February 28, 2013
By Peter G. Kokalis
Travis Haley is well known and highly regarded in small arms training circles. He's a veteran of the Marine Corps' Force Recon with 15 years' experience in the USMC, including combat tours in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. After leaving the military, Haley served as a special operations and security contractor before he partnered with Magpul Industries as founder and CEO of their training division, Magpul Dynamics.
He also served as CEO of the parent company before leaving to form Haley Strategic Partners, essentially a small arms training operation. Most recently he has worked with Bravo Company USA to develop The Jack, an M4-type carbine that reflects Haley's years of experience and his convictions concerning the M4 concept itself. Firearms News was recently sent a specimen of the Jack for test and evaluation.
Operating by means of direct gas impingement, exactly as Stoner's original AR-15/M16 series, the Jack sent to FAN was equipped with a Green Mountain SBR (Short Barrel Rifle) barrel with a length of 14.5 inches (368.3mm), which would normally mean the rifle was subject to NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934) regulations. However, a BCM Compensator Mod 1 — 5.56 was permanently installed by pinning and welding to bring the barrel length to more than 16 inches.
Designed for tactical applications to reduce muzzle jump, the flash signature and lateral pressure, it has tuned slots and an interior cone design to affect those parameters. Made of stainless steel, it has a pre-drilled hole at the base for permanent installation. This dual action brake minimizes side pressure, making it ideal for law enforcement CQB teams. The six-groove bore has a 1:7 right-hand twist, and both the chamber and bore are chrome-lined. Green Mountain barrels are made from high-grade 41V50 MilSpec vanadium/molybdenum alloy steel, button rifled and thermo-stress relieved and highly regarded for their accuracy potential.
The Jack is supplied with a selective-fire, full auto-type BCM bolt carrier group. The BATFE has ruled that this is simply a machine gun part that is not regulated and it is not unlawful to utilize an M16 bolt in a semi-automatic-only AR-15-type rifle.
The carrier has a phosphate exterior surface and chrome-lined interior. Machined to MilSpec, this M16/M4 carrier is equipped with a proper MilSpec chrome-lined, heat-treated gas key, which is secured to the carrier body with Grade 8 fasteners and correctly staked in place.
The bolt is machined from MilSpec Carpenter No. 158 steel, shot peened for increased strength with tool steel machined extractor and ejector, BCM extractor spring and is High Pressure Tested (HPT) and Magnetic Particle Inspected (MPI).
The weight, empty, is 6.7 pounds (3.04kg). The overall length with the B5 Systems SOPMOD Bravo stock fully extended is 35.5 inches (901.7mm). When completely collapsed, the length drops to 32 inches (812.8mm). The Jack came equipped with a SOPMOD Bravo buttstock by B5 Systems. A longtime defense contractor, in 2009 it was selected as the U.S. Army supplier of the SOPMOD buttstock — originally developed by NSWC-Crane — for the M4A1 carbine. This particular model of the SOPMOD features sloped sides for an improved cheek weld, and a thick synthetic rubber buttpad, but without any battery storage compartments. The B5 SOPMOD buttstock is available in Black, Coyote Brown, Flat Dark Earth, Foliage Green, and MultiCam.
In between the B5 Systems SOPMOD Bravo buttstock and the aft end of the receiver has been installed a Damage Industries Receiver End Plate, QD, which is precision machined from 6061 T6 aluminum alloy with a Mill-A-8625 Type III hardcoat anodized finish.
Complementing this is the BCM Gun Fighter's Grip (GFG) Mod 1, manufactured from impact-resistant polymer, and which features a reduced angle for improved human engineering and a hinged trapdoor with a water resistant rubber gasket for the storage of small parts, batteries or cleaning gear. Each BCM pistol grip includes both an extended modular insert to close the gap between the trigger guard and grip, and a smooth modular insert for use with rifles with larger built-in trigger guards.
Standard also is a Geissele Black 13-inch Super Modular MKI Rail. This free-float handguard system comes with a full-length 17-inch MIL-STD-1913 rail interface at 12 o'clock, two 2-inch MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail interfaces one at 3 and the other at 6 o'clock, both located forward and a 4-inch MIL-STD-1913 rail at 6 o'clock. We attached the Inforce 125-lumen WML on the 3 o'clock rail interface.
The rifle's controls are conventional for a semi-automatic-only AR-15. On the lower receiver's left side are the vertically mounted bolt hold-open release lever and the selector lever, which in the 12 o'clock position is SEMI and when rotated to 9 o'clock provides SAFE. The selector lever can be rotated only when the action is cocked. The magazine catch/release button is on the right side of the lower receiver. These controls are not ambidextrous.
The almost-never-used bolt-assist is located as usual on the right side of the upper receiver to the rear of the ejection port and the M16A2-type empty case deflector. The magazine well is beveled, and the polymer trigger guard can be removed by removing its two retaining roll pins if desired.
The Jack is furnished with a BCM Gunfighter Charging Handle, which was designed to direct the force off of the roll pin and into the body of the charging handle during support-hand-only manipulations. This new design has a built-in backstop engineered into the extended latch and into the charging handle.
As the latch is opened up, its travel is limited by these flat surface backstops. With this travel-limiting feature, the stress is taken off the roll pin and redirected into the entire body of the charging handle.
The BCM Gunfighter Charging Handle provides two significant advantages. First, since the tiny roll pin is no longer the weak point, it's a much stronger system and the tactical latch will stay intact even under repeated support-side-only manipulation. Secondly, with the force kept inside the body of the handle, when the handle is pulled directly to the rear, it actually moves directly to the rear and doesn't angle off to the outboard side, resulting in a much smoother operation.
The Jack comes with a distinctive and quite attractive gray Cerakote Finish. Cerakote Ceramic firearms coatings are durable, corrosion-resistant and provide unparalleled levels of hardness and adhesion with substantial resistance to most solvents and chemicals.
The foundation for Cerakote C-Series coatings is a unique ceramic technology that imparts both flexibility and excellent wear resistance to the final coating. The manufacturer's suggested retail price of the rifle, complete with BUIS front and rear, Inforce 125-lumen WML, one BCM 30-round magazine, a reprint of the M16/M16A1 Operator's Manual, trigger lock, a $200 discount certificate at a Haley Strategic class, and Travis Haley Adaptive Carbine DVD, is $2,195.
An ALG Defense ACT trigger is standard on the Jack carbine. ALG Defense is a division of Geissele Automatics LLC.
The pull of the ACT trigger is very similar to a standard MilSpec trigger, however it's sharper and the grittiness of a stock trigger has been removed, while the traditional reliability of a stock trigger remains.
This is accomplished by polishing the sear surfaces smooth and HardLubing the trigger components. "HardLubing" is ALG's term for electroless nickel-plating with an integral modifier to the base nickel surface. Boron or Teflon is used to enhance surface hardness, wear resistance and corrosion resistance and also to create favorable tribological properties of the trigger components.
Trigger and hammer are made from true 8620-alloy steel military specification castings, correctly carburized, quenched and tempered for high surface hardness. All of the trigger springs are corrosion resistant and meet MilSpec. A full force hammer spring is used for positive ignition of all ammunition primer types.
Trigger and hammer pins are improved over stock mild steel by using 4140 chrome-moly steel that has been quenched and tempered. The pull weight is usually not lower than the M4/M16 minimum weight specification of 5.5 pounds, although on our test specimen it was only 4.25 pounds. The quality is exactly what you can expect from Bill Geissele, who makes the best AR trigger systems on the planet.
Troy Industries made the Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS) on the Jack for BCM. The rear sight's dual peep, same plane aperture permits perfect co-witness of both red dot and holographic sights. The fully adjustable windage knob is located on the right side in the same position as those of the M16A2, A3 and A4 rifles. Each click equals .25 mos M16A4 rifle) and .33 moa M4 carbine) shift in impact.
The sight is easily installed and deployed by simply pulling up without any levers, buttons or springs. In the up position, a stainless steel cross-lock provides 1,000 pounds of shear strength. The rear sight works in conjunction with all standard height front sights. The cross-lock guarantees return-to-zero and eliminates all wobble and the possibility of accidental folding.
A spring-loaded release button is depressed to fold the sight rearward and an internal ratcheting wedge retains the sight in the folded position. Its low profile, snag-resistant design protects Level A&B gear from damage and can be decontaminated. The sight is precision machined from both an aircraft-grade T6 aluminum alloy billet and stainless steel components and finished with both MilSpec black hard coat anodizing (Teflon impregnated) and black oxide stainless steel finish. The front sight, made to the same specifications as the rear sight, has an M16A2-type square post, fully adjustable for elevation zero, with protective ears.
Unusual for an AR-15-type rifle, the Jack comes complete with an Inforce WML (Weapon Mounted Light) and the unique Haley Strategic Thorntail Offset Adaptive Light Mount built by Impact Weapons Components. This version of the Inforce WML has a momentary-activation-only feature for those who prefer the single-mode function of a more traditional type switch.
This light produces 125 lumens of white light with a tight beam for close- to mid-range contacts and a balanced peripheral light for discernment of the surrounding area. Its angled activation button is comfortable to operate without interference of wires or tape switches with a virtually indestructible LED.
The flashlight's body is made of ultra-light and durable fiber composite. Its patented venting system reduces heat for superior LED performance. Waterproof to 66 feet, O-rings seal the light to protect it under extreme conditions. Its integrated patent-pending rail clamping system is compact, convenient and quite secure. The run time is two hours using one lithium 123A battery. There are two lockout systems: a safety lever and twist head. With a length of only 4.1 inches, the weight is just 3 ounces.
The Inforce WML can be attached to the rifle with the Haley Strategic Thorntail Offset Adaptive Light Mount, which provides eight different mounting positions and four additional fore and aft adjustments on a quad rail handguard system. It can be used to position the WML up to several inches beyond the front end of the handguard, permitting the operator to place the support hand farther forward on the rifle in the manner used by those adopting the so-called isosceles shooting grip now so popular.
The Thorntail system features a 45-degree offset that places the bezel of the WML in a position that reduces "barrel shadowing" during critical low light environments. Weighing less than an ounce, this light mount attaches to any MIL-STD-1913 rail interface and can also be used for 45-degree offset mounting of BUIS as well.
The 30-round magazine included with the Jack was made by D&H Industries (formerly known as Labelle) and the bodies have a black Teflon finish on both the interior and exterior. They are equipped with Magpul enhanced polymer followers. The floorplate is stamped with the BCM logo. The right side of the magazine body is stamped with the contractors' government CAGE code and the left side carries the date of manufacture.
The BCM Jack is an M4-type direct gas impingement AR-15 with numerous innovative features conceived and assembled by noted trainer Travis Haley.
The BCM Jack comes loaded with the features you need in a combat carbine, some of them provided by name-brand vendors; others are BCM's own designs.
The BCM Compensator Mod 1 — 5.56 was permanently installed by pinning and welding to bring The Jack's barrel length to more than the legal 16 inches.
The B5 Systems SOPMOD buttstock features sloped sides for an improved cheek weld, and a thick synthetic rubber buttpad, but without any battery storage.
Each BCM pistol grip includes an extended modular insert for standard trigger guards and a smooth modular insert for larger built-in trigger guards.
The Teflon-finished 30-round magazine included with the Jack was made by D&H Industries. These are equipped with Magpul enhanced polymer followers.
Fire controls are exactly where you'd expect them and operate the same way as any conventional AR-15 variant. No ambidextrous levers or buttons here.
The Jack comes complete with an Inforce 125-lumen light and the Haley Strategic Thorntail Offset Adaptive Light Mount built by Impact Weapons Components.
The Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50mm LR/T M5 Illuminated Reticle Riflescope is equipped with the firm's Illuminated Tactical Milling Reticle (TMR) pattern.
The Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 1.5-4x20mm FireDot-G SPR tactical scope has a wide field of view at 1.5X together with the precision that's available at 4X.
The BUIS front sight, made to the same specifications as the rear sight by Troy Industries, has a square post, fully adjustable for elevation zero.
The rear sight's dual peep, same plane aperture permits perfect co-witness of both red dot and holographic sights. Windage knob is the right side.
The disassembly procedures are identical to any direct gas impingement AR-15 and easily mastered by anyone familiar with the M16 series of rifles.
Optics for Bravo Company's The Jack Carbine
Selecting an optical sight for a 5.56x45mm NATO tactical rifle of this type presents a dilemma of no small consequence. For actual tactical deployment in an urban operational area with a relatively short-barreled rifle, a scope with a magnification range of 1X to no more than 4X is clearly indicated. However, it's impossible to determine the rifle's real accuracy potential with magnification that low. As a result, we selected two scopes, one for tactical deployment and one to test the rifle's accuracy potential.
Leupold has been making riflescopes for 102 years. Their product line includes optical sights that cover hunting, target shooting and tactical applications. They sell more tactical scopes to the U.S. government than all other scope manufacturers combined.
There are several reasons for that. Most of their riflescopes, and every component thereof, are made entirely in the United States. Equally important, the quality and optical features of their scopes are outstanding. I selected the Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50mm LR/T M5 Illuminated Reticle Riflescope with their relatively new and innovative Tactical Milling Reticle to determine the Jack's accuracy potential.
Overall length of this scope is only 14.4 inches (365.76mm) with a weight of just 22.5 ounces (638 grams), which is quite incredible for a tactical scope with a three times magnification range from 8.5X to 25X. The tube diameter of the scope is 30mm.
The eye relief, an extremely important factor in assessing the operator's ability to quickly come on target is 3.7 to 5.3 inches, which is really excellent as high magnification scopes all too often have such a narrow range of eye relief that it's difficult to acquire the target at the highest power settings. The field of view at 100 yards is 4.4 feet at 25X magnification and 11.2 yards at 8.5X magnification.
Leupold's Xtended Twilight Lens System optimizes the transmission of low-light wavelengths, so you can see the details of low-light scenes in greater, brighter detail than most other scopes. The image is sharp and brilliant. In my opinion, this is one of Leupold's finest tactical scopes with an ideal magnification range for battlefield applications at longer ranges.
The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $1,999.99 with the Tactical Milling Reticle pattern. Leupold 30mm, aluminum alloy, high rings cost $224 and their really great aluminum alloy, flip-up lens caps sell for $132. I prefer totally opaque lens covers because they force the operator to flip them up, as the see-through types always degrade the scope's optical qualities.
Scopes in Leupold M5 series have both windage and elevation adjustment knobs that feature audible and tactile feedback from half-minute and one-minute numbered divisions with .1-minute MIL-click-stops clearly marked between each one-minute division. The ability to make one-tenth-minute adjustments is an important attribute.
Total elevation travel on this scope is 75 moa and the windage adjustment is 70 minutes and each complete revolution raises or lowers the point of impact by 5 minutes. The elevation knob also has a horizontal scale that is used to keep track of the number of revolutions that the dial has been turned. In addition, there is a built-in anti-backlash system that guarantees repeatable accuracy from click to click, and back again.
Most snipers use an elevation adjustment system such as this by zeroing the rifle and scope at specific ranges and writing the elevation adjustment settings on a range card attached to the rifle's buttstock. The setting to which the elevation adjustment knob must be rotated for a specific distance is usually referred to as a "come up" by those who play in this elite arena. Leupold's Mark 4 M3 scopes have 1/2-minute adjustment increments. This is too coarse, in my opinion, for really long range shooting. Remember, 1 moa is the equivalent of 10 inches at 1000 yards.
This Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50mm LR/T M5 Illuminated Reticle Riflescope is equipped with their new Illuminated Tactical Milling Reticle (TMR) pattern. Mil-dots were developed by the USMC in the late 1970s to assist Marine Corps snipers in estimating distances. It is now the standard reticle pattern with all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. The term "mil-dot" comes from "mil" — a unit of angular measurement used in artillery and machine gunnery and equal to 1/6400 of a complete revolution — and the fact that the dots are spaced in 1 mil increments on the crosshairs. It should be made clear that the dots (or lines) themselves are not measured in mil increments, but rather in increments of moa.
The principle behind Leupold's TMR is to expand on existing mil dot reticle designs by offering users more ranging tools in the form of various sized and various spaced aiming points on the horizontal and vertical stadia lines. This permits greater ranging and shooting precision than all previous range estimating reticle systems.
The TMR reticle subtends exactly like all existing mil dot reticles and variations thereof, but with greater accuracy. Aside from mil hash marks, the TMR reticle offers areas of .2-mil subdivisions to precisely measure the common one-meter target height from 500 to 1000 meters and beyond. This has previously been the most difficult task in long-range shooting, since this entire range lies in the span between one and two mils.
The positions of the .2-mil subdivisions are intentionally placed on the periphery of the fine crosshair in order to keep the central area clutter-free. All existing mil dot calculations and formula tools are compatible with the Leupold TMR system.
The Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50mm LR/T M5 Illuminated Reticle Riflescope was attached to the 12 o'clock MIL-STD-1913 rail interface of the Jack Carbine by means of a GG&G Accucam Quick-Detach MIL-STD-1913 Scout Rail. This quick-detach rail raises the line of sight by a half-inch. Designed for a wide variety of optical sights, its integrated Accucam Quick-Detach lever system provides the operator the option to quickly utilize other optical devices. Its rail is machined from solid billet 6061 T6 aluminum alloy with a Type III hard coat anodized matte black MilSpec finish, its tension on the rifle's rail can be adjusted and it provides zero repeatability of 1/2 moa. The Accucam mechanism itself is machined from solid billet 4140 steel and manganese-phosphated matte black to MilSpec. The price is $158.95.
The Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50mm LR/T M5 Illuminated Reticle Riflescope is a great piece of glass, but too much magnification for breaking down doors and dynamic entries in the barrio with a 5.56x45mm tactical rifle equipped with a relatively short barrel.
So, after the accuracy portion of our test and evaluation, we installed the brand new Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 1.5-4x20mm FireDot-G SPR tactical scope. In fact, we were sent one of the first 15 production units ever made. It carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price of only $499 and the Mark 2 IMS 1-inch Integral Mounting System we used to attach it to the Travis Haley Carbine sells for only $99.
The Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 Tactical series of riflescopes is ideal for those who deploy with the AR-15/M16 series and their derivatives, delivering high optical performance at a reasonable price. The wide field-of-view at 1.5X, together with the precision available at 4X make a perfect combination for both the close and mid-range target engagement most commonly applied to 5.56x45mm NATO compact rifles.
The green FireDot reticle pattern is daylight capable and features six user-selectable intensity settings. It also has a proprietary motion sensor that automatically deactivates the illumination after five minutes of inactivity, yet reactivates instantly as soon as any movement is detected.
The Multicoat 4 lens coating delivers peak light transmission for superior brightness and edge-to-edge sharpness across the visual field with optimal contrast. The 1-inch main housing and finger-click .1-mil adjustments guarantee maximum adjustment precision. Completely waterproof and fog proof, the Mark AR MOD 1 Tactical scopes have lockable eyepieces and tactile power indicators.
The linear field-of-view is 73 feet at 1.5X magnification and 29.3 feet at 4X magnification at 100 yards (22.3 meters at 1.5X and 8.9 meters at 4X at 100 meters). The exit pupil is 10mm at 1.5X and 4.8mm at 4X.
The scope weighs 10.1 ounces (286 grams) with an overall length of 9.5 inches (241mm). The mounting space is 5.3 inches (135mm). The objective diameter is .8" (20mm). The all-important eye relief varies from 4.1 to 3.7 inches (106 to 95mm). Both the elevation and windage adjustment ranges are 125 moa.
Test and Evaluation
With a 1:7 twist, the greatest inherent accuracy with rifles like the Jack will be obtained by the use of bullets weighing 60 grains up to 77 grains. Our test and evaluation from the bench with the Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50mm LR/T M5 Illuminated Reticle Riflescope was conducted using ammunition provided by Hornady.
We used two different loads, the 75-grain .223 REM TAP (Tactical Application Police) Boattail Hollow Point (BTHP) and the 62-grain .223 REM TAP Barrier. Out of a 14.5-inch barrel Hornady's 75-grain projectiles provide a muzzle velocity of approximately 2,518 fps. The total penetration in tissue simulant is 11.75 inches, with only 37.4-percent fragmentation and a retained weight of about 37.4 grains. The accuracy results we obtained out of the Jack's 14.5-inch barrel were excellent. The Hornady 75-grain TAP shot to .7 moa at 100 meters.
Hornady's 62-grain TAP Barrier load has a muzzle velocity of 2,647 fps out of a 14.5-inch barrel. The total penetration in bare tissue simulant is 16.5 inches, through a car door is 15 inches, 6 inches through safety glass and 13 inches through wallboard. In bare tissue simulant, the fragmentation is 42-percent with a retained weight of 35.9 grains; fragmentation through a car door is 26-percent with a retained weight of 45.9 grains. However, most startling was the accuracy of this load, which was an incredible .45 moa at 100 meters.
As unbelievable as it may seem, as the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge continues to evolve and expand its immense popularity in both the military and law enforcement arenas and the ammunition improves along with constantly improving barrel technology, accuracy results in this caliber, which were thought to be impossible a decade ago, will become more and more commonplace.
I especially like the Hornady 75-grain TAP BTHP, which is a match-grade bullet that is Hornady's heaviest TAP offering in 5.56x45mm NATO. It demonstrates rapid expansion and excellent fragmentation. It provides deeper penetration than the 55- and 60-grain bullets, yet penetrates less than most police handgun service rounds. It penetrates glass with minimal deflection due to its retained weight. This bullet exhibits minimal breakup on sheetrock, retaining most of its weight and penetration. The ballistic coefficient of this boattail hollow point is .390.