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A few years back, the Army finally realized that it might be time to modernize their 60-year-old M-16 battle rifle. The gun has had minor tweaks since its introduction, but with all the advancements in modern technology their standard issue rifle was falling behind the curve. The call went out to manufacturers to produce a better rifle for selection as the next firearm of choice for the U.S. military — the Individual Carbine Competition. LWRC International is a smaller shop than the competition from FNH USA and Remington, but they came up with the best looking rifle out of the bunch: the LWRC IC-A5.

No one won that competition. There are some rumors about floating around about testing hijinks, but the long and short of it is that everyone “failed.” That’s bad for LWRC since they aren’t being paid ridiculous sums of money on a cushy government contract to produce these guns, but that’s great for you and me since now they’re offering that same rifle (minus the giggle switch) to the public.

There are three benefits to this rifle I want to highlight: the handguards, the operating system, and the controls.

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LWRC offers this gun in two flavors: a 16.1 inch barrel variant, and this 14.7 inch upper receiver. with a pinned and welded flash hider (to make it NFA compliant). They also offer NFA versions for those with an SOT or who don’t care about getting their gun before next Christmas., as well as replacement upper receivers. That extra 1.4 inches of barrel will cost you 0.3 ounces in weight, FYI.

The barrel is free-floating within the handguards, which is great. A free-floating barrel dissipates heat to the surrounding air rather than transmitting it to the handguard and burning the shooter. It also helps with accuracy since there’s nothing impacting the alignment of the barrel and the sights, throwing things all out of whack.

LWRC’s handguards are pretty slick. In addition to all the usual benefits of a free floating handguard, they have some great features of their own. The handguards attach directly to an extended upper reciever rather than a barrel nut, which increases the strength and durability of the whole system. There’s a full length top rail for all your night vision and mall ninja needs, and there are threaded holes along the sides to allow you to mount extra Picatinny rails for whatever coffee makers or fax machines didn’t fit up top. I would have preferred to see some keymod attachment points or even MLOC in use, but LWRC went with screws instead.

There is one particularly great feature of note, though.

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The handguard’s top comes off easier than a Florida State undergrad’s on spring break in Cancun. There are two captured screws at the front of the handguard that can be unscrewed either by hand (thanks to the oversized and ridged screw heads) or with the use of a flathead screwdriver. Once those are out to the stops, the entire top section lifts free and exposes the top of the barrel and the main parts of the operating system.

LWRC makes piston-powered rifles (with one notable exception). They use a short-stroke recoil system in their guns that keeps most of the hot and dirty gasses out of the action and out of the shooter’s face, which is nice. That piston system also increases the reliability of the gun, since the piston system in use is much simpler than Stoner’s original gas expansion system in the AR line of rifles.

The LWRC gas system is capable of being adjusted for either suppressed or unsuppressed shooting. Silencers tend to increase the back pressure in the system, causing an increase in the rate of fire for fully automatic firearms and increasing the cycle speed on everything else. This can lead to excessive wear on the gun and isn’t really a good idea. The adjustable gas system (which can be adjusted with nothing more than a spare 5.56 NATO round) is capable of reducing that back pressure so that the gun can cycle normally. Making that adjustment is a snap, even out on the range.

That piston system is cool, but that’s an operational enhancement and not something the average shooter will really notice on the range. Something they will notice: the fully ambidextrous controls.

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When most companies say “ambidextrous controls” they mean there’s an ambi safety installed and you can reach the trigger from both sides of the gun. LWRC takes the idea much further, and their IC rifle actually reproduces all of the controls for the rifle on both sides of the gun.

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I’ve seen magazine release buttons on both sides of a gun before, but a truly ambidextrous bolt catch mechanism is a new one. That bolt catch is fully functional, and works no matter which side you use. I like that, even though I’m right-handed.

The controls are good, but they aren’t perfect. One thing I didn’t like was the safety selector. The blade on the selector is a little small and rounded for my taste, and I didn’t feel like I could get a good purchase on the blade when I was toggling the safety on and off. Definitely not ideal, but an easily fixed problem.

Oh, and the trigger sucks. Just FYI. It’s a single stage “milspec” trigger and there’s some definite stacking there.

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Out back, the stock is an LWRC original. Slightly more compact than the Magpul equivalent, the stock nevertheless fits firmly on your shoulder and rides comfortably while firing. There’s also a QD cup built into the stock for attaching slings and stuff, which is appreciated. I like it.

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Overall, the firing experience is very good. The trigger is definitely a bit of an issue, but for when you need to “BUST ‘EM” Chris Costa style, that isn’t a deal breaker. Shooting 3-gun with the rifle is entirely possible — the gun handles very well despite being a little front-heavy (thanks to the gas system and handguards). No matter how many rounds I threw down the pipe the gun kept working, so reliability definitely is not a concern.

Out on the known distance range we start to run into some issues. I tested this rifle at 100 yards with Eagle Eye 69 grain .223 Remington ammunition (our gold standard for accuracy testing and official ammo sponsor), which is pretty close to perfect for this 1:7 twist barrel. I also tested the rifle with a variety of 55 grain and 77 grain projectiles, but the Eagle Eye ammo ran the best and produced the following 5-shot group.

LWRCi-IC
I have a rule of thumb for accuracy: if the gun costs $1,000 or more, it had better be able to shoot 1 MoA. That’s a pretty generous yardstick in my opinion, but this rifle doesn’t get there. The best group I could muster was 1.756 MoA center to center.

Doing a bit of sleuthing, I think the trigger is the culprit. The vertical size is well within that 1 MoA range (0.722) so the ammunition is performing well and the barrel seems to be holding fairly close to true. The issue is that the group “walked” sideways, which typically means that the pressure on the trigger wasn’t consistent for each break. I get the feeling that with a nice crisp two-stage trigger this gun would perform much better.

Oh, what’s that in my gun safe? A limited edition LWRC rifle with a two-stage trigger and some other improvements? Well, we’ll have to get you out to the range to see if that trigger makes the difference, little buddy! Stay tuned!

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Overall this is a great gun with some very good features, but the details leave a little to be desired. I appreciate and applaud that LWRC wanted to provide an in-house trigger with the gun, but as SIG SAUER has done with their recent rifle lines, outsourcing some of the parts to the professionals can really improve the situation. Getting a Geissele trigger in there instead of the in-house switch would be a huge step forward. I also understand why they went with a rounded, small safety selector, but I’d love to see a little larger, more aggressive blade to give me a bit more confidence that I can get that thing on and off in a hurry.

The LWRC is a worthy contender for the Individual Carbine competition, and a definite improvement over the M4 and M16 rifles that are being fielded right now. It meets the standards that the military set out for accuracy, reliability, and usability that they want in their next battle rifle. I would definitely take this gun into combat without a second thought. The problem is that here in the civilian market we are spoiled for choice when it comes to good AR-15 rifles. Durability is a secondary concern — accuracy is king. With some minor tweaks this might be just about perfect, but as-is it falls a little short of the other competitors in the market.

Specifications: LWRC IC-A5 Individual Carbine

Caliber: 5.56 NATO
Action: Semi-auto
Weight: 7.25 pounds
Barrel: 14.7″ (16.1″ optional) 1:7 twist, cold hammer forged, fluted
Magazine: One 30-round magazine included, accepts standard AR-15 magazines
Street: $2,584

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * *
1 MoA for $1k, that’s my standard. The price tag on this gun blew straight past that mark, and the best I can muster is 1.7ish MoA. That’s not terrible, but it isn’t where it needs to be for the price.

Ergonomics: * * * * 1/2
The trigger is the reason this isn’t getting five stars for ergos. But even with the mil spec trigger, it’s still head and shoulders above a typical M4gery.

Reliability: * * * * *
Bang. Every time.

Customization: * * * * *
I would very much prefer to see a keymod or MLOC system on the rails, but LWRC provides three(ish) additional accessory rails in the box already. If you need more than that, you might want to re-think your setup.

Overall: * * *
Keep in mind that, according to our rating rubric, three stars means I’d be comfortable plunking down the asking price for one of my own. This isn’t some game review site where a 92% review is a game to be avoided — we use the whole scale. The IC-A5 is good, and definitely worth the money. A couple tweaks and we’d be talking four-star territory. This is just another example of a great gun being held back by substandard parts. The good news: those parts are easy to swap out.

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74 Responses to Gun Review: LWRC IC-A5 Individual Carbine

  1. I’m wondering how a short stroke piston system is “much simpler” than Stoner’s gas expansion system? And how do you know it makes it more reliable?

    I’m not against piston systems, I own one…just wondering how adding several parts makes things simpler. 🙂

    • So, you are removing the gas tube and rings (from the bolt) and adding a push rod. Fewer points of failure? You also simplify the cleaning (and lengthen the time between cleanings) by reducing the debris in the receiver. You remove the heat generated in the bolt and receiver from the hot gas. Much simpler, cleaner, cooler, and (in my experience for the last 4 years of running an AA piston system hard) more reliable.

      • Hmm…when I looked at an LWRC system there were 5 parts added: piston cup, rod, rear cup, spring, and pushrod. However this was a little bit ago so maybe they’ve modified it? Seems like a lot of moving parts to replace a non-moving gas tube.

        I absolutely agree it keeps grime out of the action area. Maybe that does increase reliability in some way, but I’ve shot M4’s for several thousand rounds without cleaning and never had an issue. No, not slow fire. And yes, in “dusty” conditions. 🙂

        In basic shot with Ft Benning mud/clay, water, leaves, etc in the action area and it always fired.

        Not saying piston would do worse, but with my experience, and the experience of those around me, it couldn’t have done better. I think it would take a metric shit-ton of rounds, no cleaning and no lube added to either rifle, to maybe see a difference.

    • Piston guns are a solution looking for a problem. A quality well maintained and NOT-Fooked with DI gun is just as reliable.

      Not-Fooked with = messing with the gas system, crazy short SBR’s, adjustable gas blocks, heavy buffers and heave buffer springs or some other gadget to replace buffer/spring to keep it quiet etc. Try to hard to fix the gas system in a DI gun and you will break it.

      My mid-length 16inch BCM A2 front sight gas block with a H buffer and a Chrome silicone standard tension buffer spring upper runs like a champ after many thousands of rounds. Clean, inspect and lube after each shooting does not hurt it either.

      • I agree 100%. I’ve had a great experience with my Colt 6920. Keep the BCG properly lubed and I’ve ran up to around 1,000 rounds between cleanings. No failures, just decided to clean around that time. Of course, its dirty as **** after that but easy enough to clean, even in the field (solvent, lube, bore snake and chamber brush/rod).

        Oh, and my DI AR is lighter, less complex (within the context of less things to break or fail in the field), and inherently more accurate then a piston driven AR.

        I had an Adams Arms piston driven AR and while a decent weapon, it was simply unproven against my trusty, proven Colt, so I got rid of it.

        This being said, I would concede that a piston driven system is (probably) the future, again, *cough*Kalashnikov*cough* but until something like a SCAR comes along, that is as inherently accurate as my DI gun, that has similar levels of parts availability and after-market support as the AR but with AK-47 levels of reliability -in the $1000-1200 mark- oh, and uses regular AR mags and 5.56 ammo then I will continue to happily and contently shoot my 6920.

    • I was thinking the exact same thing. DI, for all of its dirtiness, is a very simple system and inherently more accurate (i.e. no moving piston) which are the two big advantages of DI.

      I’m curious to the author’s perspective on piston driven being simpler than DI.

  2. I have both a piston driven Primary Weapon Systems MK114V2 and a direct impingement AR from Daniel Defense (MK4V11). Both have keymod rails and are very good rifles.

    I think that the jury is out on the “advantages” of piston driven guns. My local armorer absolutely hates piston driven uppers and insists that they are less reliable than DI… his source being the special operations community who were all excited when they got shiny new piston H&K rifles that started breaking down shortly after they got them.

    I do know that one big disadvantage of the “reliable” piston driven system is that if you are in a SHTF type of situation and the rifle breaks you aren’t going to be able to just grab a part out of another upper and get it going again, those parts are unique more or less to every manufacturer who makes one since it’s not standardized.

    If I had to pick one rifle between the two to grab in an “oh shit” situation it would be the Daniel Defense V11.

    • Interesting to hear your assessment, owning both… I haven’t yet determined (in my limited experience with piston) if piston-driven is really ‘better’ than DI. Only come to the conclusion that it’s different and has it’s pros and cons vs DI. Having held this actual LWRC recently, I do know that he’s not joking on the ‘a little front-heavy’ thing. That alone dissuaded me a bit (for the time being). Can also have ‘gas hand’ issues and the handguard does heat up a bit. As you say, it’s really proprietary, so not as conducive to user-level/in-the-field repair as a simple DI. And haven’t really seen one yet that claims to have the accuracy of a DI. You still do have to clean the piston as well from what I understand… But it does keep the junk and heat off the bolt/chamber and out of your face and should theoretically be able to take sustained fire for a longer period of time (ie – doesn’t have the gas tube as the designed point of failure) and should handle dirt/dust better…. But all in all, for me right now, it hasn’t been enough ‘Pro’s’ yet to take the plunge — for my specific use cases (which do not include sustained fire fights in the ‘Stan). Maybe there would be more pro’s with a piston for something like 300 blk suppressed, where you really want to be able to control the gas/cycling. I’ll just keep watching for now… Maybe some day I’ll take the plunge on a good (and expensive!) piston AR

      • Well, pistons are built differently from different manufacturers. If I had to pull ARs out of my safes and shoot them until they dirty up and jam, without cleaning or additional lube, it’d be my Ruger SR-556. I’ve seen a lot of DGI M16A1and A2s, M400s, etc. start jamming at the 400-800 round mark. But there are a whole lot of factors to consider, and I like both piston and DGI ARs.

        I’ve heard DGIs do better in the sand because they blast it out. However, it’s a whole lot easier to clean the upper and lower from most piston guns. YMMV.

        • Yeah, I guess I’m still sitting on the fence for now… Nothing has really pushed me over yet, but imagine some day I’ll get there. It would probably be Ruger, LWRC, PWS or maybe Adams Arms… For now, if I had to grab something, like L.R. above, it would also be my DDM4. it’s been unfailingly reliable to-date. I just can’t justify the spend for a piston AR quite yet.

          Is the accuracy on your SR 5.56 on par with a good DI? Do you get gas through the handguard at all? And does it get pretty hot up front? Always good to hear real world experiences… Thanks.

      • The SR-556 is definitely less accurate than my 300 BLK. I’d estimate the SR is 1.5-2.5 MOA with good ammo – but it’s still got the rather crappy mil-spec trigger. It’s tough to break 1.5 MOA with those. And Troy iron peep sights. My 300 BLK has a single stage upgraded trigger and 416R stainless barrel, and is occasionally topped with a Bushnell ERS 3.5-21x FDE scope on a LaRue LT-111 QD base. It’s just under 1 MOA with Barnes 110 TSX, and just over MOA with Hornady 110 grain with 5 shot groups.

        So not exactly a fair comparison. Generally DGI guns hold the accuracy edge, but obviously twist rate and a host of factors affect accuracy.

        DGI gun distribute powder residue and heat throughout. Piston guns like mine concentrate heat out towards the end of the barrel / gas block. That can and will get hit on your support hand, depending on your hold.

        I’ve never used a piston AR in a DGU / felon search / felony stop, but I certainly would.

        • Good stuff. Thanks for the info man.

          It’s amazing how accurate 300 Blk can be out of a short barrel (at a limited distance). But in my experience, I do have some concerns with how it cruds the works up quickly in an (apparently over-gassed) SBR AR platform, so wouldn’t be my first choice for one rifle to grab if it all went south…

          Yeah, so sounds like from your experience, piston also isn’t quite as accurate as DI (nominal different though) and yes, you do get gas and heat up front – but has a distinct advantage in ‘longevity without maintenance’ over DI.

      • From my limited experience the PWS piston setup is a pretty good one. It is not really front heavy compared to a DI gun since it is a short stroke system…. you get all of the advantages of a piston driven system with only a few disadvantages.

        However, at this point, I’m tempted to sell the MK114V2 and buy a 2nd DD V11 since I’ve been training on that and am more comfortable running the same rifle and having multiple “copies” of the exact same gun.

        My “best” gun from a defense standpoint is an AR I built based around AAC 9″ upper chambered in 300 BLK. That sucker will punch nice big .30 holes in things quite readily out to 100 meters and beyond and do it all day long. Oh, and it will lob big ass 240 grain projectiles out to those ranges with impact energy similar to a hot .45 ACP load.

        However, the 300 BLK would not be super useful in a SHTF situation since once you ran out of ammo it would only be useful as a club.

        • Sounds like we have some similar experience… My preferred rifle is also 300 Blk 9″ (an MPW) for CQB/personal defense ranges. With Barnes 110’s it damn near shoots clover-leaf patterns, with very little blast/flash/recoil impulse. Frankly it’s awesome. But heck if it doesn’t get crudded up quick. Maybe mine is just a bit over-gassed. So in a ‘grab one rifle’ scenario, I would always fall back to my DD M4V7. It’s light as heck (not the LW barrel though) and is just the standard of reliability, and yes… doesn’t rely on what is still a somewhat exotic (and expensive) ammo.

        • Here’s an interesting article written by a special operations medic regarding the relationship between wound trauma and bullet velocity. A good mix between science and hands-on experience and observation. While the comparison is between 5.56 and 7.62×39, its relevant as .300BLK is ballistically almost identical to 7.62×39.

          Spoiler alert. Shows a pic of a guy’s knee blown open.
          http://sofrep.com/45197/why-id-rather-be-shot-by-an-ak47-than-an-m4/

  3. Nick, if you have some Black Hills 77gr I’d highly recommend running that. I’ve got 3 LWRC’s, all are sub-MOA with the Black Hills 77gr, they also really like Hornady 60gr V-Max (strangely enough given the 1:7 twist rate).

    One thing the review doesn’t highlight, is that you can feed these rifles anything. Piston guns have a rep for not feeding steel case ammo, I’ve run a favorite of crappy TulAmmo, Wolf, Brown Bear, Silver Bear, etc. With zero issues in high round count carbine classes. Whenever we do a battlefield pickup drill and other students get to get handle the gun, the fawning ensues.

    • There’s nothing strange about a 1:7 twist barrel shooting 60 grain bullets well. While faster twist barrels can stabilize longer bullets that slow twist barrels can’t, it doesn’t work the other way for shorter or lighter bullets. Sometimes a fast twist barrel will break apart a thin jacket on a light bullet during flight, but this is fairly unusual. The common mindset that heavy bullets always equal better accuracy at short (<200 yards) ranges in fast twist barrels isn't really founded on anything scientific. My 1:8 twist .223 shoots 50 grain bullets (V-Max, btw) better than anything else at short ranges. Wind and distance, especially the combination of these things, limit light bullets way more than twist.

  4. I have an LWRCI M6 IC Enhanced that I bought new last year. I like the gun overall. The only problem I had was that it didn’t like some magazines like Lancer L5’s. The bolt wouldn’t hold open after the last round. This issue was fixed after I sent the gun back.

    • Who at that company sets the MSRP and what are they smoking? Knock $1k off the price and they will sell like the pancakes mentioned the book of Proverbs 😉

      • LWRC rifles start at $1500 for the M6-SL, with a lot less features though. No ambi lower, different upper receiver, basic handguard, lighter barrel, fixed gas block, and a few other things. They are very light for a piston gun though, about 6.4 lbs unloaded.

        • Even the SL’s are coming with the fully ambi lower, these days. Nothing leaves the factory with a standard lower receiver anymore.

  5. Hi there,
    This is a nice gun and one of my favorite gun.
    This gun is very powerful and Its have a expressive look also 🙂
    You have described about this gun all in all.
    So thank you very much for described about this gun.
    Best,
    Mahabub Hassan.

  6. We’ve been tweaking the M16 for over 50 years, and the gun today is only marginally better than the M16A1.

    Maybe the M16 and its civilian stepson have reached the point of severely diminishing returns and we need to retire the old soldier. Production of an entirely new military weapon system will have the effect of jump-starting innovation in the civilian sector. And it’s about time.

    • Everything you said is completely correct, but you have now aroused the fury of the fan boys. Their rage will be all the worse since deep down they know you are right. Good luck.

    • I have been thinking that too. The ar-15 may be a great system but I am sure someone could create a whole new system that is just as/more reliable, smoother shooting, and have better ergonomics. People keep adding aftermarket parts to make the ar-15 more ergonomic but maybe its time for an entirely new system designed with better ergonomics from the start.

    • There have been plenty of new intermediate weapon systems developed since the M16 was first released. In 5.56 NATO there’s the Aug, FS2000, FAMAS, Tavor, SCAR, ARX-160, Galil, and G36, just off the top of my head. There’s also more choice than ever in the AR15 market. Whether you want a dirt-cheap $400 rifle made from surplus parts, a sub-moa range toy, or a fancy piston gun with OTB capability, there’s a company that will sell you exactly what you want with seemingly limitless chamberings. What more choice could a person possibly need?

      • Yep. And those “superior” designs haven’t killed the AR series. Nor have Glocks / XDs / M&Ps killed off the 1911. It’s firearms. A good design is a good design. An AR with a good stainless steel barrel can shoot sub-MOA with good ammo and defend the battlefield as well with any sort of intelligent maintenance. But if somebody comes out with something significant better, that’s also reasonably priced and has aftermarket support, I’ll buy that, too.

  7. There’s an interesting thread running on AR15.com started by a guy who runs a range in Vegas. They’ll put 100,000+ rounds through a rifle. Their piston guns have not held up as well as their DIs.

    • My personal favorite is the BCM “Filthy 14”. That gun got some major abuse with not much more than keeping it wet with lube. If built right DI is more than capable of surviving abuse, and is stupid simple to boot.

  8. LWRC is pretty much just cranking out the same thing with different barrels and colors for almost a decade now. At this point, their costs should be a lot lower given that they don’t have to do anything different, but still charge a premium for a mess of proprietary parts. Given the price for the sort of groups it shot, I don’t see how they have a fan base unless guys are just buying them because its expensive and not shooting them.

    • I just bought an LWRC M6 IC Enhanced in FDE. It’s definitely on the back end of the price-value curve, but it is a fantastic gun. The ambi lower is the best on the market, the handguard system is both compact and ergonomic, and the spiral-fluted barrel looks fantastic. There are also little touches that you’d only notice when handling the rifle, such as the NiB bolt and trigger group or coined reciever forgings (coining is when a forging is re-struck cold after heat treating for better dimensional accuracy).

      It is absolutely a luxury gun, in the same way that Mercedes is a luxury car. Why would someone buy a $50,000 Mercedes when they can get a faster Mustang for $30,000? Because of materials, fit, and finish. Everything about this gun is visually perfect and with the piston system it is also extremely robust. I am willing to pay for that in accuracy. <2 MOA is perfectly fine in an AR that I'll never shoot past 300 yards, as long as it goes bang every time I pull the trigger.

      • I like San Tan Tactical’s STT-15 for an ambi lower. Control placement is good and texturing is excellent, plus it has a number of other good features like light weight and a flared magwell.

      • LWRC guns are also ready to go out of box. About the only thing you would need to buy is a sling and optics. The extra money you would save on a less expensive rifle, you would likely have to spend on upgrades getting it to the out-of-box specs for an LWRC.

    • Also, LWRC is giving away free Aimpoint Micro T-1’s with every M6 IC purchased from now until the end of August. They take off the BUIS for this promotion, but that’s still a $500 value.

  9. That’s a lot of ducats for a rifle that’s not shooting sub-1 MOA, IMHYDAO. If I’m going to spend anywhere close to that sort of cash on a piston gun, it’ll have to be damn-near bombproof, like an AK in 5.56.

  10. You can get 2x Sig 516’s for less than 2500. With 77 grain black hills OTM shoot 1 MOA as well. Or a DD MK12 with a VXR Patrol mounted on top and 500 rounds of same ammo, for 2500. Just saying.

  11. Again there’s this cool little shop up the road from me in Leander that will sell me a rifle that cost a good bit less than this and comes with target fired from the actual gun showing <1MOA, you may have heard of them.

    Pass

    • Give the LWRC a geissele ($150 factory option) and it’ll shoot MOA as well. As the author noted most of the MOA spread is on the horizontal axis, which is likely cause by the mil-spec trigger.

      DI is inherently more accurate than piston, and LaRue is almost entirely focused on the civilian market (for their guns at least) which means they can ship every gun with a match trigger, but as with anything there are tradeoffs. The LaRue OBR 5.56 16.1″ is heavier than the LWRC M6 IC 16.1″ despite its lighter gas system and barrel profile. The OBR has a chrome bolt, the LWRC has NiB. The LWRC barrel has double the lifespan.

      The LaRue is a great paper puncher, but I’d sooner trust my life to my LWRC. 2 MOA is good enough for combat. In the future, if I want a long-range tack driver, I’d sooner get a .308 bolt gun than try to throw a 5.56 600 yards.

      • Or like I said in post above I can go buy a LaRue PredatAR or OBR (rifle company from Leander? Guess I wasn’t clear enough) which both cost almost a grand less and come with a Geisselle installed already and leave the shop with a target proving it is a sub MOA rifle before I have even gotten my hands on it.

        • Full disclosure I only read your first paragraph and then hit reply, my bad.

          Still stand by what I said, if you think LaRue is “just a Civilian Paper Puncher” it’s hard to take anything else you say seriously.

  12. Another issue affecting the accuracy is the fluting. You’ll never see a bench-rest competition shooter using fluted barrels. On top of it creating non-uniform stresses in the barrel, Accuracy International did testing on barrel flutes and found that the barrels never seem to heat up consistently from one shot to the next further throwing off accuracy of the rifle.

    • Uh-oh. Barrel fluting.

      The internet is full of message board talk about that AI study. However, I can’t find a copy of it or any source material. As best as I can tell, AI did the testing on one barrel. If so, that tells you plenty about that barrel, but next to nothing about any other barrel. AI sells fluted barrels, so they can’t be too down on them.

      Fluting does three things, in order of importance: 1) looks cool; 2) reduces weight; and 3) helps dissipate heat.

      Done properly, fluting won’t impair accuracy, in my opinion. For the record, I own a really cool-looking fluted barrel. If it weren’t fluted, it would be even more ridiculously heavy than it already is and wouldn’t look nearly as cool as either.

      • I was also troubled that I could never find the source material about the AI test. It makes sense to me though. This would be hard to actually test because a heavier barrel will be more accurate and fluting takes away weight, but it’s still expected a fluted barrel of the same weight as a non-fluted barrel will still be more accurate. But the referred to but never found study found that attaching lasers to the gun, the optic, and the barrel… the fluted barrel always walked off alignment whereas the non-fluted barrel laser kept aligned. At least that part should be easy to replicate in a test.

        If only The Truth About Guns had a Jeremy S that could test such things…

    • LWRC says they solved this problem by spiral fluting. According to them their testing also showed the longitudinal fluting caused the stringing you described, but spiral fluting balanced the residual barrel stress and caused much more uniform barrel heating. In my experience the rifle holds zero just fine after a mag dump.

  13. “A free-floating barrel dissipates heat to the surrounding air rather than transmitting it to the handguard and burning the shooter.”

    Say whaaaaaat???

    Free float….sort of. I mean that piston is attached the barrel and upper receiver so its not truly free floated when it comes to free barrel harmonics/whip etc.

    The heat is going to radiate in the barrel, back to the receiver and along the hand guard, just like any other heat sink. It will also dissipate away (up) from the barrel heating up the the hand guard as it does, since that it will rise to the hand guard first. How much is directly related to how much you fire the gun at the time.

    Free float yes but only in that pressure on the hand guard can’t impact POI.

  14. For $600 plus tax you can have a S&W M&P Sport. Add a Velocity Trigger from Tom in Phoenix , Az and some 55 grain Federal ball ammo, a Nikon P-223 optic and some practice and the results will be better than the described LWRC. Out to 400 yds. or so. Just sayin.

  15. slight tangent, but… is there a Leghorn review where the stock trigger ISN’T an earth-shattering event?

  16. That rifle screams heavy to me. Was the 7.25 lbs actually verified or mfg claimed?

    I love the idea of owning an LWRC but the value just isnt there for me. For that $$$ you could bring home 2 Colt LE6920, 2 new triggers, and two Eotechs. One to to practice with and one to keep by the bedside. I’d wager the Colts would shoot similar groups.

    Also, as I point out in every expensive AR review on this site….I have an old beater factory Olympic AR ($500) that will shoot similar (2 MOA) groups with decent ammo. BTW, this is after the thing has cycled thousands of rounds of whatever ammo, including steel, that is on sale at the LGS. Malfunctions and cleaning are minimal if not non existent. Squirt some Mobil 1 in it and you are good to go.

    • My M6 IC Enhanced with a 16.1″ barrel weighs 8 lbs 1 oz with a loaded mag and cheap red dot. 30 5.56 cartridges weigh about 9 oz and the red dot weighs 5 oz so that’s about 7 lbs 3 oz with an empty magazine. Right on the money.

  17. I have ran both piston and DI guns in my time, both as military and civilian. Truth is, piston only really seems to benefit a full auto rifle and even then either only during sustained fire or in extreme environments. I simply haven’t yet ran into the case where a semi auto DI gun has failed me where a piston gun would have continued on without a hickup.

    There is one caveat to this, firing the rifle when it still has a significant amount of water inside of it. I’v been present for over the beach tests, DI guns don’t like them.

    In the real world I don’t foresee any reasonable scenario where I will be popping up out of water and needing to fire within seconds. A SEAL on the other hand may in fact have this need. I am not a SEAL and do not.

    DI guns are reliable, easy to maintain, a bit quieter (though not significantly unless suppressed) and they aren’t dumping the heat close to my leading hand so are usually a bit more comfortable to shoot for long sessions.

    A well built rifle will work. It will work in conditions/environments in which you really don’t want to find yourself. However all firearms have their limits and will fail given the right conditions. A part of operating a weapon is knowing how to not put into situations that will cause it to fail. (Don’t open your rifle, dump ten pounds of sand into it, then try to fire and expect good results. No, not an AK either.)

  18. “Oh, and the trigger sucks. Just FYI. It’s a single stage “milspec” trigger and there’s some definite stacking there.”

    -Because this isn’t one of the most commonly upgraded components of the AR platform…

  19. Thanks Nick.. For that price, I should not have to replace parts. I wonder what ammo these guys use to test their rifles or in anyway. Which accuracy level doe they test their rifles and the ammo brand you guys use is the only one showing what they test it to. 0.5 MOA.. Pretty good if you ask me.. I shoot them in 308 as well. Most consistent and accurate ammo money can buy. It is tiring to spend few grand on a rifle to get only 1MOA out of it.. or place ammo in it like FGM that gives me 1MOA on average.. no more.. Thanks TTAG

  20. The fact is, there is no other ar manufacturer who sells a rifle as ambidextrous as the LWRC IC series. Every other gun or lower requires some form of compromise for left handed shooters. As a lefty, I am sick and tired of trying to make do with something that wasn’t designed for me. Things have gotten a lot better in the last ten years or so, but after 40 years of the AR, this is the only no compromise left handed rifle. It’s worth five stars in my book for that alone. It’s not the best trigger, but dinging this gun for a trigger that was purpose built mil-spec to meet the requirement of a contract seems petty. More so considering LWRC improved the mil spec trigger by using different coatings in the model used in this rifle.

  21. This was the model I was looking at picking up but after seeing this review i’m not all that thrilled. I can’t figure out the difference between the M6IC that you also did a review on but it got 5 stars and this rifle. How did this rifle fall off so dramatically vs the other?

    • Different strokes for different folks, mainly. Each review is based on that reviewer’s opinion. Heck, the Lionheart LH9 reviews we did a while back were of the exact same handgun (same serial number — I shipped it to Joe for a second look) and the results couldn’t be more different. Everyone is going to have a slightly different opinion, we just try to provide as much information as possible and an honest assessment of how we personally feel about the firearm so that you can make your own informed decision.

  22. Thanks for the review. I love these IC rifles. I’ll be running an SBR suppressed all the time, so piston is an easy call, and LWRC and PWS are way out front. The ambi lower seals it up. I would like a keymod or m-lok version of that forend, but I’m sure I can get by just fine until it is available. With the Aimpoint bonus, LWRC gets a big wad of my cash this week.

  23. just as a note lwrc ships some of their rifles with a geissele. So perhaps this review should be redone so everyone can see the difference. personally I have 3 lwrc’s and like them alot if you can pony up for the rifle then you can swing a trigger if need be. I also have a scar 17 and swapped a geissele into that. seems like people tend to bash stuff they can’t afford. I can’t swing a barret 50 but I’m not talking crap about it either.

  24. I have the LWRCI M6A2 SPR. It is a few years old now, but still performs perfectly. I too was disappointed in the 1.75″ groups, but I got a Geissele SSA trigger, and started loading 69 gr Sierra over H335 at 23 grains and the groups are now under 1″ with a target scope. With an EoTech, groups are just over an inch, as I can’t really get smaller than a 1 MOA dot on the target with a red dot, so precision is lost to the optic. The rifle feels good in the hands, no noticeable heating up of the support hand, although I don’t usually shoot more than 25 or 30 rounds in a typical stage in 3-Gun. I don’t notice any additional weight over other guns at the matches, maybe because I can’t tell the difference in 6.9 lbs and 7.3 lbs. while running around a course with a 6 pound accessory belt with ammo, and a pistol on my hip. What I can say is that the Ceracote finish looks as good as when I bought it other than the ejection deflector has a few scuffs on it from all the ejected cases slamming into it.

    It is the cleanest gun after a match that I have ever seen. I go home, clean the shotgun and pistols, then look at the rifle and say “Why bother?” 🙂

  25. Interesting on the GI trigger. I bought an older version of this rifle, the M6A5, and it came with an AAC 51T flash suppressor and Geissele SSA trigger. Mine doesn’t have the factory ambi settings or fluted barrel, but those are easy to upgrade aftermarket.

  26. Better yet just purchased this in the DI model, 1000 less and with trigger upgrade(274.00) shooting 1″ groups. Using the Tac con 3mr so I get the giggle switch too…lol
    (actually more of a chuckle then a giggle)

    • After much research, the LWRC IC-A5 seemed the very best way to go. Mine is phenomenal. ‘Came with a Holosun 403C red dot, and after getting it zeroed in, is just so much fun and amazing. You do not have to look through the scope dead on. Even looking through the scope at an angle, whatever that dot is sitting on top of, your shot will hit. It loves 69gr and 77gr rounds. Have not yet tested the 62gr I bought to compare.

      Suggest going through a company in Florida (can be found in Gunbroker) called Gun Point in Bradenton, FL. They offer the best deals and options. Geissele SSA-E trigger upgrade for $150. 10 magazines, very nice case, red dot.

      You can call them on the phone and deal directly over the phone without having to use the auction site.

      But to see some various packages: http://www.gunbroker.com/All/BI.aspx?Keywords=LWRC+a5

      Lastly, the SPR cannot do silencers much. The Enhanced can, but then the guard is shorter. The A5 has silencer switch (foregoes the bayonet mount that the Enhanced has), and has a longer guard rail on the bottom than the Enhanced which is important for mounting a bipod closer to the end of the rifle. Best of all worlds, IMHO, so the A5 was my choice.

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