Rock River Arms 308/7.62x51mm Elite Operator Semi-Automatic Rifle

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

May 13th, 2014


Click pictures for a larger version.










Dust cover (top), forward assist (center), case deflector (bottom).





Rail covers.



Ambidextrous bolt release.



Ambidextrous magazine release.





Rock River Arms has been producing quality AR style rifles for many years now. I have always found the ones that I have fired to be reliable, durable, and accurate. I have also found them to have much better trigger pulls than the ARs on the market that use a standard mil-spec trigger. I found the rifle which is the subject of this review to be no different in that respect.

The Rock River Arms Elite Operator is one of their line of LAR-08 rifles, and it has several upgraded features not found on their standard LAR-08 rifles. The Elite Operator wears a sixteen inch chrome-moly heavy barrel. The rifle has a 308/7.62x51mm chamber, and will function with either cartridge. The barrel is rifled one turn in ten inches, and the muzzle is fitted with a Smith Enterprises Vortex flash suppressor. The barrel is threaded 5/8x24 threads per inch (TPI), to accept standard sound suppressors, muzzle brakes, flash suppressors, and other muzzle devices.

The front sight is a folding unit attached to the gas block, and is adjustable for elevation correction. The trigger is the excellent Rock River two-stage unit, and it released crisply with four and three-quarters pounds of resistance, consistently. The handguard is Rock River's Half-Quad aluminum handguard, is well-ventilated, and wears Picatinny rails on the forward portion, located at the three, six, and nine o'clock positions. Rail covers are provided to use, if desired.

The forged aluminum upper receiver incorporates a forward assist, and has a folding dust cover over the ejection port. The magazine release and the bolt release are ambidextrous, with the bolt release being a proprietary unit, operated by pushing downward with the trigger finger. It is very easy to operate, for left-handed as well as right-handed shooters. The pistol grip is the very comfortable Hogue synthetic rubber unit, with a textured surface. The synthetic buttstock is a Rock River Arms six-position CAR stock.

The Elite Operator uses Rock River LAR-08 polymer magazines, FAL metric magazines, and L1A1 inch-pattern mags. However, those military magazines do vary somewhat, and I tried none in the Elite Operator. However, the LAR-08 magazine supplied worked perfectly, feeding flawlessly. Three, five, and ten-round magazines are also available from Rock River, if desired.

The Elite Operator weighed in at nine and three-quarters pounds on my scale, with the empty twenty-round mag in place. The overall length varies from 36.75 to 39.75 inches, depending upon the position of the adjustable buttstock.

For accuracy testing, I mounted a Leupold Mark 4 8.5 to 25 power scope using an ArmaLite one-piece mount atop the Elite Operator's Picatinny rail. Velocity results are listed in the chart below. Velocity readings were recorded at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level with and air temperature of seventy-nine degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of fifty-seven percent. Velocity readings are the average of several shots fired, measured at a distance of twelve feet from the muzzle, so actual muzzle velocities will be slightly higher. Accuracy results were obtained by shooting three-shot groups, fired on paper at a distance of one hundred yards, measured center-to-center of the widest-apart bullet holes. Accuracy was tested with the rifle rested securely in a Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest. Bullet weights are listed in grains. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps).  XLC is a coated Barnes X bullet. SST and BST are polymer-tipped hunting bullets. SMK is the Sierra Match King bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket bullet.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Set Point Custom SMK 175 2518
Buffalo Bore Sniper SMK 175 2449
handload Barnes XLC 168 2408
Winchester BST 168 2471
Federal Gold Medal 168 2555
Hornady SST 165 2701
Federal Soft Point 150 2727
Stryker FMJ 150 2766

While Rock River guarantees the Elite Operator to group within one and one-half minutes of angle at one hundred yards, the sample rifle did considerably better than that, with select loads. Accuracy varied from groups as large as two and one quarter inches, using Lake City military ball ammo, to as small as five-eighths of an inch, with the Hornady and Buffalo Bore match loads.

After accuracy testing, I removed the big Leupold scope and mounted a Trijicon 5.5 power ACOG atop the Elite Operator for the duration of the testing. The ACOG is a superb scope. It has exceptional clarity, an etched reticle that is calibrated out to 1000 meters, and the reticle is lighted by tritium and a fiber-optic rod, for use under all lighting conditions.

Functioning was flawless, after one early failure to extract. The second shot fired failed to extract, but I do not know why, as the case fell easily from the chamber with a slight push from a cleaning rod. Other than that one malfunction, the Elite Operator ran flawlessly for the duration of the testing, even when it was hot, dry, and dirty. It proved to be a very reliable weapon. The Elite Operator is a direct impingement gas gun, but showed no tendency to excessively foul the chamber and bolt carrier, even after extensive firing with a wide variety of ammunition.

The Rock River Elite Operator rifle comes packed in a sturdy hard case with one magazine, and instructions. Extra mags are available direct from Rock River Arms.

Check out the extensive line of Rock River rifles, uppers, parts, and accessories online at

For a closer look at the Leupold and Trijicon scopes used in this review, go to and

To order quality 308 ammunition, go to,,, and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.





The Elite Operator comes with a quality hard case.



Folding adjustable front sight.



Accuracy testing using the Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest, and Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x scope.



The most accurate loads tested are represented here.





Six-position buttstock.



Rock River Arms magazine.