I’ve recently experienced a renewed interest in shooting at long range. When I say “long range”, I mean shooting past 300 yards and out to a maximum of around 1000 yards.
Most of my rifle shooting is done at 100 yards as it’s the benchmark for determining a rifles accuracy. My issue with shooting at 100 yards is that it doesn’t present much of a challenge. Once you start pushing the target out to 300 yards or more you must pay closer attention to the tenants of good marksmanship such as trigger control, breathing, check weld, force applied to the stock, etc. to achieve the desired results. As the range increases slight inconsistencies in how you aim, hold and fire the rifle will be reflected in expanding group sizes. In essence, long range shooting is more challenging and therefore more fun, at least for me.
While I generally love anything that goes BANG, I tend to gravitate towards auto-loading firearms. So, when I went shopping for a new long range rifle I had a number of high quality products that fell into this category to choose from. I considered the SR25, GAP-10, LaRue OBR, POF P308, H&K MR762 and of course the LWRC R.E.P.R. Each of these rifles has its merits and the choice was anything but easy. Trying to determine which is the most accurate out of the box is nearly impossible from reading countless blog posts, discussion forum posts, and reviews. Everyone had a different opinion it seemed.
What I gleaned from the countless reviews and discussion threads on the subject was that I would have to pick one and find out for myself if it suited my needs or not. That means I had to first define what my needs were. So what did I want out of a semi-automatic long range rifle?
First, I wanted a .308. Sure, there are better long range calibers out there like the 6.5 Creedmoor or .260 Remington but I wanted to stick with a military chambering. The .308 has a impressive selection of factory match loads available for it, and of course there are countless sources for high-end reloading components for the old .30 caliber warhorse.
Next I looked at the features of each contender. All of the candidates were based on the AR10 which means their ergonomics and controls were mostly the same — with one exception. The LWRC R.E.P.R. stood out in a couple of different areas. When you first handle a R.E.P.R. the left side charging handle will likely jump out at you, especially if you’re a long time AR15/AR10 shooter. This is probably the most pronounced difference between the LWRC and its peers. Then there’s the right-hand side bolt catch which augments the standard catch located on the left side of the rifle. Both of these departures from the traditional controls of the AR10 are improvements to the rifles’ ergonomics and as such piqued my interest in the R.E.P.R.
The one thing that I found concerning about the R.E.P.R. was its use of a gas piston system. I personally see little benefit to using a gas piston on an AR type rifle as the direct gas impingement system of the original design works flawlessly in my experience. Plus, the DI system lends itself to accuracy.
Piston systems, if done incorrectly, can induce more problems than they purport to correct. Piston systems can also have a negative impact on accuracy as they tend to apply downward pressure on the barrel during firing, something that is minimized with a direct gas impingement system. With that being said, if I had to pick one company that has perfected the gas piston system on the AR rifle, it would be LWRC.
Let’s talk about accuracy for a moment. How much accuracy did I need? To answer that question I asked myself what was the purpose of the rifle I was seeking? The answer was I wanted a robust, military tough and reliable rifle capable of engaging man-sized targets out to 800 yards. If the rifle could hold 1 MOA I would be happy.
For those of you who don’t know, 1 MOA is roughly 1″ at 100 yards (1.047″). As the range increases you can expect the group size to increase by 1″ for every 100 yards you add to the equation. At 800 yards an 8″ group would make me all warm and fuzzy inside. From everything I had read this is what I could expect from the R.E.P.R., about 1 MOA.
Having considered my options carefully, I went with a Patriot Brown R.E.P.R. sporting a 20″ barrel with a 1:10 RH twist.
The next big decision was the optic. There are so many options for good quality glass out there its daunting to try and pick one. Ultimately I settled on a new 3-18x44mm Mk6 Leupold with a 34mm body. This full featured scope is a relatively new entry into the tactical scope market by the 100 year old American scope manufacturer. For a mount I opted for the LaRue LT112 which features 20 MOA of built in elevation and quick detach levers.
Overall the fit and finish of the R.E.P.R. are second to none. LWRC produces one of the highest quality rifles I’ve ever had the pleasure of handling. The bolt carrier rides so smoothly in the receiver that you would sear it’s on bearings. The Cerakote finish is evenly applied and simply gorgeous. Everyone that looks upon the R.E.P.R. in person comments on the pure sexiness of the rifle — it’s a real head turner. With such high quality comes the associated high price. The R.E.P.R. will set you back over $3,300 if you can find one.
On the range the rifle easily held 1 MOA using Federal Gold Medal Match 168gr and 175gr ammo. The Geissele two stage trigger is absolutely flawless and contributes heavily to the R.E.P.R.’s exceptional accuracy. A few times I was able to shoot sub-MOA groups with the rifle at the 200 yard line which impressed me considerably.
I spent my first afternoon at the range with the rifle getting my dope figured out for each of the ranges. The Mk6 Luppy scope uses a Mil-Dot reticle which makes calculating range and using hold-overs super simple. To assist in getting my range elevations figured out I download the MD Ballistics calculator for my iPhone. The application wound up being more trouble than it was worth. The calculations it gave me were on average a Mil or more off which limited its usefulness and prolonged the process of establishing my dope for ranges out to 800 yards. But, after a couple of boxes of ammo I was able to get things figured out and I was easily scoring hits on 24″ steel ringers all the way out to the 800 yard line.
The R.E.P.R.’s recoil is a bit brisk however it’s not uncomfortable. I’ve fired softer shooting AR10′s but overall I found the ergonomics and shootability of the rifle to be very good. The Magpul PRS stock allows you to custom fit the rifle to your body and shooting style which also increases the shootability of the R.E.P.R. It’s a real pleasure to shoot.
I hope to work up some hand loads over the winter that will allow me to get the group size down to a consistent average of 3/4 MOA or better. Given how well the rifle shoots with factory match ammo, I don’t think this is out of the realm of possibility.
I’ll talk more about the R.E.P.R. and the Leupold MK6 scope in the future, but I will say if you’re in the market for a solid performing .308 semi-auto long range rifle you should give consideration to the R.E.P.R. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.