With the recent production of more Bravo Company lower receivers, complete BCM rifles and carbines will now be available. Among them is one of my favorite AR-15 configurations – the 16″ lightweight midlength.
The one you see here represents what will go on sale, with a few exceptions – the Magpul MOE midlength handguards aren’t out yet, and the production lightweight midlengths will have a .625 FSB instead of the .750 FSB on this weapon. Also, you’ll have to order the Vltor Modstock separately (and the ammunition/magazine too).
Weighing just about 6 pounds unloaded with the standard M4 stock, or 6.3lbs with the pictured Vltor Modstock, the weapon’s center of gravity is right around the front of the magwell – just where I like it. Unlike weapons with 4 more ounces of slightly heavier barrel out front, I didn’t feel the need to put the heavier Vltor EMod stock at the rear – saving me about 10 ounces overall.
Thus, I was able to add a Trijicon ACOG, model TA33, in a LaRue Tactical LT-105 QD mount and keep the weight roughly the same as a “regular” midlength with the same balance point and iron sights. That’s a big plus, and there’s no cost difference between the regular and lightweight midlengths.
Now, on to the features of this upper. Starting from the front –
Most Bravo uppers come with an A2 flash hider (or compensator, depending on the time of day and what you feel like calling it), and this one was perfectly timed. The barrel is MIL-11595E certified steel, 1/7 twist, chrome lined, with a 5.56 chamber and M4 feedramps. Every BCM barrel is individually high pressure tested and then magnetic particle tested.
All Bravo uppers that have fixed FSBs use the F-height version, as you can see in the photo.
Now, I mentioned the .750″ gas block shelf earlier. I think Bravo made the right decision by initially going with .750″ instead of .625″ – although the latter may be more “correct” for a lightweight profile, the .750″ shelf is much easier to find gas blocks for, and as you can see, a side sling swivel will fit properly on a .750″ gas block shelf. According to Paul at Bravo Company, the weight difference between the two is negligible (0.5oz) – while the .625 barrel is smaller in diameter, the corresponding FSB or gas block is generally a little heavier. As for looks, with the sling swivel on there, I can’t really tell which one it has, and even if I could, it wouldn’t really matter to me. While it’s good that BCM listens to what its customers want, in my opinion, this was a pretty silly “want.”
Moving a little farther back, this upper came ready for standard handguards, though as mentioned, future BCM midlength uppers will ship with the Magpul MOE midlength handguards. You could also install the Daniel Defense Omega rail in a matter of minutes, or any other drop-in type rail system, should you need one. You could also order the upper with a variety of free float rails installed by Bravo Company.
Here are the aforementioned M4 feed ramps. The receiver and barrel extension line up perfectly.
Another key feature, of course, is the bolt carrier group. The term “mil-spec” may be overused at times, but this is a fully mil-spec BCG that could be accepted under contract to the US Military. The shrouded firing pin M16 carrier is machined from 8620 steel, the gas key is attached with Grade 8 hardware and properly staked, and both the key and the portion of the carrier where the shot-peened bolt resides are chrome lined. There’s a chrome firing pin and a bolt made of Carpenter 158, with a tool steel extractor, an extra power extractor spring, and quality gas rings. Everything is properly heat treated. The bolt is high pressure tested by Bravo and then magnetic particle tested by a third party. There’s a lot that goes in to a quality BCG, and many think that a run of the mill BCG can be brought up to world-class standards simply by staking the carrier key on their own time and dime. That’s just not true.
The inside of the upper receiver gets special treatment, too – a baked on dry film lube. It’s a good thing to have, and it’s often overlooked.
Another thing that many people don’t think about is the Picatinny rail on top of the upper. Due to the design of modern optic mounts, this isn’t usually something that even crosses the mind of the average AR owner. However, some legacy mounts only fit rails that match the original Picatinny design exactly, allowing for no out-of-spec dimensions; every BCM upper I’ve ever owned was in spec, and this one was no exception.
By the way, the receivers are hard anodized, with an emphasis on durability over attractiveness – though as you can see, these receivers (both Bravo Company) went together beautifully.
The upper came with a few upgrades – BCM marked Troy rear sight, and the excellent BCM Gunfighter charging handle. Check out the “My Guarantee” link at the top of this page for more info about how much I like the BCM GFH.
Of course, I made it to the range as soon as possible after receiving the upper. I’ve only fired it at a 50 yard zero range and a 200m-500m steel plate range, so I can’t offer any 100 yard group sizes yet – but using the 3x ACOG, in a 10-15mph wind, I was able to engage every target on the range, including the 12″x19″ miniature ram silhouettes and the 18″ gong at 500 meters, quickly and repeatedly.
At the 50 yard zero range, someone had left a bunch of mostly broken clay pigeons out on the berm – they were quickly reduced to tiny fragments, even from the standing, coming up from the low ready position and firing as fast as I could do so and still be accurate (generally about 1.8 seconds from buzzer to first shot on a whole clay pigeon). The weapon was remarkably soft shooting, especially considering that it was still equipped with the A2 out front.
I think this would make a fantastic weapon for a lot of people. The first-time AR owner would do well to buy a quality product, as would the police officer looking for a patrol rifle. Everyone can appreciate the benefits of a light rifle – regardless of how much they work out, there comes a time when you just can’t keep holding a rifle on a target or a threat with just your non-firing hand, whether that’s 5 minutes or 5 hours. Plus, the excellent balance point offers great handling characteristics. Women, children, and anyone who wants to put rounds on target quickly will appreciate the light recoil which results from the combination of a midlength gas port location and a proper gas port diameter.
There are plenty of ARs out there, but very few can match the quality of the components and the attention to detail that goes in to each and every BCM upper. Of those that can, few offer the benefits of the midlength – sight radius, reduced operating pressures, etc – and the light weight prized by those who have to carry a weapon all day. I can’t say that there’s a market-wide trend towards lightweights, but it does seem that more and more people are realizing what they have to offer. This is, without a doubt, a good thing.