Letter Re: Advice on .223 and .308 Semi-Auto Rifles and Optics?

I’ve decided to finally purchase an AR-15 type .223. I’ve decided on a DPMS Lo-Pro 16 for my .223 carbine. I’m looking into a Mueller lighted-reticle scope, in the area of 2-10×40 or so. Mueller has prices that are quite decent, given the quality, and the reviews I’ve read. I also have a friend with a Mueller setup on his AR-15.

For a .308, I’ve looked over many of the FN-FAL and G3 type rifles and their clones, but an AR-type platform has been highly recommended to me: The Rock River Arms LAR-8. It uses the AR-15 design from Eugene Stoner, and accepts Metric or Inch FN-FAL magazines. This seems to me to be the best of both worlds, inexpensive, reliable magazines, and the solid AR platform, made by one of the top leaders in AR type rifles for military and law enforcement.

Please offer any advice or opinions regarding these choices, I value your opinion, and the opinions of my fellow survivalblog readers. I’d appreciate any input from folks out there that have the RRA LAR-8, especially. I’m also thinking of the Mueller scope for this rifle. (Specifically, the Mueller Tactical 4-16x50mm or the Sport Dot 4-16x50mm both priced around $240-$250.) Thanks again! – R. in New Hampshire

JWR Replies: I generally prefer gas piston designs, since the Stoner gas tube design is notoriously prone to fouling. But if you are scrupulous and consistent about firearms cleaning, then it should serve you well.

The Rock River brand has a good reputation, and since their .308 AR can use inexpensive FAL magazines, they are at the top of my list. I wasn’t aware that they could accept inch (L1A1) magazines with the large locking lug. (You might want to double check that.)

I just heard from another reader that Rock River Arms has started shipping their LAR-.308 in 16″, 20″ and 24″ Barrels. If that will be your dedicated “reach out and touch someone” long distance shooting rifle, then you might consider getting the 24″ length.

In their short track record, the Mueller scopes have a fair reputation for quality. Just one proviso on Mueller scopes: Don’t be deceived by their German-sounding brand name and their clever “Euro Coating ” and “German post reticle” marketing rhetoric. Mueller scopes are made in Mainland China, using lenses that are mass produced in Japan.

Be sure to a lay in a large supply of button batteries, and store them in your refrigerator. OBTW, one little known fact is that most low voltage (1 to 2.5 volt) button batteries can be recharged, with varying degrees of success. Get a compact solar button battery charger. (Also great for hearing aid batteries.)

I think that a 2-10x scope for a .223 is overkill, since .223 is not a 500 yard cartridge (unlike .308, which definitely is.) In my experience, a fixed-power 4x scope will suffice for a .223 out to 350 yards. And beyond 350, you are using the wrong rifle. I recommend the Trijicon ACOG TA-01-NSN with the donut reticle. These are much more expensive than a Mueller scope, but YMMV.