Most of our readers are familiar with Fred Eichler. For those not familiar with him he is a hunter of some note. He appears on many hunting shows as well as being a big game hunter, varmint hunter and possessed of a real passion for bow hunting. For those wishing to read more about him use this link. Fred Eichler Website
What does he have to with this article? Well Mr. Eichler worked with Rock River Arms in developing an AR varmint rifle made to his specifications based on his extensive experience in the hunting fields. These are the Fred Eichler Predator Series of LAR-15 rifles.
These rifles are in high demand with a current wait time of some fourteen weeks. I’ll vouch for that since it took about that long to receive my sample rifle from RRA. After receiving my review rifle I determined the scope I felt would give the best performance at distance.
I contacted Leupold who was kind enough to send a VX3 6.5-20X50LR Target/Varmint Hunter scope in 30MM matte finish. This scope has the longer turrets with a focus turret on the left side. The glass is super clear with a ranging reticle. Screw on turret covers are included.
Caliber—–.223 Wylde Chamber for 5.56 & .223 Cal
Lower Reciever—–Forged RRA-LAR15
Barrel—-16 inch stainless steel, 1:8 twist, Cryo Treated
Muzzle—–RRA Tuned and Ported Brake / 1/2-28 Thread
Gas Block—–Low Profile
Trigger—-RRA Chrome Two Stage/Winter Trigger Guard
Safety Selector—-Star Safety
Handguard—-RRA Fred Eichler Series Free Float
Pistol Grip—-Hogue Rubber Tan
With Operator A2 Stock: Weight/Length 7.6 /36″
With CAR A2 Stock: Weight/Length 7.6 /34″
Accuracy—–3/4 MOA at 100 Yards
Included—-One Mag,RRA Case, Manual, Warranty
The stats indicate a case is included but this is a black heavy gauge plastic case with egg crate lining top and bottom. The case contains not only the rifle but an in depth owners manual as well as rail covers. A separate booklet is enclosed explaining the use of the mil-dot system. There’s plenty of room in the case for a large mounted scope. The Leupold scope I used is a large scope so even with it mounted on the RRA there was plenty of room for extra mags etc.
Working front to back this rifle has an RRA directionally tuned and ported muzzle brake. This brake works well but man is it loud! It’s much louder than my AR with a Smith Vortex muzzle brake. I had some not so great ear plugs in when I fired that first round and my ears rang for thirty minutes. Not something I’m used to in an AR. Make sure you have that quality hearing protection on when firing this rifle!
The barrel is a 16 inch cryogenically treated barrel with a bead blast finish and heavy profile. The rate of twist is 1:8 that I found works well with 71 and 77 grain bullets but not so much with standard 55 grain ammo. The barrel is free floated with a mid length gas system. The handguard has a full-length rail on top with short rails at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock position. You’ll note the handguard also has cooling vents shaped like the paws of a varmint. Some like the paw prints some not so much.
The lower receiver has a standard thumb safety, Hogue tan rubber grip and twenty round aluminum magazine with anti-tilt follower. The upper receiver is a standard configuration. The bolt is an RRA design with a slightly different shape having a flat side at the two o’clock position.
The shooter has an option, when ordering, of equipping the rifle with a tan CAR collapsible stock or a rifle length fixed tan stock.
I started this session at 100 yards to sight the scope in and get a feel for the rifle and it’s two stage polished match trigger.
I’ll take a short departure from the range review to pass along some information on a fine set of gloves I used off and on during this very cool day. Several weeks ago I got a pair of ICRS gloves from The Spec Ops Shop. I’d been looking for a set of gloves with hard knuckles (comfortable), reasonably warm with index finger and thumb, which detach at the first joint of both fingers. After much searching I found these gloves, which not only allow using your trigger finger uncovered but the thumb, uncovered to manipulate the safety. Each finger cover folds over and back attaching the tips to the back of the glove with Velcro. Both gloves are made the same way for right or left handed shooters. I recommend these gloves to any shooter for handgun or rifle use. The price is $69.00 direct from Spec Ops.
They are currently sold out unfortunately.
Back to the range:
After sighting in the scope I setup to fire several five shot groups. The claim of ¾ inch groups at 100 yards is no exaggeration. Out of ten five shop groups I only had two groups that were barely under one inch. Most groups were right at the advertised ¾ inch with two groups less than ¾ inch. I was using a Grip Pod military version as my bi-pod. It worked very well especially later on uneven ground.
My second session was at a much greater distance. I measured the distance with my laser range finder at 316 yards. The picture below shows the distance. It’s difficult to see but the target is just left of center in the photo. My best group out of ten five shot groups was 3 1/4 inches. Pretty impressive performance with the Leupold scope set at 20 power on the RRA. The humidity was low at 44 %, with sunny skies and a slight breeze from behind me. The temp was 44 degrees.
I mentioned loads earlier. The best performance and the rounds I used for these groups was Hornady match ammo with a 71 grain bullet. These are excellent rounds for longer distances. This particular rifle really liked this load.
Some may look at this rifle and say what’s so special it doesn’t look much different than others. Well the proof is in the performance. Obviously care was taken in matching parts as well as assembly. QC was very good with no defects I could find. The trigger came in right at 3 ½ pounds on this example. The trigger was also crisp with a nice let off. It also has a short reset.
The Predator isn’t a super fancy rifle with all sorts of unneeded bells and whistles just what you need to get the job done. I can without reservation recommend this rifle for varmint hunting or for that matter casual target shooting.
Lastly buy a good quality scope. If you buy a cheap scope you’ll cheat yourself out of the accuracy this rifle and many others are capable of.