I know Fred Eichler well, and I know how much he loves predator hunting. I also know that Eichler had his hand in developing a predator rifle; it would have to meet and exceed certain expectations, and his Rock River Arms Fred Eichler Series Predator2 does.
by Jace Bauserman
“That’s way nicer than my AR-15; can I have it”? That was the comment and question from my 17-year-old son as I pulled Rock River Arms’ Fred Eichler Series Predator2 Rifle from the foam-padded case.
He was right — the gun is a stunner. The free-floated carbon-fiber handguard virtually runs the entire barrel length. Like the first incarnation of this rifle, the handguard features several coyote print cutouts and the Eichler brand, which is a sweet touch. I immediately noticed the rubberized Houge Grip, which promises excellent fit and feel (more to come), and the oversized trigger guard was a welcome sight. I’m not fond of predator rifles that prevent a hand with a glove from sliding safely inside, and it’s apparent a predator mastermind had his hand in the design of the trigger guard.
I love the A4-style flattop upper receiver, which features an integrated Picatinny rail for mounting optics and other accessories. This rifle is sleek, slim, and compact. Inside the handguard is a cryogenically treated 16-inch fluted beat-blasted stainless steel barrel showcasing a 1:8 twist rate. Eichler would only put his name on a predator rifle if that rifle were insanely accurate, and this one ships with a 3/4 MOA guarantee at 100 yards.
The barrel is chambered in .223 Wyled allowing the rifle to handle both 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem. ammunition. I will touch more on the rifle’s dizzying accuracy in a moment, but know that I paired the Eichler Predator2 with a pair of rounds — Fiocchi’s 55-Grain FMJBT Range Dynamics and Hornady’s .223 53-grain V-MAX Superformance Varmint — and it drove tacks.
The barrel’s end features an exclusive Fred Eichler Series muzzle brake, which RRA engineers and Eichler developed to dampen recoil and reduce muzzle flash. I spoke with Eichler about the design, and he said, “The way we have reduced recoil is something special. The port break was designed to push gases down and forward, thus negating natural recoil, which is back and up. As a serious predator hunter, few things are more important to me than being able to stay in my scope and track and kill running dogs, especially dogs that are getting further and further away. I want to shoot one, acquire the next, and so on.”
Eichler was quick to point out that he will also shoot his favorite predator rifle suppressed, which does add weight to the front of the gun, but that the suppressor also reduces recoil and saves his hearing.
Two different butt stock options are available: Operator A2 and Operator Car Stock. My rifle arrived fitted with the Operator Car Stock, and I immediately noticed how quickly (squeeze a lever) I could make length of pull adjustments. Stock adjustments are smooth and quiet.
Bare weight, the rifle is 7.6 pounds, and its maximum length is 33.5 inches. The lower receiver, like the upper, is forged aluminum, and the rifle has a mid-length gas system and low-profile gas block. The trigger is a Two-Stage Varmint Trigger, the safety is a flip-style switch, and the rifle arrived with a single 10-round magazine.
On The Range
I attached a Bushnell 2.5-10×44 scope to the Eichler 2 and went to work. Before I jump into how impressed I was with the rifle’s accuracy, let me express how well it handles recoil. I realize it’s a .223 Rem. The caliber, even with hot loads, doesn’t produce much recoil. However, when I’m predator hunting, and a trio of coyotes come to the call, I want a rifle with the least amount of felt recoil possible to stay in my scope, obtain my next target, make another kill shot, and then another. Anyone could shoot this rifle. It’s easy on the shoulder, produces no jump at the shot, and the muzzle flash that often gives AR-style platforms a lousy name has been significantly reduced. Eichler’s words were spot on when he described the recoil of this rifle.
The BCM GunFighter charging handle is easy to grip via the gridded side wing, and the handle is smooth. The right side wing grabs a slot and locks it in place, and a pull on the right wing of the charging handle unlatches the charging handle and allows for quick activation.
I was also impressed with the 10-round magazine. I’m not too fond of a magazine that’s difficult to load — I’ve dealt with some so tricky ones that tend to spit the ammunition right back up in your face. This one readily accepts ammo, and I had zero issues with the mag-loading process. The mag’s fit into the rifle is smooth, and there is no slop or rattle once the mag is seated.
The stock is effortless to adjust, and getting a just-right fit is easy. Combine the adjustable length-of-pull with the rubber Houge three-finger pistol-style grip, and I had the makings of a downrange killer that would put lead on the mark.
During initial testing, I shot over 100 rounds through the rifle and banged steel to 400 yards. I zeroed my scope at 200 yards, and the last group of Hornady’s I sent downrange could be covered with a quarter at that distance. The rifle is uber-accurate and plain fun to shoot. Add a suppressor to the 12/28 thread barrel, and you add some icing to this already sweet cake.
The match-grade Two Stage Varmint Trigger is flawless in design, and during my discussion with Eichler, he noted that fitting the rifle with a trigger that had a smooth, crisp break was a mandatory feature. Mission accomplished. Not only is the trigger smooth and the break clean, I appreciated its perfect curvature and not-to-slim but not too-bulky build. I love a trigger that falls seamlessly in the first knuckle of my right index finger, and this one did. Rounds cycle flawlessly, and I experienced no jamming or malfunctions during testing.
I did clean the rifle after the 100 rounds and found it to be less dirty than other AR rifles I’ve tested over the years after putting the same amount of rounds through them. Cleaning is elementary, and after a good bath, I returned to work, shooting the RRA Fred Eichler 2 from various shooting positions, including from my knees, prone, standing offhand, standing on sticks, etc. The rifle feels excellent no matter the body position, and being able to adjust the length of the pull makes the rifle shine.
“Anyone can shoot this rifle,” Eichler said. “That’s another feature that makes it a great shooter and, in my opinion, the ultimate predator rifle. A kid can be shooting the rifle one minute, and after a quick pull of the lever and an adjustment to the stock’s length, a full-grown adult can be shooting it. I love the adjustable stock feature for overall accuracy as well. Sometimes I wear bulky clothing and want to make a slight length-of-pull adjustment, and sometimes when shooting on sticks as opposed to offhand, I like to tinker with the length. You can’t beat a customized fit and feel.”
I second Eichler’s words — the stock adjustability is impressive, allowing the shooter to fire the rifle from any shooting position comfortably.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to take the RRA Fred Eichler Series Predator2 Rifle after coyotes yet, so I won’t blow smoke and tell you I did. Work obligations and a hope-to-fill Grand Slam turkey schedule are upon me, but I will get after some song dogs this summer with a buddy who uses a decoy dog. I can’t wait. In the meantime, here is a quote from Eichler.
“You can call me biased, but I wouldn’t put my name on a predator rifle if that rifle didn’t have every feature I feel a top-tier predator rifle needs. I have harvested bobcats, coons, skunks, coyotes, wild hogs, and foxes with this rifle, and I have toted it across North America from the swamps of Florida to the snow-capped Rockies. It’s a durable predator hunting rifle with little to no recoil that is as accurate as the day is long.”
And, Born Hunting readers, I will leave you with those words of predator truth from a true legend that epitomizes what it means to live the outdoor lifestyle day in and day out.