LWRC SSP in 6.8 SPC: The Ultimate AR-15?

LWRC SSP 6.8mm SSP rifle on a worn, rusted, steel target

For more than 40 years, I’ve owned and used the best AR-15 rifle I could afford. I have evaluated several inexpensive rifles with mixed results. Once you get into the SIG M400, Colt LEO, and Springfield Saint territory, you have a very good rifle.

But will a rifle costing twice as much as a good AR-15 rifle prove worth the expense? Another option was a piston AR versus the original gas impingement design. Since my experience with the AR-15 has been positive, as far as reliability and operation, I had a notion of not fixing what isn’t broke. But then variety… ah, variety. By a series of lucky moves, I was able to purchase a Land Warfare Resources Corporation (LWRC) SSP.

LWRC SSP AR-15 rifle in a Peak case
The author really likes the Peak case set up!

If you feel like cleaning the AR-15 is a chore, you may be right if you fire prodigious amount of ammunition. Gas impingement is certainly not the cleanest system. But again, I am not a warfighter. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed good results with my gas impingement rifles.

SSP Features

The SSP is a well-made rifle. The rifle is constructed of the best materials. There is little play between the upper and lower receivers. The controls are crisp and positive in operation. The safety features a positive fit operating with an audible snap. I like a safety that isn’t likely to be pressed to the ‘on’ notch when I don’t really intend to move to safe.

The magazine catch is also vital to long-term reliability. The magazine catch remains taut with a fully loaded magazine. The Troy battle sights are excellent examples of fixed sights. You may as well use something durable if you use iron sights.

The quad handguard is rigid. The free floating barrel is 16.1 inches long. If you use a rifle often, the finish is subject to wear. The hard finish of the LWRC rifle is durable. While the AR-15 rifle is a very ergonomic rifle, makers get away with cutting corners and stiff controls. That’s OK for a recreational-grade rifle or simply getting your feet wet, but not for service use.

The LWRC handled well in speed drills, left hand drills, and even one-hand drills with positive operation and no binding of controls or magazines. The stock is a good design with the usual adjustment and excellent fit. The handle is also well designed and offers excellent fit. The grip and stock combine to provide a good high hold and fit.

Aimpoint red dot sight on a Kinetic mount for a Picatinny rail
Note the Kinetic mount for the Aimpoint red dot.

Operation and Handling

For practically any rifle I test, I have fired a number of models. In the case of the LWRC rifle, I fired one example in .223 Remington and owned one example in 6.8 SPC. Not a big sample. However, I have enjoyed excellent experiences with each.

I’ve studied reputable sources for gas piston reliability and performance.  As many of you know, there are two people — those who know things and the ones who don’t. At one time in my life, I listened to those who know things and kept quiet. I learned a great deal. Today, those who know nothing are quite vocal and much time is wasted in narrowing down the information base.

Some feel that the recoil of a piston AR is jumpier. If this were true, I am certain that it would show up in a 6.8 more clearly. The rifle runs perfectly. I rapid fired the rifle in addition to firing for accuracy at maximum range. No jarring effect from recoil.

Sellier & Bellot 6,8mm Rem. SPC ammunition box label
Sellier & Bellot’s loading proved reliable and accurate enough for practice.

The factory LWRC trigger is a cut above the rest and perfectly serviceable. Just the same, I added a Hiperfire Elite trigger. Hiperfire offers 18 different AR-15 and AK triggers. I tend to choose an accessory in the middle, and the Elite is that trigger. It is ideal for my use, a step above service triggers, and not quite a competition trigger.

I set the trigger at 3.0 pounds. 2.5 pounds is possible. However, 3.0 pounds seems ideal for my use. This is a sharp, single stage trigger with excellent quality and a rapid reset.

The Troy battle sights are fine for backup. The primary optic is an Aimpoint M4 on an Infinity mount. We have covered the Aimpoint in another report. Suffice to say that it gets the job done as well as any optic and better than most. During firing it seems that a piston gun causes the handguard to become warm during firing (faster) compared to the gas impingement system. No problem at all. Just be careful of where you place your hand during firing strings.

Rifle bolt for an AR-15-style gun
The LWRC SSP bolt is well finished and robust.

Range Testing

It’s funny how free ammo creates volunteers. A friend firing the rifle noted that perhaps in full-automatic fire a piston gun may heat up more than a gas impingement gun. Fair enough, but this isn’t a consideration I have.

It’s recommended that a piston gun be cleaned every 5,000 rounds. I am nearing 1,000 rounds and see no carbon build up at all on the bolt carrier group. I may see a fleck on the gas piston itself. I can run a hand across the bolt carrier without picking up debris.

A piston gun may run cleaner than a gas impingement gun. In reality, the gas and powder debris are simply redistributed to the gas piston, where it doesn’t lay about the bolt carrier surface.

In fast moving drills, the rifle was smooth, very smooth, and hit hard. The 6.8 SPC is a good cartridge. Suffice to say, if you are willing to spend extra bucks on the impressive 6.8 SPC cartridge, you really want a great rifle. I burned up a few boxes of ammunition in acclimation and proofing, not to mention sighting in the optic. I ran through a stack of Sellier & Bellot 6.8, an affordable clean burning option.

For my needs, I usually sight the rifle for 100 yards and carefully confirm zero at 100 yards. That said, I fitted the rifle into a shooting rest and fired for accuracy at a long 100 yards. Red dot sights may not provide the accuracy a conventional optic does, but then they may.

receiver on a LWRC SSP AR-15 in 6.8 SPC
The LWRC SSP rifle is well made of good material throughout.

I normally fire a red dot optic with both eyes open, taking full advantage of the reflex sight. But at a long 100 yards, it is best to place the red on its smallest setting and close one eye. With the Hornady 120-grain SST, and attention to the trigger, I fired 3-round groups. The smallest 3-round group was .670 inch, the largest was 1.2 inches. I am extremely pleased with these results.

Curious, I fired two three-shot groups with the S&B FMJ. Even this economy load put three holes in the target at 1.5 inches. I also had a chance to fire the rifle at a measured 203 yards at a steel rebound target. It was easy enough to the ping! after every shot on the steel. A good optic, trigger, and rifle allow a trained shooter to do that kind of thing.

The LWRC rifle is a credible choice for anyone wishing to own the best possible AR-15 rifle. While a great service and defense rifle, the 6.8 caliber AR is also a good deer and hog rifle. The combination is unbeatable for many uses.

How does the LWRC SSP compare to your favorite AR rifle? Are you a 6.8 SPC fan? How has it fared for you? Share your answers in the Comment section.

  • Aimpoint red dot sight on am AR-15 used by military operators
  • LWRC SSP 6.8mm SSP rifle on a worn, rusted, steel target
  • Peak semi-hard gun case
  • Aimpoint red dot sight on a Kinetic mount for a Picatinny rail
  • Hornady SST 6.8mm SPC ammunition box and loose rounds
  • Rifle bolt for an AR-15-style gun
  • Sellier & Bellot 6,8mm Rem. SPC ammunition box label
  • Muzzle brake for an AR-15 on the end of a barrel
  • LWRC SSP AR-15 rifle in a Peak case
  • LWRC SSP chambered in 6.8 SPC with a mounted Aimpoint scope
  • Folded Troy Industries backup iron sight for a gun
  • receiver on a LWRC SSP AR-15 in 6.8 SPC

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (10)

  1. I really like my LWRCI 6.8 REM SPC–my first AR. Bought it new 11 years ago. Put hundreds of rounds of various brands (Hornady, Silver State, S&B, Remington & handloads) downrange typically 100yds paper targets. Easy to clean & soft shooter. I use a Leupold VX-R Firedot scope. Can’t say enough good things about the firearm–bought another LWRCI–.308 REPR–another good one.

  2. 8 years ago in my search for an AR15 platform . I reviewed and studied many different brands of rifle . I chose the colt M4 carbine #LE6940, I have had zero issues with this carbine . I have a couple of buddies with the LWRC AR15 platform. I believe my colt could hold up to just about any performance target shooting from LWRC platform.

  3. We teach at classes and the instructors are Lwrc fan boys. It doesn’t hurt that we are 30 miles from their plant. We started using them 10 years ago and have had zero problems in both 5.56 and 6.8. I think my so is the 6.8 sbr. It shoots well to over 300 yards with the short barrel, is easy to handle both in the field and jumping in the jeep.

  4. About three years ago I had the thought to find out if a 6.8 S.P.C. barrel was available, to my surprise they were.
    I purchased a Wilson combat flutted stainless with a recessed target crown, with a length of 18 inches and assembled it with a Wilson combat upper and an 80 percent that I machined to the tightest tolerances to alleviate any movement between the upper and lower. When I took it out and shoot it for distance and accuracy at 300 yards I was putting all the rounds through the the same hole. So yes, I love this one and even if I were offered 500,000.00 for it I would turn the offer down.

  5. I too own a 6.8, mine is a Barrett that I ordered when they were trying to get the military to flip from the .223. I love the gun but it is quite heavy and I was wondering what the weight of the LWRC is. Great article!!

  6. I’ve liked this round ever since it came out.I have DPMS 6.8 SPC and it’s my go to AR.
    Loaded with REM 110 JHP. I also use a Stag for deer hunting and use Hornady 120SST. I’ve taken several deer with it as well as hogs. I’ve been thinking about a piston driven and appreciate all the info!

  7. I own an LWRC 6.8 REM Spc. Smooth operating firearm. Easy to maintain. I prefer the 6.8 to the .223…seems to have more punch with no noticeable recoil penalty. I’ve put hundreds of S&B FMJ through. S&B has been a reliable ammo source while others have dropped making the load. 6.8 has been an easy hand-load, too. Really like the quality and performance of this LERC.

  8. I want to thank you for this great review and testing comments for this LWRC 6.8 SSP rifle. I am not an expert but am very interested in this rifle.
    I have a Colt M4/AR15 Model LE6920MP-FDE that I shoot a 1 inch group at 100 yards with multi graticule scope. The 6.8 SPC interests me as it is a more powerful cartridge.

    Thanks again for your excellent review and testing.

  9. I have a POF 6.8 piston driven rifle with a 14.5” barrel and the ACOG with the 6.8 BDC. I love that rifle and it is as reliable as sin. I wish they still offered the 6.8 chambering.

  10. I’ve been contemplating another 6.8 for some time. I had one of the early rifles Pre SPC II back in 1998 but sold it after the SPC IIs came about. Looks like it’s time to get back in the game. I still have my 6.8 loading dies. Guess I need to dust em off!

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