January 05, 2024
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The owner of my local FFL is hard to impress. He’s been there, done that and has the t-shirt. It’s a rare day when he gets especially excited about something I get in the mail on assignment, so when something gets his attention, it gets mine, too. In this case, it was the new Bear Creek Arsenal Genis1s II pistol, an all-metal handgun that’s comparable to the Glock 17. He was excited primarily because he thinks this gun will be a great contender to convert to full-auto fire. He also has an SOT and has some experience converting Glock-style pistols, and an all-metal build like this has great potential to run full-auto thanks to the additional weight. That will be a project for down the road, and in the meantime, I’ve simply enjoyed the change of pace of an all-metal handgun.
For those unfamiliar with Bear Creek Arsenal (BCA), they are manufacturers known for making incredibly affordable firearms and parts. They’re true manufacturers, too. It’s not just an assembly operation; the BCA facility in North Carolina churns out barrels, handguards, parts, and almost everything else that goes into making AR parts. ARs are their bread and butter, but they also have a lot of experience with handgun parts, which has now translated to complete handguns like the new Genis1s II. One of my first ever AR-15 builds was with BCA parts. I built a single-shot 300 Blackout pistol for Illinois deer hunting when I first started in the gun industry as an associate editor for Guns & Ammo magazine. I used one of their side-charging bolt carrier groups, and the setup worked great as a compact, ultra-light hunting AR, which I used to shoot a nice doe. BCA is an especially great option for first-time AR builders and experienced builders looking to try a new cartridge without breaking the bank.
Genis1s II Pistol
So, let’s get into the new pistol, starting with the price point. The BCA Genis1s II sells on their website for $449. I start with the price because BCA has packed a lot of features into the Genis1s II, and it’s worth noting everything that follows is done at such a great price. When $100 doesn’t get you anything at the grocery store anymore, it’s nice to see there are still some companies that work to deliver a good product at a fair price. The Genis1s II is basically an all-metal clone of the Glock 17 pistol, and as such, it’s compatible with G17 magazines and comes with two KCI-USA 17-round mags. Working up from the magazine, one of the first impressive features you’ll find is an ambidextrous, over-sized mag release. For those unfortunates in life born left-handed, you can quickly reverse the mag release, and the over-sized paddle is easy to find with your thumb, yet not so easy as to accidently start dropping magazines. Next on the aluminum frame is the trigger, and I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it is. With my Wheeler Digital Trigger Gauge, I measured an average 2-pound, 14-ounce pull across 10 trigger pulls. It’s a standard Glock-style trigger, so it would be pretty easy to replace if you felt so inclined, but it has a great trigger out of the box. The reset was incredibly short, and it had a nice, clean break. Glock could take a few notes from BCA. Finally, on the frame is a Pic rail for lights and laser sights. For good measure, I attached a SureFire X300 Ultra light to the rail.
Moving up to the slide, I was surprised to see it is both skeletonized near the muzzle and optics cut for RMR-compatible red-dot sights. That’s a lot of extra time for a slide to spend on a CNC machine, yet the price tag is still only $449. I’ve often found that when manufacturers cut a pistol side for red dots, they use pretty basic iron sights, assuming the end user will attach a red dot. BCA opted for a photo-luminescent green 3-dot setup. They show up well during daylight, but they definitely need an ambient light source at night, hence the SureFire light attached to the rail. The iron sights are Glock-style, so there are tons of aftermarket options available. If you opt to attach a red-dot sight, it would be beneficial to get some taller sights. Otherwise, the included BCA sights work great. The final feature to point out is the barrel. The black-nitride-coated barrel is 5 inches long and is threaded 1/2x28 for suppressors and various muzzle devices. The barrel is constructed from 4150 Chrome Moly Vanadium and sports a 1:16-inch twist, which is standard for 9mm pistol barrels. As you’ll see with the accompanying accuracy data, it’s highly accurate, too. The Genis1s II turned in several groups just over an inch at 20 yards from a rest.
Before heading to the range, I opted to take advantage of the RMR-cut optics slide, and I attached the new Swampfox Optics Justice II red-dot sight. The Justice II is the perfect red dot companion for the Genis1s II. It has one of the largest objectives I’ve ever seen on a pistol red dot, measuring in at 30mm. Mine has a 6-MOA green dot, and I credit a lot of my accuracy to the crisp dot that was easy to hold on target. Ultimately, a barrel is as accurate as it is going to be regardless of optic, but a good optic like the Justice II lets you take advantage of a barrel’s full accuracy potential. The Swampfox Justice II boasts a 50,000-hour battery life, top-mount 1632 battery, IPX7 waterproof rating and a “shake-n-wake” battery saving feature. The only issue with this optic on the Genis1s II is that you cannot co-witness the iron sights through the Justice II, but it’s easy to swap out the sights with some aftermarket suppressor-height sights.
At the range, I brought ammo from Black Hills, Norma, Fiocchi, Ammo Inc., and Liberty Defense. The Black Hills through Ammo Inc. ammunition all worked and shot well. Velocities were in the expected range, and they all turned in excellent groups at 20 yards from a rest. The only issue came from the Liberty Defense ammo. I’ve used it before without issue, but it would not cycle at all in the BCA Genis1s II, and it often wouldn’t even fire. Liberty Defense is a fascinating cartridge, and it features lightweight bullets that travel incredibly fast for a 9mm. The 50-grain +P bullet in this instance has worked well in other guns I’ve used, reaching velocities over 2,000 feet per second (fps). In this instance, I’m not knocking either the bullet or the gun. Sometimes guns and bullets just don’t like each other, which showcases the importance of testing your firearms with a great range of bullets.
Once I had some nice groups and velocity data, it was time to take advantage of the threaded barrel. I brought my Silencer Central Banish45 suppressor and worked through all the loads with a can. The Genis1s ran perfectly with some loads and less so with others. It loved the Fiocchi FMJ and the Norma Envy 124-grain ammo, but it did not cycle consistently with the Black Hills JHP EXP or Ammo Inc. loads. It’s always fun to bring a suppressed pistol to the range, as it always turns a few heads. I’m always happy to let others try out new guns on the range, especially with a suppressor. I do so mainly to see how others shoot a gun I’m testing, but it’s always good to be friendly at the range and maintain a positive environment for new shooters. A few others at the range took advantage of shooting the BCA Genis1s II with the Banish45, and they all shot well. Everyone like the all-metal construction of the pistol, and I think it shows that while we all appreciate the polymer standard of most handguns these days, it’s hard to beat the satisfaction of metal in the hand.
I see the primary role of the BA Genis1s II as a general range shooting and trainer gun. I also think you could hold your own in the Production division of a handgun competition with the great trigger and accuracy you get with the Genis1s II. I hesitate to recommend the Genis1s as a primary “battle pistol,” though, mostly because of the skeletonized slide. More holes in the slide are more points for dirt and debris to enter and cause malfunctions. That’s not an issue for general range training and fun, but that is a problem when everything is on the line. I do think it could serve in a home defense role, but it’s highly important that you find a defensive load that this gun likes and ensure you get a few hundred rounds through it to break it in. Bear Creek Arsenal has done an impressive job with the Genis1s II. For $449, you get an all-metal construction, optics-ready, threaded-barrel, skeletonized G17 clone that runs well and has plenty of great features. My Genis1s II is the standard model, but BCA also offers upgraded models with features like fluted barrels, upgraded sights, different colors and more. All-in-all, the BCA Genis1s II is a solid gun that is a lot of fun on the range.
BCA Genis1s II Specs
- Type: Striker-fired, semi-automatic
- Cartridge: 9mm
- Barrel: 5 in., threaded 1/2x28
- Construction: Aluminum, stainless steel
- Length: 8 in.
- Height: 5 in.
- Weight: 1 lbs., 12.9 oz.
- Sights: Photo-luminescent 3-dot sights, RMR optics-cut slide
- Trigger: 2 lbs., 14.1 oz. (tested)
- MSRP: $449
- Manufacturer: Bear Creek Arsenal
About the Author
Jack Oller is a U.S. Army veteran, having served in the Military Police with one deployment to the Camp VI Detention Facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has extensive firearms training from military and civilian schools and is a passionate shotgun shooter and hunter. Jack has an English degree from Illinois State University, and he started his career in the outdoor industry as Associate Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine. After Gun & Ammo, he worked as Brand Manager for Crimson Trace and now is the Digital Editor for Firearms News.
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