Rock River Arms recently introduced an interesting new rifle, the LAR-47. As the name implies, it does have something to do with the AK-47 and the AR-15. The LAR-47 is for the most part an AR-pattern rifle, except it’s chambered in 7.62x39mm and uses AK mags.
Many people like the 7.62x39mm intermediate cartridge. It’s cheap, it’s easy to come by and it has a lot of terminal energy inside 400 yards. It’s not the best thing to reach out and touch someone, but the bullets aren’t easily swayed by soft (or even pretty hard) cover. It’s also a versatile hunting round as many jurisdiction require .30 caliber bullets at a minimum.
The magazine factor is also huge. Even if you’re not invested in a bunch of AK magazines already, they’re cheap, incredibly rugged and definitely not proprietary. The LAR-47 doesn’t just have an enlarged magazine well, it also has a handy ambidextrous magazine catch inside the trigger guard. There doesn’t appear to be a bolt-hold-open, though, that it must inherit from the AK as well, from the design of the magazines.
Like many AR rifles it uses direct gas impingement for its operation. On the one hand, this will cause problems when using a lot of Soviet surplus ammunition. Direct impingement and dirty ammo will necessitate more cleaning for reliability. On the other hand, the popularity of 7.62x39mm isn’t limited to just Eastern Europe, and there are plenty of companies that make good and clean ammo that won’t foul up nearly as quickly as old surplus will.
It is a bit curious as to why the LAR-47 doesn’t use a gas piston. Rock River Arms makes a dandy piston-driven upper that we think would shine with this particular rifle. It could be to keep costs down and test the waters for an AR chambered in 7.62x39mm. Still, we would like to see an LAR-47 with their gas piston on it, particularly because it has an ambidextrous forward-mounted non-reciprocating charging bolt and folding, telescopic buttstock.
The LAR-47 isn’t going to compete with any AK-47s, even high-end models like the Arsenal Saiga. However, it promises superior accuracy and AR ergonomics, which is nothing to scoff at. Like most ARs the LAR has a flattop receiver and is ready to equip any optics you may want to use, including aperture sights common to AR rifles.
The only other significant deviation from the AR standard is the barrel threading. Because of the jump in calibers, the LAR-47 uses ½-36 threads and muzzle devices.
This isn’t the first AR-pattern rifle chambered in 7.62x39mm designed to accept AK magazines. Knights Armament Company developed a similar rifle for SOCOM called the SR-47. The rifle was developed following the attack on September 11th for trials with the Navy SEALs, expecting them to operate for extended durations behind enemy lines and re-supplying themselves with ammunition and magazines taken in the field. Only seven were ever made.
The LAR-47 is a lighter-weight rifle, the basic model weighing just 6.4 pounds. It is 36 inches long and uses standard AR furniture. It also comes with a Rock River Arms 2-stage trigger and enlarged trigger guard for shooting with gloves on. It comes in two models, the CAR-A4 which features M4-style carbine furniture as well as the Delta Carbine which adds a quad rail and a premium buttstock and grip. The CAR-A4 has an MSRP of $1,200 and the Delta Carbine $1,475. Off-the-shelf pricing should be $2-300 less than that.
Would you pick up an AR that takes AK magazines? Or would you only if it used a gas-piston system, or not at all, that’s just craziness?