Robinson Armament Updates .308 XCR-M Rifle | SHOT 17

The redheaded stepchild of the SCAR contract was Robinson Arms’ XCR, an interesting design from a small company in Salt Lake City, UT. A rifle that is part AR-15, part FNC, and part noodle, the XCR represents an attractive looking and interesting might-have been, and now exists as a small player in a big market (although, as Ed knows, it’s big in Canada!).

Neither of the cameras I had with me could capture the brilliant neon green highlights on this XCR-M. Oh well.


Still, Robinson Arms has stuck by the XCR, and continues to improve it. The XCR-M, the 5.56’s bigger brother, recently underwent an update where the tappet gas pistol of the previous M variants was replaced by the XCR’s more characteristic AK-style direct gas impingement operating rod. The primary advantage of this is that the entire piston and operating rod withdraws from the rear of the rifle, allowing the forend to extend past the gas block without impeding disassembly. Besides greatly improving the look of the rifle, this also better facilitates currently fashionable grip techniques, and gives more forward real estate for attachments.

The XCR is, broadly speaking, a sound design that is light, strong, and reliable, at least in theory (my experience with these rifles is nil, so I am speaking from their design characteristics only). One thing the XCR brings to the table that I have discussed before is a shelf in the bolt carrier, which prevents the bolt from trying to complete its turning move before it can lock, which reduces friction and greatly eases feeding:

Robinson Armament offers the XCR in a wide variety of calibers. The XCR-L is offered in 5.56mm, .300 Blackout, 6.8mm SPC, 7.62x39mm, and 5.45x39mm. The XCR-M is offered in .308 Winchester, .243 Winchester, and .260 Remington.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Henry Reed

    How do they group? How reliable are they? How do they balance?

    • I dunno, I just went to a trade show.

      Balance seemed OK.

      • Henry Reed

        Sorry I wasn’t interrogating you, just thought someone else may have shot an earlier version

        • Here’s a good review by Ed!

          • noob

            🙂 the disassembly is pretty nifty.

            I am curious about the photo of the 2017 XCR field stripped – it has a fixed bolt cam lug which goes into a slot on the front of the BCG. is there something I’m not seeing on the top surface of the bolt that prevents it pulling out forward when the oprod is pushed into the top of the BCG?

            I sort of see a “tooth” on the front of the oprod interface with the BCG, so I’m guessing there would be some kind of grove on the bolt tail to catch it.

          • Front lug on the oprod prevents it. 🙂

    • raz-0

      A friend snagged one of the early XCRs about 6 months after they first came out. I’ve run into one other in the flesh I didn’t get to shoot. Accuracy was kind of AK like, which was sad, because the ergonomics of the rifle was quite sound. The trigger was probably on par with an alg QMS. Maybe not quite as polished but about the same pull weight, and the same on both rifles I got to handle. Form factor was good, the quad pic rails were a bit on the sharp side, but not overly bulky.

      The price wasn’t even terribly insane when he got his. Fit and finish was solid, but they utterly failed to deliver on the caliber interchangeability and there was the whole accuracy debacle. Don’t tout it as accurate, better than all these rifles, come out of the gate shooting in $500 AK territory, and then scream at everyone that it is “combat accurate” whatever that is.

      As a package I like it better than the SCAR, but the scar shoots well in spite of the many things I dislike about it. The XCR needed some TLC it didn’t get.

      • Jack

        The latest gen XCRs are steps above their early offerings, assuming you’re talking about the Ls. Latest gen has a much better fit and finish and just feels like a better product. I’ve never been unhappy with the accuracy from my Ls but if I had to give an edge it would be to the AR but I’d argue that’s more due to the massive support and decades of refinement. Some reloaders have gotten excellent accuracy out of their Ms and Ls

        • raz-0

          It was a 5.56, so an m equivalent.

          • Jack

            The 5.56 is an L model. They’ve had lots of changes since 2006. The Ms are relatively new and started off with many of the mods the Ls gained over the years. The gas block and op rod mentioned in the article is the latest change to the M. That setup has been on the Ls for awhile. Early Ms had a loose gas tube/block interface that resulted in some poor accuracy. They changed that about 2 years ago and are offering the upgrade to guys who got early Ms with the original style interface. It’s also understanding that the new operating system is an option, not a replacement.

      • Richard C. Johnson

        Combat accurate with a 5.56 by USMC standard, at least in my day, was, point target at 300 meters and area target at 500 meters.

  • McThag

    Just don’t talk to Alex Robinson on the internet if you have a thin skin. He’s… passionate.

    Yes, that’s the way to say it.

    Hiram Maxim wasn’t a people person either.

    • THP

      I talked to him numerous times years ago (10+), and he was always cordial. We were just pretty much talking guns and importation issues through, and not critiquing his guns.

    • Spacedredd

      I have to agree that Alex is very passionate. I have met him a couple times and talked to him on the phone a few times too. I showed at his old manufacturing shop w/a Deawoo K1A1. He really geeked out… He then showed me is collection of firearms. A BAR w/a shorter barrel and pistol grip, Never have saw one in wild. Last year he assisted me over the phone to work on my SBR ppw. I have had my XCR-L since 09. I have had a couple issues but just like any other rifle. I broke a firing pin after owning it for 5 years and for 2 years shooting at least twice a month. It still fired even when it was broken, but did have some FTFs. Since I have changed it out. It still works. Now its a SBR and works even better. I shoot the affordable Wolf Gold, and when I can get the ZQI 62grn. Any my XCR is my GOTH gun.

  • Tyson chandler

    Didn’t one of their previous rifles have an optional “Bren Gun” top feed mag attachment. It may have not been very practical, but I thought it looked cool.

    • Raven

      Waaaay back, yeah. It was a semi-clone of the Stoner 63, if I’m not mistaken.

      • Lupinsea

        Yeah . . . I just sold my Robinson M96 today. Dropped it off at the FFL for shipment out to the buyer.

        I never had any problem with it (original owner) and I liked *having* the rifle but I didn’t shoot it much. We’re facing an AWB in WA state and I didn’t want to be stuck with an orphan gun that was in very low production run and no ability to get parts or to sell and replace it down the road.

        As a replacement I was looking at a Bren 805, the Robinson XCR, and the Bushmaster ACR, and Sig MCX. After weighing all the pros and cons I went with the ACR. In no small part was it due to how Robisnon handled their customer service. As I said, I never had to deal with the company, “my” M96 never had a problem. But I heard about it and it gave me pause.

        Which is a shame because it sounds like the company turned a corner, improved CS, and the XCRs are nice guns.

        Ultimately, I don’t really care about caliber conversions and I felt more comfortable with the ACR and it was a not-insignificant amount cheaper, too. Sweet gun. Super happy to have made the switch.

        • jcitizen

          I was always hoping I could rely on surplus Stoner parts to repair and maintain the Robarm Expeditionary Rifle, but they changed it so much, the parts weren’t compatible, so I gave up wanting one. Too bad they didn’t come out with a Stoner type belt fed converter, like the Stoner 63 system. Oh well – such dreams never materialized!

  • USMC03Vet

    Eww keymod. That is only sexy folding stock though. I’m so conflicted.

  • AZgunner

    Unfortunately I don’t think the XCR will ever outrun the initial negative reviews regarding quality control and customer service. Add in Robinson’s combative personality and you have a hard sell. A shame too, since I’ve always found the functional design and aesthetics of the rifle pretty cool.

    • Jack

      It’s an often overlooked platform that actually delivers on the multi-cal(5.56, 5.45, 7.62, 6.8, .300) promise that few others have done. Great ergos and tons of options. It won’t ever be my only rifle but it’s one of my favorites.

      CS has gotten better but they’re still a small company with priorities that aren’t always in the US and it can still take awhile to get parts/rifles.

    • randomswede

      My understanding is that QC is acceptable these days (I’m correctable if anyone has recent and conflicting data).

      The XCR-M sounds like a very good rifle for what I’am interested in, but the fact that me saying that Robinson behaves like a child probably puts the entirety of Sweden on the no-buy list.

      Note well that I’m fine with him being protective of his employes (people were supposedly very rude to their customer support, something I find unacceptable unless the actual representative is rude, at that point it’s no-holds-barred) but the best thing to happen to that family of rifles is probably the design being sold to a larger company.

      • Just say’n

        Yeah, that worked really well for Magpul, selling the Masada to Bushmaster

        • randomswede

          For Magpul? Yes. I’m thinking they are very happy with that deal. They didn’t have to tool up for weapons manufacturing, they recouped what they invested into the project and made a profit. They also look like the hero to Bushmasters villainy of failing to “do the rifle justice”.

          Bushmaster in turn bought “the next AR-15” all hyped and good to go, but in order to get their money back and tool up for manufacture they ended up with a more expensive rifle than Magpul had promised the customers.
          That higher price and failing to understand how important the perception of modularity was cost them the early success. They should have made caliber conversion kits for lets say 5.56, .300, 6.5 and 6.8 just make enough that they exist in the wild at a high cost and when asked just say “Prices will drop and production will go up once we settle in”.
          None of that really matters as 90% of the customers don’t want anything but 5.56×45 and the standard 16″ “poster look” version. But they want that rifle with the image/dream of the modularity.
          That said, I wouldn’t count the ACR out just yet.

          As for how that relates to the XCR being sold to/by another company, I’m not convinced it does.
          Either way I’d be very surprised if Robinson actually sold the design. My point is that in PR terms it’s most likely the best thing that could happen to the rifle and for the customers.

          • Just say’n

            What I mean is that I’m sure Magpul expected to see Masadas (ACRs) lining the racks at gun shops across the globe, but Rem-master dropped the ball. Big companies trying to make something successful by buying a smaller company (or its product) rarely seems to work out. The engineering & marketing team at the larger company has a “not invented here” mentality and associated lack of motivation to make the foreign-to-them design work. Assimilation rarely yields optimal results. Best to keep the smaller company as a hands-off, standalone unit (like L3Com does).

            If a large company like Remington bought the XCR it’d likely be the death of it. By they time they optimized it for mass production it would be garbage and nobody would want one. As it is, the XCR fills a nice boutique niche (for those who want something different than an AR, don’t mind paying extra for it, but yet the XCR isn’t really better than an AR).


    Ive been shooting the xcr-l for 2 yrs now. I love it. Reliable, easy to switch out barrel lengths and calibers ( i only shoot 5.56 snd .300 blk). Once you get through the stated break in period (300 rds), it runs like a champ. I shoot mainly wolf gold 5.56 ( because I’m cheap) and remanufactured .300 blk in gen 3 pmags. I use use a ta31 acog for the optic. I dont like the “heavy” barrel, i prefer the 14.5 barrel due to weight. Despite the negative online reviews ( most are several years old), ive only had positive experiences with the customer service. I’d buy it again.

  • Lance

    I have been shooting XCR’s for years and have a few. I have run these in intense carbine classes and they perform wonderfully. The XCR’s will shoot with the right ammo around 1-1.5 inches. I have a 7.62X39 that will shoot 5/8 of an inch with cheap Norinco steel cased ammo. The egros are superb, the three lug bolt and huge extractor are uber reliable. I love the adjustable gas and i can pull the barrel in about 30 seconds. You could call me a fan boy, but I’m picky as hell and this is the only rifle that fits my criteria. I lived through the crappy CS and it is very good CS now. Everything on this rifle is metal and it is still lighter than most of the plastic space guns. By the way, Ed’s review sucked and in my opinion, he really missed the essence of the rifle. If I recalled he judged his accuracy on an .308 SBR version, that just isn’t reflective of accuracy.

    • Jack

      You don’t happen to have a 300 pistol in burnt bronze do you?

      • Lance Shoemaker


    • Jason Kay

      I own 6 of these rifles. I use one for 3 gun. They are more than capable of sub moa accuracy. My competition L will shoot 1/2″ all day with 69 grain Mk or custom competition. My .308 is a 1/2″ gun as well with 168 and 175 grn MK.

  • Lance

    By the way, it is one of the only modern Battle Rifles being built today. The SCAR is the only other Modern Battle Rifle currently being built, most every other one is built on technology from the 50′ and 60’s. Don’t get me wrong–I love M-14’s, Fal’s, HK’s and sorta like the AR-10. But, the XCR-M is very innovative.

    • iksnilol

      How is it innovative if it is a modernization of an outdated concept?

      • Lance Shoemaker

        ?, Please explain.

        • iksnilol

          308 “battle rifles” are an outdated concept. So making a modern one isn’t really innovative. It’s like modernizing the Browning BAR isn’t innovative since it is a dead concept.

          • Lance Shoemaker

            There are lots of battle rifles currently being used in the military. I wasn’t really talking about the concept of a battle rifle, I was getting at a new design in battle rifles.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, but making a new og something that’s outdated isn’t innovative.

  • The_Champ

    I can’t explain why but the .243 caliber option really appeals to me.

    • jcitizen

      Probably because it has been the most popular caliber before the 5.56mm came out! And is legal for deer in more states that way! You can use it for large game and small – it is an all around good choice for the average shooter that just wants one gun to fit all situations.

  • Matthew Groom

    I don’t know where this reputation for rudeness comes from; I have dealt with the company several times, and have found their customer service to be outstanding, but then again, I am polite until given cause. I just called to ask a technical question about the new .22 Nosler, and got to speak with Alex Robinson himself for about 10 minutes on it. Name me another company where the president will entertain the queries of a random customer about a product they don’t yet offer. I also met him years ago at SHOT when I was with a different company, and he was polite and pleasant then as well, which is hard to do after several days at SHOT show.

    The XCR is an excellent design, the company has continuously improved it, and gripes about waiting for parts or customer service strikes me as petulant whining. I have dealt with companies that kept optics which were sent back for repairs (Zeiss), companies that wanted more money for a repair than the product actually cost (Casio USA), who then charged a ransom for the broken product’s return, dealt with companies that would not replace user-servicable broken plastic parts unless they had the entire firearm shipped to them (FHN), and companies who refused to exchange sealed Left-handed products they made for the right handed model (GGG) when ordered by mistake. That’s bad customer service; having to wait for a part or product that is in high demand is just the free market.