The Rock River Arms LAR-6.8 Mid-Length A4 carries 26 barrier-busting 6.8 SPC rounds in an enhanced, patrol-ready package
It is really hard to find common ground for law enforcement needs. Historically, at least when it comes to rifles, LEOs have typically been given the same systems used in the military. This happens for a few reasons. Former military personnel make up a large portion of law enforcement to this day, and people like to use what worked for them and what is familiar. The weapons our troops use have typically proven reliable, simple and effective. The law enforcement profession needs all of these same qualities in a rifle. Lastly, in many cases agencies can secure surplus military rifles, so this is an affordable option.
The problem: Simply because something works in the military environment does not mean it is the best thing for a police department. This is often true regarding caliber. As effective as the 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 is for a soldier, it can be a bit overpenetrative for the average officer in some cases. The average police rifle engagement occurs within 100 yards, and it’s more likely to be across the room. On the other hand, officers often have to deal with intermediate barriers. Windshields are common, as well as obstacles inside homes and yards. That is just not the purview of 5.56mm rounds. Unless you are using ammunition specifically designed to penetrate barriers, the 5.56mm simply doesn’t do well. In fact, the lack of overpenetration was the prime selling point when it was touted as the perfect replacement for the 12 gauge.
The 6.8 SPC fills this void quite nicely. This was true even at is inception, when it was limited to the 115-grain OTM loading. Sure, it has had its issues, but it is still around and is a favorite among many operators. The bullet selection has grown significantly these days, turning it into one of the most versatile police cartridges out there. With 115-grain OTM bullets, the 6.8 SPC is effective out to 500 yards, adding real range to the platform while maintaining a similar size and weight comparable to the 5.56mm. Loaded with a 110-grain V-MAX bullet, it becomes a good round for urban engagements. This round penetrates windshields better than any similar 5.56mm round, yet it has fantastic expansion through soft tissue. With the addition of the Barnes TTSX, you have a very accurate round that has excellent penetration and expansion. It is certainly a viable law enforcement round, and it may be one of the best out there at this point.
If there is a hitch in this scenario, it is the reliability of some of the 6.8 SPC systems. With the move in the industry toward piston-driven operating systems, the 6.8 SPC seemed to have an issue or two. Some will run most everything, some have particular loads they like, and others will not run at all in my experience. Add a suppressor, and it gets even trickier. So it’s very critical to test your equipment thoroughly if you’re considering transitioning to the 6.8 SPC.
The old-fashioned direct-gas-impingement-system guns seem to be more reliable in this chambering. The only real issues that I’ve experienced have occurred when using really lightweight bullets. You can load bullets as light as 85 grains, but they can cause cycling problems in some direct-impingement guns. Shoot the mainstream stuff, and they seem to operate flawlessly. When it comes to reliability, in my experience 16-inch-barreled carbines in 6.8 SPC seem to run better with mid-length gas systems. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Rock River Arms (RRA) chose to use the mid-length gas system in its LAR-6.8 Mid-Length A4, a great option for those who want an alternative to the ubiquitous 5.56mm NATO.
RRA builds each rifle to the customer’s specifications, and many of the company’s high-quality accessories are well-suited for professional use. So, I had RRA throw in a few upgrades for my test LAR-6.8.
The carbine starts with a 16-inch, chrome-moly barrel with a 1-in-10-inch twist rate. Chrome lining can be added if required. The barrel was also capped with a Smith Vortex flash suppressor.
My test carbine also came with RRA’s free-floating Half Quad handguard. This design is one of my favorites. The smooth portion closest to the receiver allows for a comfortable hold, especially in unsupported positions. The forward half of the handguard provides a quad-rail for adding accessories like lights and even a bipod. The Half Quad handguard has a top rail running along its entire length to accommodate sights, night vision or lasers. RRA also equipped the LAR-6.8 with its Flip Front Sight Gas Block, which offers a folding backup iron sight integral with the gas block. It also adds a small rail on the bottom as well as sling swivels in the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions.
RRA also replaced the LAR-6.8’s standard Tactical CAR buttstock with its six-position Operator CAR buttstock, which offers a better cheekweld. A push-button release allows you to slide the buttpad down, revealing two O-ring-sealed storage compartments for batteries. Two quick-detach (QD) sling mounts on either side provide multiple sling options.
The lower receiver also features RRA’s Winter triggerguard and its Overmolded pistol grip. This pistol grip retains the profile of an A2-style grip but has a softer rubber covering. The forged receiver also contains RRA’s excellent two-stage trigger. An ambidextrous safety and magazine release provide for fast magazine swaps. Finally, Bravo Company’s BCM Gunfighter charging handle with a medium latch rounds out the package. The rifle was shipped in a nice hard case along with one Precision Reflex 25-round magazine. These magazines have proven to be among the most reliable on the market, and they’re certainly some of my favorites. Barrett’s 6.8 SPC magazines have also proven incredibly reliable for me, and I used both types for testing.
In order to evaluate the LAR-6.8, I added an Aimpoint Micro T-1 as well as one of my Troy rear Battle Sights. The Aimpoint Micro T-1 is easily one of the simplest red-dot sights available. It is rugged, lightweight, and has an incredible battery life.
I tested this rifle in a full tactical vest as well as typical patrol attire. This is a simple rifle suited to just about any police environment. Moving around barricades and through the shoothouse, the rifle pointed well and the sights came up very quickly and positively. While engaging targets at 15 to 25 yards, the LAR-6.8 pretty much cut one big hole in the middle of the targets. Whether it was using the PRI or Barrett magazines, the carbine did not miss a beat. The bulk of the testing at this range was accomplished with close to 200 rounds of Silver State Armory’s 110-grain Sierra Pro-Hunter ammo. The rifle handled it without any issues, and it was a ton of fun to shoot. I also tested several other rounds from Silver State and Hornady—all without any issues.
To wring out the most accuracy, I mounted a 1.5-6X U.S. Optics scope. I’ve used this scope on dozens of tests, and it has proven solid as a rock and consistently accurate. Groups were completed at 100 yards using my Eberlestock G4 bag as a rest. The Silver State Armory 115-grain OTM ammunition produced the best group, measuring 0.75 inches. The Hornady 110-grain BTHP ammo was also very accurate. In short, the rifle is about as accurate as you can get without buying a high-dollar custom rifle, and even then the difference is minimal.
The LAR-6.8 Mid-Length A4 is a great choice for a patrol rifle. Add a sighting system, a sling, a couple of magazines and you are good to go. The mid-length gas system makes it reliable. As I handle more and more rifles with mid-length systems, I’m becoming a big fan of their longer forends. This kind of forend provides you more space for a handhold, which translates to more versatility without really affecting length given a 16-inch barrel. With a railed forend like the RAA Half Quad, you can add all the accessories you would ever want or need without losing the comfort.
Rock River Arms’ LAR-6.8 Mid-Length A4 was accurate, reliable and well-balanced. If you are looking to move to the 6.8 SPC, make sure you run this rifle through its paces. It just may be exactly what you are looking for. For more information, visit rockriverarms.com or call 866-980-7625.
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