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Author Topic: Bear Creek Arsenal complete upper receiver review  (Read 21118 times)

Jefe

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Bear Creek Arsenal complete upper receiver review
« on: February 09, 2015, 01:31:45 PM »

These are my initial impressions of the Bear Creek Arsenal upper I received. I have not fired this upper so I cannot make any determinations in that regard. My remarks may seem negative at points, as it's problems that people want to know about, but overall I am pleased with the purchase so keep that in mind while reading.

I was certainly underwhelmed by the amount of care given to the packing. The box was much too large and/or the packing material too sparse to afford any real protection to the upper receiver. At this price point Bear Creek Arsenal is going to be competing with the lower line uppers from Palmetto State Armory and PSA sends their uppers in egg carton foam lined boxes which fit tightly. Considering that Bear Creek Arsenal is in the upper selling business I'd have expected them to use a more appropriately sized shipping box. That being said the upper does appear to have arrived in fine condition.



The upper came with the obligatory tie wrap but it was just shoved between the bolt and the chamber. I usually see them wrapped around the back of the bolt carrier and receiver to keep them together. I don't really know what purpose is trying to be served by wedging the tie in this location.



The upper came with an acceptance tag with three spent Wolf 223 Remington cartridges in the bag. Presumably these were fired out of the upper but it does not actually say that. I try not to assume anything.



A basic rifle manual included with the upper.



The barrel is marked as ".223 Wylde" which is quite surprising but welcome. It should perform equally well with 223 Remington or 5.56 NATO cartridges. I was less excited about the 1:9 twist rate but it's perfectly fine.



Do these taper pins look long to anyone else? I measured them at 0.90" while the barrel pins in my Spike's Tactical upper measure 0.85" which is the standard. I wouldn't have thought 1/16" would be so noticeable.



The upper receiver is marked with the Mueller Industries forge mark. The top rail is not T-marked. The upper receiver and barrel extension have M4 feed ramps.



The bottom of the upper receiver rear lug is marked F05. I have no idea what that means.



 A2 front sight base, not "F" marked but "B 1" marked. However the height above bore is 1.98" as it should be if it were "F" marked so that's good.



Machining quality of the full-auto profile bolt carrier is very good. I saw no excessive tool marks as I have seen in some lower end bolt carriers. I will note that the firing pin cotter pin was very tight in the carrier. Often I can remove these with just my fingernails or at least with a small eyeglass screwdriver but this one required a small pair of pliers to grab and pull out. I'm sure this will wear in over time.


This is the "staking" done to the gas key screws. It looks like they were just struck across the top with a cold chisel. Clearly this is not how you do it properly. Here they've just pushed the gas key material out when it should be pushed in against the screws. This "staking" relies on the weak bond formed when the steel of the gas key meshes with the steel of the screws.



This is a Spike's Tactical bolt carrier with a properly staked gas key. The gas key is pushed in against the screws locking them in place. No striking of the actual screws is done.



The disassembled bolt which Bear Creek Arsenal says is made of 9310 steel. I was disappointed there was no donut around the extractor spring and shocked that there was no rubber insert inside the extractor spring. This rubber insert is standard so presumably this was an oversight on someone's part. If you have one of these bolts, or really any bolt you haven't disassembled, make sure it has this insert. It's usually black but sometimes blue.



Fairly standard carbine length handguards with heat shields.



For dry fire and fit testing I put the upper assembly on a Spike's Tactical lower. Fit was just fine with no tightness or sloppiness between upper and lower receivers. I then used a Magpul M3 PMAG with two snap caps to test feeding, chambering and extraction. The rounds fed into the upper and chambered without issue. The extraction was also strong despite the lack of an extractor spring insert. Aside from that missing part the only thing I can really take issue with is the gas key staking. Time will tell if that holds up so I'll keep an eye on it for now. If the screws do work loose I will see if I can re-stake them or maybe just replace the gas key if needed.

I contacted Bear Creek Arsenal nearly three weeks ago about the missing extractor spring insert and did not receive a reply. I followed up four days later asking if the part had shipped and received a reply consisting entirely of "Yes.". Having not received it after six days from that email I followed up again. Nine days after that and I have received no reply and no insert. To me the measure of a company is how they handle a customer problem, no matter how minor. In this case it seems their poor reputation earned while operating under the name "Moore's Machine Company" is going to follow them into their new name. I was willing to take a chance at the $235 shipped price but at their regular price they're competing with Palmetto State Armory products. In my experience PSA beats them in packaging, proper assembly and customer service so that's where I'll spend my money.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2015, 11:40:51 AM by Jefe »
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Jefe

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Re: Bear Creek Arsenal complete upper receiver review
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2015, 09:40:21 AM »

Edited to add that I stripped the upper receiver the other day in order to coat it with Aluma Hyde II Magpul FDE. The barrel nut was quite loose and definitely not torqued down anywhere close to specs. I put my barrel wrench on it and it almost unscrewed itself. Yet another thing you will probably want to check if you buy one of these uppers.
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Jefe

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Re: Bear Creek Arsenal complete upper receiver review
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2015, 01:16:57 PM »

I purchased a second complete upper receiver from Bear Creek Arsenal and checked to see if it had the same issues. Not surprisingly the gas keys were not staked properly just like the first upper I received. The extractor spring did not have the rubber insert either so apparently BCA is trying to save a nickel by not including this minuscule part which is not an optional piece. It also did not have a donut which was offered to me when I inquired about the extractor spring insert on the first bolt. If you buy a Bear Creek Arsenal understand that you will need to buy an insert for it. Primary Arms has just the insert for $1 while Brownell's and MidwayUSA carry the insert with spring for $2. You can properly stake the gas key yourself with a vise, punch and hammer.
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M4BlackRifle

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Re: Bear Creek Arsenal complete upper receiver review
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2015, 04:24:18 PM »

I recently bought a 5.56 NATO 1/9 AR-15 upper from MidwayUSA and was searching the forge mark when I found this forum and thread.    I bought a Stoner upper, Midway part number 221905, and it looks a great deal like your Bear Creek upper.  The same MM signed OK on my inspection, and the upper has F30 engraved on it.

The BCG is properly staked, and I have not yet had a chance to break it down and check for a rubber insert.

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« Last Edit: December 27, 2015, 03:16:15 PM by M4BlackRifle »
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Jefe

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Re: Bear Creek Arsenal complete upper receiver review
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2015, 10:49:47 AM »

That acceptance tag (MM and OK) and three empty brass look a lot like the BCA tag and brass. What is the head stamp on that brass? The side charging upper sold at MidwayUSA as a "Stoner" also looks like a BCA design. I wonder if Stoner is contracting BCA to make their uppers.
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M4BlackRifle

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Re: Bear Creek Arsenal complete upper receiver review
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2015, 11:35:46 AM »

After some research, I find that AR-Stoner is the house brand sold by MidwayUSA, and they get OK reviews.    Obviously Midway doesn't build much or any of their products, so they are having it built by somebody.    Barrels are rumored to made by Satern or ER Shaw.       The BCG does not have an extractor O-ring installed, but that is a easy/cheap to fix.  The spent brass is headstamped GFL .223 which is said to be  made by Fiocchi.

It was on sale for $279, and with Midway customer service I figured I couldn't go that far wrong buying it.  The upper looks good enough to put on a Anderson lower for a low cost plinking rifle. 
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