Barrett Rec 7 Review: Gen 2 DI & 6.8 (2022)

For those who are in a hurry, both models, the Barrett REC7 and the Barrett REC7 DI, are the AR-style rifles chambered for the 6.8 Remington S.P.C. (Special Purpose Cartridge), .300 Blackout cartridge and for the ubiquitous 5.56mm NATO ammunition.

As you probably know, Eugene Stoner’s genuine device, AR-15, is designed as an assault rifle based on a direct gas impingement system (DI/DGI) that release gas from the bore into the upper receiver to the bolt carrier group, which then cycles the rifle.

Although the direct impingement system is very reliable, their first users (US Military) had issues with powder burning residues that fouling and building upon the bolt carrier group.

For that reason, some companies started developing Gas Piston Driven AR-15s, a pretty different system than the Stoner-type direct impingement system.

While there are fewer Gas Piston Systems choices than other AR-15 DI/DGI platform rifles, you can find a growing number of manufacturers that now build piston-driven AR-style rifles.

For most gun aficionados, Barrett’s brand name is commonly associated with large-​caliber selective-fire and semi-automatic rifles. Luckily, besides heavy sniper .50 BMG caliber rifles, Barrett Firearms introduces several semi-automatic rifle models based on the AR platform.

Barrett Firearms Mfg. is a well-known planetary company whose anti-material and precision rifles chambered in .50 BMG.  A decade or so ago, Barrett launched the first rifle with a very nice REC7 series Ars line.

Barrett REC7 (Reliability-Enhanced Carbine)

With the designation REC7 that stands for “reliability-enhanced carbine,” this US manufacturer applied a short-stroke gas piston system and few premium-level technical features to offer a compact, accurate and utterly trustworthy rifle you can trust with anything—including your life.

Unlike standard M4-pattern carbines with a direct gas impingement system of operation, Barrett Firearms, a Tennessee-based manufacturer, introduced an M4-style variant named the REC7 with a new gas piston technology.

In fact, REC7 (Reliability Enhanced Carbine) uses elements from the FAL and the AK designs that Barrett adapted for the Black rifle to get cleaner and cooler operation than direct gas-impingement.

The lightweight Barrett REC7 features the short-stroke gas piston mechanism to separate heat and powder residue from the bolt carrier and trigger assembly. The revolutionary spring-loaded piston system enables a rifle to run cleaner and more reliably than a traditional AR-style rifle.

The semi-automatic REC7 is offered in a 5.56 NATO and the 6.8mm Special Purpose Cartridge (SPC) with a medium-contour 16-inch barrel.

This modern sporting rifle is engineered from premium components such as forged 7075 aluminum upper and lower receivers with evenly applied black anodizing and a matching manganese phosphate finish on the steel parts.

The lower receiver houses mil-spec internals and a single-stage GI-type trigger with a 6-pound, 8-ounce break and comes with an A2-style pistol grip.

Although the rifle version chambered for the 6.8×43 mm SPC is compatible with a standard-size lower receiver, Barrett designed a caliber-specific, steel 30-round magazine for its 6.8 SPC carbine.

The most significant innovation, the piston gas system, is placed in the upper receiver. The upper is a flat-top configuration that contains a high-strength 9310 steel bolt and a monolithic, anti-tilt bolt carrier.

A short-stroke spring-loaded gas piston rides above the barrel emplaced in the gas block and it’s held in place by a two-position gas plug. The black nitride-coated gas block with a gas plug allows the gun to be tuned for suppressed or unsuppressed shooting.

The free-floated aluminum fore-end from Daniel Defense employs a quad rail system with a full-length Picatinny top rail.

The REC7 rifle’s upper receiver houses a free-floated hammer-forged chrome-lined barrel, with M4 feed ramps machined into the receiver for reliability.

The original REC7 barrel is topped with a mil-spec A2 flash hider which protects the muzzle.

Barrett REC7 GEN2

Over the years, the Barrett compact piston-driven REC7 has been improved and finally unveiled in 2013 as a semi-automatic premium class rifle called REC7 Gen II.

The REC7 Gen II is Barrett’s third AR-pattern rifle chambered in 5.56mm NATO or 6.8 SPC and available with either 9.25- or 16-inch barrels.

The Barrett Reliability Enhanced Carbine (REC.) Gen II retains a chrome-lined, hammer-forged barrel, a slightly redesigned system of gas-piston operation and a patented chrome-lined fluted gas block.

Like in the original version, the one-piece spring-operated 17-4 stainless piston is emplaced in the gas block with its primary function to keep more heat away from the receiver and the bolt carrier group. Due to the revolutionary short-stroke gas piston operating system, this improved Barrett’s piston rifle prevents excessive carbon buildup, resulting in cleaner, cooler, lower-maintenance operation.

The REC7 Gen II comes with a six-position Magpul MOE buttstock, an oversized trigger guard for glove use and a KeyMod handguard.

Since the piston operated AR-15 are known for their extra weight because of the additional parts, the Barrett REC7 Gen II succeeded to be a half-pound lighter than its predecessor.

Barrett dropped the nine-inch cumbersome Daniel Defense Omega-X handguard to cut some weight and installed the new Gen II handguard built in-house designed with the now-prolific “KeyMod” system.

Along with a new, octagonal and slimmer Barrett Enhanced Rail handguard, the REC7 Gen II sports the Magpul MOE grip and a modern three-prong flash hider from Primary Weapons Systems.

Besides their own designs and production, Barrett also acquires top-notch parts from proven companies, like a BCM Gunfighter Mod 4 (medium) charging handle or one of the best flip-up iron sights on the market from Precision Reflex.

The most field-proven two-stage AR trigger SSA (Super Semi-Automatic) from Geissele also comes standard. Unlike heavy, gritty, GI-type trigger from the previous model, the SSA provides a crisp 4.5-pound pull making one MOA accuracy more the rule than the exception.

Barrett REC7 DI

Today, firearms manufacturers can build rifles based on AR platforms with direct impingement (DI) or new gas piston technology. You can probably find more choices for DI/DGI systems than Gas Piston Systems, but the piston-operated AR-15 type rifles have become popular over the last few years.

Nevertheless, the conventional AR-style rifles with a direct gas impingement stay on the course, still representing the most viable shoulder-fired weapon for the most law-abiding US citizens.

After two very successful designs from their REC7 line of piston-driven AR-15s, Barrett launched a direct impingement version at the 2016 SHOT Show.  Interestingly, the REC7 DI carbine is Barrett’s fourth AR-pattern firearm and the second one based on a direct-impingement operating system after the short-lived M468, chambered in 6.8mm SPC.

The REC 7-DI is a competent package with the Magpul furniture, the free-floated handguard, a two-stage trigger, and the enhanced charging handle.

Along with a direct-impingement design based on a lengthened gas system for reliability with or without a suppressor, the new REC7 DI arrived with an extended slimline Barrett handguard to provide a comfortable handhold.

Like in the REC7 piston rifle, the newest REC7 DI variant features forged 7075-T6 aluminum upper and lower receivers, which are hard coat anodized and Cerakote finished for a perfect color match.

As the real measurement of an AR product, the more significant part and critical components of this Barrett rifle are made in-house. For example, REC7 DI combines the company’s upgraded nickel boron bolt carrier groups with free-floating, match-grade barrels profiled and chambered in-house for tighter quality control and maximizing the weapon’s accuracy potential.

Further, Barrett’s high-strength 9310 Enhanced steel bolt is matched with a purpose-built bolt carrier machined from a monolithic block of 8620 steel and coated with a nickel-boron layer. Like you would expect in this price range, every bolt\carrier unit is proofed and magnetic-particle inspected to increase the weapon’s reliability, especially in the harshest conditions.

This lightweight and modular AR also features a homegrown KeyMod aluminum handguard called the Barrett Rail System (BRS) with accessory mounting slots.

However, many components complement their build and push the new REC7-DI to higher-end, sorted-out AR-15s that check all the boxes you would likely go after in the near future.

Another enhancement is a single-stage ALG Defense Advanced Combat Trigger (ACT), but it is also offered with popular Geissele S.S.A., a two-stage trigger.

The new REC7-DI comes with an upgraded Bravo Company charging handle that can handle high-stress shooting or a custom Radian Raptor ambidextrous charging handle.

The Barret REC7 can come in three calibers: 5.56x45mm NATO, .300 Blackout, and 6.8x43mm SPC sporting 1:7 and 1:10 twist barrels.

The latest model from Barrett’s popular REC7 DI lineup is offered in pistol, SBR, Designated Marksman (DM) and a standard recce carbine configuration.

The new Barrett REC7 DI (Direct Impingement) rifles are available with 10-, 16- or 18-inch barrels equipped with a Chris Barrett-designed muzzle brake. Depending on barrel length, the weight of REC7-DI can vary between five-and-a-half to six-and-a-half pounds.

Optics That Fit AR-15s

Final Thought

Regardless of the extreme level of craftsmanship and innovation Barrett applied in their popular REC7 lineup, all of these weapons are firmly in the category of “cleaned up” mil-spec guns that would satisfy the needs and aesthetics of many gun enthusiasts except the most discerning ones.

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