The BCM Recce 16 KMR-A .300 Blackout is Solid
March 29, 2018
Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) is known for their firearms and the gunfighters they work with. Founded in Wisconsin by a U.S. Marine Corps veteran in 2005, BCM builds rifles and parts to meet the unforgiving needs of law enforcement, military and civilian shooters. Their BCM Recce 16 KMR-A in .300 AAC Blackout (BLK) is no exception.
Running counter to some of the trendy pursuits of lightweight ARs by other manufacturers in the industry, BCM's target market has always been the gunfighter. Reliability and durability are the name of the game.
The Recce 16 KMR-A is built on a forged 7075-T6 aluminum upper and lower receiver that's hardcoat anodized per MIL-A-8625F. With the addition of front and rear BCM backup iron sights (BUIS), a BCM Gunfighter KAG (Kinesthetic Angled Grip) and some KeyMod panels, the platform weighs slightly over 6 pounds, allowing shooters plenty of options for accessorizing.
"At BCM, we hold the correct manufacturing specs. No shortcuts," said Paul Buffoni, president of BCM. "Currently, BCM employs some of the most advanced QC/QA procedures in the marketplace. Our systems, procedures and even tooling have been adopted by some of the biggest government suppliers in an effort to improve quality in their supply lines to Uncle Sam."
Buffoni's words rang true when we took a closer look at the components of the Recce 16. Nestled neatly inside the upper receiver, the bolt carrier group features an ion-bonded, flat dark earth (FDE)-colored finish that is easier to maintain and that enhances function by reducing friction during operation. In addition to chrome lining, the gas key on the bolt carrier group is heat-treated per GI specification and properly staked using Grade 8 fasteners.
Staying true to the Mil-Spec vision, the bolt assembly is constructed from Carpenter No. 158 steel and shot-peened for increased strength. Both the extractor and ejector are machined from tool steel, while the whole assembly is magnetic particle inspected (MPI) and high-pressure tested (HPT) during production. This is important for shooters who send a serious number of rounds downrange or who require confidence in the operation of their equipment when lives are at stake.
However, BCM's focus on quality assurance and quality control doesn't stop with their bolt assemblies. Both the trigger and hammer in the Recce's PNT (Polished â€“ Nickel â€“ Teflon) trigger assembly are made from castings, as opposed to MIM (metal injection molding) parts. Additional post-manufacturing processes are applied to enhance corrosion resistance and eliminate grittiness or creep, including an electroless nickel-Teflon finish. Add all that to a hand-polished sear, and you wind up with a trigger that has a measured pull weight of 6 pounds, 1 ounce. As subjective as the assessment of a trigger's "feel" is, I give the BCM PNT trigger a grade of A+ compared to other triggers in its same category.
Moving back to the exterior of our Recce 16, it features a sleek and narrow 13-inch aluminum KeyMod handguard with an outside diameter of 1½ inches. An item of special interest in reference to the handguard is BCM's patented mounting, indexing and lockup system that is designed to mitigate 12 o'clock rail movement due to heat generated by the barrel nut. While remaining discreet, this system provides a positive mate between the handguard and upper receiver, eliminating play. While the KMR handguard is currently only available in KeyMod versions, shooters riding the M-LOK train will be happy to know that BCM has plans in the pipeline for developing an M-LOK version.
One of the things I appreciate about the Recce 16 is that it comes outfitted entirely with BCM Gunfighter furniture. The list of manufacturers capable of building a complete AR with their own products is short. BCM's Gunfighter accessory line has recently released some good-looking and upgraded product. Our Recce 16 came with several BCM Gunfighter upgrades, including the Mod 0 buttstock, the Mod 3 pistol grip and the popular Mod 4 charging handle. Additionally, the rifle comes equipped with a BCM Gunfighter quick-detach (QD) endplate and Mod 1 7.62/.300 BLK compensator in our setup. These parts are notable enhancements to the Mil-Spec side of the equation.
Meanwhile, the barrel of the Recce 16 is made from independently certified Mil-Spec 11595-E steel. It measures 16 inches with a 1:7-inch twist and features BCM's enhanced barrel profile. The barrel profile, which measures .62 inch at its narrowest diameter prior to the compensator, provides "better weapon balance and barrel harmonics," said Buffoni.
Similar to the feel of a trigger, balance is another subjective topic that is sometimes difficult to articulate. However, because of the lightweight contour and reduced weight at the muzzle, the Recce 16 stops much faster during target transitions and allows for faster target acquisition.
FINDING THE SWEET SPOT
While many shooters are aware of the effects of an improperly tuned gas system, others might not be. In the simplest terms, when a gas-operated system cycles, excessive or insufficient gas leads to an unpleasant experience. Excessive gas results in excess recoil, increased parts wear and premature parts failure. On the other hand, if the rifle is insufficiently gassed, it simply won't cycle. The amount of gas a firearm uses to cycle the action is determined by barrel length, port-hole size, the location of the gas port in relation to the muzzle and, obviously, the load being fired. Unlike .223 loads, which operate inside a relatively small range of port pressures, .300 BLK loads come in a wide range of port pressures that can cause issues.
I made my first trip to the range with a myriad of both supersonic and subsonic loads. Prior to my trip, I asked Buffoni if any special attention had been given to the gas system considering the extremely wide range of port pressures that the operating system could encounter.
"We did a lot of testing with most major brands and tuned the gas port to give us reliable cycle rate ranges, so the customer could do some tuning with their ammo choice," said Buffoni. "These barrels were designed to run with a carbine buffer [3 ounces] with subsonic ammo and an H3 buffer [5.4 ounces] with high-velocity ammo."
The Recce 16 ships with an H buffer (3.8 ounces) and a carbine-length gas system. Throughout my testing, I didn't experience a single cycling issue. However, when shooting supersonic loads, I could tell the gun was getting a little too much gas. The charging handle would bounce out of its retainer on the upper receiver during last-round lock back, but only while shooting from the bench. When shooting subsonic loads unsuppressed (think lowest possible port pressure), the rifle cycled but didn't have quite enough oomph to achieve last-round lock back. These results reinforced Buffoni's recommendations regarding buffer weights, and this is something all shooters should pay attention to.
The stainless-steel Mod 1 7.62/.300 BLK compensator on the Recce 16 is a combination muzzlebrake/flash suppressor. It's an attractive piece riding on 5/8x24 threads and was designed for tactical applications with a focus on limiting the concussive effects of lateral pressure generated by other brakes. Our Recce 16 was begging to be shot suppressed, primarily because it's chambered for a cartridge that, in part, was developed to achieve better ballistic performance while shooting subsonic rounds suppressed. However, the Mod 1 compensator is slightly longer than a standard A2 birdcage and won't accept a flash-hider-mounted suppressor. Thankfully, because the barrel reaches the magic length of 16 inches, the Mod 1 compensator is not pinned and welded and can subsequently be removed and replaced with the can of your choice.
On the final trip to the range, I performed accuracy testing with three supersonic loads. The Recce 16 produced groups hovering around 1 MOA, which is not too shabby. The best group came from factory 110-grain Hornady V-Max, with a best group size of .68 inch at 100 yards and an average of 1.04 inches.
I've been interested in .300 BLK since the cartridge was first introduced in 2011, and I've been dreaming about predator hunting with the Recce 16 since the first day I took it to the range. The Recce 16 KMR-A Carbine in .300 BLK is beautifully crafted and one of the most reliable and durable rifles you'll ever find.