You don’t have to be from Texas to appreciate this one .
There was a time, not so long ago, when our choices in AR-15 style rifles were strictly limited. It was like going to get ice cream and being told you could have any flavor you wanted, as long as it was vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. Happily, those days are now long gone. Today there are at least 20 different manufacturers of AR-15s out there, and the variations on their products are nearly endless.
Since the recent unpleasantness of 2012-13, when anything AR related was either unavailable or astronomically priced, the market has come back to earth with more choices available than ever. Rock River Arms (RRA) of Colona, Illinois has been making quality AR-15 type rifles since 1996, so they are not newcomers to the AR-15 craze. Rock River produces their LAR and X-Series ARs in 5.56 NATO, 7.62 NATO, 6.8 SPC, .300 Blackout, 458 SOCOM, 7.62×39, 9mm Luger and .40 S&W, in addition to pistol versions and a host of accessories. RRAs newest offering is the Texas Rifle, an AR built from the ground up as a custom gun with a particular set of customers in mind.
Many of us associate a certain historical imagery and mystique with Texas. Hardy cowboys. Texas Rangers wearing badges and six-guns. Ranches covered with herds of longhorns. Everything is big, bold and proud. You know . . . John Wayne kind of stuff. In this vein, its clear from the very first glance that the Texas Rifle unabashedly promotes our second-largest state and its heritage. The overt feature is the RRA XL free-floating aluminum handguard, which is cut on both sides with a silhouette of the state of Texas superimposed with a large five-point star, with three rays sprouting out horizontally in each direction. The handguard is topped with a full length Picatinny rail, with 4-slot rails at the muzzle end at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions for tactical lights, lasers, vertical foregrips or other accessories. Small ventilation holes along each side of the top rail help further promote cooling. The 6 o’clock, 4-slot rail is the only provision for attaching accessories along the bottom of the handguard, as it is cut with the word “TEXAS” in capital letters, with the “T” being in the shape of a longhorn steer. Finally, the handguard features slightly raised, vertically oriented protrusions similar to what you might find on bamboo, each about a centimeter apart, which complement the already customized look with an enhanced gripping surface.
For those who may care less about having an AR associated with a certain state than how the weapon performs, rest assured that the Texas Rifle is full of other worthy features. The lower receiver is RRA’s proprietary LAR-15 forged aluminum lower, while the upper is their A4 model with M4 feed ramps. The heart of the system starts with a fluted, 16-inch stainless steel Wilson (not Wilson Combat) barrel rifled at a 1:8” twist rate. As time goes on, the 1:8” twist is gaining in popularity, since it tends to be the Goldilocks compromise between the faster MIL-SPEC 1:7” and slower 1:9” twist rates, with 1:8” rate stabilizing both the lighter and heavier weight 5.56/.223 rounds well for better accuracy. The Texas Rifle’s gas system is mid-length for increased reliability and less felt recoil, with the gas block a low-profile type to accommodate the free-floated handguard. The barrel has a .223 Wylde chamber, so it can efficiently digest both .223 Rem. and its higher-pressure counterpart, the 5.56mm NATO round.
The Texas Rifle’s barrel is tipped with a tuned, custom muzzle brake similar to RRA’s Hunter series. The Texas brake features four vertical ports, with vent holes at the top and a large star laser cut into the top, with the exit hole at the muzzle surrounded by six smaller holes. The trigger is RRA’s proprietary two-stage, chromed model, one of the best factory triggers ever devised. The trigger on my rifle broke very crisply at 4.5 pounds with minimal takeup, and no creep or stacking. It was easily the equal of two-stage triggers from available from aftermarket manufacturers. The lower also came with a winter trigger guard and Hogue rubber pistol grip, while the upper was fitted with an RRA Operator CAR collapsible buttstock and BCM Gunfighter Mod-4 charging handle. An RRA Operator A2 fixed stock is also available at no additional charge.