It was 2014, and I was quite broke. Like a lot of young infantrymen trying to convert their infantry skills to real-world applications, I was coming up short. Still, I was friendly enough with the local gun store that they didn’t mind me hanging around and ogling the wares. The owner spotted me one day and told me to check this out. He pulled out an AR-15 that was unlike any other I had ever seen. He introduced me to the War Sport LVOA. I knew nothing about AR-15s at this point, but man, I thought that was a cool rifle.
The Mighty LVOA
A price tag of $3,050 meant it wouldn’t be mine anytime soon. The LVOA series of rifles were the bees’ knees of 2014 and the next few years. LVOA stands for Low Visibility Operations Applications. Honestly, including Operations and Applications in your name was peak 2014. Their supposed claim to fame was a system that reduces the muzzle flash of your rifle with a special combination of handguard and muzzle device.
It was really this handguard and muzzle device that drew the attention of the AR-15 market. The handguard stretched over the end of the muzzle device, and the muzzle device didn’t blow the lid off of the handguard. Honestly, it still looks pretty sick to this day, and I see why the initial attraction to LVOA was so high. The LVOA rifles come with their own proprietary modular handguard that allows you to remove and replace rails wherever you want them.
Christ Costa used the rifles extensively, and they became a large part of their marketing. Plus, they were able to quickly get their rifles into movies, TV shows, and video games. LVOA rifles were used by name in several Tom Clancy games and became the rifle of a few Transformer’s movies. It was the hotness of that time period and was just so dang cool.
The LVOA Series
The LVOA series was comprised of 14.5-inch and 12-inch options. The 14.5 inch was the C model and had a pinned and welded muzzle device to avoid the stamp. The S model was the SBR variant. There were plans for a PCC in 2017, but I don’t think it ever materialized.
The LVOA rail and muzzle device weren’t just for looks. The idea behind the design was to cut flash in dark environments without using a suppressor. The rail extending over the muzzle device would prevent the flash from getting on the same sight plane as the shooter. It wasn’t designed to help prevent you from being seen in the dark but to help ensure it wouldn’t blind the shooter in low-light situations.
The muzzle device prevented the rail from kabooming by using a brake design that vented gas to the side. This also sends the flash to the side, which helps prevent the flash from coming up into the shooter’s sight plane. It was a neat idea, and the LVOA sold itself on the handguard and muzzle device.
The rifles were often put together using rather nice parts for the era. Nothing crazy, but you got Magpul and Seekins parts. You’d think if the handguard and muzzle device were the stars of the show, War Sport would love to sell them separately. You’d avoid the rigamarole of selling guns and the excise taxes.
From the very beginning, War Sport was adamant they would not sell the handguard and muzzle device separately. If you want it, be prepared to shell out three grand to get it. I’d imagine the profit margin was fairly high for each rifle since they weren’t as fancy outside of the handguard and muzzle device.
So why don’t you hear much about LVOA now?
It Was the Bungee Cord
Okay, it wasn’t totally the bungee cord, but can we talk about that? LVOA advertised and sold a bungee cord for their rifles. It was designed to be threaded through the handguard. Why? You could argue it provided more grip texture, I guess. War Sport advertised that the bungee cord offered a better grip in wet environments, lowered the noise signature of the rifle, and could be used for survival needs. I just had to get that out of the way.
What happened to LVOA and WarSport as a whole? I can’t seem to find definite answers, and the people I need to contact are tough to find. Going off forum posts, social media posts, and the like, it seems like War Sport had a big shake-up. The founder was ousted, and a new CEO stepped up. Some people say the founder caused these problems, while others say firing him caused them. I can’t say for sure.
These very expensive rifles weren’t always great rifles. Users complained about out-of-spec parts and pieces, especially on the receivers. Their rails were often out of spec, making it tough to add accessories.
The combination of the fancy handguard and muzzle device caused some interesting problems. The design often channeled muzzle blast backward and through the handguard. This would cause accessories to fly off the rifle and deploy BUIS with every shot. That backblast was vicious enough that Sage Dynamics banned the rifle from night vision classes.
People were paying three grand for a rifle and not getting anywhere near three grand worth of performance. The one desirable feature was turning out to have some interesting side effects. Who is gonna spend that kind of money on a rifle with all those issues?
The Phoenix Reborn
LVOA has had more resurrections than a Batman villain. War Sport is now owned by ZRODelta, and they produce the LVOA rifle for about 1,500 bucks. It comes with a cool handguard and what appears to be a blast can rather than a break. The rail is now M-LOK, and there isn’t a bungee cord in sight! Maybe this one will stick around?