Rock River Arms LAR-15 NM A4
Lewis Creek Shooting School 08.29.13
I had, for years, a strong dislike for the AR-15 rifle. My opinion was based on an experience with the M16A1 at Camp Perry, Ohio, in Small Arms Firing School (SAFS). About 1986 the Director of Civilian Marksmanship, now called the Civilian Marksmanship Program or CMP, decided to make all supported civilians shoot the M16 in SAFS. Previously we were able to shoot our M14 and M1A match rifles. The M16’s front sight was difficult to adjust and the only method of setting the elevation, the rifle was so flimsy it bent and changed zero when you used a sling, and it sounded and felt like a Mattel Toy Company product.
I continued to shoot the M14/M1A rifle well past everyone else I knew even after I got my Distinguished Rifleman Medal. At one National Trophy Individual Match, I was the only .30 caliber rifle for six targets in either direction and I managed a 479 and a silver Nathan Hale medal. I shot the M1A because I liked it and a good M14 still shoots as well as a good AR-15. It is, however, a lot harder to shoot well. The reason is that the M14 or M1A kicks—not as much as a lightweight hunting rifle, but certainly enough to require a quality position to shoot rapid-fire in sitting and prone.
I’ve been shooting Camp Perry for the last three years again and while I haven’t quite the gumption to shoot a straight service rifle again, I have tried my hand at the new Any Sight/Tactical match. This year, I decided to do it with an out-of-the-box Rock River Arms LAR-15 NM A4 rifle. I got the rifle about a month before the High Power Championship, mounted a Bushnell Elite Tactical 5-15×40 scope on it, got some 77-grain OTM Black Hills ammunition and I had my rig. I shot one practice and one match. I figured out my data for 300 and 600 yards and finished up with a 2293-55x.
In my days of shooting my old Alan Hurt-built M1A, I normally just broke the 2300 mark, but that was with a state-of-the-art M1A and I was shooting about 3,000 rounds of .308 and a few thousand rounds of air rifle and smallbore during a competitive shooting season that involved at least 25 matches. To have almost broke 2300 with an out-of-the-box rifle and almost no trigger time is remarkable. In fact, I would have shot a 2303 had I not shot an X on my neighbor’s target on the second day of shooting 600 yards. My stupid mistakes that resulted from not really shooting for the last 13 years cost me at least 30 points in missed wind calls, bad trigger breaks, and that stupid crossfire.
I shot three consecutive 198s at 300 yards with that out-of-the-box rifle and scope combination that has a retail price of under $2,000. Those sixty shots, if superimposed, would be a six-inch group at 300 yards shot in changing wind conditions, not off sandbags, but off my shoulder and a sling. This is a remarkable rifle for a very reasonable amount of money.
The term “service rifle” implies that the Rock River NM A4 rifle is externally identical to a standard M16 or M4 rifle. It has a heavy 20-inch stainless steel match barrel, an excellent two-stage trigger that breaks at 4.5 pounds, and a set of very repeatable half-minute click sights. It will shoot 10 shots into less than one inch at 100 yards almost every time, and at the MSRP of $1,335, it costs less than I had in my M1A in 1988—Springfield’s Super Match now costs $3,700 with the fiberglass stock and best barrel.