Gun Review: An Afternoon with the War Sport Rifle Lineup

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At last year’s Texas Firearms Festival, I stopped by the CMC Trigger booth to meet Will Harris from War Sport Industries. I did this because my good friend Richard King said I needed (emphasis his) to do it. Will was expecting me because Richard sent him a message too. Besides being War Sport’s photographer of record, Richard is a bit of an enthusiast as it relates to these guns. Will’s official title Business Development Manager for War Sport Industries. That’s fancy speak for “sales guy” in my day job. Will happens to be the quietest sales guy I’ve ever met, a rarity in my world. He introduced himself, made pleasant talk while loading mags, handed me one of their LVOA-C rifles and told me to start shooting at things . . .

About five rounds into shooting the LVOA, I understood why he doesn’t feel the need to talk up the products he represents. That gun flat out shot. It didn’t matter whether I shot fast or slow, double or triple taps, I was hitting what I was aiming at. Count me impressed. The gun was filthy thanks to all the people who had come by and shot hundreds of rounds through it, but it just kept ticking right along. Obviously, we can’t write a gun review based off a mag’s worth of shooting, so I started angling for a T&E sample (the things I do for you). But first, I thanked Will and asked him how much a rifle like that costs. $3050. A low whistle escaped my lips, I pushed my hat back on my head, and rocked back and forth on my toes.

‘That’s a very nice rifle and we’d love to put it through a more extended test so we can write a full review.”

A year later, and I still don’t have one sitting in my safe, though I think we’re getting closer. I should have known that would happen based on Will’s response to my low whistle. Or really, his lack of response. Normally, when someone alludes to the fact that a product costs too much, a salesperson is quick to jump in with features and benefits that justify the cost. For example, I recently called a Ford dealership to inquire about a truck. The salesperson attempted to sell me a much more expensive truck, to which I replied, “That is too much money.” I was then treated to a ten minute lecture laced with defensive condescension on the reasons I wasn’t seeing things correctly, and that a seven year old truck should be worth a year at Harvard.

Will did none of that because people keep buying War Sport guns at that price. And because they aren’t having any trouble selling them, there’s no point in handing out $3000 rifles so “aw shucks” gun writers can beat them up and turn them into unsellable demo units. I’m not upset by that because I understand how businesses make money, and frankly, having expensive guns in the house has a way of depleting my bank account. Safer for everyone this way.

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I had to be in the Atlanta area a few months ago, and I decided to extend my stay for a weekend so I could spend some time with Richard and his family. Southern hospitality has a way of helping a man unwind a bit and the King family does southern hospitality like no other. Naturally, the topic of shooting some War Sport Rifles came up, and Richard promised me a range trip. I asked what kind of ammo I should purchase, and he told me, “Whatever you want. They eat everything.”

This is the part where I have to take a second and explain how I feel about expensive things. My first memory of learning the “buy once, cry once” mindset came from my father who paid his way through college working on cars. He eventually built a large and thriving automotive repair business, but even when he didn’t have the money to do it, he always bought Snap-On tools. When I finally saved up enough money to get on the tool truck for more than day dreaming, I announced my intention to buy a set of Snap-On wrenches, just like my dad. Same as it is today, a 10 piece set of combination wrenches from Snap-On could purchase about eight deluxe sets of Craftsman wrenches at the local Sears. I only had Craftsman money in my pockets.

Naturally, I left the tool truck dejected, and asked my dad why Snap-On wrenches cost so much money. To which he replied something to the effect of, “I spend between 40-60 hours each week with tools in my hands. I make my money with these hands, and I can’t afford to have them hurting from using wrenches that aren’t designed to fit them. Furthermore, I can’t afford to not have a tool I need because it is broken.”

His actual words are of course, lost to the ages as I wasn’t an aspiring journalist at ten years old. But you get the point. In the years following our conversation, I watched my dad and his crew abuse their tools to the point of absurdity. Time and again, I watched Snap-On tools continue on where cheaper tools had failed. Money doesn’t necessarily imply quality, but quality never comes cheap. Given that experience, I’ve never had a problem paying a premium for tools and equipment that flat out work. But, if you want to charge $3000 for an AR, I’m going to beat on it and judge it more harshly than a M&P Sport.

Visions of 250 pound men hanging off their wrenches were in the back of my mind as I spent a couple hundred bucks worth of TTAG’s money on a case of Tul steel cased 55 gr ammo. It is dirty, cheap, foul ammo and in my experience, it is a great way to figure out if a gun will run or not in a limited amount of time. When I called Richard to get his address for shipping, I explained that I was going to prove once and for all that this gun was a waste of money. Richard remained unfazed.

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When we unpacked at the range, I started by opening up the oldest gun in the lineup, the LVOA-C that Richard picked up when he took on War Sport as a client. Nearly identical to the one I’d shot at the TIFF last year, this one looked like it had been run over by a truck. It was absolutely filthy. I mean, absurdly, disgustingly filthy. I’ve scaled back my neatfreak tendencies in the last few years, settling for a thorough scrubbing every other range trip or so versus the complete teardown I used to do every time I returned from the range. Richard is a bit more advanced in his thinking I guess.

He also made it a point to toss his guns out of the case and on the ground with reckless abandon. I soon realized that this was going to be a very normal day of shooting, and I wasn’t going to be going home with some juicy hot gossip about how War Sport guns were overrated pieces of junk. A Cabot review this would not be.

LVOA-C

According to War Sport’s website, LVO stands for low visibility operations and A stands for applications. The LVOA was designed to be a low signature rifle built as a complete system. Where you might buy a bargain bin rifle with the intention of upgrading the trigger or hand guard at a later date, the LVOA rifles are built to be “right” out of the box. As such, the list of parts reads like a who’s who of gun companies. BCM supplies the butt stock, Magpul supplies the grips and little bits, and CMC provides the trigger. The barrel on this rifle was an outsourced part as this particular rifle was a bit older, but War Sport now makes their own barrels in house. Essentially, if the market has the best option, War Sport will buy it, but if they think they can make it better, they’ll build it themselves.

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The most noticeable self built bit, and really the signature piece of the LVOA guns, is the unique hand guard that completely covers the muzzle of the gun. I’m not nearly high speed, low drag enough to fully appreciate the difference that makes for a Tier 1 operator. What I can tell you is that the gun feels slightly nose heavy with that much metal out there. The trade off is that you have the longest sight radius possible when using irons, and the barrel is fully protected from barrel nut to muzzle. This may be one of the only guns on the market that will allow someone with a seven foot wing span to C clamp.

Speaking of the muzzle, War Sport’s Top Hat compensator is the last thing the bullet passes through before it hits the target, and it does an admirable job of reducing muzzle flash and rise. Like most of the parts on the LVOA, it acts in tandem with everything else to make a complete “system” that’s accurate, reliable, and easy to shoot.

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LVOA-S

The LVOA-S is the gun that War Sport would probably lead with if it weren’t for the pesky NFA. Like its big brother, the S model includes the same receiver, controls, and stock with a shortened rail and barrel. It retains the same 1:8 twist barrel chambered in .223 Wylde, and the same mid length gas system. The only difference is the 11.75″ barrel, five inches shorter than the LVOA-C. As you can see in the pictures, Richard had opted for a Magpul UBR on this rifle, but retained the rest of the factory components. The balance of this rifle was SIGNIFICANTLY better than the C model due to the heavier UBR stock, and the shortened barrel length.

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The other difference, and this is partially due to the fact that I shot this whole test with Wolf ammo, is that the LVOA-S just doesn’t kill off muzzle flash as well. See the video here and the picture above for proof. I’m certain that low flash ammo not made to the cheapest standard possible would fix this. All things being equal, I’d still pick the SBR version of this given the weight distribution and the fact that NFA items are fun. If you already have a registered lower, War Sport sells just the upper for a cool $1950. You can also buy a parts kit from Omaha Outdoors for $850 at the time of this writing that does all the same stuff, but requires you to build it. The C Model is similarly available as an upper only and parts kit direct through War Sport or their dealer network.

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GPR-E

The GPR (General Purpose Rifle) series is an effort to bring the War Sport brand to the masses at a more affordable price. The GPR features two part plastic hand guards, an ALG trigger instead of the pricier CMC trigger the LVOA uses, and a general move down market in components. Keep in mind that down market from the LVOA still represents a very nice rifle, and this corresponds to a retail price of $1650. The GPR-E is a step up from the GPR and sits firmly in between the GPR and the LVOA in features and cost. It will set you back $2250.

The GPR-E uses the same barrel as the GPR and the LVOA, made in house by War Sport. It gets an upgraded trigger in the form of Geisselle’s SSA, a slightly weighter version of the SSA-E I tested a year ago (and loved). It also features a less radical hand guard that still shares some DNA with the LVOA. The difference is quite obvious upon first glance as it doesn’t lovingly embrace the muzzle device. Speaking of, it uses the GP compensator, not the Top Hat, pinned and welded to bring the overall length to a ATF legal 16.2″ Richard had opted to have his refitted with a muzzle device that allowed him to affix a silencer, which was used for most of the testing here.

Like the LVOAs, the GPR-E ate everything I threw at it, and put up acceptable accuracy given the quality of ammo. It was certainly less exciting than the LVOAs due it looking like a standard AR and the silencer keeping things pretty quite. Muzzle rise was similarly non existent, though that might have been due to the lights, lasers, bipod, and silencer hanging out up front. Since it wasn’t my gun, I didn’t ask to remove those items for testing purposes.

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Specifications: War Sport Guns

WAR SPORT GPR-E:

  • CAL: .223 REM, WYLDE CHAMBER, 1:8 RH, QPQ MELONITE
  • BARREL LENGTH: 14.7″ (WITH PINNED & WELDED GP COMP), OAL: 16.2″
  • MID LENGTH DI GAS SYSTEM (Gas Tube & Low Pro Gas Block, QPQ MELONITE)
  • WEIGHT (W/ 30-RD MAG): 7.5-LBS
  • WEIGHT CARBINE: 7.0-LBS
  • LENGTH OPEN: 35.5″
  • LENGTH CLOSED: 32.75″
  • WAR SPORT HARD SHELL CASE
  • WAR SPORT GP COMP
  • WAR SPORT BOLT CATCH
  • WAR SPORT MATCH GRADE BARREL
  • WAR SPORT GPR-E RAIL
  • MAGPUL MBUS PRO FRONT &  REAR SIGHT
  • AMBI CHARGING HANDLE
  • AMBI FIRE/SAFE CONTROLS
  • B5 SYSTEMS BRAVO STOCK
  • GEISSELE SSA 2-STAGE TRIGGER
  • COLOR: BLACK
  • PRICE: $2250

LVOA® -S (SBR):

  • CAL: .223 WYLDE CHAMBER, 1:8 RH,
  • BARREL LENGTH: 11.75″
  • WEIGHT (W/ 30-RD MAG): 7.2-LBS
  • WEIGHT CARBINE: 6.75-LBS
  • LENGTH OPEN: 32.75″
  • LENGTH CLOSED: 29.5″
  • SHIPS IN A HARDSHELL CASE
  • MAGPUL MBUS PRO SIGHTS
  • MAGPUL XTM FOREGRIP
  • B5 SYSTEMS ENHANCED SOPMOD STOCK
  • AMBI MAG RELEASE
  • AMBI FIRE CONTROLS
  • CMC 3.5-LB FLAT TRIGGER
  • COLOR: LOW-VIS FOL GREEN
  • PRICE: $3050

LVOA -C Rifle:

  • CAL: .223 WYLDE CHAMBER, 1:8 RH,
  • BARREL LENGTH: 14.7″ (WITH PINNED & WELDED COMP)
  • WEIGHT (W/ 30-RD MAG): 7.5-LBS
  • WEIGHT CARBINE: 7.0-LBS
  • LENGTH OPEN: 35.5″
  • LENGTH CLOSED: 32.75″
  • SHIPS IN A HARDSHELL CASE
  • MAGPUL MBUS PRO SIGHTS
  • MAGPUL XTM FOREGRIP
  • B5 SYSTEMS ENHANCED SOPMOD STOCK
  • AMBI MAG RELEASE
  • AMBI FIRE CONTROLS
  • CMC 3.5-LB FLAT TRIGGER
  • COLOR: LOW-VIS FOL GREEN
  • PRICE: $3050

*Disclaimer: This was not what I would consider thorough testing as I used cheap ammo, the optics that came on the guns, and non factory configurations. At best, it is more of a seat of the pants “feel” and a hype check. We’re working with War Sport currently to get a demo rifle to beat on for a more formal review.

Overall Rating * * * *

There’s a certain blessing and a curse that comes along with gun “systems”. I hate using the word system as it seems right up there with platform, operator, and sheepdog for words that make me cringe. That said, War Sport builds, tests, and markets this gun to work out of the box with no further modifications. This is a blessing for those that find what War Sport has put together to be perfect in every single way. This is a curse for those, like me, who have one or two quibbles.

The big one I have is with the non NFA guns and their pinned/welded muzzle devices. Now that I own silencers, the ability to use the muzzle device of my choice is a necessity so I can stick my can on the end. Yes, yes, I read War Sport’s website. The LVOA guns were designed to not be silenced. Fine and dandy, but I’m a guy who likes to be neighborly and pinned/welded muzzle devices make my life significantly harder. Perfectly understandable on the LOVA gun, but frustrating on the GPR series of guns that feature a hand guard that doesn’t cover the muzzle.

I count myself in the tinkerer category, and my gun collection shows it. Nearly everything I own has somehow been modified from stock, and with the exception of an Armalite gun I received as a graduation present, my ARs are all home built. As such, I’m not War Sport’s target customer. What I can tell you is that these are some of the slickest factory guns I’ve ever had the opportunity to shoot. And now that the second Texas Gun Fest is in the books, this is the second year I’ve watched as they’ve spent two days getting abused on while never missing a beat.

Look forward to a future review of either one of their rifles, their uppers, or a build kit.

comments

  1. avatar Geoff PR says:

    “For example, I recently called a Ford dealership to inquire about a truck. The salesperson attempted to sell me a much more expensive truck, to which I replied, “That is too much money.” I was then treated to a ten minute lecture laced with defensive condescension on the reasons I wasn’t seeing things correctly,…”

    About 25 seconds into that spiel by him, he would be hearing a *click* sound followed by a dial tone.

    If I’m the one spending money at that Ford dealership, a lecture is the last thing I’m interested in hearing. That salesman had better be the one listening to *me*.

    Oh, the gun.

    Sounds nice, way outta my price range…

  2. avatar Scott S says:

    Ridiculous. There is nothing on this gun that makes it work $3K. Nothing unique or innovative. You can find numerous factory guns, using the same parts, that will run all day on any ammo, as you would expect from **any** quality AR. Their target market is obviously the uneducated consumer.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      A company like that will find a customer who will be happy to pay stupid prices for a better gun…

      As long as it is better than their buddies, or has other undetermined ‘premium’ aspect…

      Rational? Probably not.

      But it’s his money he’s spending, not yours…

      1. avatar Scott S says:

        I agree 100% with everything you wrote, but I’d expect an “objective” review to state “NFW is this gun worth $3K,” so consumers might make an informed decision.

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          Once it’s out in the market the customers will soon make that determination…

          Tyler’s had it in his hot little hands and he apparently believes it may be worth it.

          We’ll see how it groups when the formal review hits TTAG.

        2. avatar Jame T Kirk says:

          You will never ever see a blog of magazine say that… ever. To many greased palms in this world. You want real feed back stick to people you can talk to in person.

  3. avatar Phil says:

    I have personally shot one of the LVOA rifles and aside from the rail this weapon is built on already manufactured parts. Sure the barrel is an in house product but it wont shoot any better than another $350 barrel!!!

    huge problem people.. The suppressor market is huge and if you spend $3k on a weapon is should be suppressor ready not suppressor restricted.

    I have word they are building an integral suppressed model.. great idea… a suppressor that only works on your weapon and you cant move the suppressor to your other firearms…

    This company thinks they are making something new.. Nope just trying to reinvent the wheel that only works on their car..

    1. avatar GBrew says:

      Here’s an idea: don’t buy it. It’s not as if they’re a predatory manufacturer. Anyone spending that amount likely will make an informed decision anyways.

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