his custom 1911 pistols. In 1993, they left Les Baer Custom to work with Eagle Arms in Coal Valley, Illinois, producing AR-15 rifles. They later formed their own company, Tolerance Plus (later Rock River Arms), producing 1911 pistols. They left Eagle Arms in 1997 and started producing AR-15-style rifles. Mark passed away in April of 2013.

Enter The D.E.A.

The Drug Enforcement Agency was looking for a new AR-style rifle in 2003. They tested 11 different brands, with Rock River Arms coming out on top in abuse tests. The contract called for at least 5,000 rifles to be purchased over the next five years. As a result of the DEA’s order, the F.B.I and the U.S. Marshalls initiated piggyback contracts with RRA as well. These two brothers did very well for themselves, indeed.

Even though their reputation was built on AR-15-style rifles, Rock River Arms produces, to this day, seven different 1911-model pistols and lots of related parts. They started out with pistols and have stuck with them. The company is based in Colona, Illinois.

Here To Stay

Whether you’re an AR fan or not, they are here and are most likely going to be here for a good while. There are a blue zillion different ARs out there and at least as many aftermarket parts for your rifle. And, if 5.56 or .223 is not your thing, guns are available in several other calibers. We are seeing more and more ARs in the hunting fields, chambered for mid-level hunting rounds such as the .300 Blackout and the new .350 Legend. In my humble opinion, this is a good thing. I am not the most rabid AR fan out there, but I do own one and could easily buy an upper in one of those calibers and take it to my deer blind. The AR MSR is, as stated, a polarizing weapon. If more folks could see that it has a purpose other than as an “instrument of destruction”, we might all be better off. And, adding in three-gun and other types of competitions, we start to see the AR in a more generalized light which is a good thing.

Versatility and Modularity

Another plus of the AR-style rifle or carbine is the availability of aftermarket parts. I joked above about how many parts are out there, but part of the draw of the AR is the fact that you can change just about anything out on your gun that you don’t like, up to and including the caliber. From triggers to sticking a back-up folding sight or light on one of the rails to putting a new upper on, you can customize your AR to your heart’s content. I’ve heard it referred to as the “Barbie of rifles.” (As a matter of fact, I am thinking about acquiring an upper in .350 Legend – the new Winchester round seems like a useful cartridge around my neck of the woods. It’s easy – just buy the new .350 upper from Bear Creek Arsenal or Rock River Arms and stick it on). As you can see on the screen shot below and in some of my photos, the handguard rail is on the top and bottom, and then there’s just enough of a small rail on each side at the forward end of the guard. Put a laser or light there…I like the possibilities. These are only a few of the myriad possibilities available when upgrading an AR rifle.

The Rock River Rifle

Let’s look at the specific gun I was sent to review…a Rock River Arms LAR-15 BTB rifle…

RRA BTB Carbine

Caliber:5.56 NATO/.223
Lower Receiver:Forged RRA LAR-15
Upper Receiver:Forged A4
Barrel:16” chrome moly HBAR, 1:9 twist
Muzzle Device:A2 flash hider, ½-28 thread
Gas Block:Low Profile
Trigger:Single-stage
Pistol Grip:RRA NSP Overmolded, Tan
Butt Stock:RRA NSP-2 CAR Stock, Tan, multi-position
Handguard:RRA NSP Drop-In Rail, CAR-length, Tan
Sights:RRA NSP Flip Front & Rear, Tan
Weight:7.0 lbs.
Length:33.25”
Accuracy:1 MOA at 100 yards
Includes:Two RRA 30-round tan magazines, hard case, owner’s manual, warranty information
MSRP:Limited Time: $825.00 (real-world pricing starts around $750)
Warranty:Limited Lifetime, original purchaser, with the usual limitations

One thing not mentioned above is that the gun functions via direct gas impingement, not a piston system. I guess that would be fairly obvious when it mentions a gas block, but I’m not one for the obvious at times.

Photo Gallery

Here are some photos of the test gun I had. A quick observation…the tan goes with the black very well (at least I think so).

Rock River Arms LAR-15 outdoors
The BTB in tan. It also comes in black.

rock river arms lar-15 barrel

rock river arms lar-15 rail

Multi-position butt stock of the RRA AR-15
Multi-position butt stock.
Rock River Arms LAR-15 front sight open
Front sight.

Notice how easy it is to adjust elevation.

Rock River Arms LAR-15 front sight from front

Rock River Arms LAR-15 rear sight

Rock River Arms LAR-15 rear sight open
Rear sight.

Rock River Arms LAR-15 rear sight

Again, ease of adjustment.

Handguard RRA AR-15
Handguard

Note small rail on sides.

Rock River Arms LAR-15 front sight folded

Rock River Arms LAR-15 rear sight folded

Front and rear sights, folded down.

Rock River Arms BTB trigger

Rock River Arms Logo

Rock River Arms LAR-15 magazine

Rock River Arms LAR-15 magazines

Two 30-round magazines are included.

Rock River Arms LAR-15 muzzle

Standard A2 flash hider…replace with something else if desired.

Rock River Arms LAR-15 chamber ready to load

Shooting the BTB

I shot the BTB at my backyard range on a cold day. I used the sights that came on the gun – I didn’t add a scope or red dot. I wanted to get a feel for how it performed out the box. The fold-down (or -up?) sights were, like most BU sights, at the same time both easy and not easy to pick up. What do I mean? Those of you who have shot a rear-aperture-ring/front-post setup know what I’m talking about. The ring on the rear sight was, well, a typical aperture ring. It did its job well of directing my eye to the front post. Here’s where it gets a bit sticky…the post was, like most all other front AR posts, black and small. I’ve mentioned before that my glasses sometimes aren’t the best for putting everything in focus, give the angle I have to hold my head in order to see the sights. Plus, the post is black. On my Del-Ton AR, I used white liquid paper (OK, not the best but it’s what I had handy) to make the front sight brighter and easier to see. Now, I get it…this would not be a big deal if you were under 50 or were shooting at a range not surrounded on three sides by hills and trees. It’s pretty dark and gets increasingly so this time of the year. So, with all my lame excuses in a row, let me say that the gun did pretty well. I ended up shooting some ammo that I had bought a few years ago (and was glad I saved) that used a type of armor-piercing bullet. As you can see in the shot above, there are holes in the steel plate. THAT was fun. (For more pics and a video of us perforating some fairly thick metal, check out my piece on the AR-50 .50BMG bolt action here. It was a fun shoot).

Rock River Arms LAR-15 on bench

I had generally good luck with all types of ammo I shot except one…the Remington plain-jane “green box” 55-grain .223. I couldn’t get any of it to go “bang.” I’m not sure why, but I think it was the longer 5.56mm chamber allowing the cartridge to seat deeply enough in that chamber so that the firing pin couldn’t reach the primer. That really doesn’t make much sense since the .223/5.56 cases are basically the same but I don’t know where else to look for a reason. I’d heard that not all .223 rounds may function in a 5.56mm rifle due to their chamber and the longer leade. Anyway, it was no big deal. I just shot other types. The 5.56 rounds mentioned above were fun (unless you were behind the steel plate) and behaved predictably.

The sights were good, the trigger more than acceptable, the fit of the gun was fine. I enjoyed shooting it. I reload .223, but I refrained from shooting my loads in a test gun. They work fine and are accurate in mine.

Rock River Arms LAR-15 chamber

OK…what did I think of this rifle? I liked it. I know, you might think I’ve never met a gun I didn’t like but that’s not true…I could go on and on about the dogs I’ve owned or shot. This gun was very well-built, solid and was fun to shoot.

ammo box

(In case you were wondering what the ammo box said in the above photo, here’s a close-up…penetrator rounds).

Magazines

The tan furniture blended nicely with the matte black of the other surfaces. I have seen many ARs finished in a similar manner but this job was especially well done, with the pistol grip exhibiting both black and tan colors. What the screen shot above the specs doesn’t show is the tan magazine. Both mags were tan, as you can see from my pics. Speaking of mags… they did not send 10-round magazines, but instead went for the “full meal deal” on the 30-round extended mag. I recently reviewed a 9mm AR-style rifle (Troy Defense M5 9mm Carbine) that came with one 10-round Glock magazine. I assumed they pack their guns with the “lowest common denominator” in terms of magazine capacity, for those restrictive states that limit such things. I was glad to see not one but two long mags with this gun. Here is the mag, from their site:

RRA 30 round magazine

The mag is not only a 30-rounder, but it’s cheap and it works. I have nothing against polymer mags – I just have too many steel ones to start collecting the polymer variety. One big advantage – you drop the above mag, it bounces. No dings or dents. And, for $9.00 (from the factory, no less), you can stock up. If, on the other hand, you want a metal or other type of mag, no worries…they show six different styles and brands of magazines on their site, ranging in price from $9.00 – $25.00 and from 5 to 45 rounds capacity.

The Lowly Case

The gun case that the rifle came in was interesting. It had the company logo molded into the front and was pretty sturdy. It used two metal clasps on the front and was padded fully on the inside with foam. Some folks don’t pay attention to the case (or box) that their new gun comes in, but I do. I figure that some folks may not have the cash to invest in a gun safe so the gun had better arrive in a decent hard case, preferably lockable. (Here is an over of good AR-15 cases).

Rock River Arms LAR-15 case

The last long gun I reviewed came in a cardboard box, which offered precious little protection…this gun was different. I’ve noticed in previous reviews of handguns that some companies may make a mediocre product but they ship it in a whiz-bang hard case. All else being equal, I’ll take a good-quality firearm in a cardboard box (I refer to my excellent 1982-vintage S&W 629 8 3/8”-barreled .44 Magnum that came in said cardboard box), most all the time, but if you don’t have a gun cabinet or safe, you’d better have a really decent hard case to put the gun in. Even something as inconsequential as dust can play havoc with your scope or finely-tuned action, not to mention the safety factor. I am doubly impressed with this gun and case, because both seem to be of high quality. How did all that quality come about? The company, no doubt, wants to build top-quality guns and parts. So, before we ring down the curtain on our little look at this very nice rifle, let’s look at a detailed examination of the rifle and then we’ll end.

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The Engineer’s Report

Before we end our look at the RRA BTB rifle, I thought I might add some comments from one of our sons who is a manufacturing engineer at a regional automotive parts casting facility. I took the gun to him because I wanted to see the rifle the way he would, as an engineer. He is qualified to do so, being an AR fan… he owns at least one of his own and has had it apart and modified it several times. He helped me build mine several years ago. Here are his observations…

The Case

He started with the case the gun came in. It uses rotating hinge pins instead of a tab to connect the halves, metal clasps on the front and stiff foam inside. The case will hold up to continuous use. It was also cleanly molded in terms of the logo on the top half.

The Rifle

Fasteners: socket head, not hex head and are of industrial strength.
Handguard: reinforced glass fiber, well-made. This is more expensive to make than plain plastic. It will wear molds out quicker. Even the inside was well-finished, which it really didn’t need to be.
Magazine: The halves are well-matched, with the overall finish very well done. No molding line were visible.
Rails: The rails are threaded into flat metal T-nuts, not a plastic insert.
Engraving: The lettering is clearly cut with no “fuzz” or rolled-over edges.
Trigger components: MIM cast to precise tolerances. Not much evidence of post-processing.
Overall metal finish: very even with no “waves” or other anomalies.
Threads: The threads for the stock and barrel were not overly sharp. There was no “chattering” evident.
Bolt: He was not sure if the bolt had been shot-peened, but it had been post-process finished.
Bolt screws are from Fang Sheng Screw Company in Taiwan (YFS marked on the heads). This company’s products are built to either ISO 17025/9001/14001 or ISO/TS 16949 standards and are very tough.
General Metal Fit: No burrs or sharp edges – it had been blended very well. The radiuses had been hand-blended, most of them. Not many tool paths – very smooth (no snagging of fibers from a cloth).

He, as I said, is a shooter and knows of gunsmiths who have bought RRA rifles because of their quality.

To Sum Up…

Rock River Arms LAR rifles are some of the best AR-pattern guns you can buy. If you don’t believe me, ask the D.E.A., F.B.I., the U.S. Marshalls or any one of thousands of satisfied civilian buyers. These rifles are tough, and stand up well to abuse. They are accurate and are made out of some very tough parts. I don’t think you could do a whole lot better, if you are in the market for an AR… I was really blown away when I saw the price of the gun I tested. For a little over $800 MSRP, you get a rifle that should last you a lifetime and then still be able to be passed down to your kids. (Actual real-world pricing starts around $750). As I said above, I don’t think you could do much better than that. As always, leave a comment below for all to read and then go shooting…just stay safe!

Mike
Written by Mike

Mike has been a shooter, bullet caster and reloader for over 40 years. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, he is often found at his reloading bench concocting yet another load. With a target range in his backyard and after 40 years of shooting, his knowledge of firearms and reloading is fairly extensive. He is married, with four sons and daughters-law and 8-and-counting grandkids.

29 thoughts on “[Review] Rock River Arms LAR-15”

  1. Good article. Very enjoyable. I just wish RRA offered this with a mid-length gas system and 5R rifling option. That would be extremely tempting. Thanks for the article.

    Reply
  2. The rifle reviewed seems solid and dependable, so no gripes with that, my only comment is that it LOOKS too ‘plasticey’! I repair a lot of guns, real and ‘toy'( airsoft, etc.) and it looks just like an airsoft M14, or whatever. Maybe if it was all black, it would seem better?

    Reply
    • Richard, could be. The “black factor” works for some guns and against others. I thought it was well-built, and I like the colors but tan is not for everyone, I agree. Thanks for writing!

      Reply
  3. I like the gas port to be more towards the muzzle. I don’t like all the plastic parts. Did Mattel make a lot of those parts? Also anything less than a 20 inch barrel won’t be among any consideration of mine. I would be much happier with a better made used model that I know won’t fall apart on me and will hold it’s zero because the sight adjustments are metallic. I don’t get why it weighs 7 pounds with all that plastic. Is the plastic mixed with alloys of lead?

    Reply
  4. Hi,
    Pretty good article…you failed to mention in the History of the Rifle another most serious problem in the early years and a most important fault in the first issue of the M-16 .
    McNamara refused to have the chamber and barrels Chrome lined/plated. In Vietnam the chamber and bolt, would rust together over night and the Troop could not pull the bolt back and chamber a round was another serious issue along with the powder issue you mentioned. Unknown numbers of lives were sacrificed/lost because of McNamara’s refusal.
    The Army issued a comic book detailing the cleaning and maintenance of the AR-15/M-16.

    USAF Father of Strategic Air Command (SAC) General Curtis LeMay made the first order the AR-15 for the USAF of the US Military..

    Roughly……in the early 1980s the concept of the SAW as brought to life. The US Military wanting a machine gun that was lighter than the M-60 and of the same caliber as the M-16 and wanted it to perform certain parameters…. thus came the birth of the SAW.
    With the birth of the SAW and it’s heavier bullet. When the SAWs ammo was used in the M-16, the bullet would not stabilize and accuracy suffered.

    Same with the SAW when firing the standard 55 grain FMJ/FMJBT.

    To meet the parameters and make the concept work brought about the M-16A2.
    This increased the range of the M-16

    It also brought about another change/modification to the M-16. The Three Shot Burst and end of Full Auto AKA Rock-N-Roll.
    The original M-16 fired too fast on Full Auto unless one spent a lot of time learning trigger control and it
    wasted a lot of ammo.

    Reply
    • Nobody (interesting handle!), you sound like you speak from experience and that was what I wanted – folks to write who have used ARs in other-than-civilian experiences. You are right, though, that many soldiers and Marines were killed when their rifles wouldn’t fire, or couldn’t be made to chamber a round. McNamara was to blame for at least part of the problem. They finally made it somewhat better with the A2, but the rifle had already earned a reputation. Interesting comments – thanks for writing!

      Reply
      • Mike
        The name comes from what is/are part of the Old Spaghetti Westerns. Thank you for finding it to be of interest. I still enjoy them. Look up Peter Fonda and Terence Hill (one special movie about the name) and
        Terence Hill and Bud Spencer if you are interested……….if you like Westerns and like to laugh…..give them a look.

        I am a USAF Military Veteran and when I came along, I was trained by those that came before me and others. They passed on hard lessons learned and paid with Blood and Sacrifice and Loss for and by many who made The Supreme Sacrifice.
        You either learn from History or you are Destined and/or Doomed to repeat it.

        The “Made By Mattel/ The Black Rifle” did have a very bad rep with its Birthing pains….for a long time afterward…..perhaps still does among some. It has long since over come its past and now has what if I am allowed to use the term “modern issues” with the gas system and overheating. Something I feel most civilians probably most likely will never have to face other than perhaps on a range.

        I might well be wrong on that………I leave that up to others to decide. However since the Rifle has been around the Military Circles going on for more than 60 Years and going on near 70 or so Years and after it’s deadly start to a good many of it’s users.
        The platform remains extremely popular and is no doubt the or ONE OF the most popular selling rifles in the US.

        I (among many numerous others) did carry the AR-15/M-16 (along with and the M-203 and the M-60/ “THE PIG” among other Weapons) “For Other Than Civilian Purposes.”

        The AR platform is great platform for people that want a different caliber or a “Two-in-One or more caliber such weapon……push Two pins remove the upper replace the upper push in Two pins and Voila!. That is all they have to do to change out the Upper. or in the case of the 5.56×45 NATO get a kit that replaces the bolt carrier group (BCG) and a magazine and they have a .22LR. But simple as pushing out Two Pins changing Uppers replacing the Two pins and you have a brand new caliber. It is really that simple!!

        IF one is fussy/choosy about the gas system….they can build one to their Specs….Or can buy a new such upper OR a whole brand new Rifle of whatever they choose.
        As for the .308/ 7.62×51 NATO platform there are TWO different platforms to build from. The AR (ARMALITE) and the DPMS are the TWO …..308/7.62×51 platforms to build from.
        There is no Military Standard in the “X”R-10 as there is with the AR-15.

        Example there is the ARMALITE AR-10 and Palmetto Arms PA-10 among numerous others out there. Even Magazines can disagree about which platform they will make “Nice-Nice” with.
        So Be Warned and Be Ware BEFORE you Build or Buy!
        IF someone is going to build a “X”R/A-10 rifle they must go with one platform or the other. Do not mix the platforms as they DO NOT play well with each other. Some parts will interchange but they may be finicky and limited.

        Using the “XA-10” lower DOES allow one to choose from a new world of calibers that the AR-15 does not allow because of the smaller magazine well. One can also build the .243 Winchester for example

        Reply
          • Nobody – the man with no name? – my buddy Duane has, in his shop, a Cimarron .45 Colt “Man With No Name” single-action. Nice gun!
            You sure have a lot of experience with ARs! It was good reading about your experiences. I am getting just what I’d hoped for – guys who have been there and done that with the M16 writing in. I do like the modularity – I’d like to have an upper in .350 Legend. And, thanks for the info about the AR-10 variations. I appreciate you writing! (And, I do like the spaghetti westerns…Clint Eastwood was the king of that genre. He STILL rules!. As for Henry/Peter, I knew who you meant…

  5. I’m a lefty too! Pistol anyway, rifle right since I’m right eyed. Lots of practice required. 1 o’clock cant on sights with pistol allows for eyes open shooting. What say you?

    Reply
    • Jeff, I just shoot with my left eye. As soon as I can I want to experiment with tilting my head so my dominant eye (right) is looking through the sights. I’ve just been too busy to try that, but I will. Sounds like you have it figured out. Thanks for writing!

      Reply
  6. Let me add a bit to the brief “Enter Colt” history section: Years ago I read a magazine article about the 1st AR’s produced, the AR-10. Evidently Fairchild held the patent for manufacturing the AR-10 in the late 1950s, but when the article was written, Colt had the only two in existence. And while Colt would not allow either to be taken off the property, they did allow the writer to examine & fire one — he liked it. The AR-10s were chambered for 7.62 x 51mm NATO & there was a trigger in the handle section that you pulled back to charge the receiver. But the military had decided on the smaller 5.56 x 45 mm ammo (primarily because a soldier can carry more of it) & told Colt they liked the basic design, but not in 7.62 x 51. So the next iteration was the M-16.

    I see there are companies making rifles they call AR-10’s because they’re chambered for larger ammo like .308 Winchester; And if I were to buy an AR style rifle it would be one of those — personally I have no use for the .223 (5.56 x 45) ammo. But for those who do, the Rock River Arms LAR-15 might be just the ticket. I note some casting flash on the plastic parts that should be cleaned up — you could easily do that yourself, but it makes the rifle look cheap. I think it’d be worth a 1/2 hour or so with an X-Acto knife & some fine sandpaper to present a more finished rifle.

    Reply
    • Art, coming from a scale model background and having removed more than my share of flashing from model moldings I see what you’re talking about. At least you don’t need to remove metal…the plastic is easy. And, an AR-10 would be interesting to shoot. Thanks for writing.

      Reply
    • Honu, wish I could. I review what they send me and so far this is it. I would, however, assume that it would be built to the same standards as the one I shot…if that’s the case, it should be very well-made. Thanks for the kind words.

      Reply
  7. Grew shooting .22 rifle(short, long, & long rifle round), 12 ga single-shot or Browning auto. The shotguns: bird or deer drives w dogs or still hunting. We did not have a high powered rifle in the community.
    . 22 7 round clip till I lost it @ age 10. My father said “that is the way you use it now, no more clip”!
    Therefore I loaded it by dropping round into chamber; a good bit harder than loading a true single shot. I used that rifle in this manner for 7 years small game hunting or general use around >200 acre farm. I had access to thousands of acres of paper land therefore I harvested ~thousands of small game(squirrel mainly) w a few deer @up close. I acquired a one shot-one kill mentality, I had to stalk each creature usually. I tried for head shot typically. With proper rest, I was good out to 80-100 yards w long rifle round.
    This most certainly saved my life many times in Combat.
    At Parris Island in mid-1967, I fired my 1st high powered rifle. Blending Marine rifle techniques with what I already knew, I was pretty good with M-14. I saw other comments on Mattel toy mentality about M-16. Yes, the M-16 but what didn’t have it’s issues.
    I was in heavy continuous combat from 1/27/68 – > 4/8/68 with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines “The Walking Dead” thru Siege of Khe Sanh & later hill battles(gravely wounded 4/8/68 while climbing Hill 689). I had a M-14 & M-16 always on me. We were basically in the clouds >30% of the time(mountains coupled with monsoon).
    Supplies – air dropped by pallet load w a little by prop or copter.
    Personally carried, replenished & cleaned every day:
    28 mags(19 rounds or more broke mag spring) M-16,
    12 mags M-14
    300-500 rounds of linked M-60(no tracers allowed), If you needed tracers then you ‘ain’t’ a qualified Marine machine gunner.
    6 mags .45 Colt
    20 – 40mm grenades in pouches
    3 LAAW(light dusting)
    6 hand grenades(secure in webbing, pins not remotely bent straight)
    2 Claymores(explain words to FNG: ‘POINT TOWARD ENEMY’ & how to double bootytrap)
    Cleanings was done w/o oil/lub, every round + hundreds backup on person. The red, fine volcanic dirt/dust would get into everything so no oil was manner of life/death. Cleaned all this plus every weapon every day as #1 priority…. Clean, other tasks, field of fire, hole, eat, whatever, then sleep if not on watch or patrol…

    Weapon functionality: Center mass, head shots for ‘Rambo’ type-live little time if you wait
    M-14 open sights >800 meters one hit terminal;
    M14 Scoped sniper gear(KIA’s: left behind) >1200 meters when conditions allowed after totally doped out. 30-06 there also, no want but no takers. Turned it in to Weapons.
    M-60 – very short burst to mimic M-14 on auto
    M-16 four hits terminal if not amped on optium, then call arty, Puff & Tac Air….
    Pistol . 45 ~25 meters one shot terminal, otherwise throw it at him….

    Care of ALL carried weapon systems was always absolute #1 priority.
    Your weapon(s) decide life/death coupled w Marines to left & right.
    The words about comic book manual on how to clean M-16 was around, was used as marginal toilet paper. M-16(actually any long gun) rust round in chamber potential: used rubbers:
    I got medical gloves from a nurse(my mommy: guys) & cut fingers off for this then use fingerless part of glove to cover recievers of weapons – on edge of barrel of all except primary. Surgery caps also used, one has been to use whatever. Her office was just throwing away. She said” they not sterile”. I said “I will put them near some heat(ha ha)”. The plastics was hell to get off but weapons never complained. Some FNG butter bar say to remove all non-issued material. I told him, it were issssued from the ‘Mother’s’ lobe from Gunners @ Quantico. Easy to please those who knows everything(lol).
    Much bigger concern was cook-off or fused due to hot chamber after fight, not maintaining safe handling of weapons, primer strike but no fired(hot round) , Water, C rations, etc.
    You take care on weapons & they are there for you.
    Run out, throw grenades, rocks, get weapon from expired friend or foe, stay in fight period….
    Was not crazy of M-16 terminal effect. Just you stated, you going to upgun for big game.
    I realized years later that I basically enforced the >1000 ft-lb terminal kinetic energy requirement for non alerted hunted.
    Rock & Roll is for Rambo, reality is controlled single shot will insure 75% or >10 targets hit @ 5 meters or 200 meters w M-16. That is after M-14 is dry out of mags….
    Did the Marines @ Chosin stop human waves with R&R?? No, M-1’s: the one’s not oiled(-40°C) & organic mg’s.
    “It is not how many rounds you shoot but how many hits you made”!!

    Mike, I am left-handed too. My master eye switched to right when left eye got weak. Now, I am easily shot in either direction. Actually better right-handed, have made a # of +300 yards shots w . 270 win

    Reply
    • M0311, wow! you’ve been there, done that for sure. That’s what I was wanting, guys who’ve used the M16 in combat to write about their experiences. I am truly in awe of all who served. Thanks for your honest opinions about the weaponry and thanks for your service…we can never repay vets enough for what you went through. I thank you!

      Reply
      • Thanks for profound, touching reply….. l am straightforwardly honest in reviews/comments without claiming to be anything but being a ‘Marine Rifleman’. Google ‘1st Battalion, 9th Marines’, we have a rather profoundly unique unit history in ‘Nam’. I was 18 years old when in’ Nam; rank was LCpl(E-3) when WIA on Hill 689, my third Purple Heart & medevaced back to U. S. A. when semi-stable. I was awarded Permanent Retirement(Disability-Combat) from USMC in 1969 & was sent by VA to University for six years @ no personal cost. I got Thermodynamics & Mechanical Engineering B. S. Degrees with additional extensive studies in Computer Science, Abnormal Psychology & Graduate level Calculus. Worked for Fortune 20 Company for 30+ years as Senior Technical Research Engineer. Retired @ 55 & have been enjoying life. I also went thru Paramedic training at night while working as an engineer because I wanted the enhanced skills. Welcome to any questions or provide details of personally used weapon system functionality in dirty/harsh combat battle environments. Thanks for your heartfelt comments, it is always good to hear thanks. I can give insight of combat functionality for any organic USMC battalion level small arm system of the era.

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        • M0311, I appreciate your comments again. It sounds like you served your country very well. I was 18 in 1970, so I remember the treatment you guys got when you returned to the U.S. It was deplorable. Your hands were tied, with strict Rules of Engagement and other political considerations, and you were fighting a war against seemingly ghost forces that disappeared at will. I have nothing but respect for you. You really got a good education, too…at least there was the G.I. Bill. I do have a question about the M1911A1, or whatever version of the 1911 you used…how did it fare in the jungle environment? Thanks again for your comments!

          Reply
          • I don’t have any negative feelings about the way I was treated. I got out of service & moved on just like WWII/Korea Vets. There were no ‘Rules of Engagement’ in Khe Sanh area(free fire zone). I joined USMC because I wanted to. I had been accepted to an Ivy league University per my Mother’s desires eight months before I left for Parris Island. I believe we should try to serve in times of need otherwise we just stop caring about our country. After extensive combat with ‘no quarter’ enemy trying to kill you, grown men came home get their feelings hurt or offended by mere words or actions; REALLY. 95% of personally known Marines in 1/9 didn’t come home. I sure they would love to have been alive @ home so they could be hurt or offended.
            We didn’t have a problem with a ghostly enemy; we had small to very large forces of enemy(NVA) going toe-to-toe to us constantly; directly or indirectly. Mid-level battlefield NVA commanders from what I personally saw rarely follow the “Sun Tzu” philosophy. We fought thru the whole “77 day Siege of Khe Sanh”(1/20 ->4/7/68) & afterward in the valley & surrounding western mountains. We always had plenty of enemy (6000 Marines vs 35,000): one reinforced Marine Regiment vs three reinforced NVA Divisions. I had ~80 days of continuous combat of mountainous jungle environment or it was jungle till it turned into totally destroyed landscape. I never had the occasion of encounting any guerilla type Viet Cong in lowland jungles. I only fought hardcore NVA who gave out as much as they got.
            About Colt 1911, I was given my 1st 1911 after being there ~10 days by my Platoon Sgt. while he was awaiting a medevac after tremendous night battle. He died in my arms one hour later because at daylight the incoming medevac exploded @LZ by extremely accurate heavy enemy 7.62mm & 12.7mm fire. All medevacs were halted for >6 hours. He said he had used it since he got in ‘Nam as a Cpl three years earlier – June 1965. Side-arms are only issued to NCO(>E-3) & Officers. I watched him many times clean it to some detail religiously every four hours light or dark if there was spare time along with his M-14 & cutoff barrel AK. He said he had killed 18 with 1911, shot it in combat ~50 times, ~200 rounds thru it messing around/practicing. It never him gave a problem(never malfunctioned). It was made in 1964, serial u/k. The bluing was worn away but finger painted dark. The various internal frictional sliding surfaces was not square edged but slighly little rounded but there was no felt or heard sound when suddening moving or shaking it. Clips feed in perfect even those pretty dinged up. The bore was spot on clean with no visual pits, etc. All internal components were in very good shape even after ~3 years combat service. I had the weapons company Gunnery Stg.(E-7) check it out & he was it in excellence shape. I fired it ~40 times to make a enemy flinch or kill l big, aggressive rats. Shot it 30 times in combat @running enemy with range <15 meters; mostly at night by flare light with 15 single shot hits: target down. I didn't practice with it, enemy hugged us too close. I went outside the perimeter many nights with ~six other Marines for ~1/2 click(1/2 kilometer) to check out whatever command wanted. I always crawling so 1911 got real dirty(didn't desire to shoot it as you crawled thru the enemy, pure last resort). Used a Chinese 9mm since it didn't upset the enemy much. Later on outside perimeter sneaking around, I used a silenced or at least much quieter .22 'hush puppy' single shot that I got by trading with nearby Green Berets @FOB-3 about <200 meters from our perimeter line. It was good for <1' & nearby enemy didn't get upset by it's light cough. Also was given an engraved 1911 from a Captain as a gift for something(saving his life). It was in perfect shape in every aspect. That 1911 was in my left hand & a ~Swedish K type in right hand(another Green Beret trade) while on guard @ night inside the wire. NVA suicidal sappers had an very unpleasant habit of crawling thru mine field/German Razor wire & try blow something up. They was totally silent & actually crawl over you when you covered by your multi-layered parachute quilt(temperature <45° @night) but you could smell the heavy fishy odor from what they eat. 5 shots 40% of time when I shot at a combatant, It was my only shot before near certain death: Charging @me, crawling over me in my night fighting foxhole, breathing on me; always 7 +1 & always cocked when sleeping @night – placed beside me in holster with flap over it or on night guard(in left hand). If you cocked it, far too much noise. If there was ever a grown man pacifier, the Colt. 45 cal was ours in the dark.

          • Wow…you could write a book. This is really interesting to me since I wasn’t there and can only begin to get a picture of what happened through other guys’ eyes. I have the utmost respect for you and am glad you made it back. Thanks for sharing, about both your experiences and your weaponry. I stand in your debt!

  8. hello Mike,
    thank you very much for this review I enjoyed it. I am planning on purchasing this rifle in the near future and I wanted to know does it have anything on the carbine to attach a 2 point sling or will I need to purchase an attachment and can I even attach anything for that purpose. I’m assuming the slots on the collapsible stock are for attaching a sling to the rear. thank you very much for your help and input.

    Reply
      • thanks for the reply mike! So i finally have my rifle and I love it very much. I wanted to ask your advice on a scope/reddot. what would you recommend for this rifle that would be let’s say an all around good addition. I’m not an expert by any means and will probably just be shooting for fun at targets or small varmit hunting. So is there one you could recommend that would fit with this rifles range capacity I don’t want to buy one that is more than what this rifle is capable of. Thank you Mike for you time and expertise!!!

        Reply
        • Michael, that’s a pretty wide-open topic. I would think that it would depend on your use of the rifle. If you are going to hunt varmints, say, at a decently-far range then a good scope would be in order. I like the variables, but that’s just me. I would go with a standard 3×9 if your budget is limited, but if you really want to reach out and touch something, more magnification would help. Also, I wouldn’t go with less than a 40 mm objective lens diameter; 50 is better. The larger diameter lets in more light, at least in my experience. If you are simply going to target-shoot at closer range, any decent red dot sight should work. If your budget is limited, check out the Burris, Dagger Defense or Bushnell offerings. For a little more, you can get a Vortex, Trijicon or Eotech. There are many online reviews of these. Or, read Ken’s review of red dots.
          Let us know how it goes. Thanks for writing!

          Reply
  9. I got an “Operator III” in 2014. I don’t buy “Shiny stuff”, it’s a tool and has to hold up to rough handling and it does. I’m looking to buy another and will consider the .350 Legend you mentioned in your review. I might need a good wild hog gun. Yes, I’ve used “White out” too.

    Reply

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