Rifle Review: 2A Armament XLR-20 In 6.5 Creedmoor Is Something Special

Rarely does merely unpacking an AR get me excited anymore. Such is the prevalence of the AR/MSR platform — a true credit to its popularity. However, with the 2A Armament XLR-20 direct impingement AR, you know something special is happening. My friend AJ, GM of my FFL dealer Stonewall Arms, perfect arrangement, by the way, called immediately when the 2A Armament XLR-20 AR arrived telling me I needed to get to the shop ASAP. I thought something was wrong when he unboxed the delivery. He watched intently as I inspected the 2A XLR-20 and laughed when I almost struck myself in the forehead when first picking it up. Commenting he had done the same thing. After all, it is an AR10 chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. We all know these weigh a minimum of 10 pounds. Not this rifle — 6 lbs. 14 oz. as verified on the shop’s shipping scale. Impressive stuff!  I cleared my schedule bumping other items due to be reviewed so that the XLR-20 could be evaluated immediately. It was brought to the front of the class shall we say.

2A Armament is an ISO 9001 and AS 9100 certified advance manufacturing machining shop for the aerospace, medical, prosthetic, motorsports, semiconductor and outdoor recreation markets. This is matched with hand finishing of every AR part. It only takes a visual inspection to realize that this is not mere propaganda. The individual Picatinny rails running the length of the upper receiver and along the proprietary 15″ 2A Xanthos-lite rail are hollowed out, brass deflector craftily minimized, 7075-T6 billet receivers precision crafted, 2A X4 titanium muzzle brake on the 20″ 5R 1:8 4150 steel barrel, M4 feed ramps, titanium gas block at the end of the rifle length gas rod, and titanium receiver pin — you get the point. No detail was too small in the quest to shave ounces. Significantly, a full mass bolt group is used. 2A did not want to sacrifice any reliability by modifying/tinkering with this component.

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XLR-20
There are a plethora of AR10 style rifles vying for consumer attention albeit individuals, departments, or other entities. The 2A Armament XLR-20 is worthy of consideration based on innovative design, attention to detail and quality of materials used in its manufacture.

The XLR-20’s barrel features 1:8RH 5R button rifling. Barrett “Boots” Obermeyer developed 5R rifling. 5R is different from conventional rifling by changing the shape and configuration of the lands and grooves. 5R use 5 lands and grooves versus the more common 4 or 6 land/groove profile. This puts lands opposite of grooves with another tweak being the transition from the top of the land to the groove is sloped. 5R reduces projectile deformation as it passes through the bore during the firing sequence. More uniform projectile means better accuracy. 5R rifling is easier to clean and less prone to accuracy-robbing fouling. All of this is not an abstract theory as 5R rifling has developed a dedicated target shooting following that swears by it.

Different AR?

Without a doubt, the 2A Armament XLR-10 rifle will change users’ thoughts on how an AR10 style rifle can be configured. Often the AR10 is associated with unwieldy profile weighing substantially over 9 lbs. 2A Armament has made a conscious effort with the XLR-20 to harness the  6.5 Creedmoor potential in a frame svelter than many AR15s. The added weight of most AR10 platforms compared to the smaller AR15 negates inherent AR qualities of handling in many users mind. The combining of the great handling XLR-20 platform with the increased power represented in the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge is the key to its allure as a versatile performer afield. I immediately slated the XLR-20 as the ultimate hunting AR package. This is speaking in terms of the XLR-20 lethality and effective range, while still allowing for ease of carry, all combined with precision accuracy.

XLR-20
Titanium muzzle device and gas block part of 2A Armament’s attention to detail in utilizing premium parts.

Accuracy potential of a quality AR15 or AR10-type weapon is on par or exceeds a bolt action. The 2A XLR-20 reinforced this assumption. Over the last few years, the AR10 type rifle has evolved into no longer being limited by the capability of the .308 Win cartridge — it’s most popular chambering. This is all thanks to cartridge development that will now fit into the .308 Win footprint while still offering a vast improvement in ballistic performance.

XLR-20
Even with the quest to minimize weight, 2A Armament chose to go with a full mass AR10 style bolt group to maintain reliability.

Hornady introduced the 6.5Creedmoor in 2007 for long-range target shooting applications. The 6.5 Creedmoor typifies the short and efficient cartridge principle. 6.5 mm bullets have a reputation for high ballistic coefficient (BC) rating as well as sectional density (SD). SD is the ratio of a bullet’s mass to its cross-section. All things being equal a high SD penetrates better than a low SD. BC is a measurement of how well a bullet moves thru the air. Velocity loss and impact of wind drift is minimized the higher the BC rating as the round travels downrange. The final sweetener is only moderate recoil. 120-140 grain bullets have always attracted hunters/tactical/target shooters. It is hard to beat 130-grains moving at 3,000 feet per second.

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SIG Optics

I agonized over scope selection. I didn’t want to put an anchor on the top rail — yet still wanted magnification range to take advantage of such a sleek AR chambered in potent 6.5 Creedmoor. We are talking about true multipurpose roles — stalking game while maintaining long-range punch across a clearing. An important part of the accuracy equation is a quality optic to go along with cartridge and rifle. A SIG SAUER Whiskey 5 3-15x44mm optic was mounted to the 2A XLR-20. The SIG Whiskey optic’s versatile 5-times zoom system provides a larger field of view at close ranges and better target acquisition at long ranges. The Whiskey 5 utilizes second focal plane reticle. SIG has equipped the Whiskey with electronically illuminated Hellfire Reticle which can vary the light intensity of the central aiming point from IR (InfraRed) dim to HellFire bright for daylight illumination, resulting in a bright, defined aiming point for precision shot placement in any condition. The SIG optic has many other distinguishing characteristics such as LevelPlex Anti-Cant, HDX glass, LENSARMOR to mention a few.

XLR-20
SIG SAUER Whiskey5 3-15x44mm 30mm tube optic was mounted on the XLR-20’s railed upper receiver. The 3-15x-power range offered by the Whiskey5 solves any conundrum posed by other more limited optic magnification options.

The 2A XLR-20 was initially sighted in at Echo Valley Training Center’s (EVTC) Range #2 with a 100 yard zero. Different 6.5 Creedmoor loads were fired from the bench to determine a base accuracy level. Various loads from Hornady and Federal consisted of a mix of hunting and match loads to illustrate the ballistic flexibility inherent in both the XLR-20 and 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. These specific loads were Federal 120-grain Trophy Copper, Gold Medal Berger 130-grain Hybrid Match, and 140-grain Nosler Accubond. Hornady offerings were represented by 129-grain SST, 140-grain ELD Match, and 120-grain GMX. This is just a small splattering of the 6.5 Creedmoor loads available from each company with other companies offering even more. Overall, accuracy was impressive with no load producing groups over 2″ at 100 yards with some bordering on ¾”. The Timney flat trigger is a real treat with the XLR-20. A short take up is finished with a 2-pound break.

Field Conditions

After the bench work testing innate accuracy at Echo Valley Training Center’s (EVTC) Range #2, I performed some of my normal field tests. These consisted of shooting prone off a bipod or pack at clay pigeons at 300 yards from prepared “dug in” positions offered at EVTC. I fired and acquired the next target as quickly as possible on the 4.33″ diameter clay pigeons. The 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge combined with the ergonomic well tuned XLR-20 proved potent. Other range work consisted of shooting B-27 man-targets out to 600 yards on EVTC’s Known Distance Range. 2A XLR-20 accuracy combined with premium ammunition and clear SIG SAUER optic enabled center mass shots with ease.

An Eberlestock X31 LoDragII pack proved a natural companion to the XLR-20 during T&E. Designed to be highly functional, minimalist, lightweight tactical pack; the X31 incorporates a rifle scabbard. If you carry your weapon on your back, you’re much more agile and effective than if it’s stuck in your hands or on a shoulder sling all of the time; simply no better way to move about in an organized fashion. By having the pack carry the rifle, your hands are free for all of the things you need them for when you are traversing terrain. Furthermore, Eberlestock makes it so that you can get your weapons out the pack without having to un-strap everything that you’re wearing. The Eberlestock X31 and 2A XLR-20 AR are natural companion each contributing to a users success.

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XLR-20
2A Armament analyzed ever component in its effort to shave weight while maintaining a well balanced, accurate and reliable MSR ideal for use hunting either in close cover or over open terrain.

XLR-20

Many contend that the 6.5 Creedmoor chambered in an accurate semi-automatic like the XLR-20 is clearly superior to the .308 Win for long-range performance because of better ballistics, less recoil and down range power delivered. In the same vein, the semi-automatic sub 7 pound 2A Armament XLR-20 offers advantages most other AR10 rifles cannot compete with or for that matter bolt action rifles. A trained marksman will definitely be able to put to good use the ballistic advantages offered by the 6.5 Creedmoor XLR-20 with its precision semi-automatic firepower. The XLR-20 sacrifices nothing in terms of accuracy. Yes, first round hits are paramount. However, do not underestimate the importance of fast follow up shots after observing initial impact or if more targets are available.

Modern sporting rifle (MSR) terminology for the AR is an industry attempt to help define the growing role that AR type rifles have assumed beyond strictly tactical assault rifle. AR rifles are versatile, easily accessorized, and suitable for a wide variety of recreational, sport shooting and professional applications. While ARs were quickly embraced for varmint hunting, caliber expansion has steadily grown popularity with hunters for larger sized game as well. The 2A Armament XLR-20 is a great example of the growing potential of ARs in the hunting arena. The XLR-20 highlights all of the AR positives in its MSR form, especially when combined with the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge.

Specifications:

2A Armament XLR-20

CALIBER: 6.5 Creedmoor

BARREL: 20″ match-grade nitride heat-treated 1:8 5R twist

WEIGHT: 6 lbs. 14 oz.

SIGHTS: Railed for mounting optic/BUIS

ACTION: Semi-automatic direct impingement rifle length

PRICE: $3,200

SIDEBAR—EBERLESTOCK X31 LoDRAG II

XLR-20
Eberlestock X31pack an ideal companion when taking the 2A XLR-20 afield.

The Eberlestock X31 LoDragII pack serves as an excellent example of Eberlestock’s simple, practical ingenuity. Eberlestock strives to design a pack so stuff is easy to find as well as make it easy to attach things to the outside of it. There’s no digging and wrestling with your pack to free an item — its quick at hand. It’s a great combination. Glen learned via biathlon experience if you carry your weapon on your back, you’re much more agile and effective than if it’s stuck in your hands or on a shoulder sling all of the time — simply no better way to move about in an organized fashion. By having the pack carry the rifle, your hands are free for all of the things you need them for when you are traversing terrain. Furthermore, Eberlestock makes it so that you can get your weapons out the pack without having to un-strap everything that you’re wearing. Most importantly the pack must be comfortable considering all the time spent with it out in the field. The X31 has all these characteristics.

The X31 LoDragII is the latest evolution of the Eberlestock LoDrag series. The X31 incorporates a tactical weapon-sized scabbard. It has a unique contour shape that tapers at both the top and the bottom, giving the pack an excellent close-to-the-body ride. The packs are fully compressible with pairs of side-mounted compression straps that draw the load upward to optimally position the pack’s contents over the wearer’s center-of-gravity. The X31 LoDrag II has two new generously sized form-following pockets on the exterior of the upper and lower front flaps. MOLLE-10 lightweight webbing is used, to which you can attach conventional 25mm MOLLE accessories.

For more information:

2A Armament: www.2a-arms.com

Echo Valley Training Center: www.echovalleytraining.com

Federal Cartridge Company: www.federalpremium.com

Hornady Mfg.Inc: www.hornady.com

SIG SAUER: www.sigsauer.com

Eberlestock: www.eberlestock.com

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