LWRC Tricon MK6–The Refined Fighting Carbine

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The shorter barrel allows for a compact package, but it isn't short enough to need SBR paper work.

The shorter barrel allows for a compact package, but it isn’t short enough to need SBR paper work.

Before we get into the meat of this review, I’d like to throw this out. LWRC is currently having a promotion: buy an LWRC, get an Aimpoint T1 and a mount (reviewed here). If you’re not familiar with the Aimpoint red dot, it is tiny. The optics are rugged and an ideal option for tactical rifles. There’s more on the contest below, or you can follow the link:

Aimpoint T1 offer: https://www.lwrci.com/aimpointpromo

Tricon MK6: https://www.lwrci.com/tricon MK6

Buy one: /LWRC Tricon MK6

Alright. On with the review. And let me be completely transparent–I’ve been looking forward to this review for a long time now. For those of you reading this who may not know any gun writers personally, there is a growing too-cool-for-school attitude that is dominating the industry. I’ve seen writers who review capable, reliable guns come away with the “ho-hum, its okay” stance. To hell with the hipsters. If it works, I’ll tell you. And I’m not going to pretend I’m not awe struck by what LWRC puts together. Every year at the SHOT Show, I hit their booth and stand around for an hour or so handling rifles I know I’ll never actually own.

So when a Tricon MK6 arrived at my FFL with my name on it, I was kind of giddy. I’ve taken the rifle with me to the range for a couple of months. Every time I work out another gun, I put the MK6 up against it. My own AR, the typical Frankenstein’s Monster style AR built over several years, looks pretty crude in comparison.

And that’s where we’ll begin the deep thinking of this review. The Tricon MK6 is an expensive rifle. I’ve seen the gun for sale anywhere from $2,200+ to $2,500. While that isn’t out of line for a select group of high-end AR makers, it will seem high to anyone who is accustomed to entry level black rifles.

The Tricon logo is not terribly large, but it is present on the mag well.

The Tricon logo is not terribly large, but it is present on the mag well.

Do you get what you pay for?

Some guns exist in a category all their own. If you want a GLOCK 43, for example, you buy a GLOCK 43. You could argue that it is a 9mm single stack, and that the 9mm single stack pistol is its own genre, but each gun made by each manufacturer is unique. The .45 ACP 1911 may be a better analogy, as there are (how many–hundreds?) of companies making the 1911, and all are working off of the same basic blueprint. Yet, despite the gun’s modular origins, you can’t always mix and match parts.

The AR-15 is different. It may be worth noting that the AR-15 moniker was once a proprietary trade name, and that many who work in the AR-15 idiom give these rifles their own nomenclature. But they’re still recognizable branches of the Stoner Family Tree. And almost all of them are still designed with modularity in mind–which makes it even harder to differentiate them from each other. If they all have to share parts, they have to be really similar.

So why the broad range in prices? At the end of 2014, I saw ARs on sale for less than $500, lots of them. Perfectly serviceable rifles with great components regularly sell for under $1,000. So what differentiates a $2,500 AR from the rest of the black rifle market? Why should you buy one LWRC instead of 5 others?

Value is a complicated nut to crack. There’s no question that LWRC’s guns exist on a plane above the run-of-the-mill black rifle. You can glance at the Tricon MK6 and see some of the differences. There are some aesthetic nuances that make the LWRC guns unique. There are some performance based modifications that fit into this equation, too, though the AR-15’s reputation for reliability leaves a narrow window for improvement. So what else?

Lets get into this build

LWRC worked with Jeff Gonzales, a former SEAL who leads the instruction at TRICON (Trident Concepts), to develop this rifle. There are several features on the gun that are slight modifications of the typical LWRC set up, and all come together in a unified package. If you want to learn more about what sort of training Gonzales offers, check out the Tricon school here: http://www.tridentconcepts.com/weapons-training/. This isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill intro carbine line-up. It is built on the M6 Individual Carbine platform, but has some custom features.

LWRC's own promotional materials spell out some of what makes the Tricon unique.

LWRC’s own promotional materials spell out some of what makes the Tricon unique.

The most visually distinct aspect of this rifle would have to be the fluted barrel. Barrel fluting reduces weight while leaving enough material for structural integrity. It also provides more surface area on the steel, which helps dissipate heat. In this case, the barrel has been cut to below the 16″ mark, and the flash hider has been permanently affixed to get it up to a legal length.

The rail can be configured as you'd like, but comes with a Magpul fore grip.

The rail can be configured as you’d like, but comes with a Tango Down fore grip.

The rest of the details all feel both coordinated and intentional. This is a defining feature of guns in the higher price range. Most low priced builds cobble together stand-in parts. Everyone knows that you’ll buy an entry-level AR and immediately begin swapping out parts. By the time you’re done, your AR will have as many original parts as Darth Vader. And the price tag for the after-mod version would be staggering if you had to pony up for everything all at once.

The Tricon MK6 is built with a lot of Magpul components. From the mags to the sights, almost everything that can be made by Magpul is. The sights are worth mentioning. These are the MBUS Pros, and made of steel. The slim profile looks sharp, and the steel construction makes them even more rugged than the original MBUS design.

Geissele’s two stage trigger is also a fantastic upgrade over what you’d find on a base model. There’s no comparison between it and a typical milspec trigger.

In the end, the components are rock solid. LWRC’s chosen configuration combines to make a very functional rifle that, all told, would cost less to buy in this configuration than if you went out and added all of these parts to a cheap AR lower. Reliability should be taken as a given, but the way it works–again subtle–is worthy of a closer look. Check out the controls. This is one area that a lot of folks begin modification. The LWRC guns come ready.

I'm a big fan of these controls. It is one of the first things I usually change on any AR that I use frequently--but these are all easy to index and reach.

I’m a big fan of these controls. It is one of the first things I usually change on any AR that I use frequently–but these are all easy to index and reach. But the mag release is the best.

What do you give up?

Well, this one is harder to answer. The first sacrifice I see comes at the expense of the pinned flash hider. 14.7″ of barrel instead of 16″? I understand the impulse, but I think the reality of this decision is hard to justify. As the AR platform is built on modularity, I want to be able to choose the right muzzle device. I still can, but it is a pain in the ass. And using a suppressor is also much more complicated. Not impossible, by any means.

This is a gun you accept on its own terms. At least that’s how I see it. If you like the mix and match jigsaw puzzle sort of AR build, you’ll be frustrated the Tricon. From the short piston gas system to the way the rail fits on the forend, down to the slate grey finish, so much of the Tricon is meant to fit and function just exactly as it is. Don’t get me wrong–the way it is works exceptionally well.

Take the slate grey finish and the short barrel. While neither of these would be choices I’d make personally, I like them both. You can travel with this gun without any paperwork hassle. For urban settings, where there are vehicles and doorways, the short barrel would be useful. And the grey color is very adaptable for urban environments. It disappears in darkness, and looks a bit like wet asphalt. So it all comes down to interpretation, and intended use.

 Shooting

I guess this is where everything comes together for me. I’ve put thousands of rounds through ARs, and I’m accustomed to respectable accuracy. The Tricon performs a bit better than that. Groups at 100 (from the bench) were one ragged hole. The barrel didn’t seem to be as prone to heating as many. The short rail works for me, only because of the foregrip. The balance is excellent. The controls are perfect. I’ve shot the gun in sub freezing conditions, in snow and in rain, clean, dirty, and with every flavor of 5.56 and .223 I can get my paws on, and there has yet to be a hiccup. The piston keeps the guts of the upper from fouling as fast. And I feel like it dampens the recoil in a positive way, though I can;t support that scientifically. What I will say is that the rifle shoots flat. And fast.

100 yards, from the bench.

100 yards, from the bench.

With a Burris 1-5, the real potential of the gun becomes evident.

With a Burris 1-5, the real potential of the gun becomes evident.

Conclusion

The Tricon MK6 is a limited edition from LWRC. In many ways, they’ve taken what is, for many, a cost prohibitive level of perfection and made it even more exclusive by producing a small number of guns. I don’t see that as a bad thing.  These same features are available on the other guns in the LWRC line-up. And more. I’d like to have the option of an adjustable gas block, as I’m always entertaining the idea that I may want to run a 5.56 suppressed. And I’m not opposed to either longer barrels or shorter barrels.

But this is one hell of a package. The component parts come together exactly as they should. It clearly isn’t the rifle that I would have built if I had access to the workshop, but it is a beast. This is a rifle I didn’t know I needed until after I worked with it for a bit. The LWRC components stand a cut above those of the competition. The resulting rifle is as fine an example of the AR-15 as I’ve ever seen. And I’m not just blowing sunshine up LWRC’s gas tube. This gun is the shit. In fact, there is only one black rifle that I’ve shot that I liked more–and it, too, was from LWRC. It is the Xiphos SBR pictured way down below.

 

lwrc aimpoint1
Accuracy with the irons is solid.

Accuracy with the irons is solid.

Even at 100 yards, I could group well (and really close to point of aim).

Even at 100 yards, I could group well (and really close to point of aim).

All AR-15s should shoot like this. This was the worst of our test groups, and it was shot with Tula.

All AR-15s should shoot like this. This was the worst of our test groups, and it was shot with Tula.

100 yards, standing.

100 yards, standing.

Again, I'll stress first impressions. When I see fit and finish like this on a rifle, I have high expectations.

Again, I’ll stress first impressions. When I see fit and finish like this on a rifle, I have high expectations.

The gun is short enough for maeunverability, but long enough to feel like a carbine--a good option for those who don't cotton to SBRs.

The gun is short enough for maneuverability, but long enough to feel like a carbine–a good option for those who don’t cotton to SBRs.

The MBUS Pro sights are steel, and very nice.

The MBUS Pro sights are steel, and very nice.

The sights.

The sights.

The bolt carrier group

The bolt carrier group

Built ofr the piston.

Built for the piston.

The BCM charging handle is huge, and easy to find.

The BCM charging handle is huge, and easy to find.

BCM

BCM Gunfighter.

The front MBUS.

The front MBUS.

The hammer.

The hammer.

The forend is bolted on. Very well.

The forend is bolted on. Very well.

The safety is easy to read from both sides.

The safety is easy to read from both sides.

The transition from the upper to the receiver is well crafted and more streamlined than most.

The transition from the upper to the receiver is well crafted and more streamlined than most.

Like most, it has a forward assist.

Like most, it has a forward assist.

The Magpul stock.

The Magpul stock.

Even the trigger guard is Magpul.

Even the trigger guard is Magpul.

Again... Magpul.

Again… Magpul.

The Burris on the XXX.

The Burris on the MK6. It is a large 1-5, but incredibly effective.

The mag well is flared and easy to find.

The mag well is flared and easy to find.

The fluted barrel reduces weight.

The fluted barrel reduces weight.

The Xiphos SBR I like even better than the TRICON.

The Xiphos SBR I like even better than the TRICON.

Same platform, different interpretation.

Same platform, different interpretation.

Come and take it.

Come and take it.

Same controls. Maybe I need both of these.

Same controls. Maybe I need both of these.

And I'm a sucker for the super short stocks.

And I’m a sucker for the super short stocks.

The piston system rides under the rail, and it works. Some see it as one-more-thing to break on an AR, but I've yet to find fault with it.

The piston system rides under the rail, and it works. Some see it as one-more-thing to break on an AR, but I’ve yet to find fault with it.

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Nick March 11, 2016, 3:52 am

    I’m shocked how a few of you can comment on the rifle negatively based on the price!!! Didn’t you read the review? ? By the time you by a no name AR and start one thing here and another there in parts and maybe a gunsmith for those whos hands just don’t cut it your in for a few bucks. Here it’s all done from the barrel to the trigger to the high end extras to 100% everything… all I have to say is “tighten your belt” put on your big boy attitude and open that wallet and spend the money for top knoch quality or S.T.F.U and don’t knock it unless you’ve tried it! !!! I own the top of the top in AR’s to AK’s to Wilson combat firearms and by far this LWRC is the best I ever shot! Hands down. So when you “wanna be shooters” want to pony up and spend on quality and shot one, DON’T KNOCK IT UNLESS YOU HAVE TRIED IT!!!

    • Don June 27, 2017, 9:11 am

      Nick, I completely agree with your comment. Most people that respond with a negative comment have either zero ‘hands on’ experience with an L-Dub, are too cheap to step up to the top shelf or are simply priced out of this tier level. It’s RTR right out of the box, however one may want to make a couple of personal changes, but that’s up to the individual. While the L-Dub trigger and stock are fine, I’d change them out for a Magpul STR stock and a Geissele SSA-E trigger. Are they expensive? Yes. You get what you pay for! My top choice in the 5.56 platform is their M6 IC-SPR. Buy once, cry once and then smile. You’ll be a happy camper that you sold/traded a few of your duplicate AR’s, etc to upgrade to the only 5.56 carbine you’ll need. Once you’ve joined the L-Dub family, it’s much easier to understand and accept why ‘near perfection’ isn’t cheap!

  • Aaron May 30, 2015, 10:30 am

    I just put 25% down on this rifle atmy local gun store. I’m so excited! Now to come up with the other $1,800.

  • zeke May 5, 2015, 9:58 pm

    I can buy like 3 concubines for the price of that one rifle…bring it down to the cost of 2 concubines and I’d at least reconsider..

    Geez…gen2 range toys are silly in their costs these days..

  • Eric May 2, 2015, 12:21 am

    Agreed. It seems like a nice rifle, but I don’t think I’d spend quite that much on one of those.

  • Eric May 2, 2015, 12:21 am

    Agreed. It seems like a nice rifle, but I don’t think I’d spend quite that much on one.

  • Joe McHugh April 30, 2015, 7:33 pm

    OK, the gas piston overcomes the tendency of direct gas impingement fouling in the receiver area, but what about the other problem with AR 15 type rifles, namely wind driven sand particles and dust? I realize that these “black” rifles will never reach the reliability of then AK47 but can the LWRC TRICON MK6 approach the grit and dirt tolerance of the M14/M1A1 rifle?

  • Russ April 27, 2015, 5:56 pm

    Real nice rifle.
    Cost too much.

  • Rich Mann April 27, 2015, 3:31 pm

    This looks like a decent rifle, but at that price, I’ll stick with my Noveske.

  • Brian April 27, 2015, 2:14 pm

    Looks like a great overall composition right down to the iron sights, definitely worth checking out.

  • davud April 27, 2015, 12:35 pm

    *** there is a growing too-cool-for-school attitude that is dominating the industry. ***
    i see a different issue: writers who read like paid shills for the manufacturers, gushing at SHOT over guns they’ve never even fired, and can’t understand why that’s a problem.

    *** I’ve seen writers who review capable, reliable guns come away with the “ho-hum, its okay” stance. ***
    you can thank gaston glock for this – he raised the bar to the point where ‘capable and reliable’ are where acceptability starts, not ends.

  • Tommy Barrios April 27, 2015, 12:06 pm

    My first experience with the Stoner Platform was with the original M-16 (no forward assist) in the Air Force while on TDY as a Small Arms Instructor!
    I was immediately impressed with a rifle that had virtually no recoil and I could consistently put 20 rounds in a dime sized area on a 25yd 100 meter simulated target!
    Years later I built my own AR from a blank lower I purchased during the infamous Clinton Gun Ban (which will come around again if the “witch” gets elected) and I have to say everyone who has seen it, wants one like it!
    I built it for long range accuracy with a 20″ SS Fluted barrel and it is just that, 1000 meters, NO PROBLEM!
    Anything I can see with the 6X Carl Zeiss compact scope, is DEAD! (Killed my first deer with it, one shot)
    Need to go short range tactical, I just drop down to the Mil Spec iron sights below the scope!
    I have owned the AK and sold it over my AR when I needed some quick cash!
    I LOVE my AR and will never part with it!

  • Brian April 27, 2015, 10:38 am

    I love the fluted barrel. It makes me want to go out and buy some black licorice.

  • Al Soto April 27, 2015, 8:43 am

    Did you spilled a gas tanker full of coffee on your targets? How many of those do you have? Lol. Great review !!

    • Scott Jeffery April 27, 2015, 12:25 pm

      Laughed hard when I read your post, his targets look like mine with coffee stains! Great review, give him additional points for honesty – a little coffee goes a long way on paperwork – LMAO!

    • Russ April 27, 2015, 5:54 pm

      Imagine the tighter groupings without the Coffee O.D.

  • Joe April 27, 2015, 7:11 am

    I’d gladly trade both my ar 15 and ar 10 for one of those in 7.62 nato because that rifle is too sweet….

  • Mick Caster April 27, 2015, 6:11 am

    Nice rifle and writeup. However, the B5 stock used on the rifle is much better than equivalently priced Magpul stocks. More time spent on the two main components that separate standard rifles from great rifles should have been considered; barrels and triggers are what make the difference, with barrel prices being the main reason the cost of the rifle goes up drastically.

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