When the Palestinians took 11 Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972, the limitations of the bolt-action rifle were shown when the German police snipers missed one of the terrorists and he proceeded to blow up a helicopter, killing the athletes. This spurred the development of a semi-automatic tactical rifle. Since M-16s and AR-15s are the dominant long guns in military and police operations, why not build a tactical rifle built on this proven system?
It seems there were two reasons why not. Precision marksmen prefer the heavier .308 Winchester cartridge over the AR’s .223 Remington because it packs more energy and is more accurate over longer ranges. The .308 is a much larger cartridge; to accommodate its size, reengineering of the operating system, receiver, and gas tubes were required.
With the military demand for a rifle to meet its needs several manufacturers redesigned the AR-15 to serve as the basis for a tactical rifle. DPMS/Panther Arms’ offering for this market is the LRT-SASS.
Simply put, the LRT-SASS is an AR-15 on steroids. It is larger in size, larger in caliber, and heavier in weight. The LRT-SASS I used for this review arrived in a padded “gun case” with the owner’s manuals, two 19-round magazines, one LRT with four position handguards with covers, Mangonel front/rear flip-up sights, a sling, and a Harris bipod—all in all, a ready-to-use package. The one thing I noticed with the LRT was the heft of the package. The LRT-SASS tips the scales at 11.45 pounds, nearly double the weight of an M-16/AR-15 series rifle. This extra weight helps take the recoil and increases the life of the rifle.
After getting the LRT home, I gave it a close going over. The fit and finish of the rifle are impressive, the bolt and charging handle move smoothly, and breakdown did not require any tools even though they fit tightly. The LRT is all-business matte black. I think DPMS did a fine job building this rifle.
The operator’s manual told me the rifle uses a 4140 chrome-moly barrel, with six-groove 1:10 twist, so the LRT-SASS should shoot most .308 cartridges well. The upper receiver is made from thick-walled 6061 T-6 extruded aluminum, while the lower is made from a milled solid billet of 6066 T-6 aluminum. Both are hard anodized for durability and Teflon-coated to help ensure the LRT’s corrosion resistance.
The LRT uses nothing but the finest of controls, too. The trigger is a JP Enterprises adjustable trigger, factory set at four-and-a-half to five pounds. For operator comfort, a five-position clubfoot Vltor stock is installed and the forearm rails come with wide covers to protect the rails and your hands. The Panther Tactical grip fits the hand well.
After perusing the owner’s manual, I rounded up a number of .308 rounds to give the rifle a quick test shooting at the range. To see how the LRT functioned and felt, I grabbed a bunch of loose ammunition. The mix included military surplus, reloads, and various factory loads. I wasn’t all that concerned about the exact loads I had because I had limited range time.
I set up a few I.D.P.A. targets at the 50-yard backstop to see how well the sights were regulated on the LRT. Since this was a mixed bag of ammo, keeping the bullets in the “0” ring of the target would be considered good enough. I was surprised that not only did the LRT feed all the rounds, but the first 19 rounds sneaked into a sub-two-inch group. It seemed like the sights were fairly well set from the factory and the LRT was ready to roll.
Next I set up a 10-inch Shoot-N-C target from Birchwood Casey at the 100-yard backstop. Again, this was not a test of the LRT-SASS’ accuracy, but how well it functioned. The LRT, again with iron sights, was keeping 19 rounds in fairly tight groups of about five inches.