For as long as I can remember reading survivalist dogma well over fifty years for this author, one the central themes has always been how best to arm the fort for the onslaught of bad guys and the unprepared looking to steal your food and loot. Today they are called Zombies. Whatever!
Truth is we don’t have to wait for the SHTF to occur, because the fort is being breached every day in America. My generation just calls them plain old thugs or criminals. At deer camp they are trespassers and poachers. The solution is either to call the proper law enforcement assistance, or deal with it. I advise the former unless there is an imminent bodily threat.
But trust us on this one, nobody really wants to engage in an armed confrontation, though at some point it may be necessary or unavoidable. In these cases then, why not have the very best to deal with the issue. Thus we put forward this review of a battle rifle suitable to defend the gates, dispatch an unwanted varmint regardless of the foot count, or to take meat for the pole. This tool is definitely up to the task of any mission.
Big Medicine for SHTF
The Rock River Arms LAR-8 Elite Operator is an AR-15 platform rifle on steroids. Fresh from the factory this 7.62 semi-auto working tool is ready to take on any game that the traditional .308 Winchester can handle. The .308 is highly popular for deer hunting and is the big stick for wild hogs, other game and defensive measures. We’re not discussing ballistics here, but trust me as any experienced game hunter or military sniper knows the .308 can assuredly handle these tasks with extreme prejudice.
The RRA-LAR comes in several different model configurations, but I opted for the Elite Operator for a variety of reasons. This model offers a 16-inch chrome moly barrel with a 1:10 twist. The muzzle is capped with a Smith Vortex flash hider.
The buttstock is their Operator CAR collapsible stock with six positions, integral ribbed rubber buttpad, watertight battery storage and multiple sling mounts. The top of the action and barrel is a flat ladder rail from stem to stern forward to the flip front sight gas block. The handguard section is RRA’s half quad with three ladder rail covers. This model does not come with a rear BUIS (back up iron sight), but RRA offers them as an accessory as does many other aftermarket sources. The grip is a good feeling soft Hogue pistol grip.
The rifle is 38 inches in length and weighs 9.1 pounds with a 1.5 MOA at 100 yards accuracy rating. It comes from the factory with a hard plastic case and one 20-round magazine. Five and ten round factory mags are also available to comply with hunting regulations in various states. In Mississippi the 20-rounder is OK for hunting, but a 10-round is easier to handle.
Practical Range Work
Now realize if you study the RRA catalog or their www.rockriverarms.com web site the factory recommendations for use of the Elite Operator LAR-8 model is for law enforcement and home defense, not hunting or target work. However, obviously that does not mean that the rifle configuration cannot be used for hunting. I suspect it is more in the personal preferences and choices hunters make in the type of firearm they want to use. In every way, I see no reason the Elite Operator should not be used for hunting in addition to any home defense calling.
Given this rifle was selected for pig hunting in particular the ammo choices needed to match the task at hand as well. With hunting ammo on sale after the deer season was over, I picked up boxes of both Remington and Winchester basic .308 hunting rounds with 150 grain soft point bullets.
My local commercial 50-yard indoor range can handle heavy rifle calibers, so out of pure convenience I elected to sight in the RRA-LAR there instead of driving over an hour to a 100-yard outdoor range. I mounted a Trijicon AccuPoint 1x4x24mm scope with a German #4 crosshair and green dot with factory tactical type rail ring-mounts. This is a 30mm tube scope so illumination is exceptional in this ambient light powered scope. I anticipate that hogs will be encountered at relatively close ranges, so this scope should prove perfect.
I ran a scope collimator on this set up to get the rifle dialed in on target paper. The first three round trial was several inches low and wide, but the group was ¾ inch. Yeah, I was impressed. Subsequent groups were just as good well under 1.5 inches several under one-inch with the Remington ammo slightly outperforming the Winchester loads. Basically it was a toss up. Glad I bought plenty of both.
Proof in the Pudding?
Well, I’d love to say I could report this rig has proven successful afield, but alas my first trip to hunt hogs came up with a donut hole. So, to date, no hog kills. We have scheduled another hunt this fall after deer plots are planted.
I feel certain my Rock River Arms Elite Operator 308 will get its day in court as it were. I have no doubt it is up to the task and will perform as designed so long as I do not panic at the sight of black bodies in the shadows.
In the field this rifle with a scope and a loaded 20-round magazine is heavy, probably over ten pounds. I installed a Vero Vellini wide type neoprene sling and the “stretch give” compensation for the rifle’s weight at every step proved the perfect choice. There was little felt recoil at the shooting bench. I wore ear muffs, but certainly expect muzzle blast and decibels in the field, though then the shooter never notices such things.
The operator controls for then enlarged AR are quite ergonomic. I was pleasantly surprised how easy the safety was to reach with the thumb. The magazine catch and release button work in order. The Picatinny rail edges like all I have encountered are sharp. Be sure to cover those not used with rail guards. I installed the ladder covers up forward one notch out to reduce friction abrasion with the sling material.
In all the field work I have done so far, I have experienced two hang ups. After dropping the magazine into the sand, apparently trying to blow out the grit was not enough. I had a failure to chamber, and a failure to manually extract. I took all the ammo out of the magazine, cleaned each round off, and the guts of the magazine. I sprayed some Liquid Wrench in the chamber and wiped down the bolt. No more failures to date.
If you are a seriously minded SHTF scenario prepper, then the Rock River Arms-LAR-8 is worthy of consideration. They also make a cousin in .223. At the retail hit of $1670 I still say this is a serious, well made product for the price. Prudent shopping will bring this price down no doubt. The .308 cal is a formidable cartridge in this duty built package. It should serve all well.
Dr. John J. Woods