May 10, 2012
Gun Test: Rock River Arms LAR-15 Fred Eichler Series Predator
By David E. Petzal
Here’s a good reason not to be a coyote, or any other objectionable form of animal life. Mr. Eichler, who is a varmint hunter of note, has collaborated with Rock River Arms to produce a totally cool MSR with all the right bells and whistles. There are a great many specs here, so let’s get to them.
Starting at the muzzle, the Predator has a tuned and ported muzzle brake (Why does the rifle in the photo not have one? We will get to that shortly.), a 16-inch, stainless, medium-heavy, lapped, cryo-treated barrel, low-profile gas block, free-floating handguard (whose vent holes are in the shape of paw prints, which I find almost unbearably cute), mid-length gas system, all sorts of rails, a truly superior (3.5 pounds, dead clean) two-stage trigger inside an oversized trigger guard, Hogue pistol grip, and a choice of an adjustable or non-adjustable stock. The barrel has a Wylde chamber, so it can use either civilian .223 or military 5.56 ammo. Twist is 1-8, and it handles 55-grain to 77-grain bullets just fine, although I found the rifle had distinct preferences about what it liked and didn’t like. Weight is 7.6 pounds, and overall length with the non-adjustable stock is a highly compact 36 inches. Excuse me; I need to catch my breath.
RRA guarantees that this rifle will group in ¾-inch at 100 yards. I found that with match ammo I could equal that, and with 77-grain Federal Match ammo, I could get ½ inch. However, the Predator will not shoot everything well; with some brands of ammo it didn’t like it would group in 2 inches.
Two things about the Predator jump out at you: First, it’s a very high-quality gun that’s put together with a lot of care. A collection of parts it ain’t. Second, you won’t have to go tearing off components and substituting other stuff. What’s on here, works, so leave it alone.
Now, why did my rifle not have a muzzle brake when it’s standard equipment? Because under the weird specs New York State imposes on MSRs, a muzzle brake would probably be illegal on this rifle. Or maybe it is legal. No one really is sure, so RRA acted on the side of caution. New York State assumes that if a semi-auto rifle with a muzzle brake fell into my hands I would be come a menace to the public. What can you say about that kind of thinking? In any event, if the rifle did have a muzzle brake, it would undoubtedly shoot even better than it did, and kick less, which was hardly at all.
The Predator lists for $1,395, which is fine. I look beady-eyed at the prices on a lot of MSRs, but not this one. It’s obvious where the money went. Also, Rock River Arms informs me that there is a wait on the order of 6 to 8 weeks for these guns. They can’t keep up with demand for any of their firearms, and the Predator is no exception. But I like this little rifle tremendously; it’s worth the wait. Rockriverarms.com