Last year, I was contacted by RSS Defense Corp. RSS Defense is a small AR and AK manufacturer located north of Chicago. Before our conversation, I had never heard of this company. After a few exchanges, I agreed to review their flagship AR15, the RDMR7.
RDMR7 is an acronym for Rapid Deployment, Mission Ready, 7 days a week. This perfectly describes what the RDMR7 is designed to be. It is intended to be a law enforcement patrol rifle. Every part of the rifle supports this goal.
When I removed the RDMR7 from its case, it was clear that this rifle meant business. When you have used a wide array of weapons, you begin to have a preference for how a weapon should “feel”. The RDMR7 just felt “right”. It gives the impression of being small and light while still retaining enough weight to inspire confidence.
The RDMR7 carbine is as compact as you can get without the need for ATF Registration. The 14.5″ barrel is equipped with a precision laser welded SilencerCo ASR Flash Hider. The ASR brings the overall length of the barrel up to 16″ removing the need to register the rifle.
The SilencerCo ASR does a good job of mitigating the muzzle flash. It also makes it a simple matter to attach a SilencerCo ASR compatible Silencer, should you happen to own one. The RDMR7 is available with a 16″ barrel option for those who do not want a permanently attached muzzle device.
The RDMR7 uses a mid-weight, 4150 CVM barrel. The 1:7 twist rate should stabilize any bullet you care to send downrange. RSS Defense advertises 1 MOA of accuracy. Due to the configuration of the rifle, we did not shoot it for precision accuracy. However, it was no problem putting rounds on a torso sized steel plate at 300 yards with bulk 55gr training ammo.
The barrel is setup for a mid-length gas system. The gas block is a fixed and pinned design to prevent any possibility of failure in the field. The mid length gas system offers a slightly softer recoil impulse over a standard carbine length setup. The advantage becomes greater when the rifle is equipped with a suppressor.
The heart of the RDMR7 is a lightweight, forged 7075-T6 Aluminum upper and lower receiver. “Mil-Spec” gets thrown around a lot in the AR15 world. However these meet those specifications and exceed them in quality. The upper and lower are “matched” to be A snug fit.
While many manufacturers build rifles that require a hammer and punch to field strip, the RDMR7 is still able to be broken down by hand. After pushing the takedown pins out with your thumb, it just takes a little pressure to separate the upper and lower. Not too tight, not loose, just perfect. The RDMR7 receivers are equipped with a “upper tensioning screw” should your rifle ever loosen up.
One of the features that contributes to the “compact” and “fast” feeling of the RDMR7 is the Fortis Mfg. Switch Rail. The RDMR7 is equipped with the 13″ M-LOK version of the rail. This leaves only 1/2″ of barrel before the ASR Flashhider and gives a very pleasing appearance and room to mount whatever accessories you should need.
The Fortis Switch handguard is a very narrow and smooth piece. It is equipped with an integral 12 o’clock, picatinny rail. This is perfect on a LE rifle where backup iron sights are a necessity. It also affords a great spot for a low-profile light, such as the Inforce WML. The rest of the rail surfaces are cutout for the M-LOK interface. We used a Magpul M-LOK Hand Stop Kit to aid in keeping the support hand anchored.
Overall the Fortis Switch Rail is a very well machined piece, but it has a very interesting trick up its sleeve. Usually, getting to the barrel under the rail system requires breaking out the tool kit. Fortis uses a cam lever in the 6 o’clock position, under the barrel nut, to tension the rail. Removing the rail takes only a handful of seconds. When closed, the lever latches securely and flush to the bottom of the rail. There is no chance of catching it on your gear.
The only drawback we see to the Fortis Switch Rail is that there is no “indexing” feature on it. It is possible to get the rail latched on several degrees off to one side or another. This in turn will throw off the zero of the iron sights. This is not a huge problem if you are running a receiver mounted red dot and co-witnessed iron sights. Once you reinstall the Switch Rail, just flip up the irons and turn on the optic to verify they all still line up.
RSS Defense equipped the RDMR7 with top notch furniture. The pistol grip is a LaRue Tactical A-PEG Grip. The A-PEG features some nice palm swells and a fairly agressive texture. It is unlikely your hand will slip off of this grip.
The stock chosen for the RDMR7 is the LWRC Compact Stock. The LWRC Compact is a smoothed out and improved design over the traditional M4 stock. It has a nicely contoured rubber butt pad that grips well to a uniform shirt or plate carrier. Length of Pull adjustments can be made quickly to accommodate soft armor or hard plates.
Attention to detail is apparent in this rifle. Instead of going with a cheap standard receiver extension, RSS Defense chose to use the Primary Weapons Systems Enhanced Buffer Tube. This is a lighter weight and higher quality alternative to the Mil-Spec component. RSS also used a PWS “Ratchet Lock” Castle Nut and End Plate. This eliminates the need to stake your castle nut or glue it in place with loctite.
A pretty package is nothing if you don’t have the muscle to back it up. RSS Defense didn’t skimp on the inside parts. The bolt has been HP tested and Magnetic Particle Inspected for reliability. The bolt carrier is an enhanced design that is nitride finished for easier cleanup and corrosion resistance. The gas key screws have been properly staked. On our T&E rifle the action was very smooth with no grittiness. The bolt easily rotated and locked into place even when lowering the bolt as slowly as possible.
RSS Defense offers two major trigger options. Our T&E unit came equipped with a Geissele two stage trigger. Also offered is a ALG Defense “Advanced Combat Trigger”. The ACT is an exceptional budget option if you are trying to save a couple bucks.
One fire control group option that I thought was a bit curios was the use of a Magpul polymer selector. There is no doubt that Magpul makes some great polymer parts. However you don’t usually see an inexpensive selector on a rifle in this price range. When I asked RSS Defense about this, the answer was simple: The Magpul selector was one of the few ambidextrous selectors that they have not had problems with. They have seen many of the other ambi-selectors come apart at inopportune moments. While it isn’t as sexy as some of the billet aluminum parts on the market, it just works.
This is one of the things that makes the RDMR7 special. It is not just a list of cool parts. Each component was selected to give maximum performance and reliability. They are selected based on real-world experience for Officers who are going to bet their lives (and citizens lives) on their rifle.
It is easy to see that top-notch components are used to construct the RDMR7. That doesn’t necessarily always result in a reliable rifle. There is a bit of tuning involved to get a rifle to run flawlessly. That experience in dialing them in and delivering reliability on demand is what you pay for in this level of carbine.
I scoured the shop for a variety of magazines (Magpul, Hexmag, USGI, unknown, etc.) and loaded all of them the night before. I didn’t want to give the RDMR7 much of a “cool-down” between strings of fire. The goal was not to melt the gas tube or burn up the barrel. I rarely test rifles to destruction. It makes for cool YouTube videos, but YOU aren’t going to take your new rifle out and do that. Why should I test it that way?
Instead of a “burn down” we took two drills we know well and ran them back to back until the ammo was gone. The first drill was the VTAC 1-5. It involves putting 15 rounds into three targets in a varying sequence. Running it twice per magazine for several mags will get a gun hot, but it’s a reasonable drill or a good example of a really bad day in a gunfight. The other drill that we ran many times was the “Bill Drill”, which is nothing more than six rounds into the target as fast as you can pull the trigger. This really shows the gun’s timing and the trigger reset. During Bill Drills you are concentrating on the dot dancing on the target and you can really see the recoil management of the system.
The only cool down the RDMR7 got was when we paused to setup a shot for the camera or when we swapped shooters. We used a mix of 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem ammo. The RDMR7 ate it up without complaint.
Once the smoke had cleared and the brass was policed up, the RDMR7 had eaten more than 1000 rounds without lubrication and without malfunction. Part of that was sheer luck that we managed to find 1000 rounds of training ammo with no dead primers. The larger part was the fact that the RDMR7 is just built to run. While the handguard did get uncomfortably hot during the testing, it would not have been too hot to hold in a gunfight. If you are going to take it to a class, we would suggest some gloves. This is the same suggestions we make for any aluminum handguard equipped rifle.
The RDMR7 that RSS Defense sent to us is setup with their SDAG Kit (Short Duration Assault Gear). The SDAG includes a “Covert” Carry backpack, five Magpul Pmag 30 magazines and a North American Rescue IPOK first aid kit. Selecting the SDAG also adds a Vortex SPARC red dot sight and Magpul MBUS Pro sights, and a Magpul MS3 Sling to the RDMR7.
RSS Defense set out to build a “Mission Ready” patrol rifle for the modern day Patrol or SWAT Officer. I can say absolutely that they hit the mark.
The “basic” RDMR7 weighs in with a price tag of $2399. Customers can choose a wide range of options when ordering to have the rifle tailored to their specific tastes.
- 14.5″ Mid Length Barrel
- 1:7 Twist
- 5.56 NATO Chamber
- SilencerCo ASR Flash Hider (laser welded to barrel)
- Pinned Non-Adjustable Gas Block
- Fortis Switch Handguard
- Matched, Forged Receiver Set
- Mil-Spec MPI and HP Tested Bolt
- Mil-Spec Nitride Bolt Carrier Group
- ALG Defense Trigger Group
- Ambidextrous 45 Degree Selector
- Ambidextrous Magazine Release
- Oversized Bolt Catch
- LWRC Trigger Guard
- LWRC Stock
- LaRue A-PEG Pistol Grip
- PWS Enhanced Buffer Tube
- PWS Ratchet Lock Castle Nut and End Plate
Our time with #000001 is at an end and it is on its way back to RSS. However they were kind enough to send out one of their new Mod 1 rifles for a long-term test. Stay tuned for our experience with this budget friendly option. Starting at $1700 you retain most of the hardcore options of the flagship rifle while giving up some of the “upgraded” parts like the Gemtech bolt carrier group or PWS buffer tube.
RSS Defense Corp. was kind enough to offer our audience a $100 discount code toward the order of a Mod 1 or Mod 2 Rifle. ( 8541TAC100OFF )
(Update: The RDMR 7 Mod 2 will now come standard with the Gemtech adjustable bolt carrier group and Magpul MOE SL adjustable stock)