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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

The unloaded weight of the rifle with scope is about 13.5 pounds and this weight, in addition to the standard impingement gas system, does a lot to minimize felt recoil. Over the course of two days I fired more than 150 rounds and felt none the worse for my efforts, despite having an arthritic shoulder.

For targets I used 1-inch Shoot-N-C target pasters attached to an IPSC target set out at 100 yards. All shooting was done from a cement bench, from a seated position, utilizing a rifle rest. The results were nothing less than spectacular.

Judicious ammunition selection makes this rifle easily a .5 MOA gun. My groups ranged from .78 inches to my best of .32 inches-a group so small that it could literally be covered with a dime!

The LAR 8 Varmint's trigger also contributed to the rifle's ability to place rounds on top of each other. The trigger on my rifle broke almost exactly at 3.5 pounds with very little overtravel. It is of the non-adjustable variety, which is fine with me. There are no engagement or overtravel screws that can back out and render the rifle unusable.

Blackening the Barrel

A good friend who is attached to a Naval Special Warfare unit, accompanied me during the field shooting portion of my evaluation. He mentioned that the shiny silver barrel would need to be darkened before it could be considered for use as a working gun.

When I asked him what process his guys used to camo their guns I expected him to say something like Birdsong

Black T or Lauer DuraCoat finish. His response was, "whatever spray paint is on sale at the hardware store." Those guys are hard on their weapons and realize that no matter what they put on their guns it's going to get scratched and require a quick touch up. His recommendation for me was to buy BBQ black-the same stuff that you'd use to repaint your BBQ. The hotter your barrel gets the more the paint cures. It is a flat black finish that is nonreflective and easy to touch up.

We set our targets out from 100 to 300 yards and fired the rifle using a Harris Bipod attached to the sling swivel stud on the bottom of the rifle's free float tube. The Trijicon optics and Rock River's two-stage trigger made hitting even the farthest target boring. It seemed an impossible to miss combination.

After going through a couple magazines of ammunition without a miss, we decided to do nothing but headshots and still found that we were hitting them with monotonous regularity. The long heavy barrel dampened muzzle disruption to the point that I could watch my bullets impact on the distant steel targets.

I used a variety of surplus FAL magazines and found that they all worked perfectly. During my 300-round evaluation there were no jams or stoppages of any kind.

I wanted to fit the LAR-8 A4 Varmint with a Magpul PRS stock but found that the new stock is not compatible as there is not enough clearance for the charging handle. Rock River does, however, have a new fixed length Operator stock. While it is not adjustable for length of pull, nor does it have an adjustable cheek piece, it does have a comfortable wedge shaped stock that allows for an excellent cheek weld for the shooter and a rubber butt plate that will keep the stock from slipping from the shoulder even when wearing a nylon vest. The Operator stock also features battery storage compartments and different places for a quick detach sling swivel.

If the 26-inch barrel length of the LAR-8 Varmint A4 seems to be a bit unwieldy for you Rock River now has a 20-inch version available and that should make the rifle a bit more portable. With a suggested retail price of just $1,385 (departments and agencies can call for LE pricing) the LAR-8 A4 Varmint rifle is one of the best values in the semi-auto precision .308 market. 

Rock River Arms — LAR-8 Varmint A4

Caliber: .308

Operation: Semi-automatic

Barrel: Wilson air-gauged bull stainless steel with 1:10-inch twist

Barrel Length: 26 inches

Overall Length: 47 inches

Weight: 11.6 pounds

Accessories: Hard case

Warranty: Limited lifetime

Price: $1,385

Mike Detty is an NRA-certified rifle, pistol, and shotgun instructor. A certified rangemaster and competition shooter, Detty served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Arizona.

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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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