In fact, the bolt release seems to be the only part on the LAR-8 Varmint that is not typical of the AR family of weapons. The bolt catch runs along both sides of the mag well and is ambidextrous. Pushing up on the lever while pulling the charging handle back will lock the bolt carrier in its open position. Downward pressure on the lever, which can be done with the trigger finger, will drop the bolt carrier. The magazine release is also ambidextrous.
Rock River started shipping what it calls the LAR-8 Varmint A4; presumably the "Varmint" refers to the heavy barrel. For a gun that retails for just $1,385 the LAR-8 features one of the most sophisticated barrels that I've seen in this price range.
Rock River uses a Wilson barrel that is air gauged to ensure uniformity, but the company also goes the extra step of cryogenically treating it. This process involves cooling the barrel to minus 300 degrees F and then gradually allowing it to return to ambient temperatures. This process refines the grain structure of the barrel to stabilize it.
Greater velocities are realized as the barrel becomes denser and the smoother surfaces reduce friction which, in turn, reduces heat. De-stressing the barrel, makes it less likely to warp when it heats up from continuous firing, which would normally cause vertical stringing of groups.
The 26-inch heavy stainless barrel takes full advantage of the .308's range and gives the propellant plenty of room to burn completely. Higher velocities will ensure that the projectile remains stabilized at longer distances. Rifled with a 1:10-inch twist, my test rifle performed admirably with every bullet weight I tried from 147 grains to 175 grains.
Rock River guarantees this rifle for Minute of Angle accuracy-meaning that at 100 yards it is capable of producing one-inch groups.
My experience with the rifle is that it is capable of much greater than MOA accuracy. Before you think that the company sent me a ringer-a gun prepared specifically for a gunwriter's evaluation-let me point out that this rifle was purchased through consumer channels.
I wanted to select an optic that could take full advantage of the LAR-8's mechanical accuracy and range. So I matched the rifle with Trijicon's new TR23-1 AccuPoint 5-20X variable scope with standard crosshair and amber dot. I've long been a fan of Trijicon products and love the ACOG family of scopes, the company's reflex sights, and lower powered AccuPoints. But the aiming chevrons of those scopes don't seem to offer the precision of crosshairs especially for long distance.
Trijicon's TR23-1 solves this problem. At the very center of the crosshairs is an illuminated aiming point. In sunlight it glows brilliantly and is powered by the fiber optic collector. There's a manual brightness override to keep the aiming point from causing eye fatigue. In low light the aiming point is powered by tritium so the shooter never loses the aiming point. With the heavier recoil of the .308, I appreciate the longer eye relief of this scope and found the turret controls for windage and elevation also to be user-friendly. The scope also has side parallax adjustment for enhanced accuracy at longer ranges. I mounted the scope in a Rock River 30mm scope mount that attaches easily to the rifle's flat top receiver with two thumbscrews.