Forward Charging AR w/Flush Integral Sights – Rock River Arms IRS 2 – SHOT Show 2016

IRS 2: Now with a Forward Charging Handle

There is no shortage of AR-15 products at SHOT Show 2016. Walking down the aisles there are so many ARs they all start to look the same. As I entered the Rock River Arms booth I half-expected to see new versions of last year’s AR-15s and the crow I ate tasted great.

Enter the Rock River Arms IRS 2. It’s a proprietary AR receiver system based on the LAR series with integral backup iron sights that rest flush with the flattop rail and a relocated charging handle. They created something much greater than a modified upper — Rock River Arms has developed an upper that fixes a lot of the shortcomings inherent to the AR platform that many people don’t even consider broken.

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The rear sight is windage- and elevation-adjustable.

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It also locks down flush with the rail.

The original IRS series includes 16- and 18-inch carbines and upper assemblies chambered for 5.56 NATO. With its modified handguard and upper receiver system, Rock River Arms built a set of flush-folding backup iron sights into the upper along with the modular, free-floating rail. The IRS 2 series takes things further.

Even minimalist folding backup iron sights can snag on clothes, slings and underbrush. These flush irons will never have that problem, plus they have a slick aesthetic appeal. Adding built-in iron sights is one thing — and appreciated — but moving the charging handle forward to the handguard is a significant improvement, especially when shooting prone. A forward charging handle can be manipulated without giving up a cheek weld and can be done with your support hand with no or at least minimal shift in grip.

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The charging handle levers are long enough to clear rail-mounted accessories.

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Like the iron sights, the charging levers also fold away when not needed.

The charging handle is ambidextrous with low-profile folding charging levers that fold up. The flush mounted iron sights lock up into position and are fully-adjustable. The rear sight has three aperture settings, large, small and medium, for different lighting conditions.

The IRS 2 series will be available in different configurations from carbine-length AR-15-pattern rifles to precision-minded AR-10-style rifles. These guns are slated for availability at the start of summer 2016 and Rock River Arms will sell upper receivers separately following the initial release, like they did with the original IRS series.

MSRPs have not been announced for the IRS 2 series however we can expect them to be priced close to the first-generation IRS parts, with uppers starting at around $1100.

Check back in the following months as the crew will undoubtedly put the IRS 2 series through its paces.

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The front sight has a rounded guard for fast target acquisition.

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It’s adjustable and folds away flush with the rail.

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Scott February 1, 2017, 9:28 am

    Well it is now Feb. 2017, RRA still does not show the IRS2 on their website! Must be more vaporware, too bad as I was looking foreward to this particular rifle.

  • John January 23, 2016, 7:46 am

    Does the charging handle stay in place or reciprocate?

    • Al Hupp January 24, 2016, 2:06 pm

      The charging handle will remain in the forward position during bolt cycling. It will function exactly as the conventional charging handle does with only the location being different.

      • John January 24, 2016, 5:49 pm


  • KMacK January 21, 2016, 5:52 pm

    The thing that most attracted me is the already installed and honestly FLUSH iron sights. Yes, you can get sights for your flat top and yes they will work…but they share the same problem that glass does, not flush with the rib. Yeah, I have a thing about iron sights, having almost failed in a hunt because the airport apes damaged my ‘scope and (silly me) I didn’t have a sighted-in second scope packed with the rifle. One expensive aluminum gun case later I can generally ignore airline apes, but the airline is still waffling about paying for the damage they did to my scope (three years and counting).
    Mind, if I were restricted to iron sights, I’d have to stalk a lot farther and worry a lot more about placement, but I would be able to shoot. My trip was saved by the the Guide loaning me one of his spare scopes and letting me zero it at the camp. If this hadn’t happened, I’d have a big fat nothing for a $2500.00 (airfare too) trip to Idaho and wouldn’t have had a pile of venison in my freezer.
    Yeah, scopes make things a lot easier, but having a backup set of irons makes the thing sure. (“One is none, two is one” per Thunder Ranch).

  • Rex Henderson January 21, 2016, 4:54 pm

    To each his own I guess. I dont think that rail is ugly at all

  • Al Hupp January 21, 2016, 1:45 pm

    Upfront, I own a Rock River Arms AR, a personalized Operator II, that has served me admirably. As career aerospace machinist I can testify to the quality, fit and finish of RRA products. I have also owned an FN FAL and I miss its forward charging handle as I believe it offers an advantage over the AR. The forward charging handle permits the shooter to keep their shooting hand on the pistol grip when cycling the charging handle instead of having to swap hands in order to keep the barrel pointed down range. And though I’ve been shooting the AR format since I was issued my first M16A1 back in ’70, for me it is just more intuitive. I’m looking forward to handling an RRA IRS when they come out.

    Semper Fi!

  • Foolish January 21, 2016, 12:59 pm

    The problem is everyone and their grandma is making AR’s and this poor excuse for innovation is what we get. I’m really surprised by the lack of ideas in the gun business, its just rehashes of old things in a platform we’ve seen a thousand times. Just get a gibbz side charger and save yourself a bunch of money.

    • Tom January 22, 2016, 11:22 am

      The gibbz side charger doesn’t even have a forward assist, and it has a big slot in the left side of the receiver. That’s a major no bueno in the event of a catastrophic malfunction. I personally am a fan of my left forearm and don’t want it filled with aluminum because of an over pressure round or something like that.

  • Michael Lynch January 21, 2016, 11:10 am

    All fine and good until it breaks in the field. Then what do you do? No parts readily available makes this a “no starter” for me. May be fine for the guy who just has to have one, but not the gun that I will grab in a SHTF situation. Plus the Fore Grip tube is ugly as a mud fence if you are someone who likes the smooth round look of the high end Fore Grips. I will stay with my standard pattern AR’s.

  • Shawn January 21, 2016, 11:03 am

    While I like the concept of a forward charging AR, I see fingers being cut by sharp rail and handguard contours.

  • Chick January 21, 2016, 10:53 am

    Why would anyone want to carry and shot an AR with such an ugly float tube on it like that? That has to be the most butt ugly firearm I have ever seen and it has to be uncomfortable in your off hand

  • hANNAbONE January 21, 2016, 9:48 am

    Great idea from RRA. Might hafta consider this IRS-2 in both 5.56 & 7.62
    I already have those calibers covered in my personal arsenal of Rock River iron.
    But this to me is a game changer. I love the idea.

  • An1 January 21, 2016, 7:58 am

    If I’m not mistaken didn’t knight armor ment have this on there earlier sr15

  • Chief January 21, 2016, 6:32 am

    Its ok but not an $1100.00 upper I could live without.

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