It has been my pleasure to test a few DRD Tactical rifles over the past few years. It’s a great company to work with, as the owner, Skip Patel, prides himself on timely delivery of proven products, not just promises. Even during the last AR shortage, he was able to get one to me a DRD rifle in a few days.
Of course, building everything in-house makes that a lot easier, and DRD Tactical makes most of its own rifle components. The receivers and handguards are created on the company’s state-of-the-art CNC machines. Outsourced parts are stocked in large enough numbers to satisfy demand. Made one at a time to the buyer’s specifications, each DRD Tactical rifle uses the company’s proprietary quick-change barrel system, which allows the weapon to quickly break down and fit into a small hard case or pack. Even the Kivaari in .338 Lapua Magnum is a takedown design. Despite that, every DRD Tactical rifle runs via the simple direct-impingement system. I’ve tested most of the company’s rifles, and they’ve always been a pleasure to shoot. But I wanted to try something a little different.
Since retiring as a police marksman, I’ve slowly replaced most of the .308/7.62mm rifles in my inventory with 6.5mms, either in 6.5 Creedmoor or .260 Rem. Losing the ball and chain of department policy has allowed me to move forward, and years of testing has showed me that the 6.5 Creedmoor can do everything a .308 can do but with less recoil and smoother operation in an AR. Even with barrels as short as 18 inches, the 6.5 Creedmoor holds its own at typical engagement distances and reaches out farther. It’s an excellent option for competition, hunting or virtually anything requiring pinpoint accuracy. You can get factory-loaded match ammunition for about the same price as .308 ammunition, too. When Skip told me he had started using 6.5 Creedmoor barrels in the DRD Tactical M762, I couldn’t help but ask to give one a try.
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The M762’s receivers are machined in-house from a billet of 6061-T6 aluminum. The upper is designed with threads to accept a proprietary barrel nut to accommodate the quick-change barrel assembly, which includes the barrel, gas tube and low-profile gas block. The barrel can be changed in seconds in the field for different lengths or calibers. My test rifle came with an 18-inch, hammer-forged, chrome-lined barrel with a 1-in-8-inch twist rate and an A2-style flash suppressor. The upper also includes a forward assist and dust cover.
Surrounding the barrel and rifle-length gas system is a free-floating handguard with a long top rail that mates with the upper’s as well as a short bottom rail and sides that are drilled and tapped for adding more accessory rails. The handguard is designed to easily slide over the barrel assembly, and it locks into a notch at the top of the receiver.
You’ll notice a large latch on the bottom of the handguard, just in front of the receiver. To switch barrels or remove the barrel/handguard for easy packing, open this large latch, slide the handguard off of the rifle, loosen the barrel nut and remove the barrel assembly from the receiver. Reassembly is in the reverse order.
The matching lower has a unique ledge just above the triggerguard. It’s positioned perfectly to hold your trigger finger when it’s outside of the triggerguard, and it’s grooved for touch memory. This ledge also guides your finger right into the magazine release. The magazine well is flared and curved for easy insertion. The safety is a standard AR unit with markings on both sides of the receiver, and the rifle comes with a two-stage Geissele trigger.
As for furniture, the M762 comes with an Ergo pistol grip, and the DPMS-length buffer tube is fitted with an EXOS Defense Ti-7 collapsible stock. Rounded at the bottom, it fits nicely in the shoulder pocket. It also has quick-detach (QD) sling cups on both sides as well as battery storage compartments that have the added benefit of providing a solid cheekweld.
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Each rifle is supplied with two 20-round PMAGs in a hard case that will accommodate the rifle and has plenty of extra space for scopes and suppressors. With practice, you can assemble the M762 in less than a minute. Finally, my test rifle came coated in DRD Tactical’s “Battle Worn” boron-carbide finish. Expertly applied, this finish blends well with urban surroundings while remaining pretty subdued, and it provides another layer of protection.
Given the shorter barrel length, I couldn’t help but run the M762 with a suppressor. So I added my SilencerCo Omega, the shortest .30-caliber suppressor in my inventory, which made the M762 about as long as a typical 22-inch-barreled 6.5 Creedmoor AR. Using a SilencerCo ASR mount added some length but made it easy to quickly detach the suppressor. I also used the supplied gas block initially, then switched to an adjustable gas block to use a dedicated thread-on suppressor.
For optics, I used an Alamo Four Star mount to add Bushnell’s 3.5-31x50mm Elite Tactical HDMR scope with a Horus TReMoR 2 reticle. This scope has ample magnification for the 6.5 Creedmoor. This glass is excellent; the knobs are large, easy to read and easy to set. The final additions were an AXTS Raptor charging handle and an Atlas bipod with Tactical Supply talons that dig into dirt nicely and still work on stable structures. Now it was finally time to hit the range.
Every DRD Tactical rifle I’ve tested has been accurate, even the .338 Lapua Kivaari, and the 6.5 Creedmoor M762 was no exception. My best five-shot group at 100 yards, produced with Hornady’s 143-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter ammunition, was 0.61 inches wide. Hornady’s 140-grain ELD Match ammunition came in second place with a 0.7-inch group. Everything else was around 0.75 inches. Adding the Omega suppressor did not affect the rifle’s accuracy, but it was softer to shoot and, well, quiet. Tuning the gas down when suppressed reduced recoil and provided consistent brass ejection between 3 and 4 o’clock. The chamber started out a little tight, but after about 10 rounds, the M762 purred along with no failures to eject or feed using either gas block.
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Previous work with an 18-inch-barreled bolt action yielded 140-grain A-MAX velocities in the 2,600-fps range, and this rifle performed similarly. With temperatures over 100 degrees and humidity under 10 percent, the rounds were a bit faster this time, but I didn’t notice any pressure signs with any of the test ammunition. Out to 500 yards, the difference was less than 0.5 mils compared to my 22-inch-barreled AR. It grew to about a 1-mil difference at 825 yards and stretched from there. In practice, the rifle was just as accurate out to 869 yards with about the same wind hold. At 869 yards, my hold was 1.4 mils for a full-value 10-mph wind.
Engaging 12-inch steel targets at 300, 500, 650 and 869 yards was just a matter of changing my hold. It was that easy to get on target. Of course, getting hits at 869 yards took a bit more concentration on my part, but that could just as easily be me, not the rifle.
The rifle was very handy for a 7.62mm-based AR. The 18-inch barrel made it very easy to work around cars, in the field or in closer quarters without a suppressor. Even with the Omega suppressor installed, the M762 is still a ton easier to maneuver with than a 24-inch-barreled bolt action.
DRD Tactical’s rifles have always been reliable in testing and so was this one, especially with the Magpul PMAGs. It did not always want to lock my LaRue Tactical magazines in place, but that’s not uncommon, as all of these machined lowers are just a bit different and most are designed around polymer magazines these days.
I also took the rifle down and reassembled it to see how well it would hold its zero with a scope remaining on the receiver, and the point-of-impact shift was less than half an inch, which is plenty close for practical uses at any reasonable range. If you are removing the scope each time you take the rifle down, get a mount that returns as close to zero as possible.
I had been wanting to test an 18-inch-barreled AR in 6.5 Creedmoor for quite some time, and this setup worked out well. It’s a solid choice for most applications with less recoil than a similar .308/7.62mm rifle. Being able to take the rifle down and fit it into a discreet case only adds to its versatility. If you are looking for an accurate, long-range AR that can easily be taken down, make sure you check out the M762 from DRD Tactical, a great company made up of great people with great products to match.
For more information, visit drdtactical.com or call 678-398-9059.
This article was originally published in the October/November 2016 issue of ‘Guns & Weapons For Law Enforcement’. For information on how to subscribe, please email subscriptions@