November 28, 2021

Rock River Arms AR Pistol, the RUK-15—a Personal Defense Powerhouse – Personal Defense World

I have recently come across an AR pistol manufactured by Rock River Arms (RRA). For those who do not know, RRA has been around since 1996. They have contracts with several federal agencies—the DEA, FBI and U.S. Marshals, just to name a few. But the big takeaway from all this, is the famous cliché, “big things do come in small packages.”

The Rock River Arms RUK-15 AR Pistol

Let me introduce you to the Rock River Arms RUK-15 4.5-inch AR pistol chambered in 5.56 NATO. I fell in love with this thing at first sight. It started when I first put it in my hand. The Hogue rubber pistol grip feels totally different from any other grip on an AR platform that I have ever shot. The rubber and ergonomics make it amazingly comfortable, as if it were molded for my hand.

It features a 4.25-inch lightweight aluminum free-floating handguard with a hand stop at the business end to prevent you from blowing off a digit. You may think that might limit your off-hand position, but it is as comfortable at the hand stop as it is at the magazine well.

The Rock River Arms RUK-15 AR pistol.

The sights that come with the gun could see some improvement. It comes stock with RRA NSP flip-up front and rear sights, but you have to use your whole hand to pull them up. I would recommend a set of Magpul MBUS flip-up sights or similar. That way all you have to do is hit the button and it is game on.

The RRA NSP flip-up front and rear sights require the use of both hands to pull into place.
(Photo by Andy Grossman)
Flip up sights are always nice to have, even as backups for a red dot sight.
(Photo by Andy Grossman)

The pistol came with a 30-round metal magazine, which made me feel like I was at basic training back in 1993. But I have reached out to RRA and they have since changed this to a polymer magazine. The barrel is a stout 4.5 inches and is chrome-lined with a full-auto chamber. It has a 1-in-9-inch twist rate.

The lower receiver is RRA’s LAR-15M, and the gun has an A4 upper with forward assist. Both are forged, which means they fit nicely together, without any sloppiness. The SB Tactical SBA3 arm brace comes standard.

For those wanting to mount a red-dot, the little AR has plenty of rail space to do so.
For those wanting to mount a red-dot, the little AR has plenty of rail space to do so. (Photo by Andy Grossman)

Range Time

It was at the range that I fell head over heels for the RUK-15. After putting about 600 rounds of Fiocchi .223 Rem 55-grain FMJ BT, PMC Bronze .223 Rem 55-grain FMJ-BT and Federal American Eagle 5.56mm 55-grain FMJ downrange, it shot flawlessly. Although that was just a small sampling, I felt that I could have put thousands of rounds downrange and had the same results. In fact, a buddy of mine just put about 500 rounds downrange the week before with the same gun. We even used several different magazines to make sure they would function, too. We used the stock metal magazine, a Magpul PMag and a polymer one made by Thermold Magazines.

The author took the Rock River Arms RUK-15 AR pistol for some range time.
The author took the Rock River Arms RUK-15 AR pistol for some range time.

Given the short barrel, you would think that the RUK-15 would have more recoil or that you would see a huge fireball. But that is not the case. The light recoil made it easier to get back on target. I loved hearing that ting, ting, ting at the range. The fireball was virtually nonexistent.

Defensive Roles

This gun is great for personal protection, whether at home or in a vehicle. When someone says “home-defense gun,” most folks think of a traditional pistol or a 12-gauge shotgun. But the RUK-15 would make a great home-defense gun. With its small size, you can place it just about anywhere.

Let’s take storing it in your safe room, for instance, if your bedroom is your safe room. It is small enough to stash in a dresser drawer. Or you could use a mounting device made by Runner Mounts that locks into the magazine well and put it behind some clothes in the closet. Then all you need to do is hit the mag release button, load a magazine and defend the castle.

During testing, the RUK-15 performed flawlessly with a variety of 30-round magazines.
During testing, the RUK-15 performed flawlessly with a variety of 30-round magazines. (Photo by Andy Grossman)

But this low-profile storage is not the only thing that makes the RUK-15 a great home-defense gun. Being able to use 5.56mm ammo in a pistol-sized firearm allows for more power than with a traditional pistol, while also delivering less recoil than a 12-gauge shotgun. This firearm is well balanced, a factor which I am picky about. It is like picking out new silverware—I have to make sure that the pieces feel well balanced in my hand. This, along with the light recoil, contributes to faster reacquisition of your target.

With its 4.5-inch barrel, the RUK-15 allows you to clear tight corners easier. The pistol’s light recoil allows you to shoot one-handed. It also comes stock with an SBA3 brace, allowing for more stabilization while firing with one hand and fending off attackers with the other.

Storage and Transport

Some people carry their pistols only when they are out and about. But others also keep vehicle guns, which can be stored behind your front seat in a tactical seat back pouch. In a car, you could mount the RUK-15 in the trunk on the side wall or the back of the seat, or even in the spare tire well. There are also gun safes and racks that will fit under vehicle seats.

This gun will also fit inside a backpack (rucksack) that could be laid on the seat. Hence why RRA named this pistol the RUK-15. Why would I need to carry a gun like this in my vehicle? Well, with what’s going on in our world today, you never know what someone’s attention is focused on. You never know when an angry mob might try to block you from moving your vehicle.

The RUK-15 will work for a situation when you are in your vehicle and someone tries to break in. You can literally pull this from behind your seat and take aim, without hitting your window with the muzzle. I have shot and had relationships with many different ARs, from Smith & Wesson and Ruger to Sig Sauer and Colt. Now that I am out, the RRA RUK-15 is worth starting a new relationship with. For more information, visit

The small frame of the Rock River RUK-15 AR pistol is ideal for vehicle defense.
The small frame of the Rock River RUK-15 AR pistol is ideal for vehicle defense. (Photo by Andy Grossman)

Rock River Arms RUK-15 AR Pistol Specs

Caliber: 5.56mm NATO
Barrel: 4.5 inches
Overall Length: 22.25 inches
Weight: 5 pounds (empty)
Sights: RRA NSP flip-ups
Arm Brace: SB Tactical SBA3
Action: Semi-Auto
Finish: Hardcoat anodized
Capacity: 30+1
MSRP: Starts at $1,095

This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World April/May 2021 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email [email protected]

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