Review: Iron City Rifle Works Tactical Advantage BCG

IMG_3458

Right after we announced that Iron City Rifle Works was offering a new Tactical Advantage line of bolt carrier groups, they reached out to Phil to arrange for testing of the new design. I selected the C4V coating for no other reason than it is a great looking finish. The C4V coating also has some other benefits past being good looking that we will get to later.

It wasn’t long after the initial email that the Tactical Advantage BCG showed up on my doorstep. After I had opened the package, I found the bolt carrier inside a substantial looking plastic tube. Once I pulled the bolt carrier out of the package I was blown away by how polished it was. I felt as though I was looking into a tiny gold mirror. The real question is if it works like it should on the range. It could look like a million dollars and not be worth squat if it fails. IMG_3454 IMG_3456

Everything looked great till I got to the gas key staking. Some of you well versed rifle shooters will have run into issues due to poorly staked gas keys, many times those gas keys look just like the one on the Tactical Advantage. I was a bit concerned about the staking and decided to put an Allen wrench on them to see if there was any movement to be had. I was able to back both screws out without much effort at all.

I asked them about the poor staking over the phone the Monday after I had gone to the range to test the bolt carrier and the answer I got was that they didn’t want to mess the finish up because I said I was going to take some nice photos. I just don’t see that as a valid excuse as to why a BCG left their facility with substandard staking.

After a critical failure (I will go into the failure in detail later.) with the first bolt carrier group while at the range, I called Iron City Rifle Works and walked them through the issue and they agreed to send a second BCG out for testing. They asked I send the original BCG back so they could determine what was causing my rifle to double at random. They assured me that the second BCG would “have the crap staked out of it.”

As I sit here writing this review, I pulled the second BCG out and took both screws out of the gas key without much effort at all. It appears that the gas key screws are slathered in Loctite, and the staking is a bit deeper than it was on the first BCG, but not by much.  IMG_3462 IMG_4086

Looking over the rest of the BCG, the machine work is nothing short of breathtaking. Every surface is polished to a mirror and feels glass smooth. With a bit of your favorite lube, the Tactical Advantage glides like it is on ball bearings inside my upper.

I would have preferred that the BCG wasn’t lightened on the tail of the carrier for ease of cleaning. It does look cool, but as a shooter that fits a suppressor onto his rifle 80% of the time, cleaning the insane amount of carbon buildup on my rifle parts is rather important to me.  IMG_3466 IMG_3467  IMG_3471 IMG_3472

I think the bolt looks fantastic. Constructed of Carpenter 158 then polished. Iron City coats the bolt with the same C4V coating as they apply to the carrier and gas key. Again, the machine work is nothing short of beautiful. Looking the BCG over I wasn’t able to find a single machining mark.

The rest of the bolt appears to be rather run of the mill; Iron City did see fit to include a Crane O-ring on the extractor spring to ensure positive extraction. The O-ring is an upgrade I run on just about all my rifles out of habit; I was quite pleased to see it included with the BCG from the factory. IMG_3465IMG_3473 IMG_3474

Once the BCG was in my 10.5″ test mule upper with a carbine gas system that I use for every single AR-15 product I test for the blog I had to stop a take a photo. The Tactical Advantage BCG looks amazing peaking through the ejection port, but will it run?

I loaded up four mags to their 30 round capacity and started by fitting my suppressor to see how easy it would be to clean the carbon off the BCG. Given the added gas blowback with my Saker on the end of the 10.5″ upper, I imagine it was about as much fouling that most shooters would see on a heavy range day.

After firing two magazines with no issue under rapid fire, I slid the third one into the magazine well and closed the bolt. After 7-10 shots the upper slam fired twice for seemingly no reason. There was no chance that I had bump fired, the cyclic rate of the slam fired north of 1200 rounds per minute. After experiencing no less than three slam fires, I stopped the test immediately for safety reasons.

Below you can see the carbon buildup on the BCG and how easy it is wiped away from the TiN finish. If I were to spend some time doing a deep clean, I feel like getting it to a like new condition wouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. IMG_3484   IMG_3544 IMG_3547

When I took the BCG apart, I noticed that the firing pin was sticking a bit inside the bolt. I was unable to determine why the rifle was slam firing, but an AR-15 armorer believes that there may be a burr or some sort of obstruction that caused the firing pin to stick. IMG_3571 IMG_3573

While shooting the replacement BCG that Iron City sent I attempted to recreate the failure before continuing with the evaluation. I was able to get the rifle to slam fire on video, pardon the crappy trigger work. After spending all day at the range testing products, my finger was getting pretty slow around the start of mag number 3. Directly after this video was shot, I put the el cheapo BCG that normally lives in that upper in and dumped five mags into the berm with no signs of slam fires.

I have halted all testing of the Tactical Advantage BCG at this time and shipped both faulty bolt carrier groups back to Iron City Rifle Works due to safety concerns. 

I will never come out and tell any of our readers that they shouldn’t buy something, that is for you to decide. I can only report on my findings and interject some light opinion now and again. As much as I want to break that rule this time, I think that the failures speak volumes.

Once a product fails in a dangerous manner we will halt the test and ask for a replacement. If the replacement fails in the same manner I consider that a failed test and stop the evaluation immediately.

If you want to learn more about the Tactical Advantage BCG from Iron City Rifle Works you can click HERE to see it on their web page. MSRP, as tested, was $269.99.



Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and works in the shooting sports industry. He is an avid recreational shooter and a verified gun nerd. With a lifelong passion for shooting, he has a love for all types of firearms, especially handguns and the AR-15 platform. Patrick may be contacted at tfbpatrick@gmail.com.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Spicy Meme

    Because gold ak’s are soooo last year.

  • Trey Heldmann

    Wow, I can’t believe that a company would send a faulty product out for review, let alone two. Truly poor quality control. Thank you for the honest review. As a side, that is a beautifully finished BCG.

  • Hamhands

    I’m very thankful for this article and warning on the product’s quality (particularly the safety; slamfires would make me NOPE out at the first one, much less more testing)!

    It’s a pity, since as you say, the machining and coating are beautiful. Is this some sort of QC issue that they’re having? Their engineering looks solid enough.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      I don’t know what kind of QC processed they have in place. They told me that they had shot the replacement BCG in several rifles before sending it to verify function. Either they didn’t run the same test that resulted in the failure or their rifles are configured in such a manner that they are not prone to the same failure.

      • noob

        hmm the bolt is coated? could the coating have gotten into the firing pin channel and made it narrower, just enough to make the firing pin stick?

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          I don’t think that is it. The BCG only slam fires after several mags. I can’t really speculate as to what is causing it, I wouldn’t want to make an assumption and provide bad information.

          • oskinoify

            Patrick why in the video are you clearly not holding the rifle securely for one? 2nd you’re using your middle finger to pull the trigger and 3rd your holding the magazine for support. You want me to believe your evaluation on this iron city rifle works BCG?? Where as if any body were to see you shooting a rifle like that at a range should of stopped you from shooting any further because your weapon handling was the only thing I could verify was unsafe. Pretty crappy of you to bash the product man.

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            If you read the article you would see the part where I had been at the range all day long and my trigger finger was slowing. I decided to give it a rest while shooting with my middle finger to keep the rate of fire up. It just so happen to slam fire when I was shooting like that.

            As for the range, that is a private bay that I use when testing product. No other person is allowed in there without my consent. The only time my muzzle strayed towards the top half of the berm is when the rifle unexpectedly slam fired. While the grip I had on the rifle was not optimal, it was still secure and safe.

            If I wanted to bash the product, I could have. Instead I highlighted the short comings and still paid full attention to the positives. Just because you have some vested interest in what is said about Iron City doesn’t change the fact that TWO of their bolt carrier groups failed in a dangerous manner.

          • You know when a person has a personal interest in a product or company and comes on here and slams one of the TFB writers I tend to take offense at that.
            After some checking it seems you compete in 3 gun matches and one of your sponsors is Iron City and the video even shows the BCG Patrick tested. Since you have a personal interest in the company and product, your observations are null and void not to mention not being honest and disclosing that with your comment.

            By the way Patrick did nothing wrong in his testing.

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            Ha. Knew something smelled funny.

        • RocketScientist

          Doubt thats an issue. These coatings are extremely thin. About the max you get for PVD TiN easily is around 5 um (0.0002″). Off the top of my head, firing pin hole ID specs are like 0.058 – 0.065″ or so, and firing pin tip OD is what, 0.054″? So worst case scenario, the gap on each side of the firing pin is (0.058-0.054)/2 = 0.002″. So assuming an uncoated firing pin (true, based on the pictures), and even assuming they coated the inside of the firing pin hole, you’re talking about at maximum, a 10% reduction in clearance around the pin. Not ideal certainly, but for a worst-case scenario estimate, still not exactly damning.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Maybe you can melt them down and make one rim.

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      Spinners.

    • Hoplopfheil

      Scrape off the coating and replace the bolt, and you might have a usable BCG.

      And for only a few hundred dollars more than a normal BCG! Whatta deal!

  • Anomanom

    Valknut as their logo… perhaps not.

  • JT303

    Well, currently, it would make a very nice desk ornament/ framed wall piece, given that a slamfire is, naturally, a dangerous issue to be having. Suggests sloppy QC, especially combined with ineffective staking. An expensive desk ornament indeed.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Nope, I don’t want it on my desk. A desk should be clean and clutter free. The replacement was dropped in the mail today.

  • iksnilol

    Umm, why the complaining? I mean, slam fires reduce split times.

    • Gary Kirk

      Now they can use a real stock instead of a slide fire

  • JumpIf NotZero

    Useless coating
    Useless fancy machining
    Barely staked
    Doesn’t work

    $270, sounds about right.

    • James Young

      Maybe they’re marketing it to people who never shoot their rifles…I mean it looks good…

      • cs

        A BCG like that would look nice on my mantle or museum, but doesn’t deserve a place in my firearm.

    • Gary Kirk

      Tacti.. bling??

    • RocketScientist

      Is this company a division of Cabot Arms?

  • andrey kireev

    well that was close… I almost bought one a couple of moths ago… decided to get Cryptic coatings bolt instead

  • Edeco

    I don’t like the way it’s polished, can see curvature on some ideally flat surfaces; it looks sloppy, like the edges got hit harder. Not surprised there were reliability issues.

  • Sgt. Stedenko

    Need a gold grill to match or you aint a playa.
    Why do I think this will sell in ATL and ORD real well.
    Dats Rayciss!

    • Gary Kirk

      Nah, they need the AK platform version.. Or da un fo da glawk fohdy..

  • Gambler X

    Where have I seen that logo? Ahhhhhh yes, evil council, nyah-nyah, from this day forward my name is Betty.

    • The_Champ

      Birdy, birdy, bird, birdy, birdy, birdy, tiger, tiger, tiger, tiger

    • Gary Kirk

      Towelll..

  • AC97

    It doesn’t work, it’s ugly, and you can buy two BCGs with money left over for the price of this. Decisions, decisions…

  • The parts spent too much time in the polishing machine, and not long enough in the staking fixture.

  • CS

    I had hopes for this BCG, but after this review i think you’d be better off sticking with old trusty brands like JP, Daniel Defense, Patriot Ordnance Factory, or LMT for your Bolt Carrier Group Needs.

  • MarcoPolo

    NFA Hack?

    • Nashvone

      Who needs a trigger when all you have to do is hit the BCG release button?

      • Gary Kirk

        Yeah, forget to put the disconnector spring in your lpk.. Had a guy come to me freaking out, swore he’d got a full auto kit somehow..

        At least the rifle didn’t pull an rdp, and I got it straight.

    • TechnoTriticale

      re: NFA Hack?

      Not hardly, pilgrim. About the only way something in the BCG can contribute to multiple discharges is a stuck firing pin, and that’s just plain dangerous. It will be just be doubles if you’re lucky. If you’re not, it could consume the whole magazine with no easy way to stop it, or result in discharges out of battery.

  • Gary Kirk

    Tactibling..

  • Wolfgar

    Get a quality BCG from BCM and have it coated with Cerakote Micro-Slick . Have the inside of your upper also applied with Micro-Slick. Install a JP silent captured recoil spring and Sentry 7 adjustable gas block from SLR and you will have the smoothest , most reliable action there is in an AR.

  • mk18

    Another “Battle Rifle Company” type operation, eh? They want to get into the AR game without understanding anything about AR’s. Great…just what we DON’T need.

  • Gus Butts

    I stake multiple gas keys a year on my bench using a punch and big hammer and just freehand it and it is the same quality as if I used a jig. I only do it because the gas keys get physically damaged and won’t fit over a gas tube, not even because the screws become loose. Why does it seem so hard for companies to stake gas keys?

  • Jake

    If an ATF agent was present when a rifle slam-fired or double-fired, could they basically throw you in prison for a mechanical flaw with the gun? do the laws actually even account for mechanical issues? genuinely curious.

    • Bill

      No, BUT if they can demonstrate that you knew the gun was faulty and kept it with the intent of using it as a full auto it could be construed as constructive possession of a Class 3 firearm.

      Doubles, or worse, aren’t that uncommon, in the big picture.

      • Jake

        Damn. Thats just plain spooky.

      • OBlamo Binlyen

        Interesting, I had my AR 300 ..I’m going to call it double fire..do the same thing, but I attributed it to me just not having a good grip , or I’ve been losing my grip, either way. it just happened twice in the same outing in a normally reliable weapon. BTW I’ve used this particular mfg of BCG in other builds with zero problem. So exactly what causes a ‘slam fire’?

  • oskinoify

    What I want to know is why do you have a loose grip on the ar and why are you using your middle finger to pull the trigger? Those 2 things will cause “bump fire”. I’m sorry but I question your findings.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      I am not so sure you understand how bump fire works. Question them all that you like, the fact remains that I tested two BCGs from Iron City and both of them failed. I really wanted them to work, they look fantastic. I planned on buying one to put into a build I have planned, that wont be happening after the failure.

      Sorry that you seem unconvinced. I really don’t like giving negative reviews, sometimes the product just isn’t good enough. I will remain honest when I review things, anything less is dishonorable.

      • oskinoify

        Patrick, I appreciate your response first of all.Its just I find this puzzling as I have 4 of these bcgs, all with thousands of rounds through them and as by the video you guys found of me I am competition shooter. I push my rifle to the limit and I have NEVER had the issues your claiming. I have witnessed other name brand bcgs that have failed before my eyes but I don’t blanket that company and say they are all unsafe. Trust me it sucks that you tried 2 and both “bumped fired”, I would of loved to have witnessed it first hand. I know the owner of iron city personally and he takes his company and his products very seriously and for the record I talked with him yesterday and he ran the bcgs you sent back and could not duplicate the same problem.

        And please don’t be that guy that just because I’m sponsored by a company my response is null and void. Everything I mentioned above is true.

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          Again, that is not a bump fire. The rifle slam fired, using the wrong words to describe something does not change what happened.

          If the owner takes his products seriously, working to resolve whatever issue is occurring can go a long way to restoring the opinion of the failed BCG. Allowing sponsored shooters to covertly comment without disclosing their close relationship with the company who produced a product that failed during testing is not conducive to helping them.

          Nothing you mentioned is true, you were grasping at anything to find some way of discrediting the test. If that is how a representative of Iron City wants to handle the issue, that is up to you guys.

          At no point did I state that all of Iron City’s products are unsafe, I stated that I have halted the test due to safety concerns with this model in particular. I gave it a fair shake, I wanted to see the BCG do well, but my integrity dictates that when something fails that I report it. I have a commitment to our readers to provide factual information, not to write a puff piece on every product that gets delivered.

          Thank you for coming out that you are affiliated with Iron City.

          • oskinoify

            Patrick are you serious???? your clearly holding the rifle loosely, your pulling the trigger with your middle finger and holding the rifle by the magazine. What experienced firearm enthusiast does that and then says I gave the product a fair shake?? If you want to really slam the product even further just take down video because it discredits your findings period! And I know the difference between a slam fire and a bump fire. It is you that doesn’t know the difference by the video you posted.

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            That was not the only malf that occurred, that just happened to be what was captured on camera. I experienced the same failure on that rifle with a proper grip, with the grip in the video, and in another rifle while holding it properly. There is literally no reason that a rifle with a mil-spec trigger should bump fire from the shoulder like that. Ever.

            You are making yourself look unprofessional and damaging the reputation of Iron City further. I have explained my position and the result of the test, you are not willing to accept the fact that there is an issue. There is no way that further conversation is going to change your tune, no way you would agree that your sponsor has an issue with their product.

            Have a good one Oscar from the Iron City shooting team.

    • See my response to your first comment. It applies to this one as well.

      • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

        Ha again.

  • Justin Tyme

    Shame on you Patrick…….you were clearly bump firing that weapon. You hand grip was loose, it was off your shoulder…..it was bouncing. If you don’t like a product, don’t do a review on it. You’ve proven that you no longer have any integrity!!

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Homie, that isn’t bump firing. That is a slam fire. When the bolt closes and the round that was just chambered fires, that is literally the definition of a slam fire.

      I wanted the bolt carrier to work, I really did. It looks good as hell and I planned on buying one of them. That stopped as soon as I had TWO bolt carrier groups fail in identical and identical manner.

      As far staking, I have had two other bolt carriers that I bought from online retailers with similar staking that failed in semi-auto guns. As far as I am concerned, it is required.

      • Justin Tyme

        Hey Homie, I’m calling a spade a spade and you bump fired the rifle. And you proved it with your video, thank you very much. What was dangerous, was the way you held the rifle to fire it. Yes, you are biased in your reporting, a good writer would have thought, hmmmmm am I doing this right? am I giving this a fair shake? Should I mmmmmmaybe try this in a totally different weapon just to make sure that I do not have a potential issue with my firearm? OR…..maybe I could be on to the fact that a low mass system, any low mass system while widely used in 3 gun may have limitations depending on barrel length or with use of a supressor in an over gassed system. Yes……you were biased, you did not like the product from the time you took the product out of that package to the time you wrote the story. By the way, I will assume that the key did loosen up on you once you tightened down, you probably forgot to write about that one.

        • Justin Tyme

          And for the record, I am not affiliated with Iron City, how ever I am a firearms designer and work specifically with the AR15 platform. And have done this for many years.

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          Making a lot of assumptions there. The rifles used have never has this type of malfunction. It was recreatable on two separate rifles, that leads me to believe that there is a problem with the product.

          I experienced the failure several times both with a traditional grip and without. I assure you that I removed every variable that I possibly could.

          I will say it again, I wanted the BCG to work correctly. I think it looks amazing and really liked it up to the point where it induced several malfunctions.

          If you want to believe that I am biased, that is your prerogative. I can assure you that I am not, I have reviewed several products that I did not like and gave them a fair shake. I will not let my personal feelings ever skew the results of my evaluations as a professional.

    • Wrong on all counts. His integrity isn’t in question at all. What interest do you have in Iron City that makes you so passionate about this product that your first ever comment is this?

      • Justin Tyme

        Well Phil……either you have no clue about what you are talking about, or you are a troll that works for TFB….or both. And for you to even respond as a moderator proves it. Why am I so passionate? I came across this review and I do use many of the low mass carriers out there, I also compete and have competed for many years in 3 gun. Your boy,either does not know how to properly hold a weapon or he does and he also knows how to bump fire that weapon……I am not the only one that called him out on this. There are others in the comments. I am pretty sure that you will delete all my comments as you have no valid response. I do use Iron City, I also use JP, young, 2ndA and a couple other low mass units. NEVER…..had anything like your boy had happen, much less 2 in a row. He faked it, he trashed it. The problem is not with the carrier, the problem was between the trigger and the ground. As for the staking……I’m sure you’ve got on board with all the fan boys of full auto and “if it ain’t mil spec, it’s junk’……And when did they start the requirement of staking on the key? Well…..back in the day, there just was not a good thread locker that would hold up to the heat….technology is a good thing, you should use it……as now a day (fast forwarding 50 years) there are now many thread lockers out there that would take the heat of full auto and not fail. Not saying that staking is a bad thing, still works, and works great, but yes, you do not need to stake the gas key on any more. It’s kind of like riveting aluminum sheathing on to an airplanes wing…..works great!!! But it is old tech, still done? yes, still works? yes, but the planes you fly in today use this new technology called adhesives, adhesives that would not have even been considered 40 or 50 years ago and works as good as rivets. Phil….it is you that is wrong on all accounts.

        • oskinoify

          Wow, even i’m impressed with this comment. Glad to know I’m not the only one that noticed it!!!

  • Joshua Tarrant

    After reading this article and watch the video I feel compelled to make a few comments. First off, I will disclose right away that I have recently signed up as sponsored shooter for Iron City. This sponsorship came about after receiving this same model BCG and performing my own tests and evaluations. I put approximately 1000 rounds through the tactical advantage BCG, was pleased with its performance and was happy to add this to my competition products. So now that i have this out of the way, I want to comment on some of the items i saw in this review.
    1. The staked gas key. I have several BCG’s from several manufactures as well as aftermarket adjustable gas keys that are not not staked or not staked to the point where you couldn’t loosen the bolts and remove it with a little elbow grease. My comment here related to your ability to remove the gas key is SO WHAT. I have 20,000 rounds through an unstaked key have never had it loosen. I throw an allen key on it once in a while and it has never been loose. This is a trivial item at best.
    2. Now for the slam fire. I have not experienced this with the exact same model, The folks at Iron City where not able to recreate this and trust me they pursued this with diligence. I would also add that there many of these BCG’s being used by top competitors in the 3Gun sport with tens of thousands of rounds through them. I spoke to the guys with the highest volumes of rounds and they have not seen this either. I am going to call into question the completely unorthodox fire control position used by the Patrick in the video. the fact that he completely releases his strong hand from the grip upon firing allowing his hand to flop around on the grip and near the trigger control is completely suspect. Any firearms instructor or advanced shooter would call BS on this and immediately correct. Its equivalent to limped wrist pistol shooter complaining their pistol wont cycle.
    With all of this being said, Iron City is producing a great product and one with a ton of field data that shows it is safe and great performance product. I encourage anyone reading this article to think twice and really look at what was done here.

  • Drew Forbes

    Hello Interweb deplorables!

    I was there with Patrick when he conducted his review. I saw first hand this BCG malfunction, thus causing a slam fire and firing two rounds…for those of you who don’t know, that is bad…like, really really bad.

    Don’t really care if you believe me, I have no skin in this game. I know fanboys and ilk are attempting to disparage Patrick, saying the review was biased, he’s not credible, etc, etc. That’s wonderful. I know emotions run high when gear is involved we all cling to our decisions and go on the defense when someone tells us we’re wrong.

    Look, I’m really sorry that Iron City Rifle Works is churning out bunk products. I’m sorry if you bought one of these BCGs and now you come to realize it is nothing more than a gold-plated, one-way ticket to federal-pound-me-in-the-a**-prison…actually I’m not sorry. We have the World Wide Web, do a Google search you cretins. Buy better stuff.

    The proof, as they say, is in the puddin’