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So I promised myself that I’d start shooting my ARs more. It’s not that I don’t enjoy shooting them, it’s just that every time I try to pull one out, something else takes priority. I’m either helping a friend sight in his scope, teaching my wife how to shoot her new Savage 93R17, tinkering with new gear or showing a coworker the ins and outs of the antique S&W Model 28 that his recently deceased father left for him.

I must admit, my AR-15 collection has dwindled over the past two years. Ever since I picked up my LWRC M6A2, there really hasn’t been a need to keep much of anything else, at least not in carbine length. I sold off a couple of Bushmasters and pieced together rifles with the intention of picking up a SCAR-H, AR-10, or the super-sweet LWRC REPR. I haven’t gotten around to that yet, but when I found a brand-new Rock River Arms (RRA) complete lower with adjustable buttstock and 2-stage NM trigger for half of the normal MSRP, the images of a new project came into focus.

Since there isn’t any space in my safe for a carbine-length AR-15, it seems that a varmint gun is the only choice. I have a couple of options in mind for the upper, as well as some ideas for scope and accessories. But I thought, just for fun, I’d let our valiant TTAG readers pick what they wanted to see.  That’s right, whatever you pick is what I’ll test. So here they are:

1) LAR-15 Coyote Rifle (20”)
2) LAR-15 Predator Pursuit Rifle (20”)
3) LAR-15 Varmint A4 (20”)
4) LAR-15 ATH Carbine (18”)

1) Nikon M-223 3-12 x 42 BDC 600
2) Leupold VX-3 6.5-20 x 50mm Matte Varmint Hunter
3) Millett Buck Gold 4-16×56

1) 20-round PMAG Magazines
2) BADASS ambi-safety
3) Hogue free-float aluminum handguard
4) RRA quad-rail
5) Harris Bipod
6) Versapod

1) Magpul ACS buttstock
2) Magpul PRS buttstock
3) Magpul MOE Winter Triggerguard
4) Magpul MIAD grip

For what it’s worth, I’m leaning toward the Coyote Rifle upper, Nikon M223 scope, RRA Quad-rail, Versapod, MIAD grip, MOE winter triggerguard, and PRS buttstock. But that’s just me. My thoughts are based on the fact that this gun will actually be used for coyote/javelina hunting.

So you make the call. Today’s is a multiple choice QOTD and we’re grading on the curve. What combination would you like to see? Pick your fave from each group and post ’em in the comments section. And if you don’t like what I have in mind, feel free to offer up any suggestions of your own.

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  1. This article caught my attention because I am building my dedicated varmint AR15 as we speak. I have the rifle already, which is a Rock River Arms Varmint A4 with an 18 inch stainless steel bull barrel. It is very light and balances well even with the bull barrel on it.

    If I may make a suggestion regarding barrel length, 18 inches may be a better all around length then 20 inches. I went back and forth on this issue before deciding on the 18 inch. Why? Mainly, it is easier to pack around. When I went hog hunting just this past spring, we were both walking around and getting in and out of vehicles, I had my AR10 with its 20 inch barrel on it. That extra 2 inches adds weight, and it is harder to get in an out of a vehicle with a 20 inch barrel. Just my opinion. If you are just going to set up somewhere and sit, barrel length won’t really matter. Just my opinion, but in most instances, you will probably have to do some type of hike, walk or stalk, and imagine doing that with a 20 inch or even some varmint rifles sport 24 inch barrels.

    If it were me, I would go with:

    1. The LAR-15 – Advanced Tactical Hunter with 18 inch barrel;
    2. Nikon M223 Scope – I would also suggest (if you can procure one), the M223 2.5 x 10 power with IRT – laser rangefinder built into it with BDC 600. I cannot find a lot of reviews or information on this scope, but I want one.
    3. Magpul 20 round mags are awesome.
    4. Magpul PRS Stock – going to put this one on mine.
    5. As far as remaining accessories, test and get what you want on there. I have a RRA AR15 with a 16 inch barrel that I accessorized until it became a combat weapon. I am keeping it simple with my Varmint AR because less is more.

    Hope this helps.

    • I have a RRA AR15 with a 16 inch barrelI recently shot one of these courtesy of the LEO who was shooting next to me at the range. Frankly, I was very impressed by its accuracy with iron sights. And recoil? It kicked like my Ruger 10/22, which is to say, not at all.

      The indoor range is limited to 25 yards. I would love to shoot that rifle at 200 yards, and will endeavor to do so ASAP.

  2. Having bought one myself in ’09, I gotta ask how much the RRA lower was. If I recall correctly I think I paid ~$400

    • The lower was $200 plus tax – it was ordered for someone who wanted it, but never came back in to pick it up (for whatever reason). The gun shop I go to gives people 60 days to pick up their special ordered items, unless special circumstances arise (sick, hospital, traveling, etc). It only takes a single phone call or email and they’ll put it back in the safe until you can come down and get it. The gentlemen who ordered the lower paid his deposit (50%, so $200) and never called or stopped by to collect. The gun shop has tried calling since September, but no answer even after a dozen or so voice mails.

      So, that guys bad fortune is my – and our TTAG readers – good fortune 🙂

  3. Sell the lower and keep the trigger, then get an (old meaning) AR-10 type rifle in something zippy like .243 down an 18-22″ tube. (Kill 2 birds with 1 stone) Since you won’t be moving around much weight is not a concern. Go with PRS, harris bipod, MIAD grip, PRI forearm and something in the 3-12 ballpark. (Personally I like FFP and go with USO but I understand glass is probably the most $$ of all accessories and therefore very very subjective as to ‘worth’.) I would’t go above 20x as it gets very difficult to see due to mirage and amplified movements.

    • Or .260 Remington. You can load it with anything from a 90 grain TNT hollowpoint to a 140 grain Berger VLD and take most game in the US with it.

      • Of course. .260 is a good alternative for a little longer barrel life. .243 seems to have a reputation as a barrel burner (thanks to hot rodding it to 4k+ fps by some people) Actually going to get a .260 bbl replacement after shooting out this .308.
        Or you could even consider 7mm-08. Those are the three main alternatives to .308 casings, more factory ammo in .243 and 7mm though. Either of those are a good choice.
        By the way, it seems optimum load is with 123 gr bullets for .260. Doesn’t quite have the case capacity to push a 140 gr fast enough.

    • If I were to get away from the .223, I would lean toward the 6.8 SPC. It is becoming very popular and is certainly effective at distances up to 600 yards… The only problem with 6.8 SPC is ammo. While coming down in price (price isn’t my biggest issue), they are very hard to find – meaning online shopping or Cabela’s only… I hate being stuck with a caliber that is a “specialty” item. This is why I don’t own a 500 S&W, .280, 10mm Auto, etc.

      • Agreed. I was initially drawn towards 6.5 grendel for the good ballistics, but the rarity of casings (although you can fireform or hydroform them from 7.62 soviet, it was just too much hassle for me.) made it a no-go for me. Hence my suggestion for .243: lots of factory ammo (versus say, .260) and cases available, and better flight characteristics than .308

  4. what about 6.5 grendel?
    i know it doesn’t have a proven track record like many of the other cartridges mentioned in this post but i think its waaay better than 6.8spc in short/medium ranges and will reach out to 1000 yards and its still supersonic way beyond that!

    with the 6.5 grendel now a saami cartridge and wolf committing to making steel ammo in the next couple months it looks like it’ll be more widely available and cheaper to boot.

    • The 6.5 has the same problem, although much more exaggerated, as the 6.8. Even if ammo output is quadrupled, it is limited to online/specialty stores only. My local gun shop has only a few boxes of 6.8 in stock at any one time, and only one or two loadings.However, I must admit, I am warming up to the idea of a 6.8 SPC.

  5. I purchased a lower last spring and about a month later custom specified a 6.8SPC upper from New Frontier Armory in Vegas. Mine sports a 18″ Black Hole Weaponry 3 groove polygonal rifled barrel. Silver State Armory manufactures some outstanding factory 6.8 ammo. Their Barnes 85grn. TSX load will print groups sub MOA all day long out of my rig. I just started hand loading for it but will be surprised if I can work up anything as fast and as accurate as the SSA stuff. Even if your local gun shop doesnt carry much 6.8SPC ammo. there is plenty available from the mail order shooters supply shops.

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