Review: Blackwood Arms Side Charging Ambidextrous AR15 Upper

    Blackwood Arms is a small company and the owner Andrew B. BeGole wouldn’t change it. Andrew is dedicated to quality above all else and making small quantities allows him to keep a close eye on the products and ensure he turns out the best product he possibly can using the best materials. Over his many years of machining parts his company has made major parts for some of the very best high dollar AR’s. I can’t really say who they are because of contract restrictions but all of you are familiar with those companies.



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    Andrew contacted me about his side charger reciprocating AR upper combination. The upper itself is made from virgin 7075 T6 Billet Aluminum.The finish is hard anodized with a Teflon finish. The tolerances are very close giving the user a snug fit between the upper and lower receiver. There are no sharp edges, the finish is perfect as is the overall fit. The bolt carrier is machined from 8620 cold rolled steel with a nickel boron finish. The bolt itself is MPI inspected. In the photos you’ll also notice the upper is a bit thicker and stronger than the usual AR upper.


    The quality is very obvious the first time you get you rifle built and rack the bolt. You can feel how close the tolerances are as well as how smooth the BCG moves in the upper. Another feature is the charging handles are ambidextrous. Now that doesn’t mean you have to keep both charging handles on. The user can install one on the side of choice or use both. I found myself preferring to use both handles.
    I know some people have issues with the reciprocating handles but I can assure you unless you use an unorthodox grip of some sort you won’t have a problem with the charging handles striking your hand.


    This video shows the machining process:

    Blackwood Arm’s Billet Side-Charging Ambidextrous Upper is hands down the best upper on the market . It’s versatility and precision engineering means it’s not only highly function but also adaptable. It’s designed for ambidextrous use which has a wide range of benefits such as; ease of manipulation for 3 Gun & competition shooters, versatility as a left, right or ambi system, reduced number of moving parts compared to a standard AR 15 Upper receiver. Increased tolerances for a tight and secure connection to your lower receiver.

    What’s in the box !?:
    7075 T6 Billet Precision Machined Upper Hard Coat Anodized Upper Black Teflon Finish.
    Bolt Carrier Precision Machined from 8620 Cold Rolled Steel with Nitride
    5.56 Bolt
    7075 T6 Charging Handles with Hard Coat and Black Teflon Finish
    Firing Pin
    Modified Bolt Release

    The bolt carrier is precision machined from 8620 Cold Roll Steel The Blackwood Billet Side-Charging Ambidextrous Upper is machined from a solid chunk of the highest quality billet 7075 T6 aluminum. Engineered with the strictest of standards and is the most versatile upper receiver on the market

    An additional feature many people talk about in the negative is blowback from gas expelled from the receiver. This can’t happen with the Blackwood upper. A screw is installed in the gap a regular charging handle would occupy. This screw keeps the BCG from falling out when the upper and lower are separated. The shooter just turns the screw counterclockwise, remove it and the BCG drops right out into your hand.


    With the nickel boron finish the bolt and carrier are very easy to clean. In fact you can take a cloth and wipe most of the carbon off without using any solvent. I actually did two builds with this upper one of which is pictured as a regular carbine. I also built another which was an AR pistol. Both of these rifles were very reliable and functioned perfectly through the many hundreds of rounds I’ve put through both guns.In fact if you look at the bolt carrier in the photos all I did was wipe it down and this is what you get after several hundred rounds. It really surprised me honestly since I’m used to a regular black finish on my BCGs.


    This is really a good option for an AR build. You can operate the bolt without breaking your cheek weld or moving your head at all. If you happen to be a lefty even better.I’d never thought much about side charging uppers but it a nice option and one you might check into if you can get a chance to shoot an AR configured this way. The MSRP is $495.00. With the exceptional quality it’s worth the cost to me.

    Blackwood Arms

    Phil White

    Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m retired as associate editor since December 14th 2017. My replacement is my friend Pete M email: [email protected] you can reach Pete for product reviews etc.