Skip to main content

Rise Armament 1121XR Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor: Full Review

The Rise armament 1121XR semi-automatic rifle has everything an AR platform needs to excel at long range.

Rise Armament 1121XR Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor: Full Review

(Photo by Mark Fingar)

Hitting a target at 1,000 yards takes some effort and the right equipment. Hitting a target that far away with an AR-­pattern rifle is even more difficult due to some mechanical attributes of the rifle. However, ARs offer some advantages versus bolt-­action rifles. One example: The AR can make rapid follow-­up shots that enables the shooter to adjust for misses before wind conditions change thanks to its semi­automatic operation. The AR also has the advantage of disturbing the shooter’s position less because the shooter doesn’t need to move to cycle the action, eject and load the next round.

gaad-rise-armament-02-1200x800
(Photo by Mark Fingar)

The first consideration when choosing an AR for long-­range work is cartridge selection. The new Rise Armament 1121XR recently sent to Guns & Ammo for testing is chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. It has a 22-­inch stainless-steel barrel, which makes it a good candidate for 1,000-yard shooting. Length determines velocity, so the longer the better, and 22 inches is about as long as an AR barrel gets. Rise Armament’s is made from 416R stainless and has a 1-in-8-inch twist — ideal for long-­range shooting.

Chambering an AR in 6.5 Creedmoor is optimal for shooting to 1,000 yards because it combines good barrel life with high ballistic-coefficient (BC) bullets and good velocity. It’s possible to pick a faster 6mm that might resist the wind better, but it’ll experience a shorter barrel life. There’s also the tendency to get AR barrels hot because it’s so easy to shoot again and again after a near miss. When barrels don’t get a chance to cool off, they wear out quicker. Finding a cartridge that balances barrel life with high BC ammunition with good velocity is critical. The 6.5 Creedmoor sits in the sweet spot.

gaad-rise-armament-03-1200x800
The trigger and grip configuration is essential to a good AR intended to be shot at long range. The Rise Armament 1121XR addresses both of these aspects. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

After the cartridge, the next most important criteria to address long-­range AR riflery is the trigger. AR triggers can be difficult to manage when used on precision rifles because they work differently than a bolt-­action’s. Instead of a firing pin that sits inline with the primer and only needs to be released from spring tension to fire the cartridge, an AR trigger has a large hammer that swings on a pendulum. Just before the cartridge fires, and when it’s really important to hold the rifle steady, an AR slams the hammer into the back of the bolt carrier group to ignite the primer. Hammer shape is really important for precision shooting with AR-­pattern rifles.

One way to see the impact (pun intended) the AR hammer has on the rifle’s precision is to watch the scope’s reticle when dry-­firing. A mil-spec hammer that places most of the mass away from the axis on which it rotates will cause the reticle to bounce when dry-­fired. That bounce is difficult to eliminate. 

gaad-rise-armament-04-1200x800
The 15-inch handguard is produced in-house by Rise Armament. The barrel is free floating for the accuracy needed at long ranges. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

Rise Armament has two triggers that are ideal for precision use. The first is the RA-­535 that they’re famous for. Its hammer is flat and it has a crisp let-­off that breaks at just a hair more than 4 pounds. It is a wonderful single-­stage trigger for use with an AR-­15, and it’s machined from S-­7 tool steel so it’ll stay that way for a long time. I used the RA-­535 for accuracy testing and was impressed by what I saw when dry-­firing before shooting groups. The reticle had almost no movement — rare on an AR — meaning that groups sizes were going to be a fair representation of the rifle’s accuracy potential.

Rise Armament also offers its new Iconic trigger, which I’ve also evaluated. While the RA-­535 is exceptional, I prefer the Iconic for precision use. Rise Armament has become the Stealth Bomber (i.e., “before anyone knew about it”) of the AR trigger world. These products have flown under the radar, but Rise Armament makes exceptional triggers. Both the RA-­535 and the Iconic make precision marksmanship easy and have hammer shapes ideal for long-­range shooting. 

gaad-rise-armament-05-1200x800
The Magpul PRS Gen 3 stock is an excellent choice for precision work because the comb and length-of-pull can be adjusted. It complements the layout of the 1121XR for long-distance shots. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

My preference for the new Iconic is due to the two-­stage design and the lighter 3-­pound combined pull weight. It’s incredibly difficult to get a pull weight that light on an AR trigger because the bolt velocity requires substantial sear engagement. What makes it doubly difficult is how Rise Armament incorporated a full-­power hammer spring.

gaad-rise-armament-06-1200x800
The JP Enterprises Silent Capture Springs Buffer System (Gen 2, jprifles.com) was selected for use in the 1121XR. It was specifically designed for smooth operation and noise reduction. MSRP $160 (Photo by Mark Fingar)

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit figured out a couple decades ago that the AR’s best accuracy only comes when using a full-­power hammer spring because a primer needs to be smacked pretty hard to get the most consistent ignition. However, the biggest trigger-pull cheat code is to use a lighter hammer spring because it’s easier for the trigger to let-­off. Rise Armament employed no such shady tactics to obtain the unit’s incredibly crisp 3-­pound pull weight with the new Iconic trigger. It’s just a good, solid design made from great engineering.




The rest of the 1121XR rifle is also a product of ­quality manufacturing. Rise Armament shapes its receivers from billet aluminum, so everything is straight and true. They also make the 15-­inch handguard from billet to shroud the free-float barrel. M-­Lok slots along the bottom of the rail can accommodate either sections of Picatinny or ARCA rail.

gaad-rise-armament-07-1200x800
The 6.5 Creedmoor is an excellent choice for long-range AR shooting. It balances reach, accuracy and barrel life. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

The rifle also comes with Magpul’s Gen 3 PRS stock, the best choice for long-­range precision shooting. This stock has an adjustable comb to help the shooter establish the crucial connection between the head and the stock. A solid connection is necessary to allow the shooter to see where the bullet impacts to make corrections for near-­misses. The PRS stock also has a long-­angled toe that rides rear bags well. A sandbag under the toe helps minimize rifle movement during recoil, and the longer toe gives the stock more contact with the rear bag. The angle on the toe is useful when making small elevation corrections by either moving the rear bag closer to or further from the grip.

gaad-rise-armament-08-1200x800
(Photo by Mark Fingar)

I tested bullet weights from 130 to 147 grains and the 1121XR digested all with equal aplomb. I checked for over-­ or under-­gassing and saw no signs. All spent cases landed about 6 or 7 feet away from my shooting position at about the 4-­o’clock position. Rise Armament put dual ejectors on the bolt — as every large-­frame AR should have — so the rifle demonstrated positive ejection. There were no malfunctions during testing.

Recommended


The rifle ships with a Magpul PMag, which works well with factory ammunition. Should the noses of 140-­ or 147-­grain ammunition drag in the slightly cramped PMag, Federal’s 130-­grain Berger would be my top pick for use in this rifle. That 130-­grain bullet was designed for ARs; it’s shorter to avoid dragging on the magazine, but has a great ballistic coefficient and muzzle velocity for 1,000-yard shooting.

gaad-rise-armament-09-1200x800
The bolt carrier group in the 1121XR features familiar components. However, the wide claw extractor, dual ejectors, and machine work to strengthen the carrier make this assembly unique. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

Rise Armament got every detail right to make this an accurate and long-­range-­ready rifle. With the 1121XR, 1,000 yards is not only possible, it’s enjoyable.

Rise Armament 1121XR

  • Type: Direct ­impingement, semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: 6.5 Creedmoor (tested)
  • Capacity: 20 rds.
  • Barrel: 22 in.; 1:8-­in. twist
  • Overall Length: 44 in.
  • Weight: 9 lbs., 12 oz.
  • Stock: Magpul PRS
  • Grip: Magpul MOE
  • Length of Pull: 13.5 in.
  • Finish: Cerakote, FDE
  • Sights: None
  • Safety: Two-­position selector
  • MSRP: $2,450
  • Manufacturer: Rise Armament, 844-747-3308, risearmament.com
gaad-rise-armament-11-1200x800
(Guns & Ammo photo)

Rise Armament Cassette Triggers

gaad-rise-armament-10-1200x800
(Photo by Mark Fingar)

AR triggers come as one of two general types: Cassette and traditional. The traditional trigger has the two main subassemblies, including the trigger and disconnector and the hammer. Of course, there are also the springs that power the hammer and trigger.

The other trigger type is the cassette, which is what Rise Armament makes and offers as an aftermarket accessory. They have several models, but the RA-535 ($260) and Iconic ($300) are the brand’s top single-­ and two-­stage offerings. Aside from the triggers’ visual aesthetics, the quality of the materials, consistency of operation, reliability, and finishes used are uncommon in AR trigger construction.

The RA-­535 is a single-­stage unit and features a bright red anodized housing. The hammer and trigger are constructed of tool steel. This is important because many AR triggers are metal-­injection-­molded (MIM), which can have voids in the steel and are only hard on the surface. Using tool steel ensures the homogeneity of the material and makes them more reliable.

Assembling the hammer, trigger, disconnector and springs into the cassette makes user installation a snap. Unlike mil-spec AR triggers, it doesn’t require training as an armorer to install these. All that’s required is to drive out the hammer and trigger pins, loosen the pistol grip to remove the safety selector, and remove the factory trigger components. Then, drop the new cassette trigger, replace the safety selector, hammer and trigger pins, and hit the range.

Rise Armament’s Iconic trigger is the two-­stage model. Unique to this cassette trigger are the independent stages. Separating the first and second stages is interesting. The trigger shoe handles one stage while the second overlapping trigger shoe handles another. The Iconic produces reliable and clean 3-­pound trigger pulls with the reliability of a full-­power hammer spring. 

Normally, I’d be concerned about the durability of such a trigger, but not this one. Rise Armament used S7 tool steel that they work-­harden through impact. They call it “heavy-­hit” hardening, which means that beating S7 tool steel hardened the surface and made it tougher than regular tool steel. Next, Rise Armament coated the hammer and trigger with black nitride to provide corrosion resistance and some lubricity. It was designed to be functional and durable, but good looks were a by-­product.

Rise’s aren’t the most well-­known triggers in the AR community, but they should be. Using tool steel and black nitride are rare to the point of almost being unique. However, when combined with ideal hammer shapes and top-­shelf assembly into a fine-finished cassette housing, these triggers are top contenders for anyone interested in flawless trigger performance.

Sound Off

Have a straight-shooting, precision rifle that you'd like to see some coverage on? Let us know by emailing us at GAEDITOR@OUTDOORSG.COM, and use "Sound Off" in the subject line.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Videos - Guns - Other

Ballistic Advantage Continues Excellence in Barrel Design

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Rifles

Winchester Ranger Returns! Now In .22

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Rifles

Latest Name In Lever Guns: Aero Precision

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Rifles

SAKO 90 Quest Lightweight Hunting Rifle

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Optics

Warne Scope Mounts New Red Dot Risers

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Accessories

New Warne Scope Mounts Skyline Lite Bipods

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Handguns

Smith & Wesson Response PCC: Now Taking SIG Mags

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Optics

Mark 4HD Riflescopes: The Latest Tactical Line From Leupold

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Rifles

Show Stopper: Smith & Wesson 1854 Lever-Action Rifle

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Suppressors

FN 509 Pistol Updates and New Suppressors!

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Handguns

New From Armscor: RIA 5.0E & More STK Pistols

There are many new and exciting products and companies to look for at the 2024 SHOT Show, but one in particular that sta...
Handguns

Watchtower Firearms: A Premium American Company to Watch

Guns and Ammo Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now