I’ve been a gun writer for several years now, which has some advantages. One of the biggest is getting to see how various weapons systems evolve over time. Many designs come and go, but others stick around for years. The best remain largely unchanged outside of some cosmetic enhancements, or the materials or production methods will change. But occasionally you get a company that will go the extra mile to vastly improve one of its products. One of the best examples of this dedication to improvement is the LWRC International REPR (Rapid Engagement Precision Rifle) MKII in .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO.
LWRC International REPR
LWRC International developed a proprietary short-stroke gas piston operating system that is recognized worldwide as being one of the most robust and reliable on the market. Dedicated to professionals for years, LWRCI’s 5.56mm NATO and 6.8 SPC rifles have withstood the harshest conditions, offering excellent accuracy and unparalleled reliability. Thus, military units, law enforcement personnel and other professionals pushed the company to create a larger-caliber rifle with the same qualities. In 2010, I tested LWRCI’s first REPR. Designed as a semi-automatic precision rifle, it was very accurate, and its reliability was better than most of the competition at the time. Featuring a left-side charging handle, it was a tad heavy; it proved to be a good weapon.
The platform saw incremental improvements until the U.S. Army’s Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) program came along, resulting in a completely new rifle. I first got my hands on the REPR MKII for testing in 2017, and it was a whole different ball game. The gun was so light that I thought LWRC International had sent me a 5.56mm by mistake. Removing it from the box, it looked more like a hand-built custom rifle than something mass-produced for combat. Everything about it was improved, including its inherent accuracy. And I didn’t think the gun could get any better until LWRCI decided to offer it with a Proof Research carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel earlier this year. Luckily, I was able to pit the best AR-style rifles against each other, head to head, for sister publication Ballistic’s Best, giving me a chance to really wring out LWRCI’s latest and greatest.
A Closer Look
The first thing I noticed about my test rifle was its expertly applied tungsten Cerakote finish. Also, the fit and finish were superb, starting with the Monoforge upper receiver. Moreover, the rifle came with a 16-inch Proof Research carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel with a 1-in-10-inch twist rate and LWRCI’s four-port Ultra muzzle brake. This barrel weighs about half a pound less than its all-steel brethren.
The Monoforge name comes from the fact that the handguard and upper receiver are designed as one integral component. Here the handguard has dozens of lightening cuts as well as a full-length Picatinny rail on top. The sides and bottom have more slots for accessories, and removing two screws at the front allows you to remove the entire top portion of the handguard so you can easily access the gas system. Two short rail segments were included with my test rifle along with a QD sling mount/rail combination unit.
While most piston-driven rifles in this caliber have adjustable gas blocks, they typically only offer three different positions: suppressed, unsuppressed and off. The REPR MKII’s gas block features adjustability to 20 different positions, allowing you to really fine-tune the gun for specific loads and conditions. Another enhancement is the upgraded bolt carrier group, which is coated for ease of cleaning and reliability in harsh environments, and LWRCI includes a set of its Skirmish backup sights.
The charging handle, magazine release, bolt catch and safety are all ambidextrous. The forged lower receiver also features an enlarged, integral triggerguard, a two-stage Geissele Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced (SSA-E) trigger, a Magpul MOE+ pistol grip and an adjustable Magpul UBR stock that provides a solid cheekweld as well as a storage compartment. Finally, each rifle comes with a 20-round PMag.
Only The Best
As I said, the REPR MKII’s initial test came in Ballistic’s Best, where it competed against 17 other semi-automatic rifles in either 5.56mm or 7.62mm NATO. Four independent evaluators put each rifle through its paces over two days, assigning a score for a number of categories, including accuracy, ergonomics and reliability. And of all the guns, the REPR MKII was the hands-down winner. Every evaluator scored it as the best rifle they tested. The fit and finish even exceeded that of the only custom rifle in the contest. Its accuracy and ergonomics also contributed, and it outscored every rifle. The only negative came in the “Value/Price” category, as it was the most expensive at $4,670. But we all agreed that it was worth the money. One evaluator said, “It costs a ton, but it delivers. It may be the best .308 rifle I’ve ever used.”
Heading to the Range
For this article, I hit the range again and added some new equipment. For targeting, I installed a Bushnell 4.5-30x50mm Elite Tactical XRS II scope in a ZRODelta mount. With its H59 reticle and relatively compact dimensions, this Bushnell scope is versatile and easy to use. I got to see the LWRCI Ultra muzzle brake in action during the initial test, and while it was fantastic at reducing recoil, it was also loud and packed quite a blast. Since this test included running the gun around urban obstacles like walls and cars, I replaced the brake with the NG2 Defense MZLMAX. This device sends all of the blast forward, away from the shooter and his or her neighbors. It mitigates recoil and flash very well.
I’m a big fan of offset sights, so I replaced the Skirmish backup sights with a set of Fail Safe Angle sights from Griffin Armament. These work well for close-quarters work—you just roll the rifle and go. I also added an extended buttpad to the Magpul UBR stock and installed an Atlas bipod with a ZRODelta DCLW Head-S mount. I also used a Feisol tripod for some shooting positions.
LWRC International REPR MKII Shooting
My groups at 100 yards were truly impressive, matching what I could produce with the best bolt-action precision rifles. I was able to cluster five Barnes 130-grain TTSX rounds into half an inch, and the gun did pretty much the same thing with Black Hills’ 178-grain ELD-Xs and DoubleTap’s 125-grain Ballistic Tips. Moving out to 300 yards, the best groups—all in the 2.5-inch range—came from the Colt 155-grain TMK and Hornady 155-grain A-MAX loads. The latter seems to be the best “all-around” load, and it would be my primary ammo if I used this rifle on duty.
Extending the range to 855 yards, the Black Hills 178-grain ELD-X ammo gained ground with its higher ballistic coefficient and heavier weight. Overall, this load was the most consistent at 855 and 1,000 yards, bucking the wind better and holding a tighter “cone” of accuracy even with its low velocity. I rarely missed my 12-inch steel target, and if I did, it was mostly due to the wind. Shooting quickly at 700 yards—as fast as I could reacquire the target—I was able to pull 10 shots of 10 on a full-sized IPSC steel target. Both of the 155-grain loads did pretty much the same thing at 855 yards but lost some gas at 1,000 yards.
Bottom Line: LWRC International REPR MKII
The REPR MKII’s controls are easy to reach from either side, and it’s easy to reload from just about any position. You can even speed things up a bit by holding the bolt open on the off-hand side and then releasing it on the strong side. This rifle is at home as a designated marksman rifle (DMR), shooting from prone or close quarters, working in and around vehicles and obstacles. With the NG2 MZLMAX, I could shoot under my car, next to the fender and around walls without getting any blast or debris in my face. This is just about perfect for real work.
This is the lightest of the REPRs so far, but at around 13 pounds fully loaded and equipped, you can get lighter guns. I’m not sure they would come close to this rifle’s ruggedness or reliability, though. None of the other piston-driven rifles in this class match the REPR MKII’s features.
One thing is certain: This rifle will do anything anyone might ever need to do with a rifle at any realistic range. Hunting, law enforcement countersniping, long-range competition—LWRCI’s REPR MKII does it all and looks really good while doing it!
For more information, visit lwrci.com.
LWRC International REPR MKII Specifications
- Caliber: 7.62mm NATO
- Barrel: 16 inches
- OA Length: 34.8-37.6 inches
- Weight: 9 pounds (empty)
- Stock: Magpul UBR
- Sights: LWRCI Skirmish
- Action: Piston-operated semi-auto
- Finish: Tungsten Cerakote
- Capacity: 20+1
- MSRP: $4,670
Performance: LWRC International REPR MKII
Load Velocity Accuracy
Barnes 130 VOR-TX 2,986 0.54
Black Hills 178 ELD-X 2,470 0.72
Colt 155 TMK 2,650 0.60
DoubleTap 125 Ballistic Tip 2,750 0.65
Hornady 155 Black A-MAX 2,700 0.60
Bullet weight measured in grains; velocity in fps by chronograph; and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 100 yards.
This article is from the 2019 issue of Black Guns magazine. Grab your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.