When people start splitting hairs as to what really constitutes a “battle rifle” often times the discussion comes back around to caliber. Was the AR-15 really designed as a battle rifle? Or, by virtue of its smaller cartridge, was the AR-15 some other sort of weapon? Is the AR-15 designed for uses similar to the M-1 Carbine or the German STG-43 than to the M-14 or M-1 Garand?
This is the debate. Sure the AR-15 functions, but with its little bullet, it can’t really be called a battle rifle, can it?
Well, there are lots of rifle makers these days taking caliber out of the debate by building AR-style rifles in .308. This, of course, starts another debate. The .308 AR-rifle is what Eugene Stoner envisioned from the start. So, are we moving ahead with a .308 AR or are we going back to the starting point?
Perhaps these are questions too big for this article, but luckily we don’t have to answer them. Rock River Arms stepped up and gave the world a .308 caliber AR rifle that hits with the power of a battle rifle, but carries like an AR-15. The LAR-8 Elite Operator won’t stop the debate, but will certainly provide the power, accuracy and versatility modern shooters really want.
Out of the Box
The first thing you notice upon assembly is that you have a stout yet maneuverable rifle in your hands. True it is heavier than a .223 version, but it is well balanced and easy to handle. Adjust the buttstock to your liking and the rifle comes up naturally and easily. An especially nice touch is the “half-quad” handguard. Sure, when you say “half-quad” you might think of just two rails, but don’t worry, it has all four.
But the rails simply run half the length of the handguard; from the gas block back. From the magazine well forward the handguard is just that, a handguard… with a knurled aluminum free-float tube that is both comfortable and easy to grip. You don’t often mount accessories that close to the magazine well anyway. That’s where you want to hold when you fire so this half-quad only makes sense.
The flip-up front sight is a well-built unit with stout ears protecting the adjustable front post. Designed and built by RRA, this sight is an example of the great ideas and sound execution in the manufacturing processes. The gas block front sight also serves as the anchor for three different sling attachment points. There is one on each side of the barrel and one below allowing you to mount any sort of sling system you would like.
Beneath the sight is a one-inch section of picatinny rail in case you need it. We mounted a Command Arms bipod on the lower portion of the quad rail and that worked slick. That bipod can stow with the legs pointing forward or aft for even more versatility. I would have liked to see a rear sight on this rifle, but that’s an option, not factory standard. I guess the folks at RRA want to let you choose your own rear sight, but I would prefer to see this rifle ready to rock right out of the box.
And speaking of which… the Rock River hard case is solid, well built and easily identifiable as the container of an RRA product. It is also specifically not what I would like in a hard case. You must disassemble the rifle to place it in the case and you can’t put an upper with optics into the blue box. The good news is that’s the only part of this rifle I could complain about. Meaning this is an outstanding rifle.