Review: Rock River Arms LAR-47 X-1 Review

LAR-47 X-1 023

The LAR-47 X-1 was originally released in June of 2014 by Rock River Arms. This rifle is a hybrid of the AR and AK platform, and is for anyone who wants to shoot 7.62 x 39 out of a mid-to-high end AR type rifle.

The LAR-47 X-1 is essentially a direct impingement AR type rifle chambered in 7.62 x 39, which uses Rock River Arms LAR-47 magazines, and is marketed as accepting most standard AK magazines. It has many features of a mid-to-high end AR including a Rock River Arms two-stage trigger, a free-floating RRA TRO-XL Extended Length hand guard rail, a full length MIL-STD 1913/Picatinny rail up top, a 1-10” twist stainless steel 18-inch fluted heavy barrel which has also been bead blasted and Cryo treated, a chromed bolt carrier group, and a Rock River Arms branded Hogue pistol grip. The A4 upper receivers are made of forged 7075-T-6 aluminum, hard coat anodized with a matte finish, and the muzzle brake is made out of 4140 steel with 5/8-24 threads.

Close up of the RRA Beast Muzzle Brake.

Close up of the RRA Beast Muzzle Brake.

 

There are four different models to choose from, the main differences are the color of the furniture, a collapsible or fixed stock, and different muzzle brakes, with MSRPs ranging between $1,600-$1,660 dollars.

The version I was sent to test and evaluate was a brand new RRA LAR-47 X-1 Black with Operator CAR stock, with an MSRP of $1,600.  It comes from the factory with a RRA Beast Muzzle Brake and a collapsible stock. It also comes with one RRA branded Thermmold AK magazine, RRA rifle case, three MIL-STD 1913/Picatinny rail attachments for the fore-end, a weapon wipe from LPS 1, manual, and limited lifetime warranty. It weighs in at 8.2 lbs, with a length of 36.5 inches with the stock fully collapsed.  It ships “optics ready”, with no sights provided from the factory, and a low-profile gas block clamped with a screw, on top of a mid-length gas system.  It also has an ejection port cover and forward assist plunger.

After cleaning the rifle and throwing some iron sights on it I headed out to the range to get a basic zero at 25 yards and start testing ammo. Operating the rifle is a blend between the AR and AK platform, with the safety and charging mechanisms operating like an AR, while reloading mechanics are similar to the AK. The magazine is inserted by rocking the magazine rearward, and deposited in virtually the same manner as an AK, with the pressing of an ambidextrous release paddle located just inside the oversized trigger guard, and pulling forward and out. With respect to malfunction clearing, the protocol would be similar to that of the AK, the only major difference being the location of the charging handle.

The trigger is extremely pleasant compared to stock triggers on either AR’s or AK’s.  While I was unable to test the pull weight of the actual trigger, it is a 4.5-5lb trigger according to Rock River’s website, which felt about right. Recoil is straight back and muzzle rise was minimal, especially compared to a Norinco MAK-90 Sporter, and the recoil itself was on par with an LE6920. After zeroing I took it out to get an overall feel for the handling of the rifle, testing double-taps and plinking while simultaneously testing various magazines and ammunition types in it. The combination of the heavy barrel, DI gas system, two-stage trigger, long free floated fore end, and muzzle brake made the LAR-47 X-1 an absolute joy to shoot 7.62 x 39.

 

 

Out playing with the LAR-47 X-1, trying various ammunition and magazine types. Note a good ole’ El Paso sandstorm in the background.

Out playing with the LAR-47 X-1, trying various ammunition and magazine types. Note a good ole’ El Paso sandstorm in the background.

 

Another positive attribute is the ability to swap out the stock charging handle with a BCM charging handle or any other standard AR aftermarket charging handle of your choice, which I did for the duration of testing. This is an absolute must if you plan to put a scope on the rifle. This is also especially good as the LAR-47, just like an AK, has no last round hold open mechanism and must be charged manually after expending and reloading each magazine or in the case of malfunction clearing. The pistol grip can also be changed out for any other standard AR grip on the market.

For ammunition testing I was initially quite limited. I only had two different types of 7.62 x 39 in my ‘apocalypse stash,’ 122gr. Wolf ammo and some brand X Russian 123 gr. ammo. However, after three trips to Academy (this was before they pulled AR’s off the rack) and two trips to two different locally owned gun shops in the El Paso area, I was able to get my hands on 124 gr. HP Tulammo, 122 gr. FMJ Red Army Standard, 123 gr. HP Monarch with Polymer Coating, and 123 gr. FMJ Monarch with Lacquer Coating. I was also able to acquire some M67 brass cased Romanian ammo from a friend. I wish I could have gotten my hands on some higher quality ammo, but it is what it is.

 

 

The seven types of ammo I was able to do accuracy testing with. Not sure what brand the box is on the top right. I call it Russian brand X.

The seven types of ammo I was able to do accuracy testing with. Not sure what brand the box is on the top right. I call it Russian brand X.

 

I began testing with Wolf ammo, which turned out to be unfortunate as I could not fire two consecutive Wolf rounds without having a failure to load the next round.

Failure to load using Wolf ammo. The spent casing was ejected.

Failure to load using Wolf ammo. The spent casing was ejected.

 

Fortunately all of the other brands I fired cycled spectacularly without a single malfunction, which over the course of the test included over 140 rounds with Russian brand X, 60 rounds of Tulammo, 50 rounds of the M67 Romanian brass cased, 20 rounds of the Monarch with Polymer Coating, 20 rounds of the Monarch with Lacquer Coating, and 20 rounds of the Red Army Standard. Midway through testing I tried Wolf again with a moderate improvement of being able to get through two or three rounds at a time until a failure to load, and at the very end of testing I tried Wolf ammo a third time and to my surprise was able to get through a box of 20 rounds without fail, and thus was able to include that data in the accuracy test.  I don’t know if the rifle just needed to be broken in or what, but by the end Wolf seemed to work just fine.

As far as magazine compatibility goes, Rock River suggests you use their Thermmold magazines which work great in the LAR-47 as well as a Norinco MAK-90 that I tested it with. The LAR-47 X-1 does not seat Tapco magazines, nor do Magpul magazines work as there is too much resistance on the bolt carrier from the feed lips to cycle the rounds. Whether or not your metal magazines work in the LAR-47 is going to be hit or miss. Out of the five metal magazines that I tested three worked without problem, including an American Tactical magazine and Romanian surplus mag. The other two whose brand I could not identify, would not seat in the gun. All in all this is not surprising given the wide variety in AK variants and tolerances on the market.

I threw on a Nikon Monarch 3-12×42 with a simple duplex reticle, and headed out to the Fort Bliss range with a full rest to do the accuracy test.

On the range at Fort Bliss Rod and Gun Club, doing accuracy testing on a Lead Slead. Because of the design of Lead Slead I had to rack in a new round and remove the magazine before each shot. Rock River explicitly warns against loading the rifle by dropping a round in the chamber; all rounds must be loaded from the magazine.

On the range at Fort Bliss Rod and Gun Club, doing accuracy testing on a Lead Slead. Because of the design of the Lead Slead I had to rack in a new round and remove the magazine before each shot. Rock River explicitly warns against loading the rifle by dropping a round in the chamber; all rounds must be loaded from the magazine.

Midway through accuracy testing I started shooting off the Lead Sled with the rifle at a slight cant to save time, and do accuracy and reliability testing at the same time, especially with the types of ammo for which I only had 20 rounds. Also at this point I switched grips to a Magpul FDE Plus grip.

Midway through accuracy testing I started shooting off the Lead Sled with the rifle at a slight cant to save time, and do accuracy and reliability testing at the same time, especially with the types of ammo for which I only had 20 rounds. Also at this point I switched grips to a Magpul FDE Plus grip.

 

For my accuracy test I shot five different five-shot groups at 101 yards with Tulammo, Russian brand X, and the M67 Romanian ammo. For the Red Army Standard, Wolf, and the two types of Monarch I had only one box each of twenty rounds, so their data is derived from four different five-shot groups.  Ambient temperature was a balmy 95 degrees Farenheit, with 17% humidity. Elevation was about 4,000 feet.

With 124 gr. HP Tulammo the LAR-47 X-1 performed very well. My best group was 1.25 inches; worst group was 2.5 inches, with an average grouping of 1.71 inches with Tulammo. The 123 gr. Russian brand X didn’t fare quite as well with an average grouping of 2.75 inches. The Romanian M67 brass cased fared a little better with an average of 2.4 inches. With Red Army Standard I averaged 2.85 inches, which was the largest spread of all brands tested.  Wolf averaged 2.6 inches, Monarch with Lacquer coating averaged 2.5 inches, and Monarch with Polymer Coating averaged 1.71 inches, tying with Tulammo for the most accurate brand tested.

Naturally 7.62 x 39 is not known as being the most accurate cartridge of all time. However, Tulammo and Monarch with Polymer Coating are not exactly match grade ammo but an average grouping of 1.71” is not too shabby, considering it is cheap, widespread and generally available ammunition. Of course I would have loved to test some match grade ammo, I do not doubt the LAR-47 X-1 could do 1 minute of angle with the right ammo; it just wasn’t in the cards.

Rock River suggests treating any steel case ammo as corrosive, regardless of what it says in the box. One effective way to clean a firearm after shooting corrosive ammo is to field strip it as best you can and treat each part exposed to fouling with hot soapy water which will break down and get rid of the salt from the primers. You can also wipe down with Windex, as the ammonia in the solution helps the water to evaporate and not rust your firearm components. Either way you should be sure your components dry quickly and fully to avoid rust buildup, and for the barrel make sure to use a copper fouling remover as corrosive residue can become trapped underneath. Then proceed with your cleaning regimen as usual.

Fortunately, field stripping the LAR-47 X-1 is easy and breaks down the exact same way as a standard AR rifle, all the way to the bolt carrier group. The gas key has been properly staked, and the chromed bolt carrier group makes it easy to see the carbon build up and visually confirm when it is clean. The entire bolt group and bolt carrier are not interchangeable with a .223 AR, and are proprietary to the LAR-47 platform.

Image of the chromed bolt carrier group.

Image of the chromed bolt carrier group.

 

Image of the gas key from above.

Image of the gas key from above.

 

Close up of the bolt face.

Close up of the bolt face.

 

Rock River’s “warranty is limited to the repair or replacement of the part or parts which are returned to Rock River Arms and which are determined by Rock River Arms to be defective.” It will cover the repair or replacement of any part over the user’s lifetime, except for the normal wear of protective finishes and of all metal or plastic parts, and so long as damage was not caused by negligence, accident, misuse, unauthorized repair or alteration, or the use of other than factory ammunition.

 

Final thoughts

The Rock River Arms LAR-47 X-1 is one of the latest efforts to bring the 7.62 x 39 cartridge to the AR platform.  It is arguably the best build for the money on the market today, with many features of a modern high-end AR and quality components.  By using the conventional pattern AK magazine they have successfully mated the 7.62 x 39 cartridge to the AR platform in a reliable way without having to reinvent the wheel.  As far as ammunition and magazine compatibility issues go, the user will just have to figure out what this rifle likes and what it doesn’t. The LAR-47 X-1 handled 3 out of 5 metal AK magazines just fine, 6 out of 7 ammunition types without fail, and even came around to Wolf ammo by the end of testing. This is not a surprise given the extreme spread in AK variances and tolerances on the market place today, although it may come across as a shock to the typical AR user who has been accustomed to the interchangeability of virtually all .223 AR platforms. Hopefully this article will make a prospective buyer make a more informed decision and spare a new user some of that testing phase for themselves.

Anyone who wants the most pleasant 7.62 x 39 shooting experience of their lives should take a very close look at the Rock River Arms LAR-47 X-1, with greater control, accuracy, ergonomics, and modularity than virtually any AK platform. It is a reliable, aesthetically pleasing firearm which would be well suited to plinking, home defense, or hunting. I could hardly think of a better ranch rifle than the LAR-47 X-1, which could be used to accurately take coyotes, full size hogs, and even deer in a powerful yet economical cartridge.

 

My FFL dealer and friend, Ed Solomon of SImcha Wholesale playing with the RRA LAR-47 X-1, this time at the El Paso Gun Club.

My FFL dealer and friend, Ed Solomon of SImcha Wholesale playing with the RRA LAR-47 X-1, this time at the El Paso Gun Club.

 



Michael G

Michael Gomez resides in the tri-border city of El Paso, Texas. He graduated Cum Laude with a BBA in Economics from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. With experience in firearms retail, he is currently an AR-15 armorer, pistol instructor, TFB writer, mule deer hunter, and pomegranate farmer.


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  • Harry’s Holsters

    Has anyone run the a high round count test to test the bolt. That’s the only thing that keeps scaring me away from 7.62×39 ARs.

    Not working with Magpul AK mags makes it a no go for me personally.

    • Emfourty Gasmask

      The CMMG Mutant has a very fat bolt, almost like an AR-10. Kinda sad to see its not the same case here.

      • Richard

        The CMMG mutant uses a modified AR-10 bolt

        • Gary Kirk

          And proprietary carrier

      • Kelly Jackson

        Yeah it’s huge by comparison

      • Harry’s Holsters

        Yeah if I buy one of these the mutant is in the top spot.

    • Gary Kirk

      Guess it’d be the same as any 7.62×39 ar bolt as far as thickness around the base.. Does look awful thin though.. I’ve been interested in these since they were introduced. Sadly I live in Maryland, therefore cannot buy an ak.. And for some reason I have a “bit” of ammo for one (don’t ask/not for sale).. Was going to build a conversion, but really liked that these can use ak mags

      • Vanns40

        Ah the joys of Maryland. BUT, if you, er, ah, ahem, already had said rifle before 2013 then you’d be grandfathered in! Lots of folks had all sorts of “bad” guns and were grandfathered in. Of course since NY put their mandatory assault rifle registration law in and the compliance rate has turned out to be less than 4% I’m sure folks in other states (Maryland?) have also failed to comply with parts of those states laws as well. 🙂

        • Gary Kirk

          Why i don’t know what you’re talking about

    • Jeffrey

      I have about 3000 rounds of mostly TulAmmo 154 SP through my SOTA arms upper. It eats through it like a champ.

    • tom mccubbin

      The bolt/extractor is the same as their .458 socom bolt and extractor, which has been out in the wild for nearly a decade without issues. I’d say it’s probably good to go for 7.62X39.

    • PanatomicX

      The Rock River web site says of its bolt parts, “For use only in RRA LAR-47 platform rifles.” These parts appear to be original to the product and with Rock River’s fine reputation, outstanding service can be expected.
      I believe the bad reputation AR-15 7.62×39 bolts have received in the past has to do with early bolts being conversions of 5.56 bolts. These can exhibit the tell-tale sign of a groove around the bolt face’s perimeter and it is difficult to discern if such a piece has been properly hardened after reworking. Compromised hardening or over-hardening in areas near bolt lugs, especially those adjacent to the weak area of the extractor, is a good formula for a bad kaboom.
      It would be ideal to own a 7.62×39 AR-15 that accepts the ubiquitous Kalashnikov magazines. Although Mr Gomez mentioned difficulties with some, most magazines would probably be adaptable with file, penknife, or just a good break-in.

  • Vitor Roma

    What is the length of the gas system? carbine, mid, rifle?

    • Gary Kirk

      Mid

  • Zachary marrs

    YFS screws. Chinese.

  • Gary Kirk

    Oh, and the prices posted are for the X1, the base LAR47 CarA4 is listed at $1270.00 currently.. Just a side note

  • Anonymoose

    Will it work with a POF Puritan upper? Does RRA still use commercial-spec buffer tubes?

    • Michael.g

      RRA does still use commercial-spec buffer tubes, and no I do not believe this would work with a POF Puritan upper because the LAR-47 lower is designed to accept AK magazines.

  • Cal S.

    I’ll wait for the Palmetto State offering…

  • Gary Stevens

    Thanks for this article. I was having the same exact malfunction in your picture. I thought it was mag related and now realize it was probably ammo related.

    • Michael.g

      No problem, glad you enjoyed it!

  • Predrag

    The letters on the unknown ammo box are in Serbian.

  • PanatomicX

    Although the LAR-47 lower is not marketed separately, the burning question I have is, does an ordinary AR-15 7.62×39 upper fit and function on the Rock River lower?