August 28, 2019
By David Fortier
We are in what has been popularly termed the “salad days” of the AR-15. Prices are as low they can be expected to go, and the world is awash in all things AR-related. In some ways this is great for the consumer. Since your dollar goes much further, this is indeed the Golden Age of “buying it cheap and stacking it deep.”
However, one downside is the sheer volume of inexpensive parts of unknown pedigree flooding the market. Many consumers simply assume that all AR-15 parts are American-made, not realizing cheap Asian-manufactured parts have also hit the U.S. market.
Plus, there is no shortage of “cheap” American-made parts, either. So if you are looking to build a nice AR-15 using American-made parts of known and respected quality, you must be careful from whom you buy.
One company in particular that has earned an enviable reputation for offering quality components is Bravo Manufacturing Company (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 similar to the military, but they were not in the military supply chain. Due to this, they needed a commercial alternative they could depend on.
The BCM product line was subsequently built with professional needs in mind following the philosophy of “no shortcuts.” It quickly became known and respected for offering quality components that met or exceeded the mil-spec. In a short amount of time, the BCM logo became synonymous with quality. Simply put, Bravo Company provided peace of mind back then, and it still does today.
I’ve been a Bravo customer since the beginning and have watched the company steadily evolve and grow as the years went by. Over time, it went from offering barrels and “parts” to assembled upper receivers and eventually complete firearms. To further meet the needs of armed professionals, it also developed its BCM Gunfighters series of AR parts. These were specifically engineered to enhance an AR’s performance.
Today its BCM Gunfighter series includes pistol grips; vertical grips; compensators; M-Lok, KeyMod and Picatinny handguards; collapsible buttstocks; and charging handles. All the typical pieces you might like to upgrade.
The first product I bought from them many years ago was a 16-inch 5.56 barrel with a 1:7-inch twist. This was back when most companies were offering only a 1:9-inch twist. Out of the box it shot sub-m.o.a. 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 its website (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 it offers: M4 feed ramp barrel extension (USGI), USGI 1:7 twist rates; USGI 5.56 NATO chambers; mil-spec 11595E CMV barrel steel; chrome-lined bore and chamber; manganese phosphate barrel finish; high-pressure tested; magnetic particle inspected.
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 its stable of lightweight barrel profiles. While they are certainly not the least expensive, Bravo Company’s barrels are among my favorites for a hard-use AR carbine.
Its 16-inch 5.56mm NATO lightweight fluted barrel with mid-length gas system weighs less than one pound, six ounces and is priced at $269. 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 lightweight build that will be shot frequently.
While I am a fan of Bravo Company’s barrels, I also really like some of the pieces included in its BCMGunfighter line. In particular, I like its ambidextrous charging handle 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 and optimized.
Unlike the original design, the BCMGunfighter was designed with the modern technique for running an AR in mind. It not only features extended latches but also more importantly has been redesigned internally. It has been redesigned to place the load onto the body of the charging handle itself, rather than just a roll pin like in the original design.
It accomplishes this through redesigned latches and handle, which feature limiters. This significant strengthens the design. The result is a much more robust and easier to operate piece.
Why do I prefer Bravo Company’s medium latch model to others on the market? I like its internal design, build and, most importantly, the shape and length of the latches. Most aftermarket charging handles have latches that, in my opinion, extend too far. They dig into you when the rifle is slung, catch on things and get in the way.
The BCM Gunfighter unit just works well for me. Price is $80 for the ambidextrous and $50 for the standard models. Installation is also a breeze, just pop the old one out and drop the new one in.
Another piece I really like is its BCM Gunfighter stock. This replacement for the M4 collapsible stock is not only very light but also very robust.
It features an improved and stronger locking system, multiple sling mounting options, no-slip rubber buttpad and a large, easy-to-manipulate locking lever. The BCMGunfighter stock also has a Vehicle Borne Operations sling tab so you can stow your sling wrapped onto the stock with a Ranger or elastic band.
Why do I like it? Chiefly because it is lightweight, coming in at only about one ounce more than a standard M4 stock but is robust. Plus, it’s nicely contoured to make it comfortable and user-friendly. Better still, it’s reasonably priced at $56 and available in a variety of colors. It’s also easy to install.
Bravo Company Manufacturing has come a long way since 2005. It shook up the industry with the KeyMod system and continues to innovate. It deserves a hard look if you’re after AR components you can trust.