TFB Review: Bear Creek Arsenal CHF BC-15 16 Inch Upper

Doug E
by Doug E
Bear Creek Arsenal BC-15 16 Inch Upper Review

Bear Creek Arsenal has had a wide selection of AR15-based rifles and components, including pistol caliber carbines, AR-10’s on up to .300 Win Mag, as well as AK platforms. Today we’ll take a look at the 16-inch Bear Creek Arsenal BC-15 upper receiver fitted with their Cold Hammer Forged (CHF) barrel I used this upper with a number of different optics and various types of 5.56x45mm NATO loads, so let’s take a look at how it did.

Bear Creek Arsenal @ TFB:

TFB Review: Bear Creek Arsenal CHF BC-15 16 Inch Upper

The last BCA product I reviewed was the 20-inch CHF Side Charge upper, but today’s review sample utilizes the standard AR-15 design with the charging handle at the rear of the receiver. It also came with a free-floated 16-inch barrel, surrounded by a 15-inch M-LOK slotted handguard with short sections of Picatinny rails at the 12 o’clock position for mounting an iron sight or a weapon light.

with Cold Hammer Forged Barrel

The gas system is a carbine length and uses a low profile block to accommodate the slim handguard. The barrel nut was perfectly timed, which allowed for a seamless mating of the handguard and receiver. As with my previous review of the Bear Creek Arsenal BC-15 Side Charge Upper, I had only requested to review the upper receivers as an added test to see how well BCA’s offerings work as a plug-and-play option when used on other lower receivers. BCA sells complete rifles, as well as receivers separately, so let’s see how this one fared for me after the listed specifications.

M4 barrel profile

The bolt carrier group included a magnetic particle inspected (MPI) E9310 steel bolt and the gas key was staked firmly, but not overly aggressive.

E9310 AR-15 Bolt MPI


SKU 902N-UA556CM41618MHF-15M3
Weight (lbs) 6.00
Magazine Capacity N/A
Length 16
Profile M4 Contour
Twist 1:8
Finish Black Nitride
Material 4150 Chrome Moly Vanadium
Thread Pitch 1/2 x 28
Caliber 5.56 NATO
Feed Ramp M4 Feedramp
Flutes Non-fluted
Gas System Carbine
Gas Block System 0.750
Charging Style Rear Charging
Classification Complete Upper Assembly
Platform AR-15
Bolt Material E9310
Receiver Material Forged

The barrel is stamped "5.56 NATO 1:8"


Even though I subscribe to the minimalist camp for rifles, I always like to see 15-inch free-float handguards on barrels 16 inches or longer. If nothing else, it allows for plenty of room to reach out further with the support hand for stability. The 42 M-LOK slots are more than enough to add whatever accessories you’d desire, but I just added a short, extra Picatinny rail at the 6 o’clock position that could double as either a bipod mount or a weapon-mounted light attachment point.

Bear Creek Arsenal BC-15 16 Inch Upper Review

The BC-15’s low-profile gas block sits about a millimeter from the bottom of the handguard and that area can get pretty hot if you’re doing mag dumps or fast shooting, repetitive drills. Fortunately, there’s a lot of M-LOK there for airflow, or for adding less conductive grip panels.

Carbine Length Gas System

The fore and aft sling mounts worked great, compared to the 20-inch version I reviewed where the rifle-length gas block hindered the QD lock from fully seating in the foreward QD cup. The handguard screws stayed tight during my review, before and after removing the handguard.

Bear Creek Arsenal BC-15 16 Inch Upper Review

The Bear Creek Arsenal BC-15 Upper ran flawlessly, fast or slow. The BC-15 Upper arrived pretty dry from the factory, so I oiled the bolt carrier group for starters, and then one more time towards the end of my review period since it was looking pretty dry again. The BC-15 went bang every time and I never had a malfunction during my time with it. I didn’t imagine that slapping this BCA upper on my other lowers would have any issues, and I was right. It worked perfectly.

Since Bear Creek Arsenal made the investment in cold hammer forging tooling, I really wanted to check the accuracy. This Bear Creek Arsenal BC-15 Upper has been featured in several of my optic reviews, such as the Primary Arms GLx 3-15x44mm rifle scope and their PLx RD-25 red dot, the Viridian RFX 35, and most recently from the Arken Optics ZULUS Digital Day/Night Scope. I spent my range times from 10 to 500 yards between all the optics and I was pleased with the results. As I mentioned in my RD-25 review, I was ringing my 10-inch steel plate with ease at 200 yards using a standing, offhand stance.

Offhand standing at 200 yards.
100-yard group through the Arken Optics ZULUS Day/Night Scope. Hornady 75gr SBR Training load was used.
Group at 50 yards, standing.

Sadly, during my 500-yard day, I didn’t have my favorite 75-grain Hornady Frontier ammo, so I used some Eastern European M193 and managed 2.3 and 2.6 MOA groups. I was happy though, given that M193 is considered to be 2-3 MOA anyway. If you read my Bear Creek Arsenal 20 Inch CHF review, you’ll recall that I was able to get 1 and 1.5 MOA groups at 500 yards with the 75-grain Hornady Frontier Match loads.


This CHF BC-15 16-inch upper receiver is the third Bear Creek Arsenal I’ve reviewed, and I can say that I’ve been impressed by the performance each time. Each one has run great and I consider them to be completely reliable. I haven’t handled a lot of other M-LOK handguards lately to compare against, but BCA’s seem a little sharper than I like. I never cut myself, but if I was going to do an intensive class with it, I would probably wear gloves or add some grip panels.

This cold hammer forged BC-15 16-inch upper receiver from Bear Creek Arsenal is listed fora very affordable $229.96 and includes the bolt carrier group. BCA seems to list and delist various iterations of the BC-15 based on availability, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for, you can always check back shortly. They really seem to be cranking out a lot. You can visit to view their whole lineup.

What do you think about the BCA BC-15 upper receiver? If you’ve been using their complete rifles or an upper or a lower receiver, let us know how your experience has been.

Doug E
Doug E

Doug has been a firearms enthusiast since age 16 after getting to shoot with a friend. Since then he's taken many others out to the range for their first time. He is a husband, father, grandfather, police officer, outdoorsman, artist and a student of history. Doug has been a TFB reader from the start and is happy to be a contributor of content. Doug can be reached at battleshipgrey61 AT, or battleshipgrey61 on Instagram.

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7 of 13 comments
  • Plumber576 Plumber576 on Mar 19, 2024

    Their hammer-forged barrels pique my interest but I can't get behind the carbine gas system lengths or barrel profiles available.

    Would like to see hammer-forged 12.5", 14.5", and 16" lengths with midlength gas and without M203 cuts.

    A 18" rifle gas would be on my list as well.

  • Xerxes036 Xerxes036 on Mar 20, 2024

    Imagine being a BCA Juan MOA guaranteed rifle fanboi and being for strong borders 😁

    • See 4 previous
    • Dead Sirius Dead Sirius on Mar 26, 2024

      @Xerxes036 Feel free to link to proof that they did anything wrong. And I'm all for "budget builds", if that means more people can own a reliable AR. Just like I'm against talking smack about a company out of ignorance.