A few weeks ago I reviewed LWRC’s IC-A5 rifle. In general I thought the engineering was solid, but the details were holding the gun back. It seems like someone else (a former SEAL named Jeff Gonzoles) had the same impressions I did, and so LWRC introduced a limited edition run of rifles dubbed the “TRICON” series that fixed almost every complaint I could think up and then some. What exactly makes this gun better? Let me count the ways . . .
There are a number of improvements, but the overall form of the gun is the same tried and true LWRC design. The handguards are still integrated into the upper receiver just like the standard rifle. The barrel is a fluted, cold hammer-forged 14.7 inch affair with a pinned and welded flash hider (no other options available). It also comes with a LWRC stock, just like all their other guns. And, most importantly, it has the same quick-detach top rail system and short stroke gas system.
I like to highlight this easy-to-remove handguard because it really does make life a whole lot easier. Instead of needing to break out the tool kit to get at your gas system for a deep and thorough cleaning, all you need to do is pull the cover off and you have all the access you could want.
The screws at the end of the handguards are finger tight, and they are captured to ensure that you will never lose them even on a dusty, dirty battlefield. It shows that LWRC put a lot of time and effort into thinking about who would be using their firearms and how…and designing something for them specifically that is both functional and useful. I like that.
One potential downside I see is that the gas system doesn’t appear to be adjustable. That’s not such a big issue since the flash hider is pinned and welded, meaning a silencer would not easily be attached to this gun. Therefore the current gas setting should be just fine. Nevertheless, I always prefer more options.
The TRICON edition also comes with a short vertical foregrip attached to the handguards that I really couldn’t care less about.
Moving along, the operating system is the same as the IC version. This is a short-stroke recoil system, meaning that the operating rod is housed inside the upper receiver and doesn’t come out during field stripping. That makes takedown and cleaning time easier for those simple post range session tear-downs, but also means getting in there for a good deep scrubbing takes a little extra effort.
The bolt carrier in use is coated with a nickel boron finish that not only gives the rifle a little extra bling but also tends to accumulate less dirt and fouling than a similar phosphate bolt carrier. That’s great for reliability.
Rounding out the upper receiver is a full-length Picatinny rail, capped with MAGPUL MBUS Pro metal iron sights. I love these sights. Yhey are not only slick looking but functional. They lie extremely flat to the surface of the rail (especially compared to their polymer counterparts) and are very durable. Inside that upper receiver the TRICON version sports a Bravo Company BCM Gunfighter charging handle, which is my personal charging handle of choice. Well played, LWRC.
The biggest changes are actually the smallest pieces of the firearm, but they make a huge difference. Instead of the terrible milspec trigger present in the bare bones version of the gun, LWRC has installed a Geissele Super 2-Stage trigger. Geissele makes some amazing stuff for a factory trigger, and this is no different. After a short take-up, the break on this trigger has just a tiny bit of roll followed by a crisp and clean feeling. It isn’t just for precision shooting though — I was able to run this gun hard in the short range bays, and getting a 2 stage trigger to run like a single stage trigger is easier than you might think. Definitely no points down there.
Another change is the safety. Instead of the slim ambi safety on the IC, the TRICON version has a standard right-handed safety selector switch installed. That not only increases the surface area available to get your thumb on the safety, but it also means there’s nothing to dig into your trigger finger while shooting precision shots prone.
Other than that, the lower is pretty standard for a LWRC gun. The dual pingpong paddle bolt catches are present, as is the ambi magazine release. The trigger guard is a plastic MAGPUL replacement, and while I would prefer to see the aluminum version, I’m not complaining. Much.
Shooting the gun in a short range bay was fun, but the real test is how accurate the gun is on the known distance range. Using a box of 69gr .223 Remington rounds from Eagle Eye Ammunition (our official ammo sponsor) I fired a series of 5-round groups at a target 100 yards away. That 2-stage trigger made a huge difference, and the results are plain to see on the target.
The milspec trigger in pretty much this exact same configuration (14.7 inch barrel, 1:7 twist, same scope and bipod, same day) clocked in around 1.76 MoA. With the Geissele trigger installed, that group size shrank to 0.96 MoA — meeting my requirement for 1 MoA accuracy for rifles over $1k. A trigger really does make all the difference when it comes to the accuracy of a firearm.
For an AR-15, that level of accuracy is pretty good. It isn’t the best group I’ve ever shot with a gas gun, but that’s plenty good enough for realistically any application you can think of. From 3-gun to hog hunting, this rifle would be A-OK to use for any of those endeavors.
The LWRC TRICON edition is a definite improvement over their stock rifle. The features are all very nice, but the one that really made a huge difference to me was the trigger. Swapping out that terrible milspec atrocity for something more civilized definitely elevated the results that this gun could provide, and I get the feeling that we could see even more improvement with just a touch more barrel and a different muzzle device. For what the gun was designed to do (operate operationally with operational operators), this is just about perfect. I would take this gun into combat any day of the week. But with just a few more tweaks it could be perfect for everything else, too.
Specifications: LWRC TRICON MK6 Rifle
Caliber: 5.56 NATO
Barrel: 14.7″ 1:7 twist, cold hammer forged, fluted
Magazine: One 30-round magazine included, accepts standard AR-15 magazines
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * * * *
For an AR-15, it meets the criteria for an acceptable level of accuracy for the money. Not perfect, but acceptable.
Ergonomics: * * * * *
They fixed the trigger. And the safety. And the charging handle. But a forward grip? Not my cup of tea. Then again, it comes off easy.
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: * * * *
The improved accuracy as a result of the trigger swap is definitely worthy of an additional star. We aren’t quite at “perfection” levels yet, but this is damn close. Too bad it was a limited run, and they seem to be sold out.