In the last few years, an incredible amount of talent and resources has poured into the “black rifle” market.
Everyone in the community – from the weekend shooter to the servicemember defending our country overseas – has benefited as a result of this veritable explosion of new products and ideas.
Some of these products and ideas are surprisingly affordable. What the following products all did for me, though, was make me say “oh”. As in, this is an “oh” product – the kind of product that you just don’t really understand until you use one, and then you say “oh”.
1. Spike’s Tactical ST-T2 Buffer – $30
Many AR-15 carbines (specifically, 14.5″ and 16″ carbine length ARs) have reciprocating assemblies that are simply too light. While a high rate of fire sounds cool on paper, in extreme cases, a weapon that is cycling too fast can outrun the magazine spring, which will immediately result in some sort of malfunction.
In addition, standard buffers have weights that move a short distance in order to ensure that the bolt goes into battery and stays there (in extreme conditions, the bolt can bounce back out of battery slightly) – they slam forward inside the buffer after it has returned to its “rest” position, much like a dead blow hammer.
However, this additional fore and aft movement can give the impression of greater recoil. What Spike’s did was to replace the cylindrical weights inside the buffer with heavy tungsten powder. The powder still provides that extra insurance against bolt bounce, if not more insurance against bolt bounce, while reducing felt recoil. I’ll go out on a limb and say that according to my informal, unscientific observations, the ST-T2 buffer provides an amount of recoil reduction that might challenge some small muzzle brakes.
2. Magpul BAD – $30
It’s affordable, it’s well made, it’s easy to install, it’s simple, it’s unobtrusive, and it gives you more options when it comes time to let the bolt fly home. But it also lets you lock the bolt to the rear without removing your firing hand from its proper position – that is, in my opinion, a very nice benefit. This will allow you to clear certain malfunctions faster. This is a good thing. It is, simply, a very effective device.
3. Bravo Company USA BCMGUNFIGHTER Charging Handle – $45
This is definitely an “oh” product. I didn’t think that I needed to replace my charging handles until I was sent a GFH by Bravo Co. Not only is this product stronger than the “standard” model – via design changes and high materials standards – but it greatly reduces the effort required to manipulate the charging handle. I can finally do what I was trained to do – use the knife edge of my hand against the charging handle – without slipping off the standard latch or worrying about an extended latch breaking the charging handle. The GFH does all that for about the cost of a “regular” charging handle and an extended latch. It’s a no brainer to me.