The Barrett name is synonymous with .50-caliber rifles and long-range precision. The past several years have significantly broadened the Barrett product line, seeing additions in multi-caliber and AR-pattern piston-driven rifles.
The latest Barrett development is an AR-pattern rifle more in tune with the original Eugene Stoner design, the REC7 Gen II DI.
The “DI” stands for direct impingement. Gas flows through a port in the top of the barrel, down the gas tube and into the upper receiver where it cycles the bolt carrier group.
While the basic design goes all the way back to the late 1950s, the REC7 Gen II DI incorporates modern touches and materials that make it an ideal hard use/general purpose or designated marksman rifle.
The most easily quantifiable measure of any rifle is the accuracy, and the barrel accounts for 80 percent of the accuracy. The test REC7 Gen II DI rifle had an excellent barrel, and accuracy reflected.
Only one type of ammunition had an average group greater than 1 inch for five shots at 100 yards, with three turning in best groups under 1 inch.
It’s no secret how Barrett achieved this level of accuracy out of a direct impingement AR. This type of rifle has been around for a long time, and savvy manufacturers know how to make them perform.
Barrett uses a match barrel that has an almost-heavy barrel contour from the gas block back to the receiver. This portion of the barrel sits under the handguard, so some disassembly is required to examine it.
Barrett went with a mid-weight contour for the barrel forward of the gas block. This saves a few ounces, while retaining all the performance that comes with quality heavy barrels.
The chamber work for the REC7 Gen II DI is done in-house by Barrett to ensure it conforms to their specs. If 80 percent of a rifle’s accuracy is the barrel, half of that comes from good chamber work. The accuracy results on this rifle indicate Barrett also does excellent chamber work.
The match barrel Barrett uses has a 1:7-inch twist rate, so even the heaviest bullets will stabilize. This twist rate is a good choice when shooting long-range with either 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington.
The 18-inch stainless barrel has a rifle-length gas system.
Gas system length is important because it dictates how fast the bolt cycles. Always shoot the longest gas system that works reliably on the rifle.
Long gas systems operate at lower pressures, so bolts move slower and, as a result, last longer. This is especially true when attaching a suppressor to a DI rifle.
Suppressors create additional pressure on DI guns that increase bolt velocity. Rifles that see regular suppressor use and high round counts should avoid carbine-length systems and always try for mid-length or rifle-length.
Unique to this Barrett is a gas block that is user maintainable. Most gas blocks are held in place with pins or set screws. Putting them in place isn’t difficult, but removing them can be. It’s important the block doesn’t leak or move once installed.
Barrett’s gas block indexes on a cut in the barrel, ensuring the gas port is lined up, and then a threaded nut holds the gas block in place. Semipermanent epoxy can be used to ensure the nut doesn’t loosen.
The advantage of the Barrett design is that the gas block can easily be removed for gas tube maintenance. While gas blocks rarely have any problems, gas tubes can burn through (on automatic fire) or wear to the point of leaking gas where the gas tube contacts the carrier key in the upper receiver.
Replacing the gas tube is easier when it can be removed with the gas block.
The REC7 Gen II DI comes with a free-floated barrel and 15-inch handguard. The first step in building an accurate AR-pattern rifle is to free-float the barrel and ensure the handguard makes no contact with it.
Barrett’s rifle teams their excellent barrel with an octagonal handguard that gives the shooter plenty of room for support hand placement and any other accessories they might need.
Barrett uses the KeyMod attachment system on the forend, a method much easier on the hands than traditional Picatinny rails.
The handguard attaches to the upper receiver by fitting over a large and long barrel nut that has two grooves machined into it.
The grooves allow two screws to pass through the bottom of the handguard and, once tightened, provide adequate tension to attach the handguard to the rifle. It is a simple design that lets the owner easily remove the handguard for maintenance.
The bolt and entire bolt carrier group have been finished in nickel boron, a hard and slick finish. AR-pattern rifles push hot gas into the upper receiver that can displace lubricants after several hundred rounds.
Having a hard finish that also has a high lubricity coefficient means that the rifle will reliably run longer.
The tough nickel boron finish is also more resistant to the carbon that forms around the bolt’s tail. Deposits that form over several hundred rounds can be difficult to remove without a lot of scraping.
The nickel boron is naturally slick, so carbon deposits have a harder time sticking to it and are easier to remove.
The REC7 Gen II DI has another tough finish — Cerakote — over the upper and lower receivers and the handguard.
Cerakote is a much better finish than anodizing because it is harder to scratch (it puts a protective ceramic coating over the rifle), and it doesn’t absorb oil. Anodizing holds oil, so dust will stick to it. While it doesn’t affect the function of the rifle, dirty rifles get everything that touches them dirty.
Cerakote also gives the owner color options. The cosmetic debate over rifle color centers around opinion, but the fact remains that lighter colored rifles don’t get as hot when left in the sun.
A black rifle left in the sun for a couple of hours can be uncomfortable to shoot. The REC7 Gen II DI is available in five colors including black, three of which are light enough to remain cool in sunlight. The rifle we tested wears Flat Dark Earth (FDE).
Magpul furniture is also standard for the REC7 Gen II DI. The rifle ships with the Magpul CTR stock, MOE grip and an MOE triggerguard. Both the stock and the grip are simple designs that function well, while retaining no excessive bulk or weight.
The triggerguard is a small part, but it does the critical job of filling the gap normally found just forward of the frontstrap and behind the triggerguard. That gap, if left open, can peel the skin off the side of the middle finger after a hard day at the range. The REC7 Gen II DI won’t have that problem.
This latest Barrett rifle tips the scales at 7½ pounds and is an excellent example of a high-quality general purpose AR. It has every essential and meaningful upgrade that we expect to find without any unnecessary complication or expense.