When a person sees or thinks about an AR, thoughts of combat and tactical work are what immediately come to mind. It’s a natural association. The rifle that most often comes to mind is the AR-15, though this was actually a derivative of the original AR-10. The 7.62mm AR-10 was developed in the 1950s as the U.S. military was testing various rifles to supplant the M1 Garand. At the time, the government went with the M14. But it wasn’t very long before the military, because of weight considerations and round count, selected a scaled-down version of the AR-10 that became known as the M16. Civilians know it as the AR-15.
Since the AR’s adoption, it has grown in popularity in the civilian world over the last five decades. Even though it has been around for more than 50 years, companies keep developing more and more variants to keep consumers satisfied. New gas systems have been invented; the rifle has been made much more configurable for the consumer. Additionally, some of these variations lean more toward the sport of hunting rather than just being a tactical weapon, and that’s where the Black Rain Ordnance (BRO) Predator in 6.5mm Creedmoor steps into the picture.
The name “Predator” conjures up an image of something wild that stalks its prey, and it is an apt description with the way this BRO rifle is designed. BRO has a full catalog of ARs that are divided into various product lines, including Competition, Recon, Spec and Hunting series.
As mentioned, the sample I received for review was chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, and there’s quite a story in that as well. Introduced in 2008, the 6.5 Creedmoor was conceived by Dave Emary, a Hornady engineer, and Dennis DeMille, National High-Power Champion at the time, as a long-distance target round.
Though initially designed as a target round, the 6.5 Creedmoor finally started gaining some traction as a hunting load once it became more popular on the precision shooting circuit. Because its high sectional density allows for better penetration and its higher ballistic coefficient permits excellent accuracy, it became a must-have chambering for the hunting crowd.
BRO decided to harness the power of the 6.5mm round in its hunting line, creating a rifle similar to its .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO Predator. It is cast on BRO’s AR-10-style platform, which incorporates a direct gas impingement operating system. That system has a user-adjustable gas block to fine tune performance.
A Closer Look
A few key features distinguish the Black Rain Ordnance Predator I received as a long-distance hunting rifle. The first of which is the 24-inch bull barrel that capitalizes on the features of the 6.5 Creedmoor round. However, the Predator can also be had with a lighter barrel to help trim off some weight. The barrels are double-fluted to increase stiffness for better accuracy and provide more surface area for faster cooling.
Adding to the hunting features is the Magpul PRS stock, which is designed for precision shooting. Both the length of pull and comb height are user-adjustable to provide a custom fit for everyone. Staying with that same philosophy, the Predator also comes with a Magpul MIAD pistol grip. This grip has interchangeable backstraps that can be swapped out, again for a better fit for the user.
While the sample I received had a round competition compensator on it, Predator barrels can also be had with a crown to help protect the bore so a ding will not impact the rifle’s accuracy. The barrel is made from 416R stainless steel. Many believe that 416R is best for those requiring absolute accuracy. This is because stainless is easier to machine and accepts cuts more uniformly than carbon steel. This results in tighter tolerances for chambers and crowns, and results in better rifling.
Despite its name, it is worth noting that 416R stainless steel is not as rust resistant as you might think. It requires proper care and maintenance, much like carbon steel. This is not a concern with the Predator rifle, however, since its barrel has undergone a salt-bath nitriding process. For those who are unfamiliar with this, think in terms of a Melonite finish. It’s not exactly the same, but close enough for government work.
Components utilized within the BRO Predator make it more of a standout rifle and help justify the $2,449 price tag. Aside from what’s already been mentioned, there are other touches that distinguish the Predator from also-ran AR-platform rifles on the market. For instance, another nod to the hunting crowd is the curved inset on the Picatinny top rail of the free-floating M-LOK handguard. That inset allows a large scope bell to lie much closer to the rifle for those who will use larger optics and want them to sit lower.
The bolt carrier group is nickel-boron coated for reduced friction and easier cleaning. Additionally, one of BRO’s 3.5-pound drop-in triggers is included. That’s a definite plus to assist with the human component of accuracy, especially on a rifle that’s intended for long-range shooting.
Hitting The Range
Calling out specs and components is one thing, but the actual handling and shooting experienceis what truly separates the wheat from the chaff. I must say that I was impressed overall by the clean lines and sleek, professional assembly of the Predator. Its parts were well thought out and blended harmoniously. From the competition compensator to the Magpul PRS stock, everything worked together to offer a great ride for my test-drive with the rifle.
The BRO drop-in trigger was an exceptionally nice touch. The average pull weight was right at the advertised 3.5 pounds. There was virtually no pre-travel or creep, and the trigger broke like a glass rod. In short, it was an exceptionally good trigger for a rifle like the Predator. It only took the slightest bit of return travel—just 0.13 inches—for the trigger to reset.
For accuracy testing, I coupled the Predator with Bushnell’s 4.5-18x44mm LRTSi scope. That was sure to get me on target, as would the new G3 illuminated reticle. For working in low-light conditions when a plain reticle can get lost on the target, an illuminated reticle can cut through the haze to help you get the job done.
The brightness adjustment for the illuminated reticle is integrated into the side-focus parallax knob on the left. The higher the number, the brighter the setting. To power off, the knob can be turned to a dot between the numbers, staying close to the last setting. Additionally, the ThrowHammer lever gives the user an assist in obtaining a near-instantaneous zoom when needed.
I had several premium loads on hand for the testing, including Federal’s 130-grain Gold Medal Berger, 120-grain Trophy Copper and 140-grain Fusion SP rounds. To keep things honest, I also ran Hornady’s 120-grain A-MAX ammo for the accuracy portion of the evaluation. Throughout the range session, the Predator’s reliability was superb, with no issues or malfunctions whatsoever.
Three of the loads did have at least one best group that was sub-MOA, though the blue ribbon for the tightest single group went to Federal’s Trophy Copper load. It not only created a 0.69-inch best group, but it also took the trophy for best average group size at 0.83 inches. This particular rifle definitely seemed to like the lighter loads the best.
The only thing that put me off about this hunting- style AR was the weight. It comes in at a hefty 10.75 pounds before the scope is installed and ammo is loaded. If this is intended as more of a precision shooting rifle, it definitely fits the bill, but this is specifically billed as a hunting gun. While this rifle is an excellent shooter, it would serve better as a hunting rifle with a lighter 18- to 20-inch barrel, unless the rifle will only be used for long-distance from the prone position.
Worth The Price?
At the end of the day, it all comes down to aesthetics and performance. Enthusiasts want a rifle that looks good and performs even better. Professionals want one that won’t give up the ghost, no matter what may come. The Black Rain Ordnance Predator fits that bill and then some.
At $2,449, it is not an inexpensive tool. But it’s hard to deny its quality based on the components and tooling that went into the construction of this top-shelf AR. With a 6.5 Creedmoor chambering, excellent accuracy and utter reliability, it is an excellent selection when it comes time to pick up your next hunting rifle. It’s an extremely well-made AR, and it offers a lot in a package that makes it well worth the price of admission.
Black Rain Ordnance Predator Specs
|Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor|
|Barrel: 24 inches|
|OA Length: 44 inches|
|Weight: 10.75 pounds (empty)|
|Stock: Magpul PRS|
|Action: Direct impingement semi-auto|
|Finish: Matte black|
Black Rain Ordnance Predator Performance
|Federal 120 Trophy Copper||2,895||0.83 (Average), 0.69 (Best)|
|Federal 130 Gold Medal Berger||2,875||1.09 (Average), 0.84 (Best)|
|Federal 140 Fusion SP||2,759||1.19 (Average), 1.06 (Best)|
|Hornady 120 A-MAX||2,888||1.07 (Average), 0.96 (Best)|
*Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in fps by chronograph and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 100 yards.
For more information, visit blackrainordnance.com.
This article was originally published in “AR Rifleman” 2018. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.