April 15, 2022
There is no shortage of AR manufacturers. However, not all AR-15s are created equal, no matter how clever the marketing campaign. This truism is no different than with other tools, with some being standouts, causing professionals of the trade to seek them out. One company that makes the shortlist of brands considered by specialists is Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) of Hartland, Wisconsin.
According To BCM President Paul Buffoni, BCM products are in every corner of the globe with U.S. and allied personnel. And don’t count out the large number of state and local law enforcement departments. It’s little wonder why BCM ARs, such as the RECCE-14 MCMR reviewed here, feature consummate craftmanship along with uncompromising adherence to mil-spec standards — except when “mil-spec” can be improved on.
“We look at the rifles’ mission as a tool to save lives,” Buffoni said. “As such, the mechanical quality is the primary focus, and everything else is behind that.” That’s a solid dictum to follow.
According to BCM, the first RECCE rifles were originally developed for the U.S. Navy SEALs to provide them with a lightweight modular carbine that had enhanced ballistic performance and utility over the issued M4. BCM features several RECCE rifle variations that are largely accurate representations of the originals, except where modifications are required by law or, as previously mentioned, when an attribute could be improved. With that in mind, let’s dissect one of these rifles — the RECCE-14 MCMR.
This carbine features BCM’s new MK2 upper receiver. It was designed to eliminate the shortcomings that resulted from the AR transition from carryhandle to flattop. Compared to a standard upper, the MK2 features a host of advantages that improve performance without increasing weight.
Buffoni stressed the importance of the rifle’s mechanical quality, which is apparent in the bolt carrier group (BCG). For instance, it is machined from mil-spec Carpenter 158 steel. Why? As Carpenter Technology’s website detailed, “Carpenter No. 158 is a chrome-nickel alloy steel with an analysis representing the best case-hardening steel known for parts subject to heavy shock and wear.” In short, it’s an ideal material for manufacturing the BCG. It is also shot-peened and receives high-pressure proof testing and a magnetic particle inspection (MPI). These procedures ensure that we’re getting top-quality components.
Matching the black, Parkerized carrier and key is the bolt, which has a black, tool-steel extractor with a BCM extractor spring. The BCM upgrade increases extractor tension and aids reliability on 14 1/2- and 16-inch carbines. Given that I experienced zero malfunctions during testing, who am I to argue? Otherwise, the bolt design will be familiar to any AR aficionado. The full-auto-profile carrier is chrome lined to increase durability, and the hardened, like-lined gas key is secured in place by staked Grade 8 fasteners.
Affixed to the upper receiver is a government-profile 141/2-inch barrel, or 16 inches when counting the welded-on BCMGunfighter Mod 1 compensator. Benefits of the compensator include reduced flash signature, muzzle rise, recoil and lateral pressure. The company also reports that the dual-action brake produces less noise than typical compensators. (The barrels are compatible with A2-style flash hiders, too.)
The abbreviated barrel has an M4 feed ramp extension and is made from mil-spec 11595E steel, the same independently certified material used for barrels in the USGI M16 family of rifles. Each BCM barrel undergoes an M197 HPT (i.e. proof load) test, which rates it for 70,000 pounds per square inch (psi). The SAAMI-set maximum average pressure (MAP) of the .223 Rem., for instance, is 55,000 psi, while that for the 5.56x45mm NATO runs a bit hotter. Said testing is followed by an MPI, which adheres to the standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
As with most ARs, the chamber and bore are chrome-lined for enhanced durability, corrosion resistance, reduced wear and ease of cleaning, among other things. The barrel is rifled with a 1:7-inch twist, which enables it to stabilize all but a few of the heaviest single-feed .22-caliber projectiles. This enables the RECCE-14 to take on a variety of tasks from 3-Gun and distance shooting to protection and hunting, using the best bullet for each job.
The use of a mid-length gas system in the 141/2-inch-barreled RECCE-14 is sure to draw disdain from some AR enthusiasts. As I discovered firsthand, the setup works extremely well though. A mid-length system delivers the same compact size of a carbine, but with less overpressure and recoil for a smoother-running platform.
When combined with the receiver, the free-float “M-Lok Compatible Modular Rail,” or “MCMR,” handguard creates a continuous 18 3/4 inches of railspace to attach optics, lasers, lights, etc. To increase purchase, the handguard sports BCM rail panels. The panels are nonreflective, radiused and ventilated so they won’t trap heat.
The lower receiver features a low shelf for registered drop-in auto sear (RDIAS) installation (a moot point for most purchasers of the rifle), and an Accuwedge. There is also a BCM mil-spec 7075-T6 receiver extension and a staked lock nut.
BCMGunfighter add-ons include the following: quick-detach (QD) endplate, triggerguard and a Mod 3 pistol grip. When compared to that on the classic A1 or A2, the Mod 3 has a reduced angle and an integral extension. There is also texturing on the side panels and front strap to enhance purchase. There is also a water-resistant gasket around the hinged trapdoor for dry storage.
The BCM PNT trigger is a single-stage assembly with a hammer and trigger that exceed mil-spec standards. According to Buffoni, the BCM PNT trigger is built on the semiautomatic trigger pattern but features polished sear surfaces, and a nickel-plated and Teflon-coating for a smoother pull. The impact-resistant trigger and hammer pins are centerless ground.
According to a Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge, the sample averaged 5 pounds, 6 ounces, with minimal creep and no grit. It was smooth, and reset was short. The other nonbilateral fire controls — the two-position safety and magazine-release button — are standard.
Surrounding the H-weight buffer is a noncanting, six-position BCMGunfighter stock. With the stock collapsed, the overall length of the REC- CE-14 MCMR is 311/2 inches; it measures 34 1/2 inches when extended. The rifle’s short length works nicely with its 6-pound weight. Capping the butt is a 3⁄8-inch thin, hard-rubber pad. A bilateral QD interface port, web sling attachment and vehicle-borne operations sling (VBOS).
RECCE on the Range
The RECCE-14 MCMR used for testing included aftermarket Diamondhead open sights. These were promptly removed, as well as a foregrip. Neither of these products accompany the rifle when purchased. The rifle was subsequently topped with a Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mm scope set in a one-piece base.
Given the 1:7-inch-twist rate of the rifle’s 5.56 NATO-chambered barrel, I opted to evaluate accuracy using loads with bullets weighing 62 grains and heavier. The four .223 Rem. loads were the Nosler Varmageddon 62-grain flat-base hollowpoint (FBHP); Federal Gold Medal Match (GMM) 69-grain boattail hollowpoint (BTHP) MatchKing; PPU 75-grain hollowpoint boattail (HPBT); and SIG Sauer’s Elite Match Grade 77-grain open-tip match (OTM).
As the testing progressed, I was pleasantly surprised by the RECCE-14 MCMR’s ability to perform respectably well with everything it was fed. Rarely does such reliability occur with any rifle, but when it does, it makes for a delightful range session.
Of the four loads selected for accuracy testing, the smallest average was produced by SIG Sauer’s Elite Match Grade 77-grain OTM. For 25 shots, the mean was an impressive 1.03 inches! With an average of 1.18 inches, the Federal GMM load wasn’t far behind, either. The least accurate ammunition tested was the Serbian-made PPU 75-grain load. Although it finished last, it was low cost and certainly more than acceptable for plinking.
Given the performance of the SIG Sauer and Federal loads at 100 yards, I sent one five-shot group with each out to a 300-yard target. The two groups measured 2.65 (SIG Sauer) and 2.34 inches (Federal), respectively.
When shooting at distance, I realized the consequence of a shorter barrel: Velocity loss. Trajectories of the heavyweight bullets were far more pronounced than normal. Why? The actual barrel length (sans compensator) is 14 1/2 inches, which is 9 1/2 inches shorter than test barrels used by ammunition manufacturers for generating velocity figures. Without a complete burn of the propellant, reduced velocities should be expected. Velocity is the tradeoff for increased maneuverability.
With formal accuracy testing and chrono-graphing completed, I rapidly ran a hodgepodge of remnant loads through the RECCE-14 MCMR in no specific order. These included Russian-made, steel-cased Tula ammo and Barnaul, Winchester USA, EMGammo Justice, and American Eagle. Not one malfunction resulted, even with several brands of magazines being used, too. In fact, throughout the entire evaluation, the gun fed, fired, extracted and ejected flawlessly. This served as a testament to BCM’s quality standards.
The original RECCE rifle was meant to be lightweight, easily transported and accurate. BCM’s RECCE-14 MCMR carbine easily follows suit — and then some. Beyond embodying the U.S. Navy SEALs’ needs for a reconnaissance rifle, the RECCE-14 MCMR carbine also adheres to BCM’s proverb: “Professional Grade — Life Saving Tools.” Don’t settle for less — no matter the use.
Bravo Co. Mfg. RECCO-14 MCMR Specifications
- Type: Direct impingement, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: 5.56 NATO
- Capacity: 10, 20, 30 rds.
- Barrel: 14.5 in., 1:7-in. twist
- Overall Length: 31.5 in. (collapsed); 34.5 in. (extended)
- Weight: 6 lbs.
- Handguard: BCM MCMR
- Stock: BCMGunfighter
- Grip: BCMGunfighter Mod 3
- Finish: Hardcoat anodized (aluminum)
- Trigger: BCMGunfighter PNT
- Muzzle Device: BCMGunfighter Mod 1 (permanent)
- Sights: None
- MSRP: $1,500
- Manufacturer: Bravo Company Mfg., 877-272-8826, bravocompanymfg.com
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