October 29, 2020
“You always hurt the one you love; The one you shouldn’t hurt at all; You always take the sweetest rose; And crush it till the petals fall; You always break the kindest heart; With a hasty word you can’t recall, so; If I broke your heart last night; It’s because I love you most of all.” -Allan Roberts/Doris Fisher
Before you stop reading and check the cover of this magazine to ensure you did not erroneously purchase a Harlequin Romance, the current edition of Soap Opera Digest, or have a stroke, all of us here at Firearms News wish to reassure you that everything is fine.
You did not make a mistake at the newsstand or hit the wrong ‘magazine app’ icon on your mobile device. All is right with the world and you are still reading one of the finest, cutting-edge firearms periodicals available to gun aficionados and shooting enthusiasts today.
In that regard, please allow me to make this pledge…nay…this solemn blood oath: There will absolutely NOT be any stories on the following pages that depict dashing, broad-chested, debonair, most likely man-scaped, tall mysterious strangers sporting rich, luxurious “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”/ Fabio-esque manes flowing in the wind, wooing equally ravishing maidens wearing ridiculously skimpy Victorian-era dinner gowns while flaunting totally inappropriate necklines and heaving bosoms. Like the ones illustrated on the covers of those saucy paperbacks my aunt (and erstwhile baby-sitter) used to slyly stash in her coffee table between the Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens magazines that caused me a great deal of puzzlement (and also titillation) from my toddler years well into early adolescence.
No, fellow adventurers. The story that is about to unfold on these pages is one of SUFFERING. It is an agonizing saga of one man’s strange desire to put those that he loves and adores through untold hardships and tribulations. To send those dear to him through a gauntlet of pestilence and torment. It will chronicle the epic, danger-fraught journey of your author and two old, dear, and trusted friends as they trek through some of the harshest terrain and most extreme elements on this planet in an epic search for truth, enlightenment, self-discovery, and most importantly…dry underwear.
Before this tale begins, however, be warned…if you’ve joined us for a classic, continental hunting yarn rife with the throaty baying of hounds on the track or braces of neatly harvested game hens hung by the mantle as the brandy flows, the fire crackles, and well-coifed gentleman banter and boast of expeditions past…you will find no comfort here.
However, if you are down with the sickness when it comes to a story of wet feet, cold fingers (and additional frigid appendages we will tastefully list under the category of “other”), insane terrain features, extreme weather, but more importantly, an ultra-rugged, multi-purpose rifle and two Alaska-proven rifle optics, YOU JUST RANG THE RIGHT DOORBELL.
So, pull up a comfortable seat, turn down the lights, and make sure the fire is stoked, because I’m about to tell you, dear readers, what really went down during the dark winter months of November and December, 2018, in the Southeastern Coastal Rainforests and frozen Northern Interior of Alaska, starring a last frontier-tough rifle and an equally fantastic optics system. A rifle from a line of combat weapon systems that kept me and my law enforcement/military brethren safe through thick and thin during tactical operations for nearly a decade, and a rugged, all-light/all-conditions optic that decisively saved this writer’s life in a violent Alaska back-country bear encounter during the fall of 2017.
The subjects of this article are two pieces of equipment from companies that, over the years, I have learned to trust. The powerful R.E.P.R. Mark II 6.5 Creedmoor Elite manufactured by LWRC International and a pair of Alaska-tough AccuPoint rifle scopes from Trijicon (Trijicon.com).
Guns, Guts, and…Disney Princesses?
If my old and trusted friend “M” (since I am accustomed to some degree of discretion and this is an “open-source,” unencrypted publication, I will refer to her by her “Double-Ought-Seven” spy-name) from LWRC International only knew what was in store for the R.E.P.R. Mark II Rifle she and her cohorts were shipping north for this Firearms News exclusive, there may have been a different response to my proposal besides “You BETCHA, we’ll see what we can send your way!”
Something more along the lines of:
- Being placed on speaker phone (a speaker phone obviously patched in to the entire LWRC factory-wide intercom system) and then baited by “M” with a request to repeat my testing/evaluation plans and geographical locations for the R.E.P.R.
- Complying with M’s request, experiencing an awkward period of silence from the other end of the line, then getting blasted with an uproariously long roll of Gong Show jeering co-mingled with a healthy dose of 1970’s sitcom live studio audience reminiscent laughter. Oh, and who can ever forget that over-the-top cackle from Myrtle down in accounting.
- Pondering what went wrong and then remembering I received a D in Assertiveness and Persuasion 101 during my freshman year in college as the wild laughter on the other line abruptly ended with a “click” and the sad finality of a dial tone.
Luckily for me (and this article), M and I share some history.
Nearly a decade ago, “M” and another LWRC corporate operative (who we will mysteriously refer to as “B”) assisted me and a teammate in the acquisition of an LWRC M6-A2 duty rifle in 5.56 mm NATO… a primary duty rifle that to this day has never experienced a single failure. I carried my M6-A2 for nearly a decade in some of the harshest climatic/geographically challenging conditions imaginable and fired thousands upon thousands of rounds without experiencing a solitary hiccup or even an old-fashioned comic relief ‘spit-take.’ I schlepped that LWRC M6-A2 through rain, snow, and mud. When the rifle wasn’t being employed, it was stored in my vehicle’s gun vault, where it rattled around for weeks in sub-zero temperatures approaching the -30 degree Fahrenheit mark as we bumped and bounced over some of the worst roads (and “un-roads”) Alaska and the Pacific Northwest had to offer. Last but not least, my LWRC primary weapon engaged in dangerous liaisons on numerous occasions with the bulkheads of marine vessels, the reinforced doors and floors of rotary wing aircraft and raid vans, and into walls, door jambs, window frames, and every kind of furniture one can encounter while conducting high-risk, close-quarter entries in an urban, marine, or bush environment.
Simply put, that LWRCI M6-A2 is “hell on wheels.”
To reciprocate M and B’s assistance in obtaining these uber-trusty duty rifles, a trusted tactical team brother and I sent our LWRC friends and cohorts an iconic, “he-man” photo taken during a training exercise in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska. We agreed to send this epic photo as fodder for an internal, most likely unsanctioned LWRCI company-wide photoshop contest.
A contest in which my tac-team partner and I were the driving force, the inspiration, the Bette Midler Wind Beneath My Wings, if you will, for the lucky winning LWRCI staff member. An LWRCI professional with a passion for finely tuned combat rifles, tactical operators, and, as was quite apparent, The Little Mermaid.
A staff member who, thanks to our epically posed photo (and their boss-level Photoshop skills), was one $10 Chuck E. Cheese gift-card and Mariah Carey CD wealthier on that bountiful day back in 2008.
The Black Rifle With An Even Darker Name: The LWRCI R.E.P.R. Mark II Reaper
An ominous title that conjures an image of a legendary, omnipotent, death-delivering wraith…cloaked in black and relentless in delivering final justice to its quarry (and for those pretentious snobs attending the dinner party in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, driving home the harsh reality of what happens when you skimp and use canned Sockeye instead of the fresh stuff in your salmon mousse).
But I kid. You’ll find nothing amusing, light-hearted, or humorous when you gaze upon the R.E.P.R. MKII. The rifle’s acronym may stand for Rapid Engagement Precision Rifle, but the originators of this black rifle weapon system’s call-sign knew exactly what they were doing with their play on letters. The R.E.P.R. Mark II multi-purpose AR-based rifle’s profile is formidable, capable, and deadly serious. Whether your imagination prefers the iconic, malevolent image invoked by the rifle’s title, or the pragmatic, practical side of you fancies, the clinical meaning of its call-sign acronym, the R.E.P.R. is aptly named.
LWRC International (the acronym previously stood for Land Warfare Resources Corporation) is a Cambridge, Maryland, based weapons manufacturing firm that has set the standard for over a decade in the design and development of its proprietary self-regulating, short-stroke piston system. This system is designed to divert the gases produced from a fired round away from the bolt-carrier group and receiver, substantially reducing the carbon buildup/fowling that was a historical shortcoming of the LWRC Rifle’s AR-based predecessors. This attribute is key in providing the shooter with the ability to engage multiple targets and send more rounds down-range with less chance of potentially life-threatening stoppages/mechanical failures due to fouling and internal heat-related failures.
The LWRCI rifle destined for this article’s all-expense paid back-country tour of Alaska was a R.E.P.R. Mark II 6.5 Creedmoor Elite. This rifle is built to fill multiple roles and is chambered in the highly accurate 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. The R.E.P.R. is capable of placing rounds on target consistently at the 1,000-yard mark and further and was designed for the highly competitive U.S. Department of Defense CSASS (Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System) program. As such, it is a rifle that is extremely operator friendly. It emulates the AR platform and is capable of engaging multiple targets with extreme accuracy at short, intermediate, and long range. The rifle’s talent for tactical flexibility can be attributed to its design and is complimented by its ability to utilize standard 10- and 20-round AR-10 based magazines. This feature is a bonus in military and law enforcement operations (as well as civilian self-defense/survival situations) where the operator may be required to transition from long range/intermediate range target engagements to CQC (Close Quarters Combat) scenarios in which accuracy, power, and magazine capacity are equal partners in winning a successful outcome for the good guy.
The 6.5 Creedmoor Elite version of the R.E.P.R. is outfitted with a number of extremely rugged, reliable, and practical components. These include a Geissele SSA-E two-stage trigger, a Magpul PRS adjustable stock, an LWRCI Ultra Brake 4-port muzzle brake, and bomb-proof ‘Skirmish’ backup iron sights. For tactical operators, hunters, and shooters who desire sound suppression options, the R.E.P.R. is ready to rumble. And whisper. The 6.5 Creedmoor Elite sports a 20-position tunable gas block and is threaded and silencer-ready.
All the above attributes make for a potentially uber-reliable AR-based rifle. BUT…LWRCI had one final trick up its sleeve in the production of a unique, iconic rifle capable of world-class accuracy. The period at the end of the R.E.P.R. Mark II Elite’s sentence is its barrel. A rifle barrel whose origins and appearance are every bit as dark and mysterious as the title of the rifle to which it is attached.
“Black Ice”: Proof Research’s Match Grade Carbon Fiber Barrel
The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the R.E.P.R. Mark II 6.5 Creedmoor Elite was the barrel. For just one moment, I thought the parcel delivery driver had stashed the boxed-up rifle in his freezing-cold, beautiful shade of brown truck overnight, as the barrel appeared to be completely frosted over with a sheen of three-dimensional black ice crystals. This attractive illusion proved to be one of the man-made variety, however. It was the artistic but functional and rugged carbon-fiber wrapped “Proof Research” match-grade barrel chosen by LWRCI to complete this rifle.
The carbon-reinforced AR barrel incorporated by LWRCI into the R.E.P.R. Elite is manufactured by Proof Research at its Northern Montana-based production center to rigid standards. Proof Research was founded in 2011, and is a multi-faceted company involved in several high-speed/low-drag “extra-curricular” endeavors in addition to the manufacture of supremely accurate and rugged rifle barrels. These ventures include the development and manufacture of aerospace components for critical U.S. Defense projects like the F-35 Strike Fighter and the B-2 Stealth Bomber.
The malevolent-looking barrel manufactured for the R.E.P.R. originally started life as a match-grade 416R stainless steel barrel blank made in-house at Proof Research before undergoing several processes to reduce weight and increase strength. During the grand finale of this process, the near-complete blanks are cloaked in aerospace-grade carbon fiber and a proprietary “matrix resin” to create a formidable, beautifully rugged-looking barrel.
A rugged beauty that may prove to be temporary and fleeting…because Alaska…well…Alaska has a way of taking even the most handsomely sturdy equipment to task. And by ‘taken to task,’ I mean broken and sent home crying to mama.
“I See You”: The Low-Light/All-Weather Trijicon Accupoint
Do you remember the dark, foreboding watchtower controlled by Lord of the Rings super villain Sauron(mega-evil Overlord and Patron Saint of Orcs, Trolls, Goblins, and whatever dark and malevolent creature was responsible for spawning that daytime talk show The View)? The one with the evil fiery eye at the top that maintained a vigilant and malevolent gaze of evil over Middle Earth? Well, I’m here to tell you that had our villain mounted an AccuPoint rifle scope on top of his monolithic black granite observation post instead of his fossil fuel guzzling flaming eyeball of doom, things might have gone better for him. But he didn’t, and since Visine eyedrops don’t come in a 5 metric ton family-size bottle, his super-sized fiery peeper of the apocalypse blinked once too often, took a header onto the rocks below, and Frodo Baggins and his merry band of tier-one Dungeons and Dragons operators smacked him and his evil minions around like the red-headed stepchild of a rented mule.
My Experience With The Trijicon
AccuPoint line of rifle scopes began in 2010, when I purchased the 2.5-10x56 TR-22-2-G model. This model has ultra-clear glass, is bomb-proof against abysmal weather conditions, provides rapid aiming across various yardages with its Mil-Dot system, but most importantly, possesses two nearly fail-safe options for illuminating the reticle: Fiber optics and radioactive Tritium.
I mounted this optic on a new .375 H&H Magnum Kimber Talkeetna and the duo became my go-to rifle for hunting brown bear, musk ox, moose, and other Alaskan big game, with the exception of Mountain Goat and Dall sheep. [Writer’s Note: That “not for the faint of heart” brand of hunting requires an ultra-lightweight rifle due to the distances and hazardous terrain a hunter must traverse with a heavy pack.]
Over the next several years, I employed the AccuPoint topped Kimber on several brown bears, a musk ox, and two moose (or in Alaskan-ese; “Six years of groceries.”) These Alaska-tough big game animals died so swiftly and cleanly, a spectator observing from a distance would have believed the animals had suffered heart attacks or cerebral hemorrhages instead of the receiving end of a 300-grain Barnes TSX bullet. There was only one exception, and the ending was still dramatically definitive.
In 2012, after eight days of hunting in the rain, snow, and sleet common to the mountains of the second largest island in the United States, I shot a 10.5-foot Kodiak bear just before nightfall. The impressive bruin (a male/boar) attempted to bolt after receiving a double-lung/heart shot, but only managed to take four or five giant strides before dying on the run and sliding nearly 10 yards across the rain-slicked moss and weeds that made up his escape route.
It was after this bear encounter that the Trijicon/.375 H&H mega-murder machine was given its very own call-sign. Before you get the “big reveal,” , however, I want to make it perfectly clear that I never thought I’d be one of those dorky fellas who named his weapons. I’m not ashamed to tell you that my Kimber Talkeetna/AccuPoint duo changed my mind on this, because just like Thorin Oakenshield’s sword “Orcrist” (Goblin Cleaver), Gandalf’s blade Glamdring (Foe Hammer), Bilbo Baggins’ prison-shank (Sting), and Sgt. Blain “I’m a _________ Sexual Tyrannosaurus” Cooper’s Mini-Gun “Old Painless” (from the movie Predator,) sometimes a piece of armament is so absolutely effective, an exception has to be made. And for any Lord of the Ring fanboys out there that are raw about the analogy…I’m fully aware that Blain, or for that matter, Dutch, Mac, Billy, Hawkins, Dillon, and Poncho had no connection whatsoever to the movie adaptation of Tolkien’s masterpiece. But they should have.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, I had to come up with a fitting name for my .375 H&H. I thought long and hard on this, in search of a title that would conjure up an image of terror incarnate…of an entity so horrible, to even gaze upon it or hear its voice would put one’s very sanity at peril.
Unfortunately, “Joy Behar” was already taken, so I decided to forgo the “terror incarnate/entity so horrible” theme and go with a more biblical, dignified name: F.O.G. — short for Fist of God.
Which leads to why the Trijicon AccuPoint occupies a special place in my heart. A place nearly as special as the other things I cherish most in life, to include my wife, James West-Artemus Gordon/Wild Wild West reruns, my pooches, and moose tacos (not necessarily in that order).
I love that Tritium-filled/fiber-optic shrouded beauty because it kept me from becoming bear chow in the back-country of Alaska’s interior during a fly-in/raft-out moose-hunting expedition in the fall of 2017.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Shoot Them
Here’s how it went down. My hunting buddy and I were dropped off by Super-Cub on an improvised airstrip along an extremely remote river in Alaska’s interior to hunt moose for ten days. At the conclusion of the hunt, we would utilize whitewater rafts to traverse three days of extremely technical river in order to reach a takeout point along a remote, unimproved road. Simply put, we were in the middle of nowhere, and the closest trauma center was equivalent to the distance between New York City and Cleveland.
During the last two days of the hunt, I encountered a large cinnamon phase black bear that took a serious love interest in me. And by love, I mean it wanted to have my liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
When I first observed the bruin, I was seated in good cover on a bluff overlooking a swampy, flat stretch of ground between mountains of the Alaska Range to my right, and a sizeable river to my left. I observed the blackie (or cinnamonie, in this case) approach from up-river, then bed down almost directly on the same path I walked earlier that day. While I possessed a black bear harvest tag, I had no desire to shoot the bear or add more weight to our already moose-meat-heavy whitewater rafts. With daylight fading quickly and the bear lying in wait on my trail, my options quickly became limited. Since there was a beaver pond, the steep terrain of a cut-bank, and 45 yards of ground separating us, I decided to do something that normally sends an un-habituated black bear (one not accustomed to humans) packing like its rump was dipped in camp-stove fuel, set ablaze, and then, for good measure, spritzered with Sriracha hot-sauce…I shouted “GET OUT OF HERE, BEAR!”
It was not impressed. My new Ursus Americanus buddy stood up, identified my position, and stared darkly at me, even after I shouted several more times to no avail. The last available light was rapidly slipping away, and the one-way shouting match was now five minutes stale. The bear didn’t walk away. It didn’t even shuffle a foot or wiggle an ear. It just stood there – staring.
Never let it be said that I am not a “man of peace” and willing to give a transgressor the benefit of the doubt. In the spirit of forgiveness, I dropped to one knee, stuck my lanyard-attached foam earplugs into position (safety first!), placed the green-glowing tritium reticle of my AccuPoint approximately one foot to the left of the bear, pushed the trigger, and blasted an 8-inch pie-hole into the silty ground next to its big, claw-tipped paw.
“Evil Parallel-Universe” Yogi was a cool customer. It didn’t even FLINCH. Crazy-pants just stood there, eyes locked on mine. I gave it 10 seconds, but the bear continued to stand its ground and act…SPOOKY. I was about to go with Plan B (blasting an 8-inch pie hole in Mr. Berenstain instead of the mud next to him) when the bear unceremoniously (and with no show of fear) shambled off and disappeared into the night. I was ready to do battle during the entire 1/2 mile hike back to camp, but the bruin was gone. Until the next evening.
Late the next day, darkness was falling, and I was about to pack up and leave my bluff when the big Cinnamon bear returned. It sniffed along the trail I walked earlier, then plopped down… right on my track. It was nearly pitch dark, so I immediately stood up and gave the bear some “what-for.”
The bear also wasn’t one to hesitate. It lurched to its feet, put its nose to the ground, locked in on my trail, and made a beeline right into the woods. It entered the brush exactly where I did earlier in the day. It was a bear on a mission, and that mission was tracking me. The bear was on a direct collision course with me.
I waited and listened for several minutes but did not hear a single, solitary sound save the steady rush of the river 200 yards away. It was teetering on the brink of darkness and I decided it was time to evac. I quietly stuffed my binoculars and a rangefinder into my pack, then sensed movement in the deep twilight approximately 10 feet away. That wily bear had silently side-hilled the bluff, using the soft, damp soil of the cut-bank to conceal its footfalls and the edge of the bluff’s sharp drop-off to conceal its stalk. The movement I nearly missed due to its subtlety and stealth was the bear raising its blocky, muscular head to get a peep at me over the edge of the cut-bank. The slow, deliberate, and cunning manner in which the black bear accomplished this was reminiscent of a periscope being raised on a submarine. I drew a short-barreled Smith and Wesson Performance Center Model 629 .44 magnum revolver I carry as a backup gun from an Alaskan-made Diamond D chest-holster, pointed in, and yelled at the bear. The bear was as cool of a customer at near point-blank range as it was at 45 yards. The Bruin’s head slowly went into “periscope down” mode and it silently disappeared in the direction of its original approach. I caught one last glimpse of the bear as it rounded a corner on the cut-bank. It was walking away but staring back at me warily. Greedily.
I knew I was in for it. This bear wasn’t a big dopey Pooh-Bear merely demonstrating a bit of good-natured curiosity. It was predatory. It was stalking me in the same manner a big cat, such as a Mountain Lion or Leopard, would. This black bear was waiting for the right moment, and when it came, things would get really bad. Ultimately, it came down to this. Fuzzy-Wuzzy was obviously hungry for a little Italian this night, and since I am short enough to have a staring contest with Hervé Villechaize and the last names “Matteucci” and ‘Corradi” hold prominent places on my Mom’s side of the family tree, things were about to get real.
The only way I could exit my bluff was down a trail I hacked days before through extremely thick alder and willow, and the path was now dark. Jungle-canopy pitch black dark. I mounted my headlamp, slung my pack, and shouldered my rifle in the same manner I have thousands of times during tactical operations over the course of my career. While the bear had stealth, surprise, and brute strength on its side, I too had a secret weapon. The AccuPoint.
Even If You’re Skeptical About Climate Change, You Can Still Go Green (Or Red, Or Amber) With The Accupoint!
Traditional, non-illuminated rifle scopes are nearly useless in close-quarter, dangerous game encounters. The options available to the outdoorsperson unlucky enough to find themselves in such a “heart attack serious” situation while wielding this type of optic-equipped rifle are limited to the following choices:
- Firing instinctively from the shoulder
- Canting the rifle at an angle and sighting down the side of the weapon while engaging your foe
- Shooting from the hip
- Attempting to actually use the rifle scope by looking through it (which is great for intermediate and distant targets), only to be greeted by a sight-picture that resembles an electron microscope photo of a hair follicle or a Sea-Monkey.
Not the most ideal survival choices when failure means being taken apart by claw and fangs wielded by a powerful, unsympathetic, and ravenous apex predator.
The AccuPoint is not traditional, and the one mounted on F.O.G. gave me a potentially game-changing CQB (Close Quarter Battle) option. An option that exponentially increased my odds of not becoming part of the “Circle of Life.” I am not referring to the cutesy Lion King version with all the sappy singing, frolicking and quirky but adorable cartoon animals. Nope. I’m referring to the Austin Powers/Fat Bastard “Get in my BELLLLLLY!” adaptation. Because when darkness reigns over the land and things go bump (or in this case, CHOMP) in the night, the AccuPoint gives a shooter the ability to simply snap the front objective scope cap down (while leaving the rear eyepiece cap open), keep both eyes open, and turn a variable power rifle scope into a DANGER CLOSE reflex sight with a beautifully glowing red, green, or amber reticle.
But now we have to return to that dark, deathly silent night along that lonely river in the Alaska Mountain Range.
It was time to unleash the “Eye of F.O.G.” and walk out of those woods. It was… GO TIME.
Eyepiece lens cap OPEN. Objective lens cap SHUT. Rifle at low/mid ready, elbows tucked, safety off, finger off trigger (but in close enough proximity that the potential for several more decibels of high-frequency hearing loss, in addition to what the U.S. Army and 27 years in Law Enforcement tossed my way were just a hop, skip, jump and trigger push away). Eye of the Tiger by Survivor playing in my head. Not enough time to take my shirt off and go bare-chested or tie a red bandanna around my forehead like my action movie namesake, but no biggie. It was time to walk down that trail.
I made it 20 feet. The bear and I came face to face as I rounded a corner on the narrow pathway a mere stone’s throw from my original position on the bluff. It was completely dark, but my Petzl headlamp lit up the trail AND the bear adequately enough for a gunfight. The bear was standing stock-still in the middle of my trail, a mere 15 feet away. It’s grim, pig-like little eyes were intensely locked on mine and it appeared healthy, blocky, and BIG. I stopped in a combat stance and placed the Trijicon’s emerald, bright, absolutely beautiful radioactive-powered reticle directly under the bears chin and said in a calm, even tone: “Get out of here bear. GIT.” The bruin just stood there. For at least ten seconds. Eyes still locked on mine. Not a twitch of an ear or the blink of an eye. Stoic. Committed. And with no other body movement save that of its claw-adorned paw, it took a step toward me.
You know…it’s funny how your mind works in situations like this. Dozens of friends and associates have asked me over the years “Weren’t you afraid?” in relation to some of the critical incidents I experienced in Alaska’s back-country and during my military and law enforcement career. My answer has always been “It usually happens too quickly to be scared” or “Training kicks in and detracts quite a bit from the fear component of the incident.” These two explanations are factually true, but I also believe some people are just built differently, especially when it comes to the way they react physically or psychologically to high-stress situations. In my case, the numerous head injuries I received (both on the job and while engaged in off-time pursuits) over the years didn’t do me any favors in the critical thinking department, but, lucky me, may have contributed to my diminished fear/scaredy-cat threshold.
So, when that predatory black bear made its decision on a course of action and placed its best paw forward, your potentially brain-damaged author also had a game plan. Not an intricate, complicated Battle of the Bulge/Operation Overlord/Captain Kirk-Kobayashi Maru plan. Just two words and a voluntary nerve response that comes naturally from decades of training and a smidgen of self-preservation.
The bear’s paw hit the ground, and in my head, the previously mentioned two words were spoken using my calm, even-toned inner-Clint Eastwood voice (or was it that Arnold Schwarzenegger, over the top Austrian-accented one?). The first word was one my good ‘ol Mom would not be proud of and Ralphie from A Christmas Story glossed over with something more family-friendly after sending his dad’s lug-nuts flying hither and yon.
The second word was “you.” And then I pushed the trigger.
Thanks to the Trijicon AccuPoint’s magnificently glowing reticle, the .300 grain Barnes TSX struck the bear dead center mass in the chest just below the neck. The Cinnamon monstrosity did a superb backflip even the curmudgeonly Olympic judges from Russian and France would crow about. The bear then careened ‘butt-over-teacups’ down a steep, lushly forested embankment to my right. The now ‘demoralized’ predator tumbled and crashed through brush and alder until splashing into a Beaver pond at the bottom of the hill. And then…all was still.
I reloaded F.O.G., but the fight was over. The next morning, my hunting partner (Handsome Jay, from the October 2018 Brown Bear article) and I returned to the crime scene and recovered my furry, aspiring Diner’s Club International assailant from the edge of the Beaver pond. The shot placement and damage inflicted by the 300 grain Barns TSX bullet was definitive. The round entered almost dead-center mass below the bear’s muscular neck, severed the aorta, and continued completely through the bear, exiting perfectly between both hind quarters.
Thanks to the Trijicon AccuPoint, I survived. Being mauled or taken as prey by a Black Bear would be a terrible thing. In most instances, they don’t have the power to kill you outright…but they have the strength and tools, in the form of fang, claw, and insanely robust musculature, to incapacitate and then take you apart violently and without mercy.
But not that night. On that quiet, lonely September evening along that pristine river in the remote mountains of Alaska’s interior, my AccuPoint saved my bacon. And do you know what bacon reminds me of? Breakfast food and IRONY. Because ‘Not-So-Gentle-Ben’ wound up being processed into some of the best hot-Italian breakfast sausage we’ve ever put through a grinder!
Hurricane Larry And The Rain Forest — The R.E.P.R. Arrives
Since the “Trijicon AccuPoint Love Affair” side-story to this tale of the R.E.P.R. Mk II 6.5 Creedmoor completely violated the Jerry Reed/Smokey and the Bandit theme song corollary (ie: I had a short way to go but took a long time to get there), we’ll get back on track and make ‘M’ from LWRCI and our friends at Trijicon grimace as the “Great Winter of 2018 R.E.P.R./AccuPoint Torture Test” story begins.
The first phase of field-testing the R.E.P.R. and optic would undergo consisted of five days of hiking, climbing, and rafting (as well as wading, slogging, and crawling) in Southeast Alaska’s coastal rainforest. “Hurricane Larry,” (everybody gets a spy name in this article!), a Law Enforcement buddy of mine, was heading out to Prince of Wales Island to do some Black tail Deer hunting and I was going along for the hike and to back him up in the event an ornery bear came along to sow the seeds of hate and discontent.
As a side note, the reason “Larry” has a catastrophic weather event in front of his name is because of how he operates as an Investigator. If a bad guy/criminal was actually a small tropical island when a pleasant and polite “Tradewind Larry” initially approached them, “Evildoer Island” would believe it was just experiencing a warm, tropical breeze and perhaps a light and dainty rain shower. However, when the all-business, ruthlessly efficient, upgraded “Hurricane Larry” swept over them in full force, the only thing left in his wake would be scattered coconut husks, an 80 foot luxury yacht broken in half and plopped upside down on a mountain side one-half mile from the tideline, and an industrial-sized concrete foundation with some broken pipes where the previously posh and extravagant Five-Star resort used to stand.
Getting There Is Half The Fun! (Having One Dry Pair Of Undies For The Flight Home Is The Other)
The R.E.P.R. and I hopped a commercial flight out of Anchorage, arrived alive in Ketchikan, made a short jaunt to the ferry terminal, and boarded a vessel that motored us across approximately three hours of Pacific Ocean to Prince of Wales Island (or POW for short). Upon arrival, I met Larry, snagged a few grocery items, and spent the next five days in torrential downpours and high winds. – THE END (roll credits)
Ahhhh, but if it was only that simple! What really happened was this: We spent five monsoon-like days climbing up mountains and navigating insanely thick rainforest terrain riddled with massive “blow-down” trees. These blow-down obstacles consisted of old-growth trees with circumferences equivalent to a those of a school bus. These bark-covered behemoths were felled by the wind or old-age, and present formidable barriers to free-travel within POW’s rainforests. What made navigating these massive obstacles even more daunting was their tendency to fall on each other at various angles, creating a tangled mass of timber sometimes reaching the height of nearly 2 stories.
When we weren’t climbing up and over (and under and through) these felled giants, we were slogging and sloshing through Muskeg. For those of you unfortunate enough to have NEVER hiked across miles of what is definitive proof of Mother Nature’s sinister sense of humor, here’s a brief description: Muskegs are large plots of boggy, spongey, watery, muddy, mossy, muddy terrain that will steal your happiness and make you reconsider your choice of hunting boots. But that’s not all.
Interspersed throughout the muskeg are “tussocks.” A tussock resembles a giant mushroom, reaching sizes up to two feet tall and two feet wide, covered in moss and stuffed with an old sofa pillow. Tussocks were obviously designed by the Pagan God of Orthopedic Surgeons as a money-maker. If you try to walk on top of them to avoid getting your feet wet in the trenches of water between them, the insidious tussock will patiently allow you to put the bulk of your weight on it, then violently tip sideways in an effort to test the tensile strength of your ankle.
Last, but not least, is what waits for the sportsman who bravely (but foolishly) attempts to avoid the muskeg altogether and walk on its rainforest boundaries. The garnish that tops off that gourmet meal of woe is a fiendish little plant (actually, it can grow up to sixteen feet in height) with a supremely fitting name “Devil’s Club.” Devil’s Club has something for everyone…stinging, itch-inducing, hair-thin nettles all over the place, medium size thorns on the branches, and hardened spikes on the main stalk that will pierce all but the hardiest of leather work gloves.
I’m not complaining. I love this stuff. It keeps the less motivated people from mucking up a perfectly good hike/climb/slog and is perfect for “Alaska-testing” gear. Ask anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time in the Alaskan back-country and they’ll agree… if your gear works here, it will work ANYWHERE.
The bottom line, when exploring Alaska’s sub-arctic coastal rainforests, is this: If you go off-road or off-trail, it’s going to hurt…so suck it up, buttercup, because it’s all part of the Alaska experience!
This is where we get back on track with the R.E.P.R. and AccuPoint. Hurricane Larry and I went to battle with the Rainforest and Southeast Alaska weather for five days. I didn’t coddle the 6.5 Mark II Elite or my personally owned 2.5-10x AccuPoint. If me and my much degraded, sopping wet undies were going to suffer the wrath of the sub-arctic marine climate, so were my matte-black companions.
The hunt was almost a bust, thanks to the weather and wind, but on the last day, a small, suicidal Sitka Blacktail Deer (this species of deer usually come only in small and medium when compared with mulies and white tails) in rut attempted to woo Hurricane Larry. Unfortunately for the deer, Hurricane Larry is a happily married man and rebuffed its advance. With a 180-grain Barnes TSX from his .300 Winchester Short Mag.
In the waning daylight hours, which, in late November, is around 2:30 p.m., Hurricane Larry and I stealthily stalked to a vantage point above the Black Tail’s “gut-pile” with the hopes of busting a tasty Black Bear feeding upon it. To our wonderment, we discovered that the entire mass of gory, Black Bear delights was AWOL….gone. No entrails…no spine, NADA. Blood smears and drag-marks on the soil and muskeg illustrated to us that an enthusiastic black bear had yanked, pulled, and otherwise cajoled the entire pile of greasy, grimy offal down a mountain side into the darkening arboreal depths below. There would be no stakeout or ambush. This…was a combat foot patrol mission. With the R.E.P.R. on point and the AccuPoint rigged for CQB, I began my track on the bear and began following the ghoulish trail left by the bear’s soon-to-be dinner. Fortunately for the “home team” (Black Bear) and unfortunately for the “away team” (Hurricane Larry and I), the blood trail through the thick timber and foliage ended only 25-50 yards into the track. We performed a “Search and recovery” type pattern of concentric circles to reacquire the bears track, but we couldn’t even find a spot of blood the size of a pinpoint. I know Predator isn’t real, but I have to admit that in my desperation, I may have even looked up into the rainforest canopy once or twice for that tell-tale shimmer, but in the end, no bear.
What I did have, however, was the opportunity to give the R.E.P.R. and AccuPoint some saltwater AND freshwater time on a Kayak, as well as a five day soak in driving wind and rain. Easily to the super-saturated level of a Musky or Northern Pike fishing lure after a weekend of nonstop, hard and heavy trolling. But better yet, the R.E.P.R. / AccuPoint combo was carried (and don’t tell “M,” but maybe even dragged once or twice) over miles of dirt, moss, falling tree bark, mud, pine needles, and sprinkled with a goodly amount of Dorito crumbs that tumbled from my mitts as I snacked greedily under the shelter of a small spruce tree during a break in the action.
What better way to condition a rifle for realistic test firing? Sticky, wet, unwashed, and disheveled. Just like most Saturday mornings in college and every zero-dark-thirty morning while in the final field phase of the U.S. Army Combat Engineer training course.
While I would never have allowed the 6.5 Creedmoor Elite or Trijicon to be damaged or blemished by corrosion, for realistic evaluation purposes, I did allow the rifle to remain in the condition it entered and left the field each day: ATROCIOUS.
Personal responsibility ingrained in me from many years of guidance provided by my parents during my formative years (as well as the tender and loving guidance of my drill sergeants during a five month “spa-weekend” at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri) played a primary role in why I continuously monitored the rifle and scope’s physical condition throughout the “Rainforest Torture Test” for corrosion. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that a tiny bit of a self-preservation was also in the mix, because to underestimate the damage M and her powerful LWRCI “Photo-Shop Posse” could do to me in the event I returned her test-rifle back covered in rust (or that delicious, bright-orange cheese dust that coats some of my favorite field-snacks) would be PURE FOLLY. With one keystroke, M (or one of her operatives) could work their magic and send a doctored (but authentic) looking Rembrandt-worthy photoshop pic depicting your author and North Korean despot Kim Jong Un chumming it up while sipping umbrella drinks and clubbing baby fur seals in Greenland. A prohibited activity that would surely result in the revocation of my high-speed security clearances and worse, my ‘Dave and Buster’s’ VIP card.
But M had nothing to worry about. The R.E.P.R. was bullet-proof, even with so many foul things now coating and/or oozing from every crack and crevasse of the once ‘factory clean’ rifle. Equally impressive was the performance of my personally owned AccuPoint. As with every other expedition hunt or romp the Trijicon ventured out on since 2010, it remained surgically zeroed with not one wisp of moisture present in the scopes interior. Even after being subjected to five days of 100% humidity, nonstop fog, and relentless rain with no scope-coat.
I fired 40 rounds from the LWRC at 100 and 200 yards while it was still basting in its own juices. The weapon performed flawlessly. My wife’s tired old ‘not long for this world’ (and now unsupported) iPad I used for target practice, however, was a train-wreck.
But the fun wasn’t over yet. The R.E.P.R. and AccuPoint were headed to Alaska’s frozen interior for more shenanigans. And a 7.0 earthquake.
“Everything But My R.E.P.R. And Accupoint, Shadoobie, Shattered, Shattered!” — Rolling Stones Inspired Post Earthquake Karaoke Night on Rambo Mountain
I grudgingly relieved Hurricane Larry of several choice cuts of black-tailed deer, then jetted back up to the frozen Northlands of Alaska’s interior. The difference between Southeast Alaska and Northern Alaska in November is striking. A mere three-hour hop takes you from late summer/early fall to “Does Alaska Airlines have any deals going on for flights to Death Valley or the Mojave Desert?” dead of winter.
I had no sooner walked through the door of Castle Rambo, smooched the wife, and received a good licking from the pooches when a higher power hit the pause button on the R.E.P.R./AccuPoint “Festival of Torture” in the form of a 7.0 earthquake.
If you’re worried about the what may have befallen the rifle/scope combo as a result of this apocalyptic event…don’t. This scope/rifle duo could be dropped out of a red-lining Blackhawk or Chinook over a busy expressway and they’d probably be fine. The survival of everything else in ‘Castle Rambo’ that wasn’t made of Titanium or rubber, however, was a toss-up. The important thing is, none of our friends and family were hurt, and my vintage 1999 Las Vegas/Treasure Island pirate-skull mug survived!
After three weeks of cleanup, meet and greets with insurance adjusters, and trying to wrap our heads around the physics of violent seismic activity as it related to what seemed like three gallons of salad dressing and other condiments ferociously tossed about our walk-in pantry and flamboyantly splattered all over the ceiling, like a veterinary school artificial cow insemination class gone wrong, it was time to take the 6.5 Creedmoor Elite north…into Alaska’s frozen interior. Once there, the R.E.P.R. and I would accompany a buddy who works for the Department of Defense in the region on a scouting trip for Moose and Bison. I was just along for the ride, but my DOD pal and his Army Aviation cohort were preparing for two special winter hunts they won in lottery-style drawings.
Just like any other beautiful, elegant, fashion-conscious LADY, the R.E.P.R. would require a wardrobe change and make-over. So, before heading into the wind-swept, sub-zero, arctic temperatures of Alaska’s interior, I swapped my personally owned 2.5-10x AccuPoint with the one graciously sent north by Trijicon…an optic more fitting for a ‘big-country’ environment: the 5-20x50 AccuPoint TR23-2G. The enhanced magnification brother to my 2.5-10x56, it possesses the same fine attribute of dual illumination options (fiber optics and Tritium) with the added benefits of external turret controls for windage and elevation adjustment, as well as an additional external turret for parallax adjustment. VIVA.
Cold Hands, Warm Rifle
The 333 mile drive from Anchorage to Delta, Alaska was breathtaking, thanks to the scenery (and -16 degree below zero temps!).
With only three hours and 52 minutes of usable daylight available in Alaska’s chilly interior, I indulged in an abbreviated spat of coyote hunting.
No coyotes were hurt or even inconvenienced during this phase of testing, although I did get schooled by one in the frozen wilderness approximately 270 miles north of Alaska. I took a break from the long drive north and snowshoed approximately one half mile from the roadway where I went to ground (and by ground, I mean four feet of snow) and used a ‘snowshoe hare in distress’ mouth call to juice up the mountain side and several miles of low-country and lakes below. While I only had 30 feet between me and the thick alder that continued down the mountain for several thousand yards, I had a clear and unobstructed field of fire for about 300 yards along its boundary. Within five minutes, I observed movement to my right and shifted slowly in the squeaky snow to identify the source. It was a snowshoe hare sporting its “winter whites” and bounding along the alder in my direction…and it was moving at mach speed. I incorrectly guessed a coyote was breathing down its tale, so I shifted all my body weight in that direction. Not easy (or quiet) in deep snow. The fleet-of-foot hare continued past me and I settled in to see what happened next. Which was nothing.
For about five minutes, I watched the alder-line for movement and saw nada…ZILCH. Then, thirty feet to my left, I heard snow crunch. I slowly shifted my gaze (but not my body) and there he was: Wile E. Coyote and/or his sister Wanda. I was either BUSTED or, at the very least, on the brink of being chuckled at. I took the only option I had. I slowly pivoted my upper body and inched the R.E.P.R.’s barrel to the left so slowly you’d think it had been cleaned with NyQuil PM instead of Hoppes or Rem-Oil.
The barrel covered only 1¼ inch of travel before that crafty, street-smart dog was gone like a streak of fur-covered lightning. Lesson learned: Coyotes can make you feel STUPID…!
The rest of the trip was successful, but COLD. With temperatures dropping into the -20 below realm (with -40 windchill factors), the REPR was “road-side” tested several times with snow stuffed in the magazines. The rifle fired flawlessly, even when chewing up a mixture of Federal Fusion rounds and granular snow/ice stuffed into the chamber and accompanying Mag-Pul 20-round .308 magazines.
While that cunning Coyote won this round, my hunting buddies and I located a healthy population of Bison for our Army Fly-Boy’s coming hunt. Proof positive that you never truly ‘lose’ when traveling through the wilds of Alaska.
“You Lookin’ At Me?” The R.E.P.R. (and AccuPoint) At The Range
If I was only afforded three words to describe the AccuPoint outfitted R.E.P.R. Mk2 6.5 Creedmoor Elite, it would be what all riflemen desire most in life: Accuracy, Power, and Reliability.
For the purposes of this testing/evaluation, I zeroed the R.E.P.R. Mk2 at 200 yards. The variance in bullet strike at the 100-yard line is a mere inch ‘and change’ low, and the drop from the 200 to the 300 was not overly dramatic (approximately six inches). Sadly, the only available 1,000-yard range in the region is closed for business this time of year, so the R.E.P.R. was “hobbled” to the “barely even trying” distance of 300 yards.
The accuracy of the LWRCI/Proof Research/Trijicon trio almost made writing the accuracy section of this article boring and mundane. With the exception of shooter error/deficiencies on the my part (either self-induced or as a result of his nearly detached retinas, courtesy of “Freddy .50,” a guy shooting next to me with a Willy Wonka Never-Ending Gob-Stopper supply of .50 BMG we will poke fun of in a few minutes), nearly every single group from the 100 yard line remained within the one-inch margin of error, or more accurately, margin of AWESOME. A shooter knows the “A” word is the right word when he/she completes a string of fire on six separate targets at 100 yards (with groups that would fit inside of a quarter) and busts at least three fellow shooters at other tables pointing their spotting scopes, “Nosey-Nancy” style, at YOUR target instead of theirs!
At the zero distance of 200 yards, the bulk of my groups opened up to 1.5 inches, and at 300 yards, the groups hovered within at 2.5 inch to 3 inch spreads [WRITER’S NOTE: At the 300 yard line, I used the first mil-dot below the reticle for ‘spot-on’ accuracy. While the mil-dot is thicker and not as fine, clinical, or exacting as the AccuPoint’s primary reticle, for practical field purposes it is excellent and will accomplish any standard shooting task at that distance and reasonably beyond.]
The R.E.P.R. Mk2 chewed through nearly 500 rounds of powerful Winchester, Browning, and Federal ammunition at the range and in the unforgiving weather and terrain of two of Alaska’s most unforgiving regions without experiencing a single failure to do anything but IMPRESS.
From the Federal ammunition line, the R.E.P.R. launched Fusion 140 Grain Bonded Soft points, 120 Grain Trophy Coppers, and American Eagle 120-Grain Open-Tip Match bullets relentlessly, accurately, and without fail. One impressive six-round group, shot at 200 yards, with the Federal 120-grain Troph Coppers scored a beautiful 1.5 inch group at 200 yards.
Departing from Federal and its family, Browning supplied some excellent hunting rounds in the form of their 120-grain Solid Expansion Polymer-Tip rounds, and Winchester provided one of the ‘stand-out’ rounds from the R.E.P.R.’s range sessions: their 125-grain Deer Season XP Extreme Point round.
While it was difficult to play favorites with the world-class ammunition tested, there were three cartridges the R.E.P.R. liked as more than ‘just a friend.’ Whether it was the 1:8 right-hand twist, or the 43.5 inch barrel length, these rounds jumped to the front of the pack during range trials. The first was the ‘Winchester 125 grain Deer Season Extreme Point round. I tested the bulk of these rounds while preparing for Southeast Alaska and peering through the 2.5-10x AccuPoint. The Deer Season Extreme Points easily punched 1 inch or better groups on paper at 100 yards, 1 to 1.5 inch groups at 200 yards, and 2½ to three-inch groups at 300 yards.
The second stand-out round was the Federal Fusion 140-grain Bonded Soft Point. This stellar ammunition achieved V.I.P. status after I stuffed two ten-round magazines with equal portions of ice encrusted snow chunks and Federal Fusion cartridges (in equal portions), then fired them in a close-quarter, Scooby-Doo “Ruh-Roh” CQB scenario against enemy combatants. And by enemy combatants, I mean one of my favorite pieces of knock-down steel and two shiny, nearly-new 1992 Chevy Caprice hubcaps. The REPR cycled through the Federal Fusion ammunition and grainy snow flawlessly, with only a cloud of steam and atomized water spray to show for my attempt to induce a catastrophic jam or other mechanical calamity. The heavy plate metal target held its own, but the Caprice hubcaps were no match for the 6.5 Creedmoor. After all the trouble I went to in acquiring those beautiful, shiny 1990’s museum quality pieces, the rounds just zipped through them like they were made from paper…in fact, the impacts were almost as unsatisfying as every pop music album produced after 1994. [WRITER’S NOTE: If you are still wondering where I ‘acquired’ those vintage, museum-quality hubcaps in Alaska’s sparsely populated interior in the ‘dead of winter,’ let’s just leave it at this: “Loose lips sink ships.”]
The third and personal favorite “I wouldn’t want that coming after me” round fired from the R.E.P.R. MK2 was the American Eagle 120-grain Open-Tip Match bullets. The phrase I’d like to use to describe these American Eagle factory rounds starts with “Holy” and ends with a word that doesn’t represent me, Editor Vincent DeNiro, or Firearms News in their true, professional light. So, I will just go with “Niiiiice.” The Open-Tip Match rounds were extremely accurate and were the round I selected for a “modified failure drill.”
As a big-city Cop in the early 90’s and a Federal Law Enforcement lawman in the following decades, the ‘failure-drill’ was something I hoped would never have to be employed but trained like hell to perfect just in case it came down to brass tacks. Or saving my partner, friends, innocent lives, or, if operating south of the border, mi propio tocino (my own bacon).
The failure drill is normally utilized during a deadly force situation when you are DANGER CLOSE to your assailant and center mass shots are proving to be ineffective or other dire circumstances are unfolding. Examples of these “uh-oh” factors include an assaultive armed evildoer wearing body armor, carrying a rifle or long gun, attacking you with a bladed weapon at close distance, or other life-threatening scenarios in which it is necessary to end an assault as quickly and efficiently as possible. The mechanics of this “quick and efficient ending” are amazingly simple, but not so easy to master. While the number of rounds to complete a failure (or “failure to stop”) drill may vary, depending on the instructor or L.E./Military organization teaching or employing the technique, the primary goal is this: two or more well-placed rounds to your assailant’s chest followed immediately by one or more accurate and precise rounds to the attacker’s head.
I devised the R.F.D. (R.E.P.R. Failure Drill) to put a smile on the face of Firearms News Editor Vincent DeNiro in relation to the one request he made for this article. The request to engage a target (or targets) with the R.E.P.R. in something he referred to as a S.H.T.F. scenario. Since a significant amount of my close-quarter battle training involved “Shots Hitting The Face,” which is what I’m sure Vince meant, I trotted a life-sized terrorist silhouette to the 300-yard line. I then marched back to my firing position, went prone in the snow and frozen sludge, smashed myself between some old cinder blocks and overhead cover that used to be a shooting table, and conducted a “Failure Drill” custom made for the R.E.P.R. Mk 2 and its Proof Research/Trijicon partners in crime.
Upon target acquisition, I sent five rapid-fire rounds of the American Eagle 120 grain match bullets into the heart of the ski-mask wearing baddy. The five rounds to the chest were on target within approximately five seconds. This is possible because the rifle has little felt recoil. Think of a semi-automatic .223/5.56 with a great muzzle break and wimpy ammunition. I then transitioned to the head and sent five slow-fire rounds into the ski-masked villain’s melon.
The results for both portions of the R.E.P.R. Failure Drill were definitive. Had this been a real-world scenario (and the dastardly rapscallion didn’t drop after the first long distance dedication), all five rounds to the chest would have directly struck the heart/aorta. The five rounds to the head were nearly CONNECTED and easily within the ‘instant death/no reflexive action’ area of the human head referred to by some as the “T-Zone.” Strikes from a rifle to this area of the face (think of a large “T” from the outer edge of your eye sockets to the bridge of your nose, then downward to an area just above the center of your upper lip) are generally considered a deal-breaker for hostage takers or enemies potentially carrying manually activated IEDs, as the bullet penetrates and “blows a pie-hole” (according to a forensic pathologist friend of mine, that’s the official medical term) in the section of the brain and brain stem that connects to the spinal cord.
Shooting standard paper targets for accuracy is a critical part of the shooting discipline and any valid test/evaluation exercise. But ‘going loud’ on a real-world, anatomically correct target, under cold, wet, contorted, uncomfortable conditions, and realistic speeds brought it home. The R.E.P.R. Mk 2 6.5 Creedmoor Elite, topped with the Trijicon AccuPoint, is a supremely accurate, heart attack serious rifle capable of consistent shot placement while engaging multiple targets quickly at short, intermediate, and long range. It is a flat-shooting rifle, capable of reaching past the 1,000 yard line, with significantly less felt-recoil and muzzle blast than some of its Big-League brethren such as the .338 Lapua, .300 Winchester Magnum, or .50 BMG.
The R.E.P.R. is a formidable, reliable rifle, and the two AccuPoints that topped it during this testing/evaluation session were ‘force multipliers’ that dreams are made of.
The Final Takeaway
With Alaska’s southeast coastal rainforests, sub-zero interior conquered and range-fire complete, there was only one difficult task left. Packing the rifle up and sending it back to “M.”
Whenever you test (or are issued) a special weapon that exceeds expectations and demonstrates capabilities ‘above and beyond,’ saying goodbye to it is like ‘trading-in’ a beloved car or truck. You understand it is an inanimate object, but you share a history and there’s a part of you that remains attached to it. So it was with the R.E.P.R. MK2 6.5 Creedmoor Elite. I hated to see it go. It was that good.
No review is complete without discussing “The Bads.” THIS…was the toughest part of this article. Not slogging through the swampy muskegs, low crawling under Mack Truck-sized blowdown trees in the rainforest or laying in 16-degree temps on ground so frigid that when you stood up, there was a very real possibility of leaving an appendage stuck to it. Nope. Saying something “bad” about the R.E.P.R. was the most difficult. But it has to be done, so here we go.
I’m not an imposing man. In fact, whenever we go to a new restaurant, it’s not uncommon for the host or hostess to ask my wife if we will require a booster-seat, even though we aren’t in the company of a toddler and I’m 50-years old. So, in that regard, here’s my only complaint. I’m almost too short for that really long rifle! I really had to work hard not to drag the R.E.P.R.’s barrel through mud, moss, snow, and other barrel-blocking nasties during my travels. Then I remembered my Eberlestock X1 Euro Rifle Pack, and all was right with the world. Problem solved!
As we near the close of this review, there is one final segment that requires completion. My favorite segment: THE GOODS.
When you boil it all down, the LWRCI R.E.P.R. MK 2 6.5 Creedmoor is as exceptional as its name is long. Accurate, reliable under some of the most extreme conditions on the planet, and rugged. The Proof Research carbon-fiber wrapped barrel completes the rifle’s “Resume of EXCELLENCE” with its unique ‘black ice’ veneer and boost in accuracy and shot placement consistency. As for the Geissele SSA-E 2 stage trigger, there must have been wizardry or some form of dark magic involved in its design. While alchemists, men of science, and even crazy persons have unsuccessfully sought the secret to changing lead into gold for centuries, the engineers and machinists at Geissele perfected something even more incredible. How to turn butter into steel. Steel that is incorporated into the olive-oil, competition worthy trigger group on the R.E.P.R.
6.5 Creedmoor Elite
The pairing of 6.5 Creedmoor to the R.E.P.R. family was genius. This package is capable of engaging targets at point-blank range, then transitioning to targets nearly a mile distant. Without the muzzle-blast, sound signature, or recoil of traditional, large caliber firearms in that class…and I’m not just saying that in the hope that “Bobby Barrett” or “Freddie Fifty” (or whatever that guy’s name was who followed me around the range for three weeks, ripping Bullet-Tooth Tony “point-five-oh” holes in the time/space continuum with his M-82) is reading this in order to convince him to downsize!
As for the AccuPoints, well, I think Billy Joel put it best when he sang: “I said I love you and that’s forever; And this I promise from the heart; I could not love you any better; I love you just the way you are”
And hey…before you accuse me of getting soft, squishy, and sentimental in my “advanced middle age,” look at the bright side of things. At least I didn’t use any cringeworthy ‘Facebook Ready’ ‘Kitten-Memes’ or quotes from Maya Angelou, Gandhi, or The Dali Lama.
The Trijicon AccuPoints dished out exactly what I’ve come to expect during my years of relying on them up here on the last frontier: Clear glass, excellent low-light capabilities, the ability to insure insanely accurate shots at long distance, and more importantly (from a ‘safely return home to those that love you’ perspective,) the means to place life-saving, DANGER CLOSE, FIGHT ENDING SHOTS on adversaries when circumstances have gone ‘south for the winter.’
The R.E.P.R. Mk 2 and the Trijicon AccuPoint. A weapons system capable of carrying its operator safely through the roughest of places, under the toughest of circumstances.
Dry Undies and/or Socks Not Included!
LWRC R.E.P.R MK II 6.5 Creedmoor Elite Specs
Caliber: 6.5 Creedmor
- Barrel: 22" (55.88 cm)
- Weight: 10.05 lbs (4.55 kg)
- Length: 43.5" (110.49 cm)
- Barrel Specs: Proof Research Carbon Fiber 1:8 RH Twist | 6 Lands/Grooves | 5/8-24 Threads
- MSRP: Starting at $ 4,950
- Contact: LWRC, (410) 901-1348, LWRCI.com