Test: Barrett REC7 DI in 6.8 mm Remington SPC, a semi-automatic rifle in a rare caliber

The name Barrett is commonly associated with huge .50 BMG rifles, such as the M82. But the company from Murfreesboro in the US state of Tennessee can do otherwise. Namely, much smaller. You can see the proof of this here: the semi-automatic REC7 DI model, based on the AR-15 platform. But instead of the well-known .223 Remington caliber (which is also available), the rifle we tested came in 6.8 mm Remington SPC.

6.8 mm Remington SPC cartridge
The 6.8 mm Remington SPC cartridge (center) in direct comparison to .223 Remington (left) and .308 Winchester (right) calibers.

The Barrett REC7 DI system

Barrett REC7 DI disassembled
The REC7 DI disassembled: magazine, handguard barrel and upper, bolt carrier, charging handle, lower with pistol grip and collapsible stock.

The American semi-automatic's lower receiver forged from 7075-T6 aluminum impresses with its black Cerakote coating. It feels very pleasant to the touch and protects the gun under heavy mechanical stress. The safety, which acts directly on the trigger, is AR-typical. Barrett uses an ambidextrous version made of plastic, which is especially comfortable to use for left-handed users. In addition, a 45-degree turn is sufficient to move from the safe position and make the rifle ready for firing. Why the lever is a little shorter on the left side than on the right side is not clear to the testers, but is not a serious drawback. The Magpul pistol grip is characterized by its simple shape and optimal profile. The Magpul Original Equipment (MOE) element, made of impact-resistant polymer plastic, has a small lid on the underside that allows access to the inside of the grip. Tools or batteries can be stored there. Since the lower receiver is a multi-caliber version, i.e. a real AR-15 lower, standard .223 Remington AR-15 magazines can be used. Fortunately, the 6.8 cartridges also fit in there. Oh, and the REC7 DI also comes with a 30-round steel magazine. For our test we replaced it with a 10-round magazine, as required by law in many European countries.

The quality Mil-Spec trigger from Barrett

Barrett Firearms chose the QMS (Quality Mil-Spec) assembly from ALG Defense. The drop-in single-stage trigger is assembled without any play and is also suitable for powerful primers due to its strong hammer spring. The trigger on the test gun breaks consistently at a pull weight of 6.5 lb/2950 g, ideally suited for dynamic shooting. A competition trigger, such as that offered by the German manufacturer Uhl, can possibly be fitted for target shooting.

Rifle bolt and chamber in 6.8 mm Remington SPC

The bolt for tBarrett REC7 DI in 6.8 mm Remington SPC 
The bolt for the 6.8 mm Remington SPC together with the charging handle, which can be operated from both sides. Nice to see the red interior on the latter control.

The Barrett REC7 DI model is a direct impingement operated rifle that diverts a portion of the hot combustion gases through a gas tube and uses them for cycling. The rifle's 7-lug rotating bolt head locks directly into the barrel. The bolt face is of course machined to match the 6.8 mm Remington SPC caliber and features a strong extractor claw and ejector pin. The moving parts have a friction-reducing TB-41 DLC (DLC = diamond like carbon) coating. Behind the case deflector, on the right, is the forward assist characteristic of the AR-15 platform. The case ejection port can be closed by a dust cover that opens automatically in the familiar way when the bolt is moved. The upper is also forged from 7075-T6 aluminum and Cerakote coated in black. The Raptor type charging handle comes from the US manufacturer Radian Weapons. It can be operated from both sides and is therefore also suitable for left-handed shooters. The handle bears the Barrett logo and adds small color accents thanks to the red mechanism inside. The upper is crowned by a continuous Picatinny rail. The REC7 DI already comes with an open sight in form of a Magpul Back-Up Sight (MBUS). It can be used alone and in combination with optics. As the name suggests, it is actually only an emergency sight system, which is used in case of failure of the main sights. The MBUS consist of a windage-adjustable aperture rear sight and an elevation-adjustable front sight, allowing the Barrett REC7 DI rifle to be used with no problem even in case of emergency.

Handguard and barrel of the REC7 DI

The Barrett REC7 DI's MBUS front sight 
The Barrett REC7 DI's MBUS front sight sits on the handguard, which extends far forward. Directly in front of it, the flash hider with its three prongs and Barrett logo.

The handguard of the REC7 DI model version is slightly longer than that of the REC7 version. At just under 380 mm, it extends almost over the entire barrel. This allows the gun to be gripped far forward, especially when shooting dynamically. The stock is manufactured by Magpul, as for the other hardware. The handguard has its own M-LOK interfaces at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock. These oblong holes reduce the overall weight of the gun. On the other hand, they offer free design possibilities for attaching accessories, either directly or via Picatinny adapters. At 12 o'clock there is a Picatinny rail which is continuous over the whole length and at the front end of which the front sight of the already mentioned emergency sight system is located. The 16”/410 mm long match barrel comes from Barrett himself and is described by the manufacturer as highly accurate. Unfortunately, in our test gun exactly 1 cm (0.39”) is missing for legal reasons. The gas gas block can be easily removed and cleaned by the user by loosening a lock nut. You will also find an in-house 3-prong flash hider. The 4-groove barrel has a twist length of 1:10 inch (i.e. 1:254 mm).

Barrett REC7 DI specs

Model:Barrett Firearms Manufacturing REC7 DI
Price:2349 euro (price may vary in your country)
Caliber:6.8 mm Remington SPC
Magazine Capacity:30+1 cartridges
Overall Length:33.6”-36.5” /845-928 mm (with flash hider)
Barrel Length:16”/410 mm (without flash hider)
Twist Length:1:10" (250 mm)
Trigger Pull Weight:6.5 lb/2950 g/28.9 N
Weight:7.22 lb/3276 g, without scope/mounts, empty
Left/Right Version:Ambidextrous
Notes:Direct impingement gas operated semi-automatic rifle with rotating bolt head, Barrett muzzle flash hider, Magpul AR15 pistol grip and Backup Iron Sight (flip-up sights), M-LOK/Picatinny handguard, length-adjustable stock and double-stack sheet steel magazine.

The stock on Barrett's AR

The Magpul MOE SL Carbine Stock of the Barrett REC7 DI in 6.8 mm Remington SPC
The Magpul MOE SL Carbine Stock features a rubber recoil pad and can be operated from both sides for length adjustment.

The REC7 DI features an adjustable Magpul stock. The model MOE SL Carbine Stock can be adjusted in 6 steps by about 3”/80 mm in length. The recoil pad is solid rubber, has a very good grip and lies comfortably in the shoulder. In addition, the stock has two slots for a carrying sling and a QD interface that can be used on both sides for inserting a corresponding sling swivel.

On the shooting range with the REC7

Barrett REC7 DI with a Leupold VX-5HD 1-5x24scope
The Barrett REC7 DI with weapon bag and 30-round steel sheet magazine, equipped with a Leupold VX-5HD 1-5x24 scope for dynamic shooting.

We equipped the Barrett with a Zeiss V8 4,8-35x60 riflescope. With 3 shots the gun was then zeroed at a distance of over 100 m on the paper target. As already suspected, the somewhat cumbersome trigger did not really suit the testers and especially accuracy. So they had to wait a few more shots to get used to the trigger, which was made to military standards. The REC7 DI is very comfortable to fire. With only about 2000 joules muzzle energy thanks to a muzzle velocity of about 780 m/s, the recoil is very moderate and above all not disturbing. Developed for short combat distances, the 6.8 cartridge can only be effective up to a maximum of 500 m. After that range the tested loads in fact fall into the subsonic range. This results in unstabilised bullets and accuracy is usually not as high as it should be. The groupings achieved reflect somewhat the hard single-stage trigger. With a match trigger you should be able to do something better in terms of accuracy. The cartridge offers good possibilities.

Barrett REC7 DI: wrap up

The Barrett REC7 DI offers excellent workmanship compared to other AR-15 semi-automatic premium class rifles. The selected components are high quality and adequate. If you fire the gun in dynamic disciplines only like the European Precision Shooting Course or IPSC, the trigger is top. Precision shooters, however, probably need a match trigger – the built-in trigger needs some work at least. About the caliber: developed in 2002 for the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), it should combine the best features of the 5.56x45 mm NATO and the 7.62x51 mm NATO. Mostly used for hunting in the USA, the 6.8 mm Remington SPC may be considered exotic in Europe, but the market certainly offers some loads for it. In the reloading sector, all doors are open to have a lot of fun with this caliber and the Barrett REC7 DI.

Text: Daniel Lang and Matthias S. Recktenwald

You can find further information about the Barrett REC7 DI and .50 BMG rifles on the manufacturer's website.

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