In the firearms community, few things seem to grab enthusiasts’ attention more than hybrids. There’s something appealing about a gun that attempts to combine the best features of two or more different platforms. The Rock River Arms (RRA) LAR-47 is one carbine that does just that, mixing the action of the AR-15 with the cartridge and magazine of the Soviet AK.
Ever since I first learned of the LAR-47’s existence, I’d been eager to test one. I love AKs, but ARs aren’t really my bag. The LAR-47 seemed to be an interesting combination of the two. Last fall, RRA’s representatives shipped an LAR-47 Delta Carbine to my FFL for review, and I was able to put the gun through its paces.
The LAR-47 is a dedicated 7.62x39mm AR. Though it uses a conventional AR-pattern direct impingement action, its forged upper and lower receivers are proprietary designs. The lower has been heavily modified to allow the gun to accept standard AK-pattern magazines. The gun is supplied with one polymer RRA-branded magazine.
- Caliber: 7.62x39mm
- Barrel: 16 inches lomg, chrome-lined, 5/8x24mm threads at muzzle
- Bolt carrier group: Proprietary, chromed
- Twist rate: 1:10 inches
- Gas system: Carbine length
- Weight: 7.75 pounds unloaded
- Length: 36.5 inches collapsed
- Trigger: RRA two-stage
- Handguard: RRA Delta Quad Rail CAR Drop-in
- Buttstock: Collapsible, six-position RRA Delta CAR stock
- Pistol grip: ERGO SureGrip
- Sights: None
- Muzzle device: A2-style flash hider
- MSRP: $1,545
The RRA LAR-47 Delta Carbine I received was one of the most well-put-together ARs I’ve ever handled. The upper and lower locked up perfectly and the stock felt solid in every position. The non-ambidextrous safety switched easily between safe and fire, and the Ergo SureGrip felt great in my hand.
If you’re familiar with ARs, you’ve probably noted the absence of a traditional bolt release and magazine release in the pictures accompanying this article so far. Since the LAR-47 utilizes standard AK magazines, the rifle’s bolt does not stay open after the last round from a magazine has been fired (I did not test AK magazines with bolt hold-open followers). As such, the bolt release has been removed.
One of the things I love most about ARs is how fast and easy they are to reload with the bolt release. When you reload the LAR-47 on an empty chamber, you must manually charge the gun using the AR charging handle atop the receiver. Pulling back the flimsy-feeling AR handle was awkward at first, but I got the hang of it while dry-firing the gun and practicing reloads at home. Using the top charging handle doesn’t provide as much “positive feedback” as pulling the charging handle on an AK (or even dropping the bolt on a conventional AR). I did not look forward to relying upon the charging handle to operate the gun at the range.
Magazines are removed from the rifle using an ambidextrous, AK-style paddle release inside the oversized trigger guard. I was similarly unimpressed with the magazine release while playing around with the unloaded LAR-47 at home—it felt as if it required more force to operate than a standard AK release. Nonetheless, all steel military surplus, “bakelite,” and commercial polymer magazines I tested at home locked up tight in the magwell.
The handguard offers ample rail space for lasers, lights, and grips, but does not provide a stable enough mounting point for a front backup sight. The lack of a railed gas block for mounting backup sights seemed a bit odd, especially given the rifle’s price tag. While there’s plenty of room for red dots and magnified scopes on the railed upper, I would still prefer to have the option to mount backup sights with a decent sight radius. The cheaper LAR-47 CAR A4 model is supplied with a railed gas block, though it comes with a polymer clamshell handguard.
The RRA two-stage trigger feels excellent. I estimate that it broke around five pounds, with no noticeable overtravel and a very positive reset.
Having developed a mixed bag of first impressions for a mixed bag of a gun, I looked forward to getting some quality trigger time with the LAR-47.
Before heading out to the range, I attached my go-to “testing” scope to the LAR-47’s upper—a Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24 in a Warne RAMP mount. The Viper was perfect for accuracy testing at 100 yards, and is great for shooting out to 300 yards—about as far as I could expect to be accurate with a 7.62x39mm semiauto.
After zeroing the scope at 100 yards, I moved to strings of double-taps at 50 yards punctuated by rapid mag changes. Though I fumbled with the AR charging handle for the first couple of magazines, I quickly got used to it. My concerns about the magazine release also dissipated, and I found that using my support hand’s thumb to depress the release before pulling the mag out took no longer than performing a similar reload with an AK.
In my rapid-fire exercises, the rifle was perfectly controllable. Recoil didn’t feel any more or less intense than a 7.62x39mm AK. Surplus steel and Russian “bakelite” magazines worked flawlessly.
I put two hundred rounds or so through the LAR-47 on my first outing with it. The only issue I encountered was a misfeed, which was my own fault for trying to ride the charging handle home after loading a new magazine. The rifle clearly didn’t want to be babied.
My second trip to the range with the gun came two weeks later. After having my initial skepticisms about the fire controls dispelled, I was eager to see just how accurate it was. I wasn’t disappointed.
As the table below shows, I managed to squeeze out a 1.5-inch, five-shot group at 100 yards with cheap, commercial Silver Bear ammo. That group was the tightest shot group I’ve ever gotten with Silver Bear, after firing thousands of rounds of it through AKs. Winchester PDX1 Defender yielded an even tighter group.
|Bullet||Average group (inches at 100 yards)||Best group (inches at 100 yards)|
|Silver Bear 123-grain FMJ||2.3||1.5|
|Winchester 123-grain FMJ||2||1.8|
|Winchester 120-grain PDX1 Defender||1.4||1.1|
Though the PDX1 group was the tightest of the lot, it was the tight Silver Bear group that really made my jaw drop. The LAR-47 is easily the most accurate semiautomatic 7.62x39mm rifle I’ve ever shot.
In addition to the groups for accuracy, I put another 250 rounds downrange on my second trip. No failures of any kind occurred.
Though I was skeptical about the gun after getting my hands on it for the first time, I came to really appreciate the LAR-47.
There are some aspects of the rifle that I’d like to see changed. The lack of a railed gas block makes it effectively an optics-only gun (though other LAR-47 models have railed blocks or railed, free-floated handguards). While I found the LAR-47’s mag release serviceable, I think that a device similar to the spring-loaded release on Krebs Custom’s Speedload rifles would be ideal for “AR-47s.” I’d critique the use of an AR charging handle further, but I’m not sure what exactly RRA could change about that without taking a dive into the very-proprietary deep end of the AR-15 pool with something like a side-mounted charging handle.
The LAR-47 Delta Carbine’s price tag is high, but you get what you pay for: one of the most accurate 7.62x39mm semiautomatic rifles out there. It’s also one of the most well-made ARs I’ve ever had the pleasure to shoot. If you’re looking for a solid 7.62x39mm AR, the Rock River Arms LAR-47 Delta Carbine is an excellent pick.
Images by Matt Korovesis