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Reviews : Arsenal

Rock River Arms LAR-8 Varmint A4

Offering sub-MOA accuracy, the LAR-8 Varmint is a solid semi-auto alternative to bolt-action sniper rifles.

February 14, 2011  |  by Mike Detty - Also by this author

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.

Quality Parts

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.

MOA Accuracy

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.

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Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Thomas bach @ 2/14/2011 9:31 PM

The story is good.
Maybe I missed the data.
Sounds like almost the perfect AR.
The 5.6 is good for gofers, the 7.62 nato is a decent working round.
What would make it perfect would be if it has a short piston operating system Vs. the junk gas impingement system.
Accuracy and price then would be perfect.

Mary Kay @ 11/20/2011 3:16 AM

All Rock River arms - Available at

David S. Keith @ 2/29/2012 6:03 PM

Good story. I really enjoyed the review. If one thinks the direct impingement system automatically makes it junk, and a piston automatically makes it perfect, then one needs to do a little more research. That is most definitely not the case. Ask the people at Larue and Noveske.

mike galyk @ 5/22/2012 8:53 PM

I have a rock river a4 varmint with 20 inch stainless bull berrel 2 stage trigger free flaot barrel of course and a redfield accu range scope4x12x40 and with federal i can carry a less than 1.0 moa very happybuy hornady are bit closer that is with 55 gr bullit.

Ralph David Cannon @ 7/7/2012 11:24 PM

All you need to do now is offer it with a 28 and 30 inch barrel.That way you can use a slower burning powder and get more pressure equals more speed. I would by one with 28 or 30 inch, 7/8/12 at 2;20 AM. I bought a ar-15 4 years ago,I really liked the way it looked and the sales man told me about how good Rock River was and it had a 1/2 " MOA at 100 yards. Well its still shooting 1/2" MOA or better.One of the best rifles I have ever bought. Still want that 308 though. Thx RDC 7/8/12 2:20 a.m.

Randall Stanley @ 12/27/2012 9:52 PM

I have a Rock River lar-8 26in. stainless bull barrel , 2 stage trigger, a mark4 leupold 6.5x20x50, I broke this rifle in right, use hand loads 2620fps,, not all that fast ,but I can send 2 hornady 163gr. sst 308s down range through the same hole at 200 yards,,after coldbore shot,,this is one of the best rifles you can buy,,try this and see how it works,,163gr. sst,win primers,,42.0gr. varget powder,,

Randall Stanley @ 12/27/2012 10:46 PM

Sorry I told you guys wrong,,they were 165 gr. hornaday sst,,too much going on around me,,

heavy de @ 1/26/2015 12:34 PM

question I have an lar8 308 win with 18.5 bull barrel with muzzle brake.
It is also easily less than 1 moa at 100 yards.
Is it normal that with magazine in bolt back locked.
When you remove the magazine and lightly bump it the bolt closes un expectedly? ??? It surprised me at the range that the bolt will not stay lock back without the magazine in.????

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