Guns & Ammo Network

Collapse bottom bar
Rifles Tactical

Rock River Arms X-Series Review

by Tom Beckstrand   |  February 21st, 2014 2

Rock River Arms X-Series Rock River Arms has been in the AR business since 1996, which makes it ancient in the AR world. Back when Mark and Chuck Larson were building ARs in a small building on the banks of the Rock River in central Illinois, only a handful of companies produced ARs, unlike today. In the years since, they landed numerous LE contracts (including the DEA) and have acquired a strong following of loyal customers. When manufacturers sell a lot of rifles and have been doing so for a long time, it’s easy to get and stay focused on the current product line.

Several weeks ago, Eric Poole, the editor of this magazine, approached Rock River and inquired about any new models the company might have. The short answer was, “Nothing on the horizon.”

Eric thought it’d be a good idea for Rock River to incorporate the complete upper receiver from its new R3 competition rifle and offer it on a fully ambidextrous lower with fixed Operator stock.

The two rifles you see here are the result of the collaborative effort between Eric and Rock River. One rifle is chambered in .223 Wylde (a chamber that safely shoots either .223 Rem. or 5.56 NATO), and the other is in .308 Win. What makes these rifles new is the specific combination of parts, including Rock River’s forward-thinking TRO-XL handguards, stainless barrels, match triggers and muzzlebrakes.

Most unique to the Rock River .308 rifles are the FAL magazines they require. I found it an unusual choice for an AR-pattern .308, so I asked Steve Mayer (LE/military sales manager for Rock River) why the company’s rifle takes FAL mags. “We designed our rifle during the ban years, so we needed an existing supply of magazines that worked well. We liked the magazine and the ambidextrous bolt catch, so we started there and designed the lower around those components.”

Brilliant. Rock River .308 ARs take either metric or inch FAL magazines, so if you’re a dedicated FAL lover with a pile of magazines, these guns are a great way to get into a .30-caliber AR without having to buy a bunch of magazines.

According to Steve, “There are millions of FAL magazines on the market. There are also millions of bad FAL magazines on the market.” Rock River has some exhaustive quality-control measures in place to ensure that only the best ship with its rifles. “We were throwing away 40 to 60 percent of the magazines we bought,” Steve said. The fix that Rock River came up with to remedy the shortage of quality FAL mags is to start making polymer magazines. The rifle I tested came with two polymer mags that functioned flawlessly.

The next obvious question was whether Rock River was ever going to design a .308 that took SR-25-pattern magazines. “Never say never, but probably not. The KAC SR-25 magazine doesn’t transition well to our lower design. We’d have to lose the ambidextrous bolt catch in order to make the lower work.” The ambidextrous bolt catch on Rock River’s .308 is one of the best designs found on an AR because it is truly ambidextrous. It doesn’t require any aftermarket attachments, and it is identical for right- and left-handed shooters. It definitely needs to stay.

Load Comments ( )
back to top