Rifle Review: RISE Armament Competition RA-315

Streamlined and lightweight, this new Competition RA-315 AR rifle from Rise Armament has many interesting features to help increase sales.
Rifle Review: RISE Armament Competition RA-315

There are so many AR-15 manufacturers now and the guns are so similar that, as a retailer, sales are sometimes helped if an AR is a bit different from the rest. RISE may have just what you need with the RA-315, because it has some features not found on many of the other ARs you probably carry.

RISE Armament of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, started out machining and fabricating items for the oil and aerospace industries before branching out into guns and gun parts. Now all its parts are manufactured according to strict AS9100 and ISO9001 certified procedures. According to RISE’s website, all parts are stringently inspected and undergo a quality assurance process before being shipped. The company measures parts up to five decimal places, which RISE says is two decimal places beyond industry standards. But despite these facts, the thing that often draws a customer’s eye to RISE is something that looks a bit different.

One of those slightly different ARs is the RA-315 C series rifle I recently received. An attribute that helps to make it a bit different is the aluminum handguard that RISE designed and manufactures. It is compatible with M-LOK accessories, so there are many items that can be attached, meaning there are a lot of accessories you can sell as a retailer to increase profit.

The handguard is not round, but sort of octagonal in shape with attachment slots on all sides except the top. That’s convenient if the owner wants to mount offset iron sights to augment an optic that is attached to the top of the receiver. And since there is no rail for about 11 inches on the top of the 15.25-inch handguard, a scope with a large objective bell can be mounted slightly closer to the bore. RISE has designed a rail at the top near the muzzle end so that a front iron sight can be attached. The barrel floats freely inside the handguard that connects to the receiver with three bolts. If necessary, it is easily removed for cleaning. It’s obvious that RISE gave much thought to designing the handguard.

Swapping the triggers was easy because RISE uses anti-rotation trigger pins to secure the drop-in trigger unit that is one piece and requires no slave pins to install. (Photo: Rise Armament)

RISE designed the RA-315 C series gun primarily for competition. It comes with a set of Magpul MBUS folding backup sights mounted, so it is ready to go right out of the box unless an optic is desired. The top of the receiver features a seven-inch-long Picatinny rail and RISE also equips the gun with a charging handle sporting an oversize latch making it easier to manually cycle.

The other controls, except the trigger, are just as found on a typical AR-15, though the safety lever has a shorter throw of about 45 degrees instead of 90 degrees. The lever is a little different in style, but is comfortable and easy to manipulate. The gun is supplied with one 30-round Magpul magazine that slides easily into the widely-flared magazine well. When the magazine release on the sample gun is pressed, the magazine drops away freely.

RISE uses a Magpul MOE pistol grip with an interior compartment to hold whatnot, and the trigger guard is much larger than the regular AR trigger guard allowing plenty of room for a gloved trigger finger. It is also integral to the lower receiver. The upper and lower receivers are designed by RISE and made from milled 7075 aluminum billets. They have a distinctive appearance setting them apart from GI style receivers.

The buffer tube, or lower receiver, extension appears to be of the smaller GI diameter rather than of the larger commercial tube diameter, but the castle nut was not staked leading me to believe that thread locker was used to secure it. That works, but makes disassembly more difficult if it ever needs to be changed. The collapsible Magpul CTR stock has six positions and a rubber non-slip buttpad. It also features quick detach sling swivel sockets on each side, although sling attachment points would have to be added to the handguard to secure the other end of the sling.

The barrel is a RISE Armament CB-160 Competition Barrel and is made of 416R stainless steel. It is air gauged, 16 inches long, has a slim profile and is fluted near the muzzle to decrease weight. The twist rate is 1:7 inches, so it should stabilize most bullets used for competition. The test gun’s barrel has a black finish.

The direct gas impingement RA-315 C series has a .223 Wylde chamber making it safe to shoot either .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO cartridges. The Wylde chamber is also said to improve accuracy. Feed ramps have M4 cuts to improve feeding and the RA-315 also comes with a premium bolt carrier group. A critical component of the group is the gas key, which was properly staked and is an indication of attention to detail. It’s surprising how many manufacturers do not stake them properly.

Out front, RISE installs its own RA-701 compensator to help reduce muzzle rise and felt recoil making it easier to get the gun back on target faster. Of course, it increases noise, which may or may not be a consideration for the potential owner.

RISE is proud of its triggers, which are also sold as aftermarket products. They are designed to fit receivers built to military specifications. The sample gun came equipped with RISE’s RA-535 Advanced Performance Trigger that is supposed to be set at the factory to break at 3.5 pounds. The trigger blade is nearly straight and silver colored and has a longitudinally-cut slot, making it an attractive and distinctive trigger. It is single-stage and the travel is very short, with nearly imperceptible take-up with a surprise, crisp break and no noticeable overtravel.

I experienced some initial trigger malfunctions on the sample gun in the form of reset failures when firing from the bench and some doubles when standing firing from the shoulder. A call to RISE resulted in the company sending a new trigger that was extremely easy to install, but had a pull weight that was out of spec. There were no malfunctions with it, and it had a crisp break, but the pull weight was more than I expected, so I contacted RISE again.

“We strive for perfection, but as with all mechanical items, things sometimes happen,” explained RISE president, Matt Torres. “We handled this case as we would any other. We worked with Doug to make sure everything was resolved. Whether an issue is operator-induced or mechanical, we help the customer as quickly as possible. We have a hassle-free exchange and return policy that includes free shipping, and we offer a buy-and-try guarantee."

Subsequently, another trigger was installed that had the proper pull weight and worked perfectly. Torres told me that, “The bottom line is we want every customer to be happy, and we do everything in our power to ensure that,” and my experience showed that.

Swapping the triggers was easy because RISE uses anti-rotation trigger pins to secure the drop-in trigger unit that is one piece and requires no slave pins to install. Although RISE advises that its guns are suited for hunting, general shooting and tactical applications as well as competition, a 3.5-pound trigger pull may be too light for self defense or police work and that could be catastrophic, so RISE offers at least one other trigger with a heavier pull weight.

This is a very lightweight AR-15. It’s only 6 pounds, 12 ounces without a full magazine and no optic. Of course, adding those items increases the weight, but the gun is still very handy and easy to maneuver. The slim handguard makes it a comfortable gun to handle whether shooting off the bench or offhand in tactical drills. During extensive rapid fire drills, I noted that the aluminum handguard transmits barrel heat making it a bit uncomfortable to handle without gloves.

Accuracy using ammunition from Black Hills, Hornady and SIG was good with some groups being sub-minute-of-angle. SIG Sauer Elite Performance Match OTM rounds with 77-grain projectiles delivered the best performance with an average group size for three, five-shot groups of 1.06 inches at 100 yards. The best group of all was 0.60 inches with the SIG ammo and the largest group was 1.97 inches — also with the SIG ammo.

If your customers are after a racy-looking AR-15, RISE offers the RA-315 with red accents. Other color schemes including black and silver, red and black or red and silver as well as basic black are also available, and RISE is generous with a lifetime warranty that is fully transferable. In addition, RISE’s “buy-and-try guarantee” allows the return of its guns within 30 days of purchase for a full refund, even if in used condition.

Although RISE does sell guns and parts online, RISE also has a dealer program and invites dealer inquiries on its website. Accurate, light weight and distinctive styling make the RA-315 C an AR-15 that is going to appeal to your customers who want an AR, but are looking for something a little different.



Caliber: .223 Wylde
Barrel length: 16 inches, 1:7 twist
Overall length: 32.25 inches
Weight: 6 pounds, 12 ounces
Stock:  Collapsible Magpul
Sights: Windage- and elevation-adjustable Magpul folding
Action: Direct gas impingement semiautomatic
Finish: Anodized
Capacity: 30-round magazine included
Price: $1,799


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