Gun Test: LWRC’s REPR MKII
Mike Cumpston, Stan Jarosz, GUNS Magazine
Photos: Takashi Sato
In early 2017, LWRC took their 7.62×51 Rapid Engagement Precision Rifle to the next level. The REPR MK II still hews to the basic goal of the original—providing an ultra-reliable, easily maintained, multi-purpose battle rifle in a full-power service caliber.
But this version departs from the original by virtue of its overall length of 41 to 42 inches and its robust 10-pound, 12-ounce weight. The free-floated barrel is 20 inches long, made 2.5 inches longer by the SureFire muzzlebrake (which also serves as a suppressor mount). The barrel is deeply fluted for its full length in order to enhance heat dissipation. The section of the barrel behind the gas port measures a full inch in diameter. The visible portion of the barrel is 0.720-inch in diameter. The rifling pitch is 1:10 and the bore is treated with the nicorr/ferritic nitrocarburizing process to impart hardness and corrosion resistance.
The LWRC proprietary folding battle sights are fully adjustable with small and large rear aperture and capable (according to the manual) of adjustment out to 500 yards. The handguard is configured for mounting rails as needed. The receiver is made from 7075 aluminum alloy and has a 2-piece accessory top rail over the action and extending the full length of the handguard. Fire controls are ambidextrous and the charging handle has—in the MKII—returned to the traditional 12 o’clock Stoner position.
The heart of the rifle of course is the short-stroke gas-piston operating system. LWRC believes it is the key to an extended service life with simplified maintenance compared to a direct impingement rifle. It is undeniably cleaner running than a DI rifle and post-shooting examination revealed no evidence of carrier rock or any other sign the rifle had been fired beyond slight bluing wear on the charging handle. The original REPR had two gas port options: low for suppressor use and open for normal use. The MKII has a full 20-position adjustment range to fine-tune for environmental factors, weapon status and ammunition variations.
At the factory setting, the rifle ejected the cases straight out from the port indicating optimal adjustment for a piston AR. The bolt carrier system is nickel-teflon coated for permanent lubricity and ease of cleaning. The Geissele 2-stage trigger is non-adjustable. On our rifle it let off at 3 pounds, 14 ounces. The Magpul Industries Precision Rifle stock is adjustable for length and cheekpiece height and looks like it would be right at home at a Palma or F-Class event. LWRC provides two 20-round Magpul magazines with the package.
This limited edition of 500 units is finished in Dark Earth Tone Cerakote—a tough and attractive surface treatment.
Stan Jarosz is one of an exclusive group of civilian shooters who helped develop the US Army Marksmanship Unit’s Designated Marksman Program. Here he shoots the LWRC REPR MKII at 300 yards. Stan was impressed with the rifle’s suitability as a multi-purpose service rifle with sniper capabilities.
Gorilla Ammunition’s 165-grain Sierra GameKing SP (top) and the 175-grain Sierra MatchKing loads were consistently accurate at 100 yards. Black Hills’ Sierra 168-grain Match load (bottom) also hinted at its long-range potential with this 100-yard group.
A Very Suitable Scope
Our scope was a newly introduced variation from Leupold designated the VX-3i LRP, with a 30mm main tube and 50mm objective. Our sample was a 6.5-20X (a 4.5-14X model is also available). It is a front-focal plane, side-focus scope with Tactical Milling Reticle. Crosshairs and stadia remain fine-line at full power, though they become more prominent with increased magnification. The scope is available with several options in regard to reticle and turret adjustment. The scope is bargain priced compared with other Leupold long-range tactical scopes with the goal of allowing more people to be able to afford an entry into long-range shooting.
Nothing about the appearance or performance of the VX-3i suggests any cost-cutting compromises. I mounted it with the eye relief optimal for 20X magnification and found the 0.7-inch difference in eye relief inconsequential when shooting offhand at 6.5X.
The bolt carrier system is nickel-teflon coated for permanent lubricity and ease of cleaning.
The REPR’s fire controls are ambidextrous and the Geissele 2-stage trigger is non-adjustable. The supplied 20-round magazines are from Magpul.
My 100-yard unsupported standing and seated shooting benefited from the fine trigger and the amazingly mild recoil was no more disturbing than would be expected from a 5.56 AR. The ammunition included loads of known excellence from Black Hills, including the company’s 175-grain BTHP and their new 168- and 175-grain loads using Sierra Tipped MatchKing bullets. There were also some Black Hills Match loaded with 178-grain Hornady ELD X (Extreme Long Distance).
We also used some 165-grain Sierra GameKing SP and 175-grain MatchKing HP loads from Gorilla Ammunition. Gorilla is new on the scene with manufacturer claims of high consistency and accuracy. These claims proved entirely justified during our shooting sessions.
The 175-grain Hornady BTHP averaged 2,444 fps. All of the other loads—regardless of bullet weight—averaged velocities ranging from 2,507 to 2,556 fps. The Gorilla 175-grain Sierra MatchKing load at 2,507 fps had the smallest standard deviation (16) and a tight 61 fps extreme spread.
From the Caldwell Lead Sled, 100-yard groups were fired in side winds ranging from 14 to 20 mph at steady velocity on separate range days. Most of my groups regardless of the load kept five rounds in 1.1 to 1.3 inches. None exceeded 2 inches and the Gorilla 165-grain GameKing and the Hornady 175 BTHP turned in best groups of 0.9 inch. Very frequently, 4 rounds would cluster in one jagged hole with a perverse 5th stretching matters out to 1.1 inches. This seems to be my glass ceiling shooting very accurate rifles. I left the zero with a Hornady 168-grain Tipped bullet hitting just over an inch high and a fraction to the right away from the wind and constructed my ballistic table from this.
An 8-inch (1 MOA) cluster at 800 yards shows what the REPR MKII is capable of.
Stan Jarosz is a Master Class NRA High Power competitor and one of an exclusive group of civilian shooters who helped to develop the US Army Marksmanship Unit’s Designated Marksman Program.
The same environment that gave rise to specialized rifleman within military units inspired the concept of the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System and the 7.62 REPR. He was willing and eager to examine the MKII at his long-range facility. I had used the Hornady Online Ballistic Calculator to prepare a downrange table inputting the average velocity of the 168-grain Black Hills Sierra Tipped MatchKing bullet along with its 0.535 BC, the prevailing conditions and the sight-to-center bore relationship of the rifle and Leupold scope. The table provides calculations of trajectory, wind drift and “come-up” values in inches and mils.
Stan bedded the rifle in his sandbag rest and dialed in the projected 300-yard come-up value of 1.3 mils. Using a 6 o’clock hold on a standard 200-yard target, he produced two well-centered groups with the Black Hills load and the 165-grain Gorilla GameKing load. Both were slightly over 1 Minute Of Angle. The wind was steady at no more than 10 miles per hour blowing directly from the target.
At 300 yards, the high BC bullet had little or no calculated advantage over a standard Sierra GameKing with BC of 0.462—all other factors being equal. Likewise, there was no observable difference in point-of-impact between the Black Hills and Gorilla loads. Changing to the Gorilla 175-grain MatchKing load produced a 3-inch group, still in the black.
Stan has a life-size iron bison target on a different backstop. It is barely visible from the 800-yard bench and the angle presented a light crosswind. Lacking a ballistic table for the 175-grain Gorilla load, Stan estimated the proper elevation and windage and one round put him on target. The initial 5 rounds went into an 8-inch (1-MOA) group. A gusting wind kicked up and a subsequent group measured 2 MOA and drifted 18 inches windward from the first effort. This is sterling performance from a semi-auto rifle that also would be right at home on the battlefield (or equally suitable for game hunting). The rifle and scope package as tested are well suited for exploring the synergy of science and art attending precise shooting at extended range. The REPR will find its greatest traction among well-heeled enthusiasts who are looking for the ultimate in performance and aesthetics.
The LWRC proprietary folding battle sights are fully adjustable. The rear (below) has both a small and large aperture and can be adjusted out to 500 yards.
The Magpul Industries Precision Rifle stock is adjustable for length and cheekpiece height.
Wind And Gravity
The long-range shooter contends with a bewildering array of factors determining whether or not he will hit his target. These include atmospheric conditions, elevation, height of sighting equipment and projectile velocity and aerodynamics. While the laws of physics themselves are immutable, the factors impinging upon them often resemble demonic intervention. In this realm art and science intersect. The impact of wind, velocity and trajectory become more significant as range increases and shooter success hangs on the ability to employ instrumentation or informed observation for the data necessary to make an accurate hit.
Out to 300 yards, a shooter with a modern rifle is relatively well-equipped to hit his target. Our .308 firing a Sierra GameKing bullet with a ballistic coefficient of 0.462 starting out at 2,568 fps and sighted in at 100 yards will hit 14.5-inches low at 300 yards and drift 7.7 inches in a 10 mph wind. Substituting a low drag bullet with a BC of 0.535 at the same velocity changes relatively little at this distance—a 13.8-inch drop and wind deflection of 6.4 inches. The shooter has some room for error with windage and can reduce holdover by sighting to maximum point blank range. While accurate range and wind data are important, they remain relatively manageable at that distance and—unless you’re shooting at prairie dogs—there is no need for sight adjustment with bullets of different aerodynamics.
Increase the range to 800 yards and the importance of precise data takes on critical importance. The 0.462 BC round will drop 231 inches and drift 67 inches in the 10 mph wind. The high BC bullet drops 209 inches with 54 inches wind drift. Bring the scope up to the 800-yard zero and misjudge the range at 700 yards and your 0.462 BC bullet will shoot 6 feet over the target and hit a foot and a half shy of horizontal zero. Mistake 900 yards for 800 and your bullet hits 323 inches below its 100-yard zero and falls short of the target by 7.5 feet.
The higher BC tipped bullets flatten the trajectory a bit and retain velocity better. The 168-grain bullets usually have a BC in the high 0.400’s and are transonic at 1,000 yards. The new Tipped MatchKings with a BC of 0.535 remain comfortably above Mach 1 for greater potential downrange stability.
According to the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Institute, ballistic coefficient is defined as: “An index of the manner in which a particular projectile decelerates in free flight expressed mathematically as: c = w/id2 where: c = ballistic coefficient, w = mass, in pounds, i = coefficient of form (a.k.a. form factor), d = bullet diameter, in inches. Represents the bullet’s ability to overcome the air resistance in flight.” From the Glossary of Terms at www.saami.org.
REPR Mk II
Maker: LWRC Int., Cambridge, MD 21613, (410) 901-1348,
Action: Semi-auto piston AR, 20-position adjustable gas block
Caliber: 7.62×51, .308 Winchester
Capacity: 20, Barrel: 20 inches with 2.5-inch SureFire muzzlebrake w/suppressor attachment
Rate of Twist: 1:10 inches
Finish: Flat Dark Earth Cerakote
Stock: Magpul Precision Rifle/Sniper
Sights: Folding 2-aperture adjustable