For those who want the very best in an AR hunting rifle but don’t want to figure out how to get there, you need to check out this new rifle series from Rock River Arms

by Rob Reaser

One thing you’ll learn if you try to wade through the various firearm models manufactured by Rock River Arms is that they have practically every conceivable niche filled in. Whether you want to participate in service rifle competition, go hunting, engage in 3-gun action, acquire a personal defense rifle, or are looking for a long-range steel-buster, RRA probably has the platform you want.

Of course, ARs being ARs, there usually remains things to figure out…what kind of optic, what kind of mount, should I upgrade the trigger…? A lot of folks, though, would rather not fight for the pole position. They would prefer to add ammo and go and leave the post-purchase items to someone else.

With that consumer in mind — the one who wants a hot rod gun that is ready to run right out of the box — RRA has developed their new Ascendant series firearms.

According to RRA, the Ascendant series is a long-term roll-out project that starts with the just-introduced Ascendant ATH rifles. These are offshoots of the company’s All-Terrain Hunter rifles that, as you can figure, are intended for hunting use. The idea is that many hunters want the highest quality, most accurate AR they can find but don’t want to do their own configuring to get it to the “let’s go hunting” stage. They simply want to open the box, add ammo, zero the rifle, and hit the field with the confidence that they are deploying the most accurate AR-style rifle possible. And that is what the RRA Ascendant ATH series is all about.

The series kicks off with three distinct models in the Ascendant ATH lineup — a .223 Wylde, .350 Legend, and .450 Bushmaster. This makes sense, as these three chamberings cover the broadest swath of hunting applications. Figure the .223 Wylde for sniping predators, the .350 Legend for medium-sized game like whitetails at typical whitetail hunting distances, and the .450 Bushmaster if you want to hit hard in tight quarters, say, for hogs or bear.

The common denominators of these three rifles outweigh the model-specific features, so we’ll start there.

Receivers are pretty much receivers, and these are typical RRA types forged from 7075 T6 aluminum and black anodized. Rounding out the receivers is where things get interesting.

All barrels are made of high-quality 416R stainless steel and cryogenically treated for stability. Since hunting is the objective, each barrel receives media blasting to achieve a glare-free matte finish. The .223 Wylde barrel, seen here, is also fluted for slight weight reduction while the .350 Legend and .450 Bushmaster barrels maintain a smooth, unfluted profile. All are tipped with RRA’s spicy Operator muzzle brake.

The handguard is RRA’s lightweight M-LOK model in 13-inch. It is a free-float handguard that includes an integrated forward Picatinny rail so you can add a front flip-up sight as a backup. M-LOK compatibility makes it easy to add a light, bipod mount, or a QD sling swivel should you feel the need. Of course, a low-profile gas block is part of the recipe.

With hunting commonly being a cold-weather endeavor, RRA selected the Radian Raptor for the charging handle. This is an ambidextrous charging handle that allows for easy “palming” or finger pull charging even with gloved hands.

Rounding out the upper receiver assembly is a factory-installed optic. This is part of the turnkey objective with the Ascendant series. For the glass, RRA tapped two models in the Vortex Optics lineup.

With the .223 Wylde Ascendant ATH primarily geared for longer-range predator shooting, the chosen optic is the Vortex Viper HS. This is a 4-16x44mm scope that comes with a Dead-Hold BDC MOA reticle, meaning the reticle is calibrated for precise holdover points for the .223 Wylde’s ballistic profile out to 600 yards.

For the .350 Legend and .450 Bushmaster Ascendant ATH models, the optic of choice is the Vortex Strike Eagle in 1-6x24mm. This lower power, smaller objective scope makes sense on these platforms because the ballistic range and intended use of the guns are for close-in hunting — typically within 200 yards, sometimes much closer. For example, when you’re in a thick swamp or brushy country, a low-power optic is essential for picking up a close-range target.

All optics feature a 30mm tube, so they are supported by RRA’s heavy-duty 30mm Picatinny rail mount. This is a stout unit boasting integrated rings and a one-piece clamping bar.

While the upper receiver assembly has a lot going on that discerning AR buyers will appreciate, the lower receiver assembly carries its own weight. The proven RRA Hogue is the natural grip choice. We use this one on several of our rifles and consider it to be one of — if not the — best AR pistol grip on the market.

Forward of the grip is another up-level item that helps the shooter maximize the accuracy potential of the barrel. The new Diamond Single-Stage AR15 Trigger from TriggerTech fills the trigger pocket quite nicely. This is a drop-in-style trigger system hailed for its ultra-crisp, zero-creep operation. Adjustable from 1.5 to 4 pounds, this trigger goes a long way toward eliminating shooter-induced shot disturbance.

We all understand the importance of stock fit for eye alignment behind the scope and for comfortable length-of-pull. To ensure a customizable fit while keeping weight to a minimum, RRA selected the Magpul PRS Lite buttstock for the Ascendant ATH rifles. This stock is 10 ounces lighter than Magpul’s popular PRS Gen3 stock yet still delivers up to 0.8 inches of comb height adjustability and 1.4 inches of LOP adjustability. The low-profile rubber butt pad and “butt hook” profile are ideal for shooting from a supported prone position, and the stock allows for QD and footman loop sling attachment.

Although most of us prefer to do our own AR modifications and tinkering, some would rather let the factory do the heavy lifting and simply write a check. If that is you, an Ascendant ATH from Rock River Arms might be your go-to.

Stay tuned to Shoot On for a comprehensive field test of this new rifle series…

Ascendant ATH .223 Wylde Specifications

  • Model: #AR1562.A
  • Caliber: .223 Wylde
  • Lower Receiver: forged 7075 T6 aluminum
  • Upper Receiver: forged 7075 T6 aluminum
  • Barrel: 18-in. 416R stainless steel, fluted, media-blasted, 1:8 twist, cryo-treated
  • Gas Block: RRA low profile
  • Muzzle Device: RRA Operator Muzzle Brake
  • Trigger: Trigger Tech Diamond, single-stage, adjustable 1.5-4 lbs.
  • Handguard: RRA 13-in. lightweight, M-LOK
  • Pistol Grip: RRA Hogue Grip
  • Stock: Magpul PRS Lite
  • Optic: Vortex Viper HS 4-16x44mm
  • Optic Mount: RRA 30mm
  • Length: 38 1/8-in. (collapsed)
  • Weight: 9.4 lbs.
  • Accuracy Guarantee: 3/4 MOA (w/premium ammo)
  • Includes: (1) 20-round metal magazine, Radian Raptor charging handle, 42” soft case, manual and warranty
  • MSRP: $3,235.00

Ascendant ATH .350 Legend Specifications

  • Model: #350L1562.A
  • Caliber: .350 Legend
  • Lower Receiver: forged 7075 T6 aluminum
  • Upper Receiver: forged 7075 T6 aluminum
  • Barrel: 16-in. 416R stainless steel, media-blasted, 1:16 twist, cryo-treated
  • Gas Block: RRA low profile
  • Muzzle Device: RRA Operator Muzzle Brake
  • Trigger: Trigger Tech Diamond, single-stage, adjustable 1.5-4 lbs.
  • Handguard: RRA 13-in. lightweight, M-LOK
  • Pistol Grip: RRA Hogue Grip
  • Stock: Magpul PRS Lite
  • Optic: Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm
  • Optic Mount: RRA 30mm
  • Length: 36 1/8-in. (collapsed)
  • Weight: 9.1 lbs.
  • Accuracy Guarantee: 1 MOA (w/premium ammo)
  • Includes: (1) 10-round metal magazine, Radian Raptor charging handle, 42” soft case, manual and warranty
  • MSRP: $3020.00

Ascendant ATH .450 Bushmaster Specifications

  • Model: #450B1562.A
  • Caliber: .450 Bushmaster
  • Lower Receiver: forged 7075 T6 aluminum
  • Upper Receiver: forged 7075 T6 aluminum
  • Barrel: 16-in. 416R stainless steel, media-blasted, 1:24 twist, cryo-treated
  • Gas Block: RRA low profile
  • Muzzle Device: RRA Operator Muzzle Brake
  • Trigger: Trigger Tech Diamond, single-stage, adjustable 1.5-4 lbs.
  • Handguard: RRA 13-in. lightweight, M-LOK
  • Pistol Grip: RRA Hogue Grip
  • Stock: Magpul PRS Lite
  • Optic: Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm
  • Optic Mount: RRA 30mm
  • Length: 36 1/2-in. (collapsed)
  • Weight: 9.1 lbs.
  • Accuracy Guarantee: 1 MOA (w/premium ammo)
  • Includes: (1) 5-round metal magazine, Radian Raptor charging handle, 42” soft case, manual and warranty
  • MSRP: $3075.00

MTM Tactical Rifle Crate

Here’s a new product we came across at the 2023 SHOT Show that should pique the interest of AR fans — the Tactical Rifle Crate from MTM Case-Gard.

Constructed of high-impact polypropylene, the Tactical Rifle Crate is a two-layer divided container with recessed wheels that allow the crate to be easily moved between locations, such as a vehicle and shooting bench. Inside, the Tactical Rifle Crate features two large compartments equipped with removeable partitions to allow for customized gear storage like ammunition, safety equipment, tools, and cleaning supplies.

Riding atop the integrated compartments is a rugged gun tray with eggshell foam padding. This tray is sized to fit most tactical rifles, short hunting rifles, and break-down shotguns up to 39 inches long. A corresponding eggshell foam liner inside the crate lid means firearms can be safely and securely transported. Further protection comes from a water-resistant O-ring seal around the lid to keep contents dry and padlock tabs that accept keyed or combination locks.

In all, the Tactical Rifle crate offers a full 54 quarts of storage space beneath the gun tray. Additional features include tie-down and strap-over points for vehicle transport, four no-break snap latches, and two recessed wheels able to support up to 75 lbs. of gear. The Tactical Rifle Crate is also designed to stack with other MTM crates for compact at-home storage.

The new Tactical Rifle Crate is offered in Army Green and is engineered and manufactured in America.

Tactical Rifle Crate Specifications

  • Rifle Tray Dimensions: 39 x 11.7 x 3.1 (tall) inches
  • Lower Compartment Dimensions: 39 x 11 x 7.1 (tall) inches
  • Outside Dimensions:5 x 14.7 x 11.5 (tall) inches

To learn more about this and other innovative hunting and shooting equipment solutions, visit MTMCase-Gard.com.

Shoot On Editor-in-Chief Rob Reaser is a lifelong outdoorsman, former magazine editor, columnist, and contributing editor to numerous national publications in the automotive and outdoor segments. He has also authored and co-authored several DIY gun building books. His shooting and hunting passions cover everything from traditional archery and big-game bowhunting to the latest in handguns, rifles, and reloading. Rob has a troublesome habit of pulling guns and things apart to see how they work; occasionally, he manages to get them back together...

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