There’s no real way to know what you or your firearm are capable of without adequate training. As Jim Mora so famously quipped after his football team suffered a blowout loss, “You think you know, but you have no idea.” And that’s exactly what you find as you start to train with others more competent than yourself — you were never aware of just how much you didn’t know.
That couldn’t have been truer than it was on a recent trip to The Site in Illinois with world-renowned long-range shooting instructor Jim Kauber. As president and director of training at The Site, Jim has a resume a mile long: former U.S. Navy SEAL Master Chief, 20 years training and leading SEAL teams, and many years training allied military and U.S. Government national security details worldwide. I spent two days with Jim and a small group of shooters on the long-range and in the classroom, accompanied by Rock River’s newest edition, the LAR-8M Predator HP in the ever-popular 6.5 Creedmoor.
LAR-8M 6.5 Creedmoor Predator HP
- Type: Semi-auto, direct gas-impingement
- Lower receiver: Forged RRA LAR-8M, multi-caliber marked
- Upper receiver: Forged A4 upper
- Barrel: 20-in., fluted stainless steel
- Twist: 1:8-in.
- Gas block: low profile
- Muzzle device: RRA Operator brake
- Trigger: RRA two-stage Match, winter trigger guard
- Pistol grip: Hogue rubber
- Buttstock: Magpul PRS Gen3
- Handguard: RRA LAR-8 DLX free float, rifle length
- Weight: 9.5 lbs.
- Length: 42.25 in.
- MSRP: $1,950
- Manufacturer: Rock River Arms
Long Range Work Horse
Over the course of the training, the rifle proved itself a worthy long-range workhorse, even passing the sniff test for Jim, one of the most knowledgeable and skilled shooters I’ve ever encountered. As Jim said, he doesn’t support one brand or other, only that which performs in the real world. If it doesn’t work, he’s brutally honest.
We utilized two scopes during the course: TruGlo’s new Eminus illuminated 4-16x44mm scope, and the Nightforce ATACR 5-25x56mm. The TruGlo Eminus, which in Latin means “from a distance,” is a budget-friendly, second focal plane (SF) scope with a 30mm tube and ¼-MOA adjustment turrets. It has side parallax adjustment and features a TacPlex reticle (TPR) with MOA adjustments. Street prices on the Eminus are somewhere around $250, which is pretty impressive given its features. We shot it out to 600 yards, and at that range, it hung with the much costlier Nightforce ($2,619). While the ATACR is obviously superior in build quality and performance, the Eminus gives shooters a legitimate cost-saving option, and it will still get the job done.
The Nightforce ATACR, which features 20 MOA of adjustment per revolution, or 12 Mils, and is available in MOA (¼) and MRAD (.1), is also a SF optic and provides 120 MOA or 34.9 Mils of total adjustment. It also has side parallax adjustment, as well as Nightforce’s ZeroStop technology, and makes a great option for long-range shooters or hunters alike.
Ready to Rock
Rock River did a smart thing, in my opinion, when it chambered the new Predator HP in 6.5 Creedmoor. Not only is 6.5 CM one of the most popular long-range competition cartridges on the market today, it’s also available in plenty of varmint and predator capable load. It’s perfect for going deep on ‘yotes. Light recoiling and inherently accurate, especially in a semi-auto, the 6.5 is a long ranger’s best friend.
The Predator HP features a forged RRA LAR-8M receiver that is multi-caliber marked, as well as a forged A4 upper. The rifle comes equipped with a rifle-length LAR-8 DLX aluminum free float handguard. It features three short accessory rails for attachments. The rifles we shot were equipped with bipods. A Hogue rubber grip makes for comfortable all-day shooting, while a Magpul PRS Gen3 buttstock offers an adjustable length of pull and cheek piece, ideal features for the precision rifle shooter.
The controls on the Predator HP are pretty standard and include a forward assist and right-handed safety selector and magazine release. The rifle comes with a dust cover, brass deflector and oversized trigger guard to enhance gloved shooting in cold conditions. Meanwhile, a beveled mag well allows for quick, easy recharging of the magazine. The 20-inch fluted, stainless steel barrel is topped with an RRA Operator brake, which successfully tames an already light-recoiling round and enhances fast follow-up shots.
One of the biggest factors for long-range accuracy is the trigger, an area in which the Predator HP excels. I’ve been shooting Rock River’s two-stage match triggers for years. I can honestly say they perform well. The RRA two-stage trigger is rated at 4.5-5 pounds and breaks crisply and cleanly, with a solid reset that allows for quick follow up shots. This became particularly noticeable when we shot moving steel targets at 400 and 600 yards. We were able to make consecutive hits on a mover as it passed from left to right, with considerable accuracy.
When I first sighted my rifle in at 100 yards, I was immediately impressed with the accuracy. It didn’t hurt that we were shooting custom loads from Copper Creek ammunition. The ammo was loaded with Hornady 140-grain ELD-M bullets. After a first shot, which was on paper, I raised the elevation and got a tight three-shot group that was well under an inch. One more adjustment and I was touching the orange bullseye. We shot at paper and steel for two days at 100, 400 and 600 yards, without cleaning the rifles, and accuracy remained the same throughout.
I can remember the first time I shot at any distance with the 6.5 Creedmoor. We were out on the plains of South Dakota, with howling winds ripping across the sun-baked prairie. A friend spotted for me and directed my sight to a prairie dog some 800 yards distant. He made a call on elevation, which I dialed into the scope, holding for wind in the reticle. The first shot, to my surprise, touched down just a few inches shy of the dog, which I could barely make out. One more adjustment and that dog was doing summersaults in the summer breeze.
With just factory loads that day, I became a believer in the mighty 6.5. On this more recent trip to The Site in Illinois, I became a more experienced long-range shooter. Paired with Rock River’s Predator HP, I’m convinced that this might just be the rifle and caliber for the long-range coyote hunter. Rock River’s builds are second to none, especially when matched with a quality trigger and barrel that will flat out shoot. Paired with custom ammo from Copper Creek Cartridge Co., the Predator HP is easily a 600-yard gun. That’s something every predator hunter can get behind.
For more information about Rock River Arms, click here.