Predator hunters were early adopters of the AR platform, and now the Fred Eichler Series LAR-15s lead the pack in critter-getting field performance
by Fred Eichler
My buddy couldn’t believe it as I banged steel plates without missing or reloading from 100 to 600 yards with my coyote rifle. Besides being accurate, it was easy to shoot, had almost no recoil, and with a 20-round magazine, it just looked cool.
When I was a kid, “black guns” weren’t mainstream like the AR is today. Like me, most people thought of them as just guns the military used. I wasn’t interested in one when I was younger because I was always told they weren’t really that accurate and that most of the ammo available was military surplus, full metal jacket stuff commonly called “ball ammunition.” So, 30-40 years ago, if you were serious about hunting or target shooting, you usually bought a bolt action rifle.
The times are certainly different today, and the AR platform rifles have become among the most popular firearms sold. The primary reason is because they have changed quite a bit since the original Armalite rifle design rolled out and its predecessors hit the commercial marketplace.
Now, many of the new platform black guns are as accurate or on par with almost anything available in any style firearm, including many bolt guns. One of the advantages include increased firepower because of magazines that hold more ammunition than other style weapons. They also come in a myriad of calibers, including some of the hottest big game hunting cartridges like 6.5 CM, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, 300 Blackout, and 6.5 ARC, to name a few.
More and more, people are jumping onto the black gun train, but I would say predator hunters were the first group to really see the huge advantage of these rifles for hunting. I was one of those predator hunters, and when I started shooting a Rock River Arms chambered in .223, I was hooked. The advantage of having a weapon that is as versatile as an AR prompted me to approach Rock River Arms with some thoughts on designing what I thought would be the perfect predator rifle.
The ideal predator rifle for me is, of course, one that is rugged and tough enough that it can perform flawlessly in any weather condition. Another important feature is having the firepower to take multiple shots without coming out of the scope, such as when you have multiple targets that may be on the move. A gun that is stable but lightweight enough to be carried in the field comfortably is another feature I wanted, as well as an accurate rifle that would allow me to hit small targets at longer ranges.
With all these wishes in mind, the guys from Rock River Arms, with some input from me, designed what I feel is the perfect predator rifle. I may be a tad biased since it has my name on it and I helped with some of the features, but I will give you the breakdown on what makes the LAR-15 Fred Eichler signature rifles what they are. There are three models, each with slightly different configurations—the Predator, Predator 2, and the Light Predator 2L.
First, it is called the LAR-15 because it is an AR platform rifle that was designed by Chuck and Mark Larson, the owners of Rock River Arms. So, the LAR stands for “LARson” brothers. I sometimes tell friends that it’s an acronym for “laser accurate rifle.”
Lots of features set this rifle apart. First, I talked them into creating a uniquely tuned and ported muzzle brake. This design uses the gasses from the cartridge fired to literally pull the firearm down and forward, thereby helping to negate normal recoil that pushes the gun back and up. This allows for quicker target reacquisition when taking quick follow-up shots. Another advantage is that it helps me make adjustments faster on long shots or running shots since the reduced recoil allows me to keep my target in the scope so I can see my bullets impact.
Additionally, we wanted this gun to have a great trigger because “a gun is only as good as the trigger in it,” as my dad used to say. Therefore, these rifles come with RRA’s match two-stage trigger.
These rifles are chambered in .223 Wylde, so they can handle both 5.56 ammunition as well as .223. Other features include an oversized winter trigger guard, allowing you to wear gloves and still comfortably access the trigger. For those who want to use night vision, thermal vision, add on lights, or other accessories, we added a full-length top rail with smaller 2.5-inch rails at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions on the hand guard. As a final touch, this gun has a unique hand guard that identifies it as a designed-for-predators rifle with coyote tracks running the length of the tube.
If you are shopping for predator rifle, check out an AR. A bonus to an AR is its multipurpose applications. Given the current state of the world with the pandemic and all the other chaos going on, if the proverbial $@#! truly hits the fan, you have a proven firearm platform to also protect home and hearth.