⊕ The thunderous report of the 7.62 echoed across the hills around the town, shattering the early morning calm. The dark-clad man with the FAMAS bullpup staggered, staring down at the widening dark stain on his chest for a brief fraction of a second before he crumpled, crashing to the deck with a thump and a muffled clatter as he landed on top of his rifle.
I was already up and moving as he hit the floor, sprinting around the side of the guest house and heading for the steps leading up to the deck. A figure loomed in the doorway, and I caught a glimpse of a weapon. I started to slow, bringing my own rifle back up to fire, but a shot cracked past my shoulder and took the man in the chest. He fell backwards, into the house. ⊕
Cover photo 📷 @yorick_drd; Larue Tactical rifles at the 10th World Snipers Championship in the Czech Republic.
I write a bit of gun porn after every most of my new books but haven’t yet gone really in depth about any specific weapons. I try not to go into too much detail in the novels. As I’ve said before, that gets in the way. But many of my fans are fellow gun people, so I thought that this time, rather than doing more of an image-dump post, I’d go into a little depth about the Grex Luporum Teams primary working rifle, the LaRue Tactical Optimized Battle Rifle.
⊕ Then I was up onto the deck, my OBR leveled at the door, Jordan right on my heels, as Dwight opened fire on the front of the house with a long, roaring burst of 7.62.
The back wall was mostly big picture windows and the door. There was no point in there was no cover. Fortunately, Jordan was right there with me, and so we didn’t even slow down as we punched through the door and into the house. ⊕
In the American Praetorians Series, I went with a simple standard for the Praetorian Security operators. As long as it took 7.62x51mm for rifles, .45 ACP for pistols, 12 Gauge for shotguns, and .338 Lapua Magnum for sniper rifles, each operator could equip himself with whatever weapons he favored. This was something that some of us in the business had kind of wished for; no gun guys want to use milspec issue weapons when they’ve got better sitting in their safe at home. It also allowed me some cool gun porn along the way.
However, there was a bit of a logistics issue that I somewhat passed over with that model. While I don’t have the Praetorians getting into a “48 hours of Blackhawk Down” (to use a Larry Correia turn of phrase) firefight in the series, there is a distinct problem when you’ve got half a dozen or more different weapons systems in a team. If one guy starts getting low, he can’t swap mags with a good chunk of the rest of the team. That gets to be an issue. You’re not jamming mags in a firefight.
So, when it came to the Triarii, I knew that I’d have to standardize.
When the Triarii were first being stood up, they were more of a militia network, so the weapons model was closer to the Praetorians. As they got more organized, however, standardization became the rule, and Colonel Santiago had to make the call, not only on caliber, but also on weapons systems.
Rather like the Praetorians, the Triarii decided on 7.62x51mm for the standard rifle cartridge. While there are some very good 5.56x45mm loads out there, notably the 77 grain, the cost is about comparable, 7.62 has a bit longer effective range, and regular, bog-standard 7.62 is going to be easier to source than the nicer 5.56 loads.
As for rifles, the majority of the Triarii shooters, mainly the infantry sections, got the cheaper DPMS Oracle AR-10s. Low-frills, less expensive, still functional. The Grex Luporum Teams, however, the SOF guys, got the next level.
While the OBR can be deployed as a battle rifle, which the Grex Luporum teams do, it really is a precision rifle, one of the most accurate gas guns out there. LaRue Tactical put a lot of design work into the rifle, and the result is an extremely accurate weapons system that nevertheless isn’t exactly fragile.
My introduction to it was through Todd Hodnett at Accuracy 1st. While my time shooting with Todd was almost entirely with our M40A3 bolt guns, a friend of mine later went to one of his packages while Todd was testing a batch of OBRs for LaRue. Apparently, Todd had put 10,000 rounds through each already, without cleaning, and they were still running like champs and holding tight groups. I’ve since gotten the chance to run a couple of OBRs myself, and let me tell you, there is no exaggerating the quality of that gun.
No, I do not currently own one myself. At around $3500 per, it’s on my list, but won’t be within the budget anytime soon.
The Optimized Battle Rifle has been in a number of movies and, of course, video games. According to the IMFDB (Internet Movie Firearm Data Base) the Larue Tactical OBR was in Transformers: Dark of the Moon (a Navy SEAL sniper, go figure), Sabotage, and some others. It also featured prominently in Medal of Honor: Warfighter. (Pro tip: subscribe to the IMFDB newsletter or at least follow ’em on Facebook; lots of in-depth detail there).
⊕ I met Killian at the prow of his Powell, as Bradshaw came down out of the trees to join us. The contrast between the three of us was marked; I was wearing kit and carrying a ruck, with a ghillie hood over my head, shoulders, and a painted LaRue OBR, with a short-dot scope mounted, in my hands. Bradshaw was in plain green fatigues, with a similar chest rig to mine, an assault pack, and hat overshadowing his thermal fusion NVGs, a much plainer DPMS Oracle AR-10 in his hands. Killian looked twice our size, without a pack on his back, thanks to all the camouflaged armor he was wearing, his M37A2 looking about half the size of our rifles. And he was carrying less ammo, for all the bulk of his gear.
“What is it now?” I growled. We’d just halted what felt like half an hour ago. ⊕
If you’re interested in learning more about the OBR, take a look at the links below (though I always take what any “gun reviewer” thinks with a grain of salt).
• Cameron Hopkins wrote about it quite a while back (with photos by Ichiro Nagata). You can read that online at Small Arms Review.
Robert Heinlein was speaking of human beings at the time, but he could have just as easily been referring to rifles when he said, “Specialization is for insects.” The philosopher-writer who authored Stanger In A Strange Land argued that a man should be versatile, able to “…change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.”
Which, if we were to crawl into Mark LaRue’s head, is the same principle behind LaRue Tactical’s Optimized Battle Rifle (OBR): a general-purpose 7.62x51mm NATO semiautomatic weapon system designed to tackle a panoply of tasks. The OBR is capable of everything from building-clearing to 1,000-yard first-shot hits.
• Tom Beckstrand also penned an article about the OBR 7.62. That article was in early 2018 on Guns&Ammo.
Semi-auto sniper rifles such as the LaRue OBR are the choice of today’s discriminating professional. Men who go into harm’s way like the gun because of its accuracy, utter reliability and flexibility of the platform. Integrating the latest lasers, thermals and night vision equipment is a breeze, the rifle lends itself well to positional shooting, and the semi-auto action greatly facilitates recoil management. From a sniper’s perspective, this is a “do anything” rifle.
While I still see a place on the battlefield for bolt-action rifles, they are more relevant when chambered in cartridges such as the .300 Win. Mag. or .338 Lapua Mag. and employed at ranges beyond 800 meters. For everything closer than 800 in either urban or rural settings, the choice is clear. If you’re serious about sniping, shoot the OBR.
• Going even further back (much further back), Steve Adelmann reviewed an OBR around this time in 2011.
I have never fired, tested, built or come into contact with an AR that has the OBR’s tight tolerances. The upper receiver tang doesn’t just fit into the lower’s rear tang slot, it mates with it. The rifle’s halves were harder to get apart than a pair of barnyard goats. In the gun world, that sort of fit is a good thing, on the farm…not so much… LaRue Tactical has turned out a well-engineered, finely crafted implement. The OBR will fit into several categories, depending on the barrel and stock configuration. Whether intended as a carbine-length battle rifle, a designated marksman platform, a hunting partner or a long-range tool, LaRue’s .308 ought to hold up its end of the bargain in terms of accuracy and reliability.
(You can read the rest of that on Shooting Illustrated)
So, you can see some of why I picked the OBR for the Grex Luporum Teams. A precision gas gun that can be run like a battle rifle and put through hell while still going like a champ. Jeff Stone carried a SOCOM-16 because it’s one of my favorites. Matt Bowen carries an OBR because it’s another one.
If you’d like to see more about this I’ll talk about some of their other kit in more detail in the future.
⊕ I raised my rifle as Greg got past me and struggled to his feet. I could only see a bit of his movement out of the corner of my off eye; my fusion goggles were focused entirely on the men coming closer, and they didn’t have a great field of view. But after a moment, I saw his IR laser switch on from behind me, dancing toward the figures in the field.
“Turn that off,” I hissed. I didn’t know if they had NVGs or not, but it hadn’t been a good bet to assume that the bad guys didn’t have night vision for the last decade. I was too late, though. One of them yelled, and then all hell broke loose.
Greg switched off the laser just as muzzle flashes flickered along the ragged line of advancing skirmishers, and he and I both dropped flat at the same time. Jordan had almost reached us, but rolled to one side, bringing his rifle around even as I searched for my sights and bullets snapped overhead, ripping the vegetation behind us to shreds.
My OBR’s short-dot scope could be set to zero magnification, and the reticle was illuminated. Through the fusion goggles, it wasn’t clear; it may as well have been a red dot. But that was about all I needed right then. I put the fuzzy blob of white on the nearest muzzle flash and squeezed the trigger.
Flame spat from the muzzle and the 7.62 thundered twice before I shifted to the next man in the line. The pale outline of the man I’d shot flopped backward, pumping more rounds uselessly at the sky. They had NVGs, but they were still spraying fire wildly at us, so they could see, they just couldn’t see well. Probably old Gen IIIs or Gen IVs, without our thermal capability.
Still, the muzzle flash from my rifle would be like a beacon. ⊕
Read more in Escalation.