With the launch of Centurion Arms’ RECCE rifle, we decided to sit down with Monty LeClair to discuss the meaning of “RECCE rifle”, his background with the platform, details of the Centurion Arms RECCE rifle, and why a similar AR build might be perfectly suited for you…depending on your needs.
Q: Monty, can you describe to our readers just what a RECCE rifle is?
The “RECCE rifle” by name and concept, in military terms, came about from some of the Tier One units looking for a precision weapon in the AR platform for guys doing recon…While doing reconnaissance, they wanted an accurate weapon in 5.56 with ammo commonality.
A lot of times these would not be designated sniper missions where you were assigned to go out and engage and shoot people. Instead, a lot of missions were simply to reconnoiter, to look and gather intelligence… If you were to end up getting into any type of engagement, we found having snipers with an AR could be a lot more effective.
As it turned out in Iraq, most of your engagements were at 300-400 yards or so…the 5.56, especially the 77-grain ammo that was developed for it, is fine. It would meet most of your needs and you have higher magazine capacity than you’d have with a 7.62 rifle.
So these guns were really good, functional rifles that came out of some of the Tier One units that were being built locally by armorers or smiths for that purpose.
These guns are what actually evolved later into the whole MK12 concept. The MK12 ended up going more SOCOM-wide, and even the Marine Corps picked up some of the MK12s as well. So, the MK12 was actually an extension, an actual programmatic continuation, if you will, of RECCE Rifles.
Q: Today, it’s sometimes hard to get a clear handle on what exactly a RECCE rifle is…I even see a lot of mini-RECCEs. Can you talk about how the concept has evolved over time?
It’s hard to say that there is a “traditional RECCE” rifle in any sense because it really was kind of organic. Guys built them up while there, and they could make the changes they wanted. There really was no spec for them initially, so there were a lot of variations.
Most commonly though, a RECCE rifle would have a 16” stainless barrel with a good match trigger. The MK12 was a little different because it was a program of record, it had very definitive specs and it’s all written down. With the REECE rifle, there is a lot more freedom, and because of that, we are seeing people integrate and do all sorts of variations on the design.
Centurion Arms RECCE Rifle
On our website, you’ll see that we have a lot of different options that builders can choose from, and I think that fits well with the tradition of the RECCE rifle. I say that because, again, the building of these rifles was an organic process. Guys building in-house what they needed at the time.
The basic premise is that the rifle revolves around a high-quality stainless steel match barrel with a chamber that is designated or optimized to shoot match ammunition. It will shoot and feed anything, but it’s really optimized for the match ammo that you are going to put in it in order to get maximum accuracy with a good match trigger. The fact that guys are morphing this rifle in all different directions is perfectly logical. It makes perfect sense. We’re willing to step down our RECCE rifle and do different barrel lengths on it. When it comes to making the rifle with a shorter barrel, it really just depends on how long your engagement is.
RECCE for LE?
The research has shown that for law enforcement…, do they even need something that goes 300-400 yards? Law enforcement might need a very precise weapon, but the vast majority of sniper engagements for law enforcement are under 100 yards. I think around 75 yards was average, and they’re not going to shoot much past that, but they still may have a hostage shot or something like that, that requires precision. Because of this, perhaps they want a bit shorter rifle that is a bit more maneuverable, easy to use, and still gives you the velocity to attain the ranges you need to.
Centurion Arms RECCE 16″ 5.56 NATO 1:7 416R Stainless Steel Mid-Length Barrel
Q: Can you walk us through the RECCE rifle that you have recently announced?
Our RECCE rifle is a 16”, just like the original military one. We do have C4 quad rails that we can put on it. We do have M-LOK…13” is the baseline and that is one of our most popular rails right now. The Centurion Arms RECCE rifle we offer has a match, stainless air-gauged barrel that we put a chamber in that is optimized for the Sierra Match King 69 and 77-grain bullets. We put a match trigger in it, and we do tweak the upper a little bit with the machine specs to get a better fit of the barrel into the upper receiver.
We are trying to build a precision-capable, but also combat-functional AR based on the RECCE concept, also offering it in a 14.5” barrel. We’re going with a mid-length gas system. We’re going with that because it gives you plenty of dwell time. Generally it also tends to be a little bit smoother shooting. Really, what we’re doing is just taking a battle-ready AR and tightening up some of the specs, then using a quality barrel and a quality trigger to also be able to obtain the capability of being able to shoot precisely with it with the proper optics.
Q: What optic would you recommend for a RECCE rifle?
I like the 2.5-10, 3-12, or 4-16… all would be good options for it. On my gun in the military, I used a Leupold 3-9. Afterwards, they came in with the 2.5-10 Nightforce, and I think those are outstanding as well. I would say that I wouldn’t want to lose too much on the low-end.
I like to be able to dial my scope out so I have a wider field of view. So for my low-end, I certainly wouldn’t want anything past 4x. As far as brand, Nightforce has great quality and the military has used tons of those.
I think that would be my first choice. Also, I know Leupold has been stepping up their game. I know a lot of people are also fans of the Vortex. A lot of it is just choosing the reticle that you want to go with it that you are comfortable shooting.
Q: Did you ever work with a RECCE or were you mostly using the MK12?
Active duty, I carried the MK12, but I have definitely been building RECCEs for personal use for a long while now. I’ve been a MK12 fan and I have a few MK12s of my own, but the RECCE rifle is something that’s very interesting, and it’s also a gun that’s on my mind a lot as I think about going with a shorter barrel. Especially for shooters who don’t necessarily want the distance but want the precision. I’ve even thought about taking a precision barrel down to 12.5”.
Q: For a lot of people, a precision, high-quality, semi-compact setup seems like a good way to go…can you talk about that?
I agree with you whole-heartedly on that. For the vast majority of what people are using the AR for, a precision AR fits well with what they will actually be using the rifle for. You get precision capability. You’ve also got a semi-automatic rifle that is very capable and fast shooting if you are hunting pigs, or if you have multiple targets.
The only time I would say it might not be optimum is if your plan is to go to one of the shooting courses where you are shooting mag after mag after mag…or say you’re shooting your seven magazine load-out in a 20-minute period. The gun can do it, but you’re just putting excessive wear on a quality barrel that wasn’t necessarily engineered for that.
One of the beauties of the RECCE is, combat-wise, you can do that if you have to. That said, I don’t think the vast majority of people are not doing that…so I think that for a good all-around rifle, a RECCE is an outstanding choice. They might be varmint hunting with it, rather than getting into strings of high volume fire.
“I can reach out 200-300 yards…”
Depending on where you’re living, having a RECCE rifle as your general purpose defensive rifle is worth considering…especially if you live out in the country and you run into problems. I live out in a rural area and I would have no problem having a RECCE rifle as my home defense weapon, because unless I am going to get overrun by 50 people trying to take over my house, I am better off having the precision and knowing that I can reach out 200-300 yards and tag someone across a field, as opposed to worrying about an overwhelming horde of zombies running through my windows and doors. The gun could handle that as well, but realistically, I’m only going to be shooting a magazine or two at the most at any given time.
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