Photos by Michael Anschuetz
This is the Golden Age for AR-15 enthusiasts, a time with firearms for every conceivable taste and budget. From high-end race guns to dirt-cheap M4 clones, there’s a gun for everyone. But with so many options, how does a consumer choose?
The majority purchase what they can afford. Some gravitate to military clones. Some buy what they see in the hands of a sponsored 3-Gun shooter. Others, however, pass on price-point or “game” guns and choose to invest in a tool that they can stake their lives upon.
This explains the rise of outfits like Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) of Hartland, Wisconsin, a company that has forged a reputation for building dependable, long-lasting products. Every BCM item — from complete guns to an array of accessories — is painstakingly designed and built for hard use. Evidence of this ethos can be found on a large banner hanging in their new 100,000-square-foot facility. The banner reads: “Their survivability depends on our quality.”
The Rise of BCM
BCM was formed in 2003 by U.S. Marine Corps veteran Paul Buffoni as an online parts and accessories business. Fifteen years later, the company is a juggernaut in the firearms industry, outfitting a growing number of military and law enforcement organizations as well as civilian shooters with innovative accessories and “Professional Grade Weaponry.” According to Buffoni, BCM’s success and the faith consumers have in them isn’t something that’s taken lightly.
“It’s a heavy rucksack,” says Buffoni. “Our firearms are designed and built to win wars and save lives. If we made tennis rackets, for example, there wouldn’t be such grave consequences. Anyone carrying a BCM rifle has put their trust in us, and we are always conscious of that.”
Their newest carbine — the limited-edition BCM RECCE-14 MCMR Carbine featured here — is proof of BCM’s dedication to quality. The most striking feature of the carbine is the Tiger Stripe camo pattern anodized into the forged receiver set and M-LOK handguard, which contrasts well with the black BCM furniture. But the beauty of the RECCE-14 MCMR is more than skin deep. This carbine displays innovation and quality throughout.
The lower receiver is crafted from forged 7075-T6 aluminum and adorned with BCM Gunfighter upgrades, such as the trigger, triggerguard, grip and stock. An H buffer rests inside the buffer tube.
The forged upper contains a midlength 14½-inch barrel with a pinned Mod 1 Compensator, bringing total length to 16.1 inches. The barrel is chrome lined for long life and has a twist rate of 1:7 inches to stabilize even heavy projectiles. The heavy M16 bolt carrier is coated in Ion Bond Flat Dark Earth, which looks great and cleans with ease.
Surrounding the barrel is a 13-inch M-LOK Compatible Modular Rail (MCMR). This superb handguard evolved from BCM’s KMR rail and is lightweight, striking and offers infinite mounting solutions.
To ensure only reliable guns leave the factory, BCM’s quality control team tests each and every firearm for function. In addition, they test critical components (gas system and bolt carrier group) individually. In Buffoni’s eyes, these extra steps are what separates BCM from much of the competition.
“If you have to carry a rifle,” he asks, “do you want one where everything was checked, or do you want a rifle from a company where they perform randomized batch samples?”
This dedication to quality is only rivaled by its design pedigree. This is where BCM’s Gunfighter Program comes in.
The RECCE-14 design evolved with input from members of BCM’s Gunfighter Program, which consists of the most famous trigger pullers on the planet (for the full list of BCM’s Gunfighters, check out the company’s website: bravocompanymfg.com). According to Buffoni, the program began informally.
“I got into this business because I’m an enthusiast,” said Buffoni. “Attending training courses allowed me to meet and become friends with some of the top trainers in the world. Naturally, I asked their opinions on what would make the weapon system better.”
Even though BCM’s Gunfighters aren’t engineers by trade, their input and feedback from testing prototypes was critical for the research and development process. Buffoni compares it to developments in the auto industry.
“If you’re building a race car, you’d better listen to the driver,” said Buffoni. “He’s no engineer, but he knows the car. Same thing here: Listen to the trigger puller.”
In addition to the Gunfighters, BCM also leans heavily on its internal team, hiring only the best talent that comes largely from other industries. BCM’s engineers, for example, are recruited from the aerospace industry. According to Buffoni, their background allows them to push quality control as far as possible. “If something happens to an airplane, you can’t pull it to the side of the road,” said Buffoni.
For the armorers assembling the firearms, Buffoni hires overqualified people that have experience in the trades, like former electricians, mechanics or plumbers. They are then trained in armorer skills one work station at a time. According to Buffoni, they have “outstanding mechanical aptitude and a fresh eye, which often results in a better way of solving problems.”
To test BCM’s RECCE-14 MCMR Tiger Stripe, I compiled a selection of ammo ranging from bulk reloads to premium offerings from SIG Sauer, Black Hills and Hornady. Reliability with each of the loads was superb. For optics, I swapped between an Aimpoint CompM5 and 24X target scope.
Accuracy, especially with the 77-grain SIG load, was more than adequate for a hard-use gun, enabling minute-of-torso shots on steel out to my range’s 300-yard berm. What stood out was how smooth shooting the carbine proved to be. Pairing a heavy bolt carrier group and H buffer with a midlength gassed and compensated barrel produces such a mild recoil impulse that follow-up shots were fast and precise.
With sharp looks, low weight, compact dimensions and spectacular build pedigree, the BCM RECCE-14 MCMR Tiger Stripe is as close to the perfect carbine as I’ve used. The only thing I’d change is the trigger. I prefer lighter ones.
Is the RECCE-14 for you? That depends.
If you’re into price-point guns, probably not. This carbine is built by skilled craftsmen and consists of quality components, which means it costs more. If you’re into innovative and dependable firearms that are built for warfighters, then the RECCE-14 is your kind of gun.
But don’t think for a second that BCM made this carbine specifically for top law enforcement or Tier 1 operators. Buffoni said that the RECCE-14 is built for anyone that might be a gunfighter. According to Buffoni, that’s all of us.
“We’re all gunfighters if we ever have to use our gun to protect ourselves or our family,” he said.