What Makes A Bad AR? Let’s Look At Battle Rifle Company

    The high demand for AR-15 and similar rifles has led to many new manufacturers of said rifles. Enter “Battle Rifle Company” of Texas. I made some initial observations upon viewing their products while at the NRA show on Saturday, but I also visited their booth on Sunday. What follows are some of my observations after looking at their rifles the second time, and having a few more days to think about what I saw.

    As you’ll note in the article above, I described their products as “pretty much the worst AR-15s I’ve ever seen.” While that’s a harsh statement, it’s also an honest one. I was angry after I walked away from their booth. Angry because they were trying to peddle substandard products as the greatest thing ever, angry because their salespeople were either ignorant or lying, angry because somewhere out there was someone who might someday have to depend on a rifle that would most likely let them down. I took the time to calm down before writing that article, otherwise it would have been more profanity-laced than anything, ever.

    I mentioned in the other article that their triggers had a lot of creep. If you’re not sure what I mean by that, here’s a brief explanation – creep is a point at which the trigger momentarily stops before continuing on to the rear as you pull it. Unlike a two stage trigger where you pull through a zone of a certain weight and come to a defined point where the trigger stops and more pressure is required to fire the weapon, a trigger with a lot of creep will stop several times, making you think that you’re about to fire when you’re really not (assuming that you’re adding pressure slowly).

    Why Battle Rifle Company was bragging about the quality of this modified stock trigger was mystifying to me. Every one I tried was severely flawed. Furthermore, depending on how they modified the stock triggers, safety issues could result as the case hardening of an AR fire control group is not very deep.

    I also saw that they had used a carbine length rail on a rifle with a midlength gas system. In my mind, this is inexcusable. Whether the rifle has a gas tube or an operating rod, keeping foreign objects from damaging it or, in the case of an op rod, preventing its full travel to the rear is critical to maintaining function. In a post on M4Carbine.net, the owner of Battle Rifle Company gave alternating explanations for their use of the wrong rail, from “people saying it looked cool” to unnamed federal agents wanting to use it because it “looked intimidating.” Again, this is a serious issue which can affect the durability and reliability of the firearm. Whether it looks cool or not is irrelevant.

    Four of the BRC AR platform weapons on display at the NRA show.

    Four of the BRC AR platform weapons on display at the NRA show.

    On Sunday, I looked at the rifles again; I asked if I could open them up and take a look inside, and they let me do so (they might be regretting that at this point, wishing instead that they had fixed bayonets and charged me). I asked questions about where they sourced parts, which parts they used, and so on. The answers I received were not good.

    I was told that they used whatever parts they could get, from Brownells and other sources. Hey, Brownells is great. I buy stuff from them all the time. But not everything they sell is a top-of-the-line, “combat grade” part. Nor should it be – there is plenty of room on the market for decently priced, consumer grade AR parts and accessories. But Battle Rifle Company is selling their stuff as the greatest thing ever, when the facts say otherwise.

    When I asked which buffers they used, I was told that they used 3 ounce buffers, “instead of the standard 2.6.” Well, a standard buffer is between 2.9 and 3 ounces. I was also told things like “Our specially treated buffer spring makes for a really smooth drive.” What is this, a golf club?

    Given that changing the action spring and buffer can affect the rate of fire, I asked what the cyclic rate of their M4-type rifle was. The salesman referred me to their brochure, featuring statistics copied straight from the manual of an M16, and said that the cyclic rate of fire was 800 rounds per minute. Again, unless the rifle has components which are functionally identical to that of the M16, the rate of fire will be different.

    I also noted that neither castle nuts, carrier key screws, nor gas block setscrews/clamp screws were staked to prevent them from loosening. They told me that castle nuts and gas block screws were loctited, while carrier key screws were either staked or unstaked depending on where those parts came from.

    I have conducted numerous temperature-related tests of AR15 rifles, and can comfortably say that the failure point of even high temperature resistant Loctite 266 will be reached after approximately 100 rounds are fired through a lightweight or M4 profile barrel, while that of “blue” Loctite 242 will be reached in under 80 rounds of continuous fire. In other words, for a true “battle-ready” rifle, Loctite on a gas block is unsat. And again, the mish-mash of parts from any available source is not the hallmark of a high quality AR builder.

    All of this indicated to me that no one at the company really had a lot of knowledge about the AR platform.

    In closing, watch this video that some guy shot at the NRA show while at the Battle Rifle Company booth. In the video, the owner of the company displays poor/unsafe firearm handling skills (finger on trigger at unnecessary times) and tries to sell unsuspecting viewers a low-quality 308 AR – the one with the incorrect length handguard – for $2795. He also talks about the “synergy” of matched uppers and lowers. He throws a rifle down on the ground, then picks it up as if nothing is wrong with it – this is why their rifles had misaligned rails at the show, due to improper installation followed by dropping them on the floor.

    I did not write this or the other post on my own blog lightly. I realize that saying things from the platforms available to me can have a material effect on a company’s sales, and that the people at Battle Rifle Company might be negatively affected by what I say. But their actions and statements have had or will have a negative effect on consumers, and that is part of why sites such as my own blog and The Firearm Blog exist – to educate.

    Andrew Tuohy

    Andrew Tuohy was a Navy Corpsman with the 5th Marine Regiment. He makes a living by producing written and visual content within the firearm industry, and he also teaches carbine courses. He prefers elegant weapons for a more civilized age, and regularly posts at Vuurwapen Blog.