December 20, 2021
By David M. Fortier, Senior Field Editor
Buyer beware is always good advice, but it’s definitely something to remember when purchasing AR-15 parts. Many consumers simply assume that all AR-15 parts are American made, not realizing cheap Asian manufactured parts have flooded the US market. Asian AR-15 parts? Yes, indeed. Plus, there is no shortage of “cheap” American-made parts either. Much of the AR-15 market is price driven, with many companies competing to be the least expensive available. What does this mean for you, the consumer? Simply that you should be aware of the varying quality of parts available and to be careful from whom you buy if you want high-quality American-made parts, especially for personal protection.
One company which was founded specifically to provide high-quality components is Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM). Based out of Hartland, Wisconsin Bravo Company was founded by Paul Buffoni in 2005 to meet the needs of the private PSD market. These organizations and individuals were performing missions in a war zone similar to the military, but were not in the military supply chain. Due to this they needed to be able to purchase high-quality commercial parts which they knew they could depend on. Our younger readers need to keep in mind that 2005 was a very different time than today, and finding AR parts which met the Military Spec or exceeded it was quite a bit harder than it is now. It was a difficult situation for contractors overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Paul built the BCM product line specifically with the professional needs of these security contractors in mind. It started off small, but with a ‘no short cuts’ philosophy. This attitude combined with quality components which met or exceeded the Mil Spec and reasonable pricing quickly carved them a respected spot in the industry. In a relatively short amount of time the BCM logo became synonymous with quality. If it had the BCM logo on it, then you knew you could trust it. Simply put, Bravo Company provided peace of mind during difficult days back then, and they continue to do it today.
I’ve been a customer of Bravo Company since the very beginning. I remember being excited over the types of barrels they first offered and shelling out my hard earned cash to buy one. It seems like a long time ago today, and over the years I watched the company steadily evolve and grow. Over time they went from offering barrels and “parts” to assembled upper receivers and eventually complete firearms. Then they went a step further and began to really innovate by developing their BCMGunfighter series of AR parts. These were developed for armed professionals and were intended to enhance an AR’s performance over stock parts.
The BCMGunfighter series was designed to give you an edge. Today their BCMGunfighter series includes: pistolgrips, vertical grips, compensators, M-LOK, KeyMod and Picatinny handguards, collapsible butt stocks and charging handles. All the typical pieces you might like to upgrade to both personalize and improve the performance of your rifle.
In particular, I like Bravo Company’s BCMGunfighter ambidextrous charging handle’s design. This is offered with both large and medium-length latches. Both models are manufactured from 7075 T6 aluminum which is hard coat anodized per Mil-A-8625F, Type III, Class 2. Much more than just a standard charging handle with a couple bigger latches stuffed onto it, it’s been completely redesigned to make it easier to use and more robust. It not only features extended latches, but more importantly has been redesigned internally. On the original design the load of the latch, when being running hard, is on the small roll pin. Due to this, standard changing handles can and do fail. I’ve broken a couple of them. Bravo’s design places the load onto the body of the charging handle itself, rather than just a roll pin. It accomplishes this through redesigned latches and handle which feature limiters. This significantly strengthens the design.
Why do I prefer Bravo Company’s medium latch model over others on the market? I like its internal design, build quality and most importantly the shape and length of the latches. In my opinion most aftermarket charging handles have latches which simply extend too far. Due to their length they are very easy to grasp and manipulate. However, they are so long they dig into you when the rifle is slung, especially if it’s on your back. They catch on things and can get in the way. I do not have this issue with the BCMGunfighter with the medium latches. It just works well for me. MSRP runs from $95.95 for the ambidextrous models to $53.95 for the standard models. Installation is also a breeze, just pop the old one out and drop the new one in.
Another piece I like is their BCMGunfighter stock Mod 0. This replacement for the M4 collapsible stock is not only very light but also very robust. It features an improved and stronger locking system with a large and easy to manipulate locking lever. The design incorporates multiple sling mounting options, so you can rig your sling exactly how you want it. One simple but important feature is a no-slip rubber buttpad. The rubber pad keeps the butt from sliding around on your shoulder. It also has a Vehicle Borne Operations Sling Tab. What does this do? Basically, it’s handy as you can stow your sling wrapped onto the stock with a Ranger or elastic band. The tab keeps this in place.
Why do I like it? Chiefly because it is very lightweight, coming in at only about 1 ounce more than a standard M4 stock, but is very robust. Plus, it’s nicely contoured to make it comfortable and user-friendly. Better still, it’s reasonably priced at $55.95 and available in a variety of colors. It’s also very easy to install. Now, if you prefer something with a more pronounced contour for an enhanced cheekweld, Bravo Company has a SOPMOD version of this stock. This features a wider body some may prefer. Plus, they also offer the SOPMOD style with a large internal storage compartment. This is located in the toe of the stock and the hinged buttpad rotates down to provide access. A small bottle of lube or foam ear plugs or other small items can be stored inside.
Flash suppressor or muzzle brake? This is always a good question and depends entirely upon your specific needs. A brake is great for competition, when you are pretending you are John Wick or James Tarr or .….James Tarr pretending to be John Wick. The downside to a typical two or three baffle brake with side ports are noise signature, flash and blast, its effect on people near you, and its ability to blast sand, dirt and debris into the air when you are shooting prone. I typically run flash suppressors, but if you are looking for a bit more control you can consider Bravo Company’s BCMGunfighter Compensator.
The design incorporates an internal cone, similar to a sound suppressor. The bottom and top of the device body are closed while three oval ports are cut on either side. Size of their Mod 0 is identical to a standard A2 flash suppressor and it accepts a standard blank firing attachment and sound suppressors. The Mod 1 is longer in length and this model can be pinned and welded to a 14.5-inch barrel to bring it out to the legal length. The BCMGunfighter Compensator was developed to reduce recoil and muzzle movement to aid control without the noise and side blast common with many brake designs. Both models feature a Nitride finish, 1/2x28 threads and come with a crush washer. The Mod 0 is $89.95 while the Mod 1 is $94.95. I have used the Mod 0 design a fair bit in a variety of lighting conditions. The design does reduce felt recoil and movement of the muzzle allowing faster follow-up shots. Blast and noise is not as severe as many competition-style brakes. Flash signature in lowlight, especially with certain loads, can be quite pronounced, so just be aware of that. Overall a good design if you are looking for something like this.
One component critical to the reliability and performance of your AR-15 rifle is the bolt carrier assembly. This is the heart of your rifle. In order for it to not only run reliably, but have a long service life it needs to be properly made from the correct materials. Bravo Company’s bolt carrier assemblies are well-regarded and one of the first items I purchased from them many years ago. The bolt is machined from MIL-SPEC Carpenter 158 steel and High Pressure Tested (HPT), Magnetic Particle Inspected (MPI) and shot peened. It features a tool steel extractor with a black extractor insert and a BCM extractor spring. The bolt rides in a chrome-lined full auto profile carrier. A chrome-lined gas key is properly staked with Grade 8 fasteners as per the Mil Spec. The interior of the carrier is chrome lined for durability while the exterior is Parkerized. This is a solid bolt carrier assembly you can depend on. MSRP is $199.
The very first product I ever bought from Bravo Company many years ago was a 16-inch 5.56x45mm barrel with a 1-7 inch twist. This was back when most companies were only offering a 1-9 inch twist. Out of the box it shot sub-MOA with Black Hills 77-grain Match and 5,000 rounds later it still shot into less than an inch at 100 yards. If you peruse their website, www.BravoCompanyUSA.com, you will find a host of AR barrels in a wide variety of lengths, profiles and calibers. What I like about Bravo Company barrels are the features they offer which include:
- M4 Feed Ramp Barrel Extension (USGI)
- USGI 1/7 Twist Rates
- USGI 5.56 NATO Chambers
- Mil-Spec 11595E - Barrel Steel (CMV)
- Chrome Lined Bore and Chamber
- Manganese Phosphate Barrel Finish
- HPT (High Pressure Test) Barrels
- MPI (Magnetic Particle Inspected) Barrels
- Lightweight designs
There are lots of barrels on the market to choose from, but Bravo Company continues to stand out from the crowd. Of particular note is their stable of lightweight barrel profiles. While they are certainly not the least expensive, Bravo Company’s barrels are among my favorite for a hard use AR carbine. Their 16-inch 5.56mm NATO lightweight fluted barrel with Mid-Length gas system weighs less than 1 pound 6 ounces. Chrome-lined with a 0.625 gas block journal and a 1-7 inch twist, this continual taper design is very well-suited for a light weight build that will be shot frequently.
Bravo Company Manufacturing has come a long ways since 2005. They shook the industry up with their KeyMod system, and continue to innovate. They deserve a hard look if you’re after AR components you can trust.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com
About the Author:
David M. Fortier has been covering firearms, ammunition and optics since 1998. He is a recipient of the Carl Zeiss Outdoor Writer of the Year award and his writing has been recognized by the Civil Rights organization JPFO. In 2007 he covered the war in Iraq as an embedded journalist.