Photos by Mike Anschuetz
When Rock River Arms expanded production from their well-respected 1911s to AR-15s before the turn of the century and before the modern black rifle boom, the move didn’t garner much attention until one of their rifles was adopted by the Drug Enforcement Administration to replace the agency’s aging Colt 9mm submachine guns.
Since then, Rock River Arms (RRA) has remained one of the most successful manufacturers producing AR-15-style rifles in the industry. The company's new RRAGE rifle is their most affordable rifle, yet outfitted with unique features.
For those of you wondering, RRA + Rage = RRAGE. As rifle names go, I find it is far less weird than some of its contemporaries.
For the RRAGE, the company went with the most popular configuration for the AR-15, namely a 16-inch-barreled rifle sporting a collapsible stock, often referred to as an M4-style rifle.
The direct-impingement RRAGE operates with a carbine-length gas system and features a chrome moly barrel chambered in 5.56 NATO, making it safe to fire the hotter 5.56 NATO military round, as well as commercial .223 Remington ammo. The barrel has a 1:9-inch twist and is tipped with a standard A2 flash hider.
The heaviest single part in any AR is the barrel, and by going with a lightweight profile on their barrel, RRA keeps the weight of the RRAGE down to an impressive 5.7 pounds. That’s only half a pound heavier than the storied M1 Carbine, while being shorter in length.
The furniture provided on the RRAGE is what you’d expect on a base-level rifle: an A2-style pistol grip and an M4-style polymer stock made by RRA on a six-position receiver extension. The stock is not the only aspect on the RRAGE the company builds. You'll find RRA doesn’t just assemble parts made by other companies into rifles they call their own, they make a lot of the stuff they sell.
In appearance, the RRAGE's upper receiver group is designed to mimic the look of billet-machined monolithic upper assemblies but without the cost of such. The carbine has clean lines with the upper receiver mating perfectly with the handguard. This rifle does not sport a forward assist or case deflector, which some traditionalists might find upsetting. On the other hand, consumers just want a rifle that works, usually at the lowest possible price. Unlike other “budget” ARs produced by some competitors, the RRAGE does have a traditional ejection port cover.
RRA refers to the short handguard on this rifle as “CAR length.” It offers a full-length rail running along the top and M-LOK accessory attachment slots at the 3-, 6-, and 9-o’clock positions. The ample slots on the handguard will allow you to quickly and securely mount grips, lights, handstops, lasers, bipods or whatever strikes your mood.
Even though it sits forward of the handguard, the gas block on the carbine has a very low profile, which means should you choose to replace your handguard, you won’t have to replace your gas block.
The RRAGE has a standard GI-style single-sided thumb safety, charging handle and single-stage trigger. While the trigger should be just fine for most people, it can be quickly and easily swapped out for a new one if someone yearns for something better.
Keep in mind, this rifle is designed to provide performance at a low price. So, while I would prefer to see a set of flip-up iron sights provided with the carbine, a longer handguard and an oversized charging handle, I understand that everything costs money. Besides, I doubt you could find two random people at a gun store who could agree on which flip-up AR sights are the best.
RRA has one of the largest catalogs of AR-style rifles of any manufacturer, with the RRAGE being their least-expensive model. The best part of being in this family are the benefits this carbine receives from all of Rock River Arms’ experience building rifles and the incorporation of many of the same components found in RRA's more expensive versions, including all the parts that determine a rifle’s reliability and accuracy (bolt carrier group, barrel and trigger group). Suggested retail on the RRAGE is $760, which means you should see it on dealer’s shelves for under $700.
Type: Direct-impingement, semiautomatic
Cartridge: 5.56 NATO
Barrel: 16 in., 1:9-in. twist
Overall Length: 36 in. (stock extended)
Weight: 5 lbs., 11 oz.
Handguard: Free-float aluminum
Buttstock: RRA six-position tactical CAR
Finish: Hardcoat anodized
Trigger: Single stage
Magazine: 20, 30 rds.
Muzzle Device: A2 flash hider
Manufacturer: Rock River Arms
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