The current consummation of my quest for a battle rifle, which I recently discussed, is a LaRue PredatAR. This rifle strikes an amazing balance between power and weight and as such is one of a very few 7.62 caliber rifles that are truly general and not special purpose. Frankly, this type of rifle fills a void that has been marginalized or wrongly patterned by many companies in the industry. The result of this near perfect blend has been wildly successful sales for the manufacturer.
The PredatAR is one member of a family of 7.62 rifles in the company lineup and it is largely being marketed to the three gun/hunting crowd. The original rifle design is the OBR, which is heavier and more precision oriented. Forthcoming is a PredatOBR series of rifles that blend the precision/suppression features of the original OBR with the lighter weight and balance of the PredatAR. I have one of these on order to replace a heavy bolt action rifle with a four round magazine. I will review this rifle as well once it is in hand and I have had a chance to wring it out.
LaRue’s high quality products have earned the company one of the best reputations in the business and this rifle is no exception. PredatAR’s are assembled with LW-50 stainless steel 1/11.25 threaded barrels available in 16″ or 18″ lengths, an incredible 14″ skeletonized aluminum hand guard, Magpul furniture, hand polished chrome carriers with properly side staked gas keys, and a two stage Geissele trigger. The top rail is continuous with no cant built in (0 MOA), which is a welcome departure from the OBR in my opinion.
Let’s talk about weight as this, more than any other issue, has been the achilles heel of most modern 7.62 caliber rifles. LaRue has found a way to harness this caliber into a controllable rifle package that ships from the factory at 7.7 lbs! For context, my BCM AR-15 with a sling, T-1 micro Aimpoint, FF rail, and a weapons light stands ready at 8 lbs 10 oz (empty). As tempting as it was to keep the PredatAR a feather weight by accessorizing it in like manner, I wanted to better harness its potential with a low powered, variable magnification optic.
My PredatAR is the 16″ barrel model and is equipped with a Leupold MR/T Mk 4 1.5-5×20 in a LaRue SPR mount, Troy front and rear BUIS, a Viking Tactics padded sling, a Surefire weapons light, and a Harris bipod on a LaRue QD mount. In this configuration my rifle weighs 12 lbs even and when I remove the bipod (which I do often) the rifle is a svelte 10 lbs 15 oz. Add a fully loaded 1lb 5 oz Magpul PMAG LR magazine and you’re ready to go. This is POUNDS lighter than the 7.62 AR pattern competition.
Regarding bipods – ever since Pat Rogers introduced me to the magazine monopod at a carbine course I’ve been hooked! The 30 round magazine of an AR-15 offers most of the stability of a bipod with no weight penalty and as such they really don’t belong on these rifles unless they’re dedicated precision rigs. However, the 20 round magazine of a 7.62 AR is much shorter and depending on the terrain I find myself bracing the rifle more off the pistol grip than the magazine and it just doesn’t work as well. As a result I keep a bipod at the ready as part of the permanent kit for this rifle, but often remove it for running and gunning.
I’ve been shooting my rifle since September 2011 and have about 600 rounds on it, mostly 145gr FMJBT Prvi Partizan. I should point out that this is my rifle that I selected and bought for personal use. The only factory part that I’ve changed is the A2 style flash suppressor. I found the rifle to be controllable, but with a fair amount of muzzle rise so I swapped that muzzle device for a PWS FSC30. This has performed well and adequately tamed the rifle.
When I zero rifles or test for groups I shoot on the ground in a prone position (bipod used in this case) as this more closely represents field conditions than firing from a bench. Here is a sampling of how the PredatAR performed at 100 yards shooting 5 shot groups over a chronograph:
- 145gr Prvi FMJBT 1 7/8″ and avg velocity 2637 fps
- 168gr Federal Gold Medal Match 1 1/8″ and avg velocity 2472 fps
- 175gr Georgia Arms SMK 1 1/4″ and avg velocity 2449 fps
- 150gr Winchester Power Point SP 1 1/8″ and avg velocity 2580 fps.
I have not attended any formal training with this rifle, but I do have access to a couple of ranges that offer the opportunity for some distance work and running around a little bit. I’m pretty comfortable with hitting any reasonable sized target inside 200 yards without using the bipod, but after that it’s nice to have the option. The farthest I’ve shot the rifle is out to 600 yards and using the 145gr Prvi ammo I was able to hold 2-2.5 MOA on paper at this range and nearer. First shot hits on 2/3 sized IPSC steel targets out to 600 yards are no problem with this rifle/ammo combination and my come ups are not too different from 5.56 standard calibration on the scope.
Beyond initial testing and grouping to establish base rifle performance, I have exclusively used M80 type ball spec ammo. My reason for this is because that’s the only type of ammo I can (barely) afford to run through the gun in any quantity and it fits my general purpose rifle mission more appropriately than depending on expensive match ammo for serviceable results. Only a precision oriented rifle should demand a constant appetite of match ammunition.
While I enjoy shooting at distance, I have also put this rifle through CQB paces. Here is the main place where the light weight, well designed gas system, and the PWS FSC tame this caliber into something that can at least hang with the AR-15’s on the line. It wouldn’t be my first choice as a CQB gun but off hand shooting is quite reasonable and being able to zoom down to 1.5x greatly helps at closer ranges. You’ve got to be able to carry a fighting rifle around all day without undue stress and after 9 months of fairly regular use it’s evident that this factor was a keystone part of the overall design.
The way that a company resolves a problem is extremely insightful and I’m proud to report that LaRue aggressively supports its products with excellent customer service. Temperamental Midwestern weather offers a variety of extremes and on a cold day last December I had two instances of “short stroking” with my rifle. I called the company and in minutes was talking to an extremely knowledgeable man who answered all my questions. I learned that I have a standard H2 buffer in the rifle with a heavy buffer spring as the system was optimized towards high velocity, heavy grain ammunition.
Designing the PredatAR to work with a standard AR-15 buffer, tube, and spring is an important feature of this rifle. Because of this you can easily “tune” the rifle according to your preferences by substituting a commonly available, different weighted buffer (H1, H2, H3, etc). Of course this should not be necessary for most end users. However, another huge benefit that may find broader appeal is that this standardization means the shooter has the option of using any AR-15 stock assembly available on the market. Many of the competing rifles available use proprietary buffers and tubes.
The customer service rep offered to immediately ship me free of charge a standard weight buffer spring, which might work better if I was going to exclusively run lighter loads such as 145gr Prvi. However, he advised that I continue to try the factory spring and see if after additional break in the problem continued. I took his advice and shot the rifle on several other cold days last winter (cold maximizes sluggishness in the gas system) and to date I have not had a recurrence of the problem. This type of quick help and the fact that LaRue already has a spare parts kit available for sale show their forward thinking attitude towards customer service and support of their products.
If I had to knitpick and find something I don’t like about this rifle all I could really come up with is that the ejection port cover sits flush on a lip of the receiver and makes it mildly difficult to close with your trigger finger. I’m fairly picky about gear and somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to rifles and how they are best configured so my lack of griping here really speaks volumes. A switch block would be nice, but that’s really a different mission than this rifle’s niche and I’m pleased to see this addressed with the PredatOBR. I invite anyone looking for a light weight, 7.62 caliber, general purpose rifle/MBR to sample a Texas made PredatAR rifle. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!