[Review] LWRCI DI & IC-SPR: Direct Impingement vs Piston

Finally, a full review on some of the reputed best ARs currently made.

The LWRCI DI (direct impingement) and IC-SPR (piston).

LWRC IC-SPR and DI
LWRCI IC-SPR (top) and DI (bottom)

Follow us as my team and I test these two out to see if they are worth their premium price.

We have a full YouTube review right here…

If that helped, be sure to subscribe to our Channel since we’re updating every week with more reviews!

We’ve also had some passionate response to this video/article from LWRCI and fans, if you see *Update* it’s with added information.

Who Is It For?

  • Someone who wants a great rifle ready for anything out of the box
  • Someone who wants impeccable fit and finish
  • Someone who wants a fully ambidextrous lower
  • Someone from California who wants an AR-15 that looks “normal”
  • Oh yea…and someone who can afford the sticker price ~$1700 for the DI and ~$2400 for the IC-SPR (although we’re seeing actual prices about $200 less for each)
1500
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2250
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Who is LWRCI?

It gets a little confusing since for the longest time they were known as simply LWRC…standing for Land Warfare Resources Corporation.

But now it has an extra I for LWRC International.

Whatever they are called…they burst onto the scene years ago for me with a couple features on Future Weapons (RIP Mack).

They focused on short-stroke gas piston ARs instead of the traditional direct impingement where the dirty gas goes back into the system.

Direct Inpingement Gif
Direct Inpingement Gif

For pistons…only the face of the piston gets the dirty gas.

Ok, this one is of a long-stroke piston of the AK…but you get the picture.

AK Piston, Matt Rittman
AK Piston, Matt Rittman

This makes them run cleaner and cooler. But at the expense of more parts, being a little front heavy, and the possibility of less accuracy because of more moving parts.

For more info check out our Best Piston Uppers and Conversion Kits.

Now that we got through that…let’s move onto the actual guns!

Fit, Feel, & Finish

IC-SPR

First up…their piston AR! Here we have the beautiful IC-SPR.

LWRC IC-SPR
LWRCI IC-SPR

The IC stands for “Individual Carbine,” the contest the US Army held to find its next generation firearm. The IC series is what LWRCI submitted before the contest was scrapped.

The SPR is the non-gas adjustable version. Check out the A5 for the adjustable version.

It’s fit, feel, and finish are perfect.

LWRCI’s upper and lower are double-coined to be in super-spec. And the upper is forged with the handguard attachment…giving it more strength and hopefully an increase in accuracy.

The SPR has a 14.7″ sexily-fluted barrel (that reduces weight by 20%) and a flash hider permanently attached to reach over 16″ so no stamps are necessary.

 LWRCI SPR Flash Hider
LWRCI SPR Flash Hider

The buttstock is LWRCI and provides a great cheekweld in a small profile.

Plus you get some of the best flip up sights I’ve ever seen.

LWRCI SPR Flip Up Sights
LWRCI SPR Flip Up Sights

Let’s go internal…

The BCG has the gas block built in…reducing a possibility of breakage if you tend to use your guns into the tens of thousands of rounds.

 LWRCI BCG
LWRCI BCG

Oh yea…and did I mention the lower is fully ambidextrous? Great for lefties and utilizing the CA compliant model (more on that later).

 LWRCI Fully Ambi Lower
LWRCI Fully Ambi Lower

One thing I didn’t like was the handguard.

LWRCI SPR Proprietary Handguard
LWRCI SPR Proprietary Handguard

Sure, it looks nice and feels great. But it doesn’t have M-LOK.

Like you need to buy proprietary Picatinny rails attached with Torx screws.

It’s 2019…and M-LOK reigns supreme.

*Update* We heard back from an LWRCI engineer that due to some space limitations with their piston system they weren’t able to offer M-LOK rails. Also, all commercial LWRCI rifles come with a rail kit, ours was simply missing.

2250
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

DI

The DI stands for direct impingement.

LWRCI DI
LWRCI DI

No surprise there.

LWRCI decided it was finally time to jump into the DI game utilizing the same lower and tech of their IC series.

Same thing…no complaints on fit, feel, or finish.

The DI differs internally (of course) but cosmetically it comes with a standard A2 flash hider and no flip up sights.

LWRCI Rifles
LWRCI Rifles

However, it does have some pre-installed panels and a grip that are comfy.

LWRCI DI Handguard
LWRCI DI Handguard

Is that M-LOK?

NOPES.

It only looks like M-LOK.

*Update* There are M-LOK versions of the DI but the proprietary version outsells it by a wide margin.

Ok…enough complaining about the handguards…how do the two shoot?

Shootability & Reliability

In one word…great.

Both of them ran flawlessly through all the hundreds of rounds we tossed through each over two months.

LWRCI SPR Firing
LWRCI SPR Firing

Only complaint is that the magwell started off a little tight but by the end of two range trips was fully broken in.

And if it matters…the flash-hider on the IC-SPR rings like a tuning fork.

LWRCI SPR Flash Hider
LWRCI SPR Flash Hider

Again, check out the YouTube video for how great they shot.

Accuracy

For a $1700 and $2400 priced rifle I expected at least 1 MOA (1 inch groups at 100 yards) with good ammo.

Sadly…they didn’t deliver.

After breaking in the barrel with a few range trips, I tested the rifle with a Schmidt & Bender 5-25x PMII (Best Long Range Scopes) and sandbags.

LWRCI Groups Testing
LWRCI Groups Testing

I used some of my favorite ammo (Best AR-15 Ammo) such as Wolf Gold, PMC Bronze, American Eagle XM193, and Federal Gold Medal Match.

*Update* I chose these for a mix of cheap plinking ammo (Wolf Gold, PMC Bronze), “military” ammo (XM193), and match ammo (Federal Gold Medal Match 77gr). At least for me, I don’t have the $ to keep shooting match ammo and like to see some decent performance out of more affordable ammo.

I fired nice and slow 10 round groups with the same black lower of the DI (to keep the trigger consistent).

*Update* Conditions were around 80 degrees, low humidity, and negligible wind.

Speaking of trigger…it’s nickel boron coated…but is not great. I’m sure it’s reliable but I really wish a high-end AR would have some sort of crisper pull.

LWRCI Fully Ambi Lower
LWRCI Fully Ambi Lower

I’d estimate it at 6-7 pounds with some creep.

Here are the results for the DI (which theoretically should be more accurate because of less moving parts).

LWRCI DI Groups
LWRCI DI Groups

About 3-4 MOA with a slight edge to PMC out of the first three plinking ammo brands. The match-grade Gold Medal was a little smaller at 2-3 MOA.

For the IC-SPR…

LWRC IC-SPR Groups
LWRC IC-SPR Groups

Along the same lines of 3-4 MOA and the slight edge to Wolf Gold. Good thing is I’m not seeing some immense difference between DI and piston.

Now…I took the best plinking ammo picks from each gun and swapped out the lower for my competition Timney 3.5 lb trigger (Best AR-15 Triggers) living in an Aero lower.

Timney Competition
Timney Competition 3.5lb

*Update* LWRCI let me know that their uppers perform the best with a matched LWRCI lower. This is actually a good impetus down the line to test the age-old question of does a tight upper/lower fit affect accuracy.

Here’s the result:

DI and IC-SPR Groups, Upgraded Trigger
DI and IC-SPR Groups, Upgraded Trigger

It did tighten up the plinking ammo…but I see a lot more difference for the match ammo. I’d estimate it at around 1.5 MOA which is decent.

One possible explanation is that the barrel is 1:7 twist which does favor heavier bullets more. All the plinking rounds were 55gr while the Gold Medal is 77gr.

But basically…trigger was meh and so was the accuracy. Still minute-of-man but I expected more.

California Compliant Model

However, a big thank you to LWRC for helping out some Californians who want their rifle as normal looking as possible…aka not going Featureless.

The CA Compliant lowers have a spring-loaded rear takedown pin that allows the upper and lowers to crack ever so slightly.

 LWRCI CA Compliance
LWRCI CA Compliance

That slight distance disengages a pin inside the lower that allows the use of the magazine release.

It works pretty well except when you need to fully take apart the upper and lower halves. Then you have to slowly turn the pin and super-carefully pull it out.

But not all the way or else it comes out of the lower and you have to unscrew your buttstock and castle nut to reinstall…yup I learned the hard way!

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

We shot around 300 rounds through each gun with several types of ammo and mags…and every time it went bang.

Accuracy: 3/5

Not bad if it were half or 1/3 the cost. But for the money…I’d expect more in terms of accuracy and trigger.

Ergonomics: 5/5

Everything felt great…and I’d give it a 6 if I could for the truly ambidextrous lower.

Looks: 5/5

Again…it’s one good looking rifle with perfect fit and paint.

Customization: 3/5

It’s an AR with a Picatinny rail on top so you can add just about anything. But why oh why isn’t there factory standard M-LOK on the handguard?

Bang for the Buck: 3/5

On the high-end of the AR spectrum but I’ll give a few props to the DI for coming with panels and grip…and the SPR for the really nice flip-up sights.

Overall Rating: 3.75

Conclusion

I really wanted to LOVE this rifle.

LWRCI IC-SPR and DI, Ambi Controls
LWRCI IC-SPR and DI, Ambi Controls

And I did until I realized I couldn’t add a sling swivel to the handguard…or utilize any of my M-LOK flashlight attachments.

Then I got a little depressed from the accuracy report.

BUT…if you want a quality feeling, looking, ambidextrous, and reliable AR-15 (in both direct impingement and piston flavors) and can overlook some things…the LWRCI DI and IC-SPR might still be for you.

1500
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2250
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Let me know what you think! And check out some of our favorite AR-15 Upgrades and Scopes/Optics.

A Couple AR-15 Optics
A Couple AR-15 Optics

24 Leave a Reply

  • Craig Childre

    I'm intrigued by our tendency to bond to a particular manufacturer or model/style of weapon. The aggressive defense of LWRCI caught me off guard. Humbly suggest that harsh criticism is why we read your articles. Because if all you wrote were just basic promo fluff pieces, I'd probably go elsewhere. Seems you strike a good balance with excellent follow up that explains how the results might be flawed, or that options exist that cannot be tested. Keep up the great work.

    2 hours ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thank you so much for this comment, Craig! Really appreciate it.

      1 second ago
  • Dave

    There are 2 reviews on the LWRCI In this article which are very different. The 1st laments the lack of M Loc although there is clearly a MLoc option for the DI. Also, it states the accuracy is mediocre, perhaps from the trigger. The 2nd review is much more positive noting the presence of M Loc and no difficulties mounting accessories. Additionally it improves on accuracy to possibly sub MOA. There were no significant issues reported. This has been my experience and many reviewers online I.e. Chris of Small Arms Solutions (great review, especially since he was associated with LWRCI. Everyone has their own opinion and mine is that the DI is a great value for its price. Reliable, light, made in house with CRC, sub MOA with decent ammo. Best firearm purchase I’ve made.

    22 hours ago
  • Jimbo Hootnanny

    1. LWRC DI has a sling swivel attachment in the foregrip and in the stock. 2. LWRC sells extra little features for the handguard on their website. INCLUDING A MLOK HANDGUARD 3. LWRC offers a model with an MLOK handguard. 4. LWRC trigger is not the greatest, but it's a milspec trigger. Also, they offer a model with a Geisselle SSA trigger for 75 bucks more. 5. That rifle is not 1700 dollars. If you paid that much you got ripped off. The DI retails for $1299 at most respectable dealers. 6. You used plinking ammo as a serious measure of accuracy? Wolf Gold? Seriously? 7. They tell you in the owners manual for that rifle the 1:7 twist means it prefers heavier grain bullets. 8. I sighted my DI in with 62 Grain Federal XM855 ammo. My first three shots from that rifle were SUB MOA. When the barrel warms up a bit (600 rounds later in a 1 hour span), it opens up to 1 to 2. 8. Using 70 plus grain ammo gets me all sub 1 MOA consistently. 9. This rifle is built to go to war. It's not a competition rifle. This rifle was built for people who don't use the issued 62 Grain ammo, but rather use ammo like Black Hills or Barnes. This is the first article I've seen that ever had a bad thing to say about the gun other than price (which I discussed earlier, and is no longer a viable complaint). 10. You need to review this article and your points. I don't think very much research was done on your end when testing this rifle. In similiar fashion, it's like when people review the 2019 Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2. People badg it because it's not a good daily driver. ITS NOT BUILT TO BE A DAILY DRIVER, ITS BUILT TO BE A RACECAR. The Chief Engineer has explicitly stated this. The regular GT model is meant as a daily driver. If you're looking for a rifle to cycle 55 Grain accurately, get one with a 1 in 8 or 1 in 9 twist from Aero or Windham. This rifle was built for a purpose. 11. If one of your main concerns is not being able to accesorize when the rifle provides you with a small section of rail for lights, a wonderful foregrip preinstalled with a swivel QD point built in, a nice stock with a QD point built in, I'm afraid you're into guns for the wrong reasons.

    1 day ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks Jimbo, I addressed a few of your concerns as *Updates* in the article.

      1 day ago
  • Rianne Joneson

    Great review! Valid on all points. Lwrci needs a bit more attention to detail. The piston gun needs a number of piston weight options to improve each rifles accuracy, like the M-14 though. I have found a number of used lwrci barrels for sale, and each had a flattened primer lodged behind the barrel extension. A good cadillac gun. But! If you want a landcruiser gun, go with the Rock Rivers. More accurate, better triggers, more adaptable, shoot any ammo close to moa, or better. Higher quality, and 1/3 the price of the lwrci rifles.

    1 day ago
    • DevilDog

      This review is not accurate...Lots of flaws...People saying lwrc rifles are not accurate are absurd..Rock River arms shold not be mentioned in the same class as lwrc rifles..Ive seen guys take dpms rifles and shoot sub moa..Ive given my buddy my kac mod2 and his groups look like a man with a blind fold on shot the rifle...Hand him my bcm or my lwrc he shots sub moa...Ill say it again its not the bow&arrow its the Indian....

      1 day ago
      • Eric Hung

        Thanks DevilDog for all the comments in this article!

        1 day ago
  • Pogo

    Your accuracy testing should really be more uniform for all the rifles you review. Unless you are a very good marksman you need to take away as many personal variables that detract from accuracy. Use the lead sled for every review, those bags are not very good. Pick 1 budget ammo and let the others be current military, Gold Medal, and a couple of other premium options. 10 shot groups??? At max I’d do the standard 3-5, pick one choice and stick with it. You might also tell readers what conditions you are shooting in...how windy etc.

    1 day ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks Pogo, I tried to keep it as uniform as possible but due to the DI having the grip I opted for the bags instead. Not sure why more shots in a group aren't better though. Conditions added!

      1 day ago
      • Pogo

        Thanks for the updates. Barrels heat up more after 10 round groups. I figured you used the more common 69g gold medal but you used the 77g which usually does much better with the 1-7 twist. Black Hills is also an excellent match grade ammo company you might use. If you can’t afford premium ammo do what most people do and load your own. Not sure why the lead sled wouldn’t work with an AR.....maybe a older model sled or a California compliance thing? I’ll watch the video later.

        1 day ago
  • Jonathan Pelton

    I saw in the video on the CA complaint reload he dropped the mag then pressed the upper back into position. Then loaded a new mag and chambered the round. When I was in CA I would drop my mag, insert new mag. Then I would press down on the back of the upper near the charging handle, which would allow me to chamber a new round quickly. Could you see any problems with this process?

    1 day ago
    • Eric Hung

      Nothing that I can see except you might have a slightly floppy upper to contend with while loading the new mag.

      1 day ago
    • Jonathan Pelton

      One more thing you can achieve a similar CA complaint solution with the Juggernaut Tactical "Hellfighter Kit", and the bolt release from 33.3 tactical "CalCatch".

      1 day ago
      • Eric Hung

        Yup, the rear pin appears to be very close to the Juggernaut.

        1 day ago
  • Daniel

    BTW they do make a M-LOK version (I have one) so I don't see what the is the problem..

    1 day ago
    • Eric Hung

      Yup, I added this as an *Update* in the article. DI has the added option. Piston can't because of space constraints.

      1 day ago
  • Michael Butt

    Your favorite ammo? Seriously? You have a 2500 rifle w a 2500 scope and you're shooting .23 cent ammo? Smh

    1 day ago
    • Eric Hung

      I added a little *Update* to this in the article above. I chose some plinking ammo along with XM193 and Gold Medal Match since at least for me I can't afford to be shooting purely match grade stuff and still like to see the performance of cheap ammo through my guns.

      1 day ago
    • Eric M Lautz

      Omg thank you that pissed me off. Complaining because it wont make wolf ammo shoot moa groups. Where does this dude get off.

      1 day ago
  • Charles Hutson

    For that price with all those negatives I would get the Daniel Defense . Awesome AR right out of the box.

    1 day ago
    • DevilDog

      Bro i own both rifles..The Lwrc di is a better rifle out the box the DD is a squared away rifle but it does not compare to the DI..This guy review was off ..My rifle shoot sub moa all day long..Give me a web sight and ill post pics and make a vid proving it with the bone stock trigger..And on top of that ill take some cheap ammo and send war pills down range at a 100 yards and shot sub moa...Sometimes its not the bow&arrow its the Indian..Changing out a trigger to get better groups is cherry...If a del-ton or dpms will shot sub moa that lwrc rifle will also and twice on sunday....

      1 day ago
      • Eric Hung

        Thanks DevilDog! I'm by no means a great shooter.

        1 day ago
  • Scott

    Off topic but I’d love to see a review of the Barnes precision machine AR. I have owned one for about four years and it is amazing in all departments especially accuracy.

    1 day ago
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