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HomeSHTFBear Creek Arsenal Overview - Well worth the Cash?

Bear Creek Arsenal Overview – Well worth the Cash?

Priced for Much less Than $500 – However Will it Run?

bear creek arsenal review of ar-15

I’m in all probability not the one one weary of AR-15 opinions. However on the danger of beating an already tiresome topic to demise, I tackled this one as a chance to realize expertise with an unfamiliar make, supplied for a worth nearly too good to be true. Price it? Learn this Bear Creek Arsenal evaluation to search out out…

Appears as if AR-15s fall into three classes:

  1. higher-end varieties that may push two grand,
  2. mid-priced however still-serviceable variations priced someplace round a $1000,
  3. and bargain-priced examples for a lot much less – probably of questionable high quality.

As a result of many people who’re gun folks have champagne tastes and beer budgets, we frequently “settle” on ARs from the mid-category, manufactured by Rock River, Ruger, Springfield Armory, S&W, and so on.

And the excellent news is, they work – sometimes, fairly nicely. However what in regards to the lowest class?

For me, a brand new AR priced nearer to $500 was uncharted territory. Thus, I opened the sturdy cardboard field bearing a Bear Creek brand with appreciable skepticism. 

First Impressions

Having been handed this rifle sight unseen, I envisioned a bare-bones AR. As an alternative, a business-like 16-inch carbine emerged from the field with a trim, free-floated forend, contoured to enrich a singular receiver. Each halves had been beefier and flatter than the norm, and well-fitted.

The barrel was heavier than anticipated, too, contributing to the following shock: its heftiness. If first impressions are lasting, we had been off to a superb begin. This piqued my curiosity about Bear Creek Arsenal. Given this carbine’s comparatively low worth, I pictured a small group of “builders”. Which led to a different shock.

A go to to the Bear Creek web site took me to a video that confirmed a big facility, in Sanford NC, with isles full of contemporary CNC machines.

The Rifle, Unboxed

Past a 16-inch carbine and an proprietor’s handbook, the field contained a individually packaged “BCA Purple Dot Sight” – however no journal (a probable price financial savings measure). Coincidentally, I had some expertise with the sight (extra to observe), however for the reason that Bear Creek AR-15 was new floor, I did some snooping. BCA’s web site lists an nearly overwhelming listing of components, receiver assemblies, and ready-to-go rifles.

bear creek arsenal rifle unboxed
BCA Carbine because it got here out of the field – with one exception. As proven right here, the included Purple Dot Scope has been mounted for the picture. The carbine is bought with a “restricted lifetime guarantee”, marketed to cowl defects for the unique purchaser.

The precise mannequin I reviewed shouldn’t be listed on the BCA web site in the intervening time. The closest match (proven with a typical higher receiver) I can discover as of this writing has the next specs:

  • BC-15 5.56 NATO Rifle 16”
  • Parkerized, M4 Barrel, 1:7 Twist
  • Mid-length Fuel System
  • 15” MLOK
  • MSRP: $441.99

So, I’ll cowl this carbine by way of its decrease and higher receiver assemblies.

Decrease Receiver Meeting

Apparently, the decrease receiver is a BCA “machined billet Mil Spec” model, constructed from 7075 T6 aluminum. The set off guard is integral with the receiver. Completed in onerous coat anodized, black, it’s outfitted with an M4 collapsible inventory and an A2 grip. As famous beforehand, this decrease is thicker than customary.

Thus, the horizontal pin that captures the bolt-catch has been eradicated. As an alternative, it’s retained by a set screw (appears sturdy sufficient, however a dab of thread-locker could possibly be good insurance coverage). The buffer tube is Mil Spec. The fireplace-control components look like MIM.

Probably, it’s a Mannequin BCA15 Multi Caliber Decrease Meeting, Billet Black Engraved, Black Anodized”, SKU LAAR15-BL, listed at $169.95.

BCA upper receiver with catch closeup
Attention-grabbing BCA options embrace its thicker milled receiver halves and proprietary bolt-catch system. The free-floated forend is secured by eight screws. A aspect observe: The scope is mounted in a set of 1″ QD Warne rings that constantly return to zero.

Higher Receiver Meeting

BCA lists an identical higher, however just like the decrease, this one is a slab-sided, billet kind. Stamped “BCA15 Multi Caliber” and machined as a flat-top with a ahead help, it’s a superb beauty match for the decrease.

The barrel is 16-inches, and the part ahead of the gasoline block is heavier than customary, measuring .745” on the muzzle. Stamped 5.56 NATO with a 1:7 twist, it has M-4 feed ramps and a mid-length .750 gasoline system. The gasoline block is a low-profile kind, secured by way of two cap screws at 6:00. The 1/2×28 muzzle is provided with a BCA 2 ½-inch “spiraled flash hider.” The barrel is supposedly constructed from Chrome Moly Vanadium metal. The bore seems to be un-plated, and its exterior has a parkerized end.

The handguard is a BCA 15-inch Free-float MLOK “new design.” Its interrupted high rail floor and trim 1.5” O.D shave some weight whereas complementing the receiver. It extends simply shy of the muzzle however permits entry of its threads. At its rear, free float is achieved by eight screws that have interaction a metal collar (appears sturdy however the screws could possibly be marked to point loosening). 

BCA Gas Key Closeup
The bolt provider meeting seems to be MIL-SPEC and the bolt key’s screws have been securely staked (prevents eventual loosening and gas-leakage that causes malfunctions). When held vertically, it dropped within the opened higher receiver and locked up with no hitch.

The bolt provider group seems to be Mil Spec, and its gasoline secret’s securely staked – no chrome plating inside although.

BCA lists an identical higher, SKU 501N-UA556CM41617P-15M3, for $259.99.

The higher meeting meshed with the decrease with out extreme play, and the pushpins permitted straightforward disassembly for field-cleaning.

Whole price, calculated off each halves, works out to round $430!

Bear Creek Arsenal Overview – Testing

So, the worth is engaging, however how does the Bear Creek Arsenal AR-15 really carry out?

Pre-fire: Inspection & Specs

The BCA carbine had apparently been fired (manufacturing unit check?), so I gave it a cursory cleansing, specializing in the bore. Not {that a} rifle on this league is more likely to bear an prolonged break-in course of, however I needed to begin with a trusted load – one which’s produced excellent accuracy in various AR-15s to incorporate these with 1:7 twists. To discover the carbine’s full potential, I delayed set up of the BCA Dot Sight in favor of a scope. The expedient selection occurred to be an older Burris 1 ¾ -5X Fullfield in a set of Warne QD rings (that constantly repeat zero).  

Checking for potential issues I encountered a sticky bolt-catch, evidenced by the failure of the bolt-carrier to lock open on an empty journal (three varieties). Simple repair by exercising the catch, adopted by a number of drops of oil. Nevertheless, retracting the bolt meeting required heaps of muscle – sufficient that I locked it rearward in a single day earlier than hitting the vary.

Out of the field, on my scale, the naked carbine weighed 6lbs, 12 ounces. The Purple Dot Sight weighed 9.9 oz.

The set off was listed with a “MIL SPEC weight of 7-8 lbs.” On the finish of the testing periods, this one averaged 6 ½ lbs.

Reside hearth: Perform & Accuracy

Establishing on sandbags at 100 yards, bore-sighting confirmed the scope would put me on-paper. Circumstances had been favorable; 35 F and overcast with barely any wind. Through the years, throughout T&E periods, I’ve seen a number of ARs (and different varieties) cork off a number of rounds so, as precaution, I led off with simply two. This additionally supplied a chance to recuperate and examine fired instances for indicators of issues…    

BCA AR-15 on bench with Burris scope
Arrange for testing at 100 yards with a Burris 1.75-5X scope. The journal (barely seen and nearly flush) is a 5-shot MWG, that gives clearance when capturing off a bench relaxation.
BCA Ammo tested
The assortment of .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO hundreds used in the course of the 100-yard accuracy part. Though 1:7 twists usually want heavier bullets, the 2 hundreds to the higher proper produced tight teams within the BCA carbine.

Hornady .223, 55-grain TAP (much like V-MAX with a polymer tip)

This load (alluded to above) is my most well-liked light-varmint selection, and it shoots like gangbusters in plenty of twists. The primary two bullets struck one inch aside, round 6” proper of the aiming circle. The rifle functioned usually, and the fired brass appeared wonderful so, after correcting the scope for windage, I loaded 5 extra. Issues had been progressing swimmingly – till the third shot when the rifle doubled.

At that time, since just one spherical remained, I fired it (with trepidation however no points) to lock-back. After retrieving and inspecting the fired instances, a lone primer indicated the potential trigger. Simply an informed guess, however the fourth spherical may’ve slam-fired as a consequence of a extremely energetic bolt-carrier meeting and gentle primer (see pictures). Inherent to its design, an AR’s firing pin free floats. Because of this, it’s not unusual to notice a dimple on the primer of a beforehand chambered (unfired) cartridge.

Downrange, one TAP spherical was AWOL from the goal. The excellent news was, it was captured by the berm above – and the opposite 4 had been clustered in a tidy 1-inch group. Time for faucets on TAP, and a few head-scratching.

BCA Primers
A comparability of Hornady 55-grain TAP primers from the above check: The fired pair to the upper-right seem regular. The fired primer to the lower-right signifies a “downside”. The dimple on the dwell primer beside it was produced by the inertial results of the bolt-carrier meeting. Small dents are typical – however this one’s a bit deeper.

Winchester 5.56 62-grain Inexperienced Tip (widespread navy load)

An inspection of the rifle revealed no points, so I individually loaded and chambered a number of WW military-type Inexperienced Ideas. The primers displayed regular dimples, so the present went on (with fingers crossed). End result: 100% operate and “okay” however not-stellar accuracy. Three 5-shot teams averaged a bit above 2-inches.

Federal .223 55-grain American Eagle FMJ 

I actually purchased these items by the ton to be used as our company’s Q-load. Usually, it averages 1-5 to 2-MOA from AR-15 carbines of varied makes and twists. Though it cycled completely by the BCA accuracy was mediocre, with three 5- shot teams averaging round 3-inches (or 3 MOA). Not a condemnation of this carbine although, as we will see.

Federal .223 55-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip (one other plastic-tipped increasing load)

I dipped into this treasured hoard within the curiosity of science. It’s my go-to basic function selection for all .223 and 5.56 makes use of involving bigger varmints, and so on. It additionally successfully anchors our giant coyote/wolf hybrids (and serves an obligation load for a a number of giant home-state LE companies to incorporate mine).

Like TAP, Federal’s Nosler BT bullet is seldom fussy relating to twists. Accuracy sometimes runs “good” to “nice”. Zeroing in on the identical aiming circle, the BCA got here to life, piling 5 right into a ¾” cluster that was superimposed on the (marked) TAP group. It could take extra capturing to verify these nice outcomes, however my cash’s on a contented end result.

100 Yard Wrap-up

Accuracy clever, this BCA was among the many fussiest rifles I’ve encountered through the years – the explanation it’s value making an attempt totally different hundreds (though POI was constant). Usually, I’d be fussier, too, with at the least a bore-cleaning between every load. To my thoughts, this AR is extra utilitarian. For what it’s value, close to as I can deduce, BCA recommends 75-grain boattails, or Nosler’s Match Grade 69 grain hundreds for this barrel.

target test results
100-yard accuracy sampler, identical zero all through: The BCA took an apparent shine to the pricier polymer-tipped hundreds. 5 Federal 55-grain Ballistic Ideas (+) drilled a 0.75″ group. The 2 Hornady TAP rounds (R) are “sighters”.

Concerning operate, aside from the early pleasure with TAP, the BCA ran with no hitch. On the conclusion of the 100-yard part, a uniform pile of fired brass had amassed roughly six ft from the rifle at 4:00. Most would’ve landed in a drywall bucket – an indication of correct operate. No dents or different anomalies evident, both.

50 Yards: Connecting the Dot

Rumors on the contrary, good teams are attainable with a lower-magnification scope – with cautious capturing. Dot sights can do the job to a sure extent however outcomes sometimes have extra in widespread with receiver sights. So for the dot part, I adopted our company’s patrol-rifle zero SOP.

BCA Dot Bore Sighting
50 yards: Arrange bore-sighting of the BCA Purple Dot Scope: If zeroed at this distance, most AR-15s will even be on the cash at 200 yards.

After mounting the BCA Purple Dot Sight, I bore-sighted the higher in preparation for a 50-yard zero (which places most AR-15s on the cash at 200 yards). The sight’s CR 2032 battery (included) powers a 4-moa reticle, which provides a pink or inexperienced dot with 5 settings.

The dot appeared pretty crisp, however lens readability was mediocre. The unit is secured by a single nut, tightened a lot as I dared, utilizing a 12mm socket and hand-driver. The windage and elevation changes responded as marketed by their ¼ -moa clicks, so zero was straightforward, utilizing Inexperienced Ideas. Or so it appeared…

Every week later, throughout a repeat session to snag some pictures, I skilled a dramatic zero shift. Turned out the mounting nut had loosened, and the ring screws had been lower than tight. As soon as dwelling, I torqued the nut to 25 inch-pounds with blue thread-locker, and cinched the ring screws to 18 inch-lbs. A repeat session (and some clicks) produced higher outcomes – in the meanwhile. On a whim, I fired some 55-grain Federal Basic FMJs, which produced a good 50-yard group off my elbows.

As a aspect observe, a close to dead-ringer of this sight is mounted to my S&W M&P 15-22. Branded as a “Walther”, it’s been hanging in there for at the least a decade, probably as a result of its host is a .22 rimfire. BCA lists this one for $59.95. The included lens caps are, maybe, the perfect a part of the sight.

BCA Dot Sight Comparison
Observe the similarities of the Bear Creek Arsenal Purple Dot Scope to the “Walther” model. The latter (high) has labored reliably for a decade or extra, – however, then once more, its host is an S&W M&P-22 rimfire. Thread-locker is suggested for the centerfire’s mounting nut.

Armorers’ Ideas

I requested two skilled AR armorers to look at this BCA, neither of whom flagged any main faults. The primary one appeared it over previous to any capturing and had the identical take as me: “wow, heavy buffer spring!” The second armorer was my trusted company AR guru, and now runs his personal gun store. The capturing was over, and, to him, the buffer felt “regular” (identical for me, now). He says he’s bought almost forty BCAs with no complaints. As for the dot sight: “good luck.” 

The Huge Query – Price It?

The BCA could possibly be – particularly if cash is tight. It’s $450 (approximate) worth permits leeway for different necessities to incorporate magazines and ammunition, and so on.

As famous above, most diehard shooters will persist with higher-priced AR-15s. Identical for LE companies, embrace my very own. Our dozens of Windham Weaponry carbines have withstood hundreds of rounds and years of onerous knocks – together with their Aimpoint Professional dot-sights. With lives on the road, I see no cause to change.

However many gun homeowners shoot sometimes – at finest. Bought for half the worth of a WW carbine (not counting the expense of its sight) and equally configured, the BCA model may suffice. It may additionally make the minimize for truck gun use, or perhaps use as a spare, probably stashed at another location for bug-out functions or camp obligation.

Whatever the BCA’s rationale, I’d suggest a number of upgrades starting with the dot sight. If an Aimpoint is out, the logical place to begin is a set of backup iron sights, hopefully, with a watch towards an optical various just like the Vortex SPARC Photo voltaic Dot Sight.

For certain, I’d swap the wiggly inventory and G.I. pistol-grip for a set bought by MAGPUL, and so on. Add a sling (straightforward by way of a QD swivel) and also you’re just about there – aside from ammo and magazines. As soon as the bolt-catch glitch was resolved, this one ran with no hitch off 30-round PMAGs, 20-Rd Brownells, and plastic 5-shot MWGs (helpful off a bench relaxation).

Final level: I solely put 200 rounds by the BCA carbine – removed from a complete check. The “double TAP” seems to have been an anomaly. Taking part in it secure, spherical up a number of extra opinions earlier than a ultimate dedication.


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