October 12, 2020
Rise Armament is based in Oklahoma and is one of the few AR rifle “manufacturers” that actually manufactures. Rise Armament fabricates their own receivers, triggers and handguards. While Rise Armament isn’t a decades-long player in the AR world, they bring a strong machining and manufacturing background from the oil and aerospace industries that shows in the components they make.
The receivers Rise Armament makes are fabricated from billet and are “blueprinted” before they ever leave the factory. That means the upper receiver’s tenon face is squared, and the threads on it are concentric to the bore. This lays a foundation for accuracy. Should these components suffer from poor machining, it is impossible to ever get good accuracy out of that rifle. If you’ve ever wondered why so many AR-pattern rifles can’t average sub-MOA, this is the most common reason why.
The receiver sets the company makes are an excellent foundation for any rifle. The 1121XR model we tested shows this attention to detail. Fit between the two was excellent, and it was still easy to get the receiver pins out for disassembly.
The triggers they make and install in these rifles are also excellent. Trigger letoff is set at 3.5 pounds, which is a good weight for general use. These are cassette-type triggers, meaning all the internals are fixed in an aluminum enclosure. This makes installation and removal easy. The internals are not as easy to access for maintenance, but blasting some cleaning solution into the aluminum enclosure is almost always enough to dislodge any foreign debris that has accumulated.
Another advantage of a cassette trigger is the consistency they offer. Since the trigger comes assembled inside the housing, all critical tolerances are fixed when it leaves Rise Armament. This means trigger/sear engagement won’t vary from one rifle to the next.
Traditional AR triggers require some assembly and index off the trigger pin and hammer pin holes in the receiver. Small variations on the locations of these two holes makes it difficult to get consistent and light single-stage triggers into an AR-pattern rifle, hence most aftermarket AR triggers are two-stage.
Their single-stage trigger breaks crisply at 3.5 pounds. In addition to holding tolerances tightly to get a clean and crisp break, the hammer shape of the trigger lends itself well to precision.
The hammer in an AR-pattern rifle swings in a big arc and collides with the back of the firing pin and bolt carrier to ignite the cartridge in the chamber. This is a critical time for a rifle, and any movement derails accuracy efforts made by the shooter.
Most AR hammers place most of the hammer weight as far from the hammer pin as possible. This gives the hammer tremendous inertia that disturbs accuracy when the gun fires. The heavier the hammer is and the more weight it puts away from the hammer pin, the harder it is to get that rifle to shoot accurately.
To counter this, Rise Armament puts a flat hammer in their trigger. This hammer shape is common on high-end triggers and is definitely a common trait in the precision AR world. Keeping the hammer flat allows it to swing faster, but with less inertia, it doesn’t generate as much rifle movement when it collides with the firing pin.
Almost Perfect, But….
No matter how well a rifle is made, taking it to the range is the best way to gain an education on its strengths and flaws. While the rifle’s quality is undeniable, one small assembly error can cost it some performance in the accuracy department.
After testing several different types of ammunition with the 1121XR, I couldn’t help but think there was something holding the rifle back. Separating the upper and lower receivers, I examined the bolt carrier and then slid it back and forth into and out of battery to see if the gas key impacted the gas tube as the bolt carrier moves forward into battery. On this 1121XR, it did.
Contact like this matters because each time the bolt carrier comes forward, it smacks the gas tube, and the other end of that gas tube is attached to the gas block and barrel. I estimate this issue costs the rifle about .25 inch on group size. A quick trip back to Rise Armament for some judicious gas tube-bending would have this rifle in tip-top shape in no time.
Even with the gas key/gas tube contact, the rifle still performed better than a lot of new rifles I’ve tried over the years. The trigger is exceptional, especially if a shooter likes almost no overtravel and little reset.
The buffer assembly the company uses is captured and has replaceable weights that allow the shooter to tune the gas system for the best and most gentle extraction possible for any chosen load. It’s a nice touch on a custom rifle.
Compiling all the features Rise Armament puts into the 1121XR shows that the rifle is a good value for the money. It has an excellent barrel, one of the best triggers available and receivers that are second to none for precision work. Even with the small gas tube issue we had, this rifle still outshoots a lot of its competition.
Rise Armament 1121XR Specs
- Type: Direct-impingement semiautomatic
- Cartridge: .308 Win. (tested), 6.5 Creedmoor
- Capacity: 10, 20 rds.
- Barrel: 20 in.; 1:11.25-in. twist
- Overall Length: 43 in.
- Weight: 9 lbs., 8 oz.
- Stock: Magpul PRS
- Grip: Magpul MOE
- Length of Pull: 13.5 in.
- Finish: Black, FDE, Foliage Green
- Safety: Two-position selector
- Sights: None
- MSRP: $2,450
- Manufacturer: Rise Armament; risearmament.com
Rise Armament 1121XR Performance
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