I originally met with the Cobalt Kinetics group at SHOT Show Range Day where they had a small booth. The product they were promoting was their flagship concept; an AR-15 with a dual bolt drop system (presented as a functioning forward assist). This is arguably one of the most innovative functional and structural component changes to the original design of the platform.
About two months ago we, TFB, published a press release detailing that the Cobalt Kinetics B.A.M.F. was available for pre-order ahead of their June release, and we had some entertaining discussion in the comments.
TFB was contacted by Cobalt Kinetics (around March) to see if we would be willing to send a writer out to review their B.A.M.F. ahead of the release. I was asked to go since I was the original contact with them at SHOT and I was definitely interested to get some hands on time with the rifle (since Cobalt Kinetics’ booth at Range Day was not on a live berm). Cobalt Kinetics ended up canceling the original shoot as they had discovered a manufacturing problem after putting something north of twenty-thousand rounds through the gun (along with some other abusive tests). They reconnected with me a few weeks ago and let me know that the problems were all resolved, and wanted to know if I would still be interested to come out to play (for “reals” this time). I would like to point out that they could have went ahead with the original plan (bringing us out to review the B.A.M.F.), and just not said anything about the defect they encountered (after heavy use), and then quietly fixed it, no one the wiser. That definitely shows a great deal of integrity and professionalism in my book.
So, the second day of summer, I drove from New Mexico to Nevada to demo their rifle. Terrible time of year and location to blow through a case of someone else’s ammo, but I am willing to do that for you readers.
Full Disclosure: Cobalt Kinetics paid my expenses to come review the B.A.M.F. at the Pro Gun Club in Nevada
This is the first event where a vendor brought me out specifically to shoot the rifle. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I also wasn’t sure if it was just going to be a “horse and pony” show.
After I got in, I met up with Jeremy Lamb, Cobalt Kinetic’s Director of Sales and Marketing, to discuss the plan. As a former Law Enforcement and SWAT Officer, he was definitely not what I envisioned I was going to meet up with, having known a number of salespeople.
I was upfront with Jeremy that I would review the rifle how I would review any rifle. I wasn’t going to give a positive review simply because I had been brought out. I think that is unethical and ultimately it hurts the reputation of this publication (and that kind of thing is really easy for readers to see through). He understood and agreed with the stipulation, stating that the rifle should speak for itself. He also expressed his personal concerns about publications that do reviews for advertising dollars (in a “pay to play” fashion).
Part of the reason they brought me out (rather than send me the rifle to review at my leisure) was due to the turn around time and their stock on hand. Since they are getting ready to ship their first run, and pretty much all of the first production run units are spoken for, they just don’t have dozens of rifles laying around to loan out for a couple of months. An added benefit to me was that I could ask a bunch of questions about the platform and manufacturing, as well as the company itself. And the best benefit is, that, during the course of fire, Jeremy kept all of my magazines topped off… 🙂
The model that I reviewed, the ”Edge”, has a fixed machined stock. Which could be off-putting to some. It seems that pretty much all ARs have adjustable stocks, and that is the new norm. And I have to say, at first, I was a little put off and confused by it. Then, after firing a couple hundred rounds through it, I found that I didn’t notice the lack of adjustment, it seemed like it fit me well. Cobalt Kinetics does have a model which has a Hogue collapsible stock (the plain B.A.M.F.).
The machined stock will not accept a quick disconnect (as most stocks currently available do). Jeremy indicated that there are plans to add a quick disconnect in the future. As it was, there was plenty of space to thread webbing for a sling.
As you can see the lines of the weapon are cut very aggressively, with many of the forward components coming to a sharp point (one of the comments on the earlier post compared it to Saruman’s staff in Lord of the Rings). This gives the weapon a very distinctive look and not something you’re going to see on many, if any, other ARs out there—I certainly haven’t encountered one yet. Regarding their color choices, they picked them based on some surveys of both shooters and dealers. Jeremy joked with me that they do not have any plans to make a black version of the rifle but if they did it’s initials would be J.A.F.C. (Just Another “Funny” Carbine; I could be remembering the “Funny” part of the acronym incorrectly).
The machining tolerances are well executed and tight. You can shake the weapon and not hear any rattling or anything that sounds loose.
The charging handle operates smooth as butter. There was very little sound that came from it, even with nothing more but a very thin coat of lubrication (I’m used to some metal on metal noise).
When you drop the bolt, it goes home with the satisfying clunk and no other noise or vibration.
Regarding the sharp points on both the muzzle device in the forward section of the hand guard, Jeremy mentioned that they are likely going to do a less aggressive cut or dull them down to reduce the likelihood that the sharp points would catch on a collection box or bucket for rifles during competition.
Whenever you see a company focusing what appears to be an enormous amount of time on what would seemingly be an unimportant detail, it should make you ask the following questions, “Are they putting efforts in the wrong place? Are they trying to draw your attention away from something else? Or is their attention to detail so high that every component is going to receive the same level of scrutiny?”. Just like with RISE Armaments trigger color choice (and the number of iterations they went through to perfect it), I think Cobalt Kinetics is in the “perfectionist” category. They have beveled edges and cutout the trigger well. They created a custom muzzle device that matches the styling of the fore end of the hand guard. They have also done an admirable job of integrating their machined components with components from other vendors (like the trigger).
Some of the decisions they made were based around providing a quality product while keeping prices down. Of course they could’ve put in a Timney trigger on the rifle (it is KE Arms DPM). Of course they could’ve put a Voodoo barrel on the rifle. But you would be paying significantly more for the rifle. And honestly if I hadn’t been told, I would have assumed that every component was internally created. Down the line, they may well offer a version with some of the higher grade components. I would imagine that will be based on interest, or, more likely, as a specialized/custom build.
Jeremy stated that their big focus is to ensure that all of their components are American-made; from what they machine in-house to the components that they outsource. He even related a story that they actually changed out a planned component once they found out that a vendor had certain parts of it made overseas (though it was “designed” in the U.S.). To me, along with their initial recalls before they even released the product, demonstrates their level of integrity and commitment to their principles. Sure they could’ve used those components that they had already purchased, but they decided to ensure that everything they put into their offering follows their criteria.
- Caliber: .223 Wylde
- Ambidextrous Controls: Charging Handle, Dual Drop Bolt Release, 45-Degree Safety Selector, Mag Release (Odin on right side), Threaded Pins
- Upper and Lower Receiver: Custom Mated Upper and Lower Precision Machined from 7075 Billet-Aluminum, Beveled Mag Well, Detachable Trigger Guard
- BCG: Nickel Boron
- Barrel Length: 16” Chrome Lined or 18” Stainless Steel
- Hand Guard: Free Floating Precision Machined 7075 Billet Aluminum with M-Lok
- Sights: Flip-up Front and Rear
- Muzzle Device: Cobalt Compensator
- Grip: Hogue Over-molded Grip
- Tigger: High Performance Trigger
- Butt-Stock: Cobalt Kinetics Rifle Stock
- Gas System: Mid-Length Adjustable Low-Profile Block
Shooting the B.A.M.F.
Our first order of business was to swap the scope from the OD Rifle to the new Edge. This of course, required a quick BZO so that it wouldn’t be too frustrating. I used one of the easy short range “zeroing” techniques to get close enough. Not perfect by any means, but good enough for the shoot (which was going to be mainly at thirty to forty meters.
The first time I loaded a magazine I forgot that the primary new feature of this weapon is the “DD” (Dual Drop). I ended up using the standard bolt release, and I think that was something we can chalk up to muscle memory and years of handling the weapon in that way. My next magazine however I remembered to use the “DD” bolt drop. It did take a little more pressure than I initially thought it would, but I don’t think that that is a detraction in any way—after the third use I no longer noticed it.
Another interesting feature to note is the fire selector switch engages at forty-five degrees rather than a more traditional ninety. Again because I was unfamiliar and not used to this mechanic, it caused me to look down to make sure that I was in the fire position. At the end of the day, this illustrates that you need to be familiar with the weapon that you are shooting. I have no doubt through appropriate dry fire practice and range drills the manipulation of the controls on the B.A.M.F. would become second nature. Yes, yes, I know that building a procedural memory for the operation of the B.A.M.F. may slow you down when you have to pick up that “lesser” AR during the Zombie Apocalypse, but I’m pretty sure you will be fine… 🙂
While I didn’t keep a strict count, we figured that I shot a total of about 800 rounds of 55 grain remanufactured brass ammunition that Jeremy had brought with him (from Western Arms and Ammo; which happens to share a parking lot with Cobalt Kinetics). I personally brought 60 rounds of 55 grain steel Wolf ammo and 10 rounds of 75 grain Hornady Boat Tail Hollow Point. The rifle shot very consistently and had no problems feeding any of the rounds. As you would expect, the match grade ammunition resulted in a tighter group and performed much more consistently. It was also interesting to note that the point of impact was higher and to the left (given the same point of aim), again illustrating that it is important for you to know how the ammo you feed shoots in your weapon.
The barrel is sub MOA and the B.A.M.F. will produce sub MOA groups all day long at 100 yds. It does have an adjustable gas system and is tuned for optimal performance.
[EDIT: Above quote added from comments by Cobalt Kinetics. My oversight on leaving off details about the barrel and gas system]
I borrowed a bunch of different magazines from Tom Gomez (the other New Mexico writer), as well as bringing some of my own, to see how the rifle handled that. We (and by “we”, I mean Jeremy) loaded a handful of rounds in each of the magazines. The set of magazines (pictured below) included: 30 round P-Mag, 20 round P-Mag, 30 round USGI Mag with Green Follower, 30 round USGI Mag with Tan Follower, a couple of Troy mags, a 20 round Wilson, and a MSAR. Jeremy had brought a couple of Lancer magazines. I had one failure to pick up a round from the full size P-Mag (stuffed with 30 rounds). I also had the Wilson 20 round magazine fail to seat in the magazine well (when fully loaded). [EDIT: the Wilson ran fine after removing the top round, the PMag did not duplicate the problem]
We measured the temperature of the unfired rifle sitting in the shade and it was a balmy 107°F (41.67°C). The B.A.M.F., right after shooting, was measured at 139°F (59.44°C). I did find that after the first ten full magazines (I’d guess around three hundred rounds), the B.A.M.F. was too uncomfortable to hold at the forward hand guard (in a “C” grip) without aid of a glove. In comparison my Primary Weapons Systems Modern Musket, I can generally go through five hundred rounds before it becomes too uncomfortable to hold. Not exactly a scientific test, and I’m sure some of that was due to the fact that there was no place to cool down the rifle (and I was probably going through rounds a little more quickly so we didn’t experience heat stroke out on the range). The heat dissipation makes sense to me as the hand guard on the B.A.M.F. is pretty light weight and doesn’t have the same amount of attached rails as does the Modern Musket (i.e. not the same amount of material to operate as a heat-sink). My guess is that there would be more heat dissipation with more accessories bolted on to the M-LOK rails. That or use a different grip (“But, Tom, ‘C’ grip is soooooo tactical”, you say).
The installed trigger is the KE Arms DMR. The trigger pull was a consistent 4.7 pounds as measured by my Lyman trigger puller with a variance of around a half a pound. This is consistent with the specs on the trigger. I found the reset of the trigger to be very crisp and it had very little travel.
The rifle was very easy to index and shift between targets. It weighs a hair over seven pounds, so it is right in the same weight range as a number of other ARs. I didn’t really feel any discomfort while shooting it (aside from the heat dissipation to my hand).
Overall I found the rifle to be a pleasure to shoot and, if I had the cash available, would be adding one to my collection. Again at the price point (~$3000), this is not a budget grade rifle. A number of you pointed this out (multiple times) in the pre-release post. This rifle is definitely poised to enter the competition space, or to be an distinctive piece for your collection.
The Cobalt Kinetics B.A.M.F. presents itself just as it was manufactured to be. This is not “just like” all of the other ARs out there. It is a well-designed, high-end AR (i.e. if you want a budget beater, this is probably not the rifle for you). Aside from the patented mechanical innovation which is what piqued my original interest at SHOT, the pure design aesthetics are amazing, from the cleanly beveled edges to the clean laser-cut markings. The B.A.M.F. Edge maintains an aggressive look while retaining ergonomic modifications that are subtle and, most definitely, functional.