Check out the R.E.P.R. at LWRC: https://www.lwrci.com/p-480-repr-20.aspx
Buy one on GunsAmerica: /LWRC + REPR
Sometimes visceral reactions are surprisingly on-target.
About a month ago, I stopped by my FFL to pick up an LWRC R.E.P.R. A couple of other folks were there finishing up a gun purchase, so I opened the R.E.P.R. box while I was waiting. The contents immediately became the center of attention. The other customer asked to check out my new loaner toy and, manipulating the bolt, he remarked, “It’s like butter cream!” I’m not exactly sure what butter cream is, but I would have to agree. When someone works the action on the LWRC R.E.P.R., they immediately smile. It’s as smooth as silk, or maybe as smooth as butter cream.
The R.E.P.R. (pronounced “reaper” as in the grim type) is called the Rapid Engagement Precision Rifle. You have to admit that R.E.P.R. sounds much more badass, right? R.E.P.R.’s are all about .308 / 7.62x51mm, so they’re as serious as the name implies. You can get them with either 16” or longer 20” barrels more suitable for longer range duty. The uppers are swappable, so you can easily move between configurations. As they’re sold separately, I requested the 20-inch barrel version, because, well, faster bullets!
We’ll take a detailed tour, but for now, just know that the LWRC R.E.P.R. is a gas piston gun, with some custom tweaks. From a design goal perspective, the apparent overriding imperative is to make this a reliability boss. Yes, it’s accurate enough and feels like “butter cream”, but I suspect the LWRC team is only truly satisfied when it will run in any environment.
I spent some time at the Cambridge, MD factory and learned more about LWRC’s design goals for the R.E.P.R. product line. They’re after the top of the market and make guns for folks who want the very best in terms of attention to detail and overall product quality. It shows, both in the attitudes of the people and finicky inspection processes at all stages of manufacture, assembly, and finish.
At the risk of making a poor analogy, consider different market segments for cars. Some customers simply want a vehicle that will get them to work and back, and don’t value anything beyond that. That group would be perfectly happy with a $15,000 or $20,000 car that gets them from point A to point B. Others value, and will pay for, the total luxury experience. Whether they buy a BMW, Mercedes, or Aston Martin, they’re paying top dollar for all the subtle quality features. There’s something satisfying about that sweet and soft “click” when closing a door on one of these vehicles. If you’re the type that values quality engineering both seen and unseen, then LWRC rifles might be for you.
The Quick Tour
From the front, you’ll first see an A-2 style birdcage flash hider. Nothing fancy here, so I assume the LWRC folks know buyers are going to instantly customize the muzzle with their brake, flash hider, or suppressor of choice.
The 20-inch barrel is spiral fluted, and gorgeous. While it looks exceptionally cool, the real purpose is to create more surface area for faster cooling during rapid fire. It’s cold hammer forged with a 1:10 twist rate.
The front hand guard is 12.5 inches long and is modular, allowing you to add rail segments anywhere along its length at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. The top of the hand guard rail is a seamless continuation of the receiver’s Picatinny section.
The upper and lower receiver of my sample rifle were both Cerakoted in a flat dark earth color. The quality of the finishing job is stellar.
Bolt catch and release controls are on both sides of the receiver. As the bolt handle is on the left, I found it easier to operate the bolt catch to hold open using the right side control. I still found myself using the bolt release on the left side using my support hand.
While not visible, the R.E.P.R. has a forward assist. Simply push inwards on the bolt handle and press forward. I never had to use it, so just know it’s there.
The magazine release button is traditional, and on the right side only. The R.E.P.R. comes with a Magpul twenty round magazine which easily drops free with a press of the release button.
The bolt carrier group is nickel-boron coated. It’s a light to moderate gray color and easily wipes clean, although there is not much grime in that area anyway owing to the piston design. Hot and dirty gas never makes it that far back into the action to muck up the works.
The Piston System
As previously mentioned, this is a gas piston design. More specifically, it’s a short-stroke, self-regulating system. The LWRC folks made the piston operating system choice in the hope of achieving big-time reliability in ultra-harsh environments.
Unlike a traditional AR-type rifle, the R.E.P.R. uses a non-reciprocating bolt handle on the left side of the receiver. It’s operation of this, and the internal carrier and bolt, that feel like butter cream. This was perhaps my favorite feature of the rifle. I really don’t like the normal AR-type charging handles. I find them small, and generally in the way of any magnified optics you might use. They’re also difficult to operate without making some changes to your shooting position.
The charging handle on the R.E.P.R. allows you to keep your firing hand in position as you can drop a magazine with your firing hand index finger. Without shifting your cheek weld, you can easily find and operate the charging handle with your support hand. This system has the added advantage of preventing that soothing “hot gas in the face” benefit when using a silencer, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
The rifle has a two-setting gas knob for normal and suppressed use. It’s easy to turn with your fingers, but there’s a hole, so if things are dirty and stuck, you can use a .308 cartridge as a lever to rotate the valve. There’s also a gas block tool included in the box. It appears that LWRC has simplified the adjustment options recently. Previous versions of the R.E.P.R. had four positions for the gas adjustment: off, suppressed, normal, and adverse. Current rifles only have normal and suppressed settings.
Access to the piston system for maintenance is easy. You’ll notice two thumbscrews in the three and nine o’clock positions at the front of the hand guard. Loosen these a couple of turns, and the top of the rail section simply lifts off, exposing the entire length of the gas system. The thumbscrews are captive, so you won’t lose them. With no tools, and in seconds, you can take apart the gas system and access the piston cup and operating rod for cleaning. According to LWRC, the optics or lasers mounted on the removable rail section will maintain zero through rail removal and installation.
Considering the MSRP of $3,950, you’d expect quite a bit of premium gear on this rifle, and there is.
The stock is a Magpul Precision Rifle/Sniper (PRS) and is adjustable for length of pull and height of comb. Both adjustments are accomplished with inset dials. They’re sticky enough to stay in place once you make the desired adjustments. The base of the stock has a Picatinny rail segment molded into the polymer for attachment of an optional monopod. This rail segment is protected by a sliding cover which I find moderately annoying. I’ve used this stock system on two different rifles, and with both, I was constantly sliding the cover back into place. I’d quickly toss the cover and leave the rail segment exposed all the time to lose this minor annoyance. You’d lose the cover soon enough anyway.
Magpul also provides an MOE+ grip for the R.E.P.R. This is a best of both worlds approach to grips. The body is hard polymer, but there is a softer rubber overmold for grip. The bottom of the grip is all polymer, so it won’t catch on clothing or gear. It’s also compatible with the Magpul Storage Core system so you can insert dedicated storage modules for batteries, spare parts and even lubricant.
The trigger is a Geissele SSA 2-stage model. It’s absolutely a match trigger and makes deliberate, precise shots easy. The take up stage is factory set for 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, and the second stage requires an additional 1/2 to 1 pound press to break the shot. My personal preference is for a single-stage trigger on this type of rifle, but it’s just that – a personal preference. I totally get why the R.E.P.R. comes with a two-stage trigger as the 20-inch model is billed as a sniper model.
The R.E.P.R. also includes a really nice set of flip up iron sights. The LWRC Skirmish front and rear sights are beautifully engineered. They open manually for speed, but require a button press to close. If you have to use them, they’ll stay in the up position until you’re done with them. The sights and housings are made from 7570 Aluminum and 4140 Steel for durability. No plastic here. The contact surfaces and ball detents are even hard-chromed for corrosion resistance and smooth operation. While I feel slightly weird rambling about back up sights, they’re really impressive. Oh, when folded in the down position, they’ll be just about ½-inch tall, and most likely out of the way of most any optic.
There is one included magazine – a Magpul LR-20, which holds, as you might have guessed, 20 rounds.
Shooting the R.E.P.R.
The gas system has two functioning modes, regular and suppressor. In all the shooting I did with the R.E.P.R., I estimate I used the system about half and half between regular mode with no suppressor mounted, and silencer mode.
In the suppressor gas mode, with a suppressor attached, gas volume into the system is reduced. The suppressor provides additional back pressure to help function the gun, so there is no need for the normal amount of gas power.
Upon getting my hands on this rifle, I immediately removed the birdcage flash hider and installed a SilencerCo / SWR Specwar muzzle brake. That works like a champ on its own to reduce recoil, but the real beauty is that it serves as a rock-solid mount for the SilencerCo Specwar 7.62 suppressor.
I shot this rifle, a lot, in the suppressed configuration with the gas system set accordingly. Nothing exciting happened. That means that the rifle continued to function perfectly with a variety of .7.62 ammo ranging in weight from 155 to 178 grains. The other and better part, of nothing exciting happening, was that I didn’t once get a face full of hot and filthy gas. When shooting a traditional AR-10 or AR-15, and many other piston rifles, you get a taste of burnt gunpowder with every shot. Trust me, it’s not “good til the last cup” like Maxwell House coffee. The R.E.P.R. had no such issues. Nice. One more observation about the suppressor mode gas setting. Ejection was tame. Brass came out with noticeably less enthusiasm, projecting a couple of feet to the side. You could really see the difference in system operating pressure.
During this evaluation, I had the opportunity to try out the new .308/7.62 magazines from Brownells. They’ve been making 5.56mm NATo magazines for about 10 years, and you can’t beat the value. They’re reasonably priced, and just work. Now, Brownells also makes .308 magazines that fit DPMS-pattern or SR-25 style rifles. These mags are straight body and compatible with existing magazine pouches and carriers. Made of aluminum, they include a time-tested follower design, that combined with the dry film lubrication and stainless steel spring, make them work. The 20-round models sell for $19.99. Just like the 5.56mm AR-rifle magazines, these worked flawlessly with all ammo types I tried.
I did most of the shooting with the LWRC R.E.P.R. using five different loads ranging from 155 grains to 178 grains. To get a feel for actual accuracy from the R.E.P.R., I set up a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph 15 feet downrange and fired groups to measure average velocity. I did the velocity shooting on a fairly moderate day, for my home anyway. Temperature was “only” about 95 degrees at my 15 feet above sea level range.
Black Hills Match BTHP .308 Winchester 175 grain, 2,528.0 fps
Hornady Match BTHP .308 Winchester 178 grain, 2,546.7 fps
Federal Premium Gold Medal Match BTHP .308 Winchester 175 grain, 2,560.3 fps
Federal Premium Law Enforcement Bonded SP .308 Winchester 165 grain, 2,597.7 fps
Doubletap HP Boat Tail Match .308 Winchester 155 grain, 2,736.3 fps
The R.E.P.R. was optimized to shoot projectiles on the heavier side of the 7.62mm spectrum. LWRC recommends bullets heavier than 168 grains for best accuracy, but the rifle will function just fine with lighter bullets. If you want to use the ammo the rifle was designed for, get some M118LR Match ammunition with 175-grain Sierra Match King bullets. Federal Premium’s Gold Medal Match 175-grain ammo is a great substitute.
The R.E.P.R. comes with excellent iron sights, but for accuracy testing, I mounted a Hawke Optics Sidewinder Tactical IR. This is a fixed 10x scope with a mil-dot reticle. It’s perfect for a gun like this as magnification is enough to reach out to 1,000 yards if you want, and the fixed mil-dot reticle allows for near-infinite hold over options for any variety of ammo. Of course, you can easily range targets of known size also using the mil-dot system. The extra bonus of this optic is, that if all else fails, you can use it as a club. It’s meaty.
Over a couple of different outings, I shot the R.E.P.R. at distances ranging from 100 to 300 yards, always using .308 ammunition on the heavier side, 165 grains and higher.
I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of accuracy. On one hand, the R.E.P.R. is a meticulously constructed rifle, with the smoothest action I’ve ever experienced on any semi-auto. On the other hand, the R.E.P.R. is a piston driven design, and piston guns aren’t known for maximum accuracy. The barrel is attached directly to the gas system and operating rod. While the bullet is long gone by the time these parts start moving around, their presence will almost certainly affect the way the barrel vibrates and flexes during each shot.
The chart here shows my actual group size results with different types of ammo. Considering these, and other groups I shot, the R.E.P.R. hovered in the 1.5 minute of angle range for with ammo that it “liked.”
Would I have liked to have seen better accuracy? Considering the price tag, yes. But the R.E.P.R. wasn’t designed with small groups as its primary objective. It was designed to work, without fail, basically forever, and regardless of environment. My informal 1.5 MOA accuracy observation means the R.E.P.R. is more than accurate enough for a decent shooter to hit a 12-inch plate at 800 yards every single time.
Summing Up the R.E.P.R.
I’d love to see better accuracy from the R.E.P.R.. If I’d had more time, I would have built various hand loads to see exactly what I could get out of this rifle.
The action of the R.E.P.R. is the slickest I’ve ever worked with, by far. When you work the bolt, you’ll feel nothing but butter cream. No torque, no stops and starts, and no friction. It feels like the action operates on perfectly shaped and lubricated ball bearings. You’ll also notice the extreme attention to detail in construction. Every single part, inside and out, is perfectly machined and mates smoothly with its neighbors. You’d be hard pressed to find a better example of how to make a beautiful rifle.
Caliber: 7.62 NATO
Barrel: 20″ [50.8 cm]
Rifling: 1:10” RH
Weight: 11.25lbs [5.10kg]
Length: 40.5-41.5″ [102.9-105.4 cm]
Sights: LWRCI™ Skirmish Back-Up Iron Sights
Action: Patented LWRCI™ short-stroke piston operation
Gas Block: 2-position adjustable for normal to suppressed shooting
Trigger: Geissele SSA 2-stage trigger for precision shooting
Muzzle Threads: 5/8×24
Muzzle Device: A2 Birdcage Flash Hider
Colors Available: Black, Flat Dark Earth, Olive Drab Green, Patriot Brown
Check out the R.E.P.R. at LWRC: https://www.lwrci.com/p-480-repr-20.aspx
Buy one on GunsAmerica: /LWRC + REPR