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[Hands-On Review] Bear Creek Arsenal AR-15: Is It Good?

We tested the budget-friendly BCA AR-15 and found some...interesting surprises. Come see why this AR had us scratching our heads.

Continuing our quest to review every AR-15 on the market, we’re finally making it to Bear Creek Arsenal!

BCA AR-15 (1)
BCA AR-15 with a Bushnell AR Optic 1-4x LPVO.

While “budget” AR-15s aren’t as budget-friendly as they used to be, we wanted to find out just what the budgetist of the budget brands can offer in times like these.

From the photo booth to the range, I’ve put it to the test and the results might surprise you.

Or maybe not, I’m not a mind reader.

1014
at Bear Creek Arsenal

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

I’ll run you through who BCA is, what the AR-15 has to offer, as well as the good and bad features I found.

By the end, you’ll be armed with the knowledge of whether this AR deserves a place in your gun safe.

Let’s get to it!

Table of Contents

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Bear Creek Arsenal

Ask an AR-15 owner in the know about BCA and you’ll probably learn three things.

First, they are very budget-friendly rifles.

broke meme

Second, they are literally the only brand that offers a side charging AR-15 that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Third, their customer service team is one of the best in the industry.

And that’s pretty much the whole story.

While there are dozens of AR-15 makers these days, BCA has carved out their niche in the market by offering cheap rifles in a huge range of calibers and styles.

Then, they back it all up with outstanding service.

Specs & Features

The rifle BCA sent out for review is a very standard AR-15. 5.56 NATO, 16-inch M4 profile barrel with a 1:8 twist.

Carbine gas system, 15-inch M-LOK handguard, mil-spec trigger, M4 style stock, and A2 style grip.

BCA AR-15 (2)

The only change I made to the rifle was to add a MagLock to the rifle to make it California compliant and a Bushnell AR Optic 1-4x LPVO.

204
at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Before the Range…

Almost all of my guns, to me, are tools. As such, I treat them and view them in that context.

So when I get a tool that doesn’t look as pretty as it could, it doesn’t really bother me.

Trijicon MRO Being Dropped
We’re not tender on our AR-15s around here, the High-End Optics Torture Test was fun!

But…this BCA upper was really pushing the limits of what I would have tolerated personally.

If I had handled it in a store first, I would have put it back and asked for one that didn’t look like a showroom floor sample.

Before taking this to the range I brought the rifle into our office so our awesome photographer could take some proper pictures with good lighting to really show what I’m talking about.

Top of the list is this weird bird poop mark. No idea what caused it, but ew.

BCA Bird Poop Mark (2)
Why??

Also, this image highlights the very uneven looking finish.

ewwww

Weird blotch between the FA and brass deflector.

BCA FA Blotch
At first I thought this was just oil, but it won’t clean off so…ya.

Above the charging handle is all scratched up.

BCA Scratched Above CH
My money is that a dull apprentice dropped it.

And the barrel is scratched up in multiple places.

BCA Scratched Barrel
BCA Scratched Barrel (2)

None of these is a real problem. None of the scratches look deep enough to go to bare metal and it’s all cosmetic.

But still…I prefer beating up my own tools, not having one come looking pre-worn.

On the Range!

Some good and some bad on the range side of things.

In total, I put about 300 rounds through the BCA rifle on the first day plus and then about as many again on added training days. 

For the first 30 or so rounds I had constant malfunctions — literally, every second or third round was a failure.

disappointed
Literally MFW it failed on shot #2

It took me a little while to figure out what was going on, but I finally discovered that the trigger was failing to fully reset.

I would pull the trigger, the rifle would go bang and fully cycle. Pull the trigger again…nothing would happen.

Tap, rack, bang immediate action would solve the problem — but this was because it was shaking the fire control unit into resetting.

Once I tracked down that the trigger didn’t want to reset, it was as simple as pushing the trigger forward a few millimeters and it would reset and be happy.

After the first 30-rounds, I stripped the rifle, took a look inside the lower, and didn’t find anything out of place or wrong.

I could manually reset the hammer and dry fire the lower without the upper attached and recreate the problem.

blade reaction gif
Unexpectedly getting to train your immediate action drills.

I wiped out the area and hit it with a little gun lube because when in doubt, lube it. The second set of 30 rounds ran “better” with only 4 failures to reset, but this pattern continued for a while.

Around the 100 round mark, the problem started to solve itself and I managed a full 30 rounds without an issue.

Over the next 200 rounds, I only had 1 failure to reset.

I let the rifle rest multiple times during all of that shooting mostly because reloads were slow as hell with a CA maglocked rifle. 🙁

But Why?!

I don’t know. After getting home I stripped the rifle and took out the FCG to take a close look but nothing looks wrong.

It’s not coated in grease or has a chipped part or anything.

I don’t see any signs of obvious wear either as something wore into spec during cycling.

BCA Trigger (1)
Nothing looks out of sorts

Once it started working, it ran flawlessly. Still is.

I would also like to note that yes, the rifle was cleaned after the photo shoot and before it’s first range trip.

But Wait, There’s More

I did however find another MASSIVE blem and this one causes me some concern.

Before now none of the blems were anything more than cosmetic, this one might be more than that.

BCA inside trigger area blem (1)
BCA lower inside the trigger area…heat damage?

To me, that looks like heat damage of some kind. While it’s not in a critical area, and aluminum doesn’t really temper as steel does, whatever happened to this lower happened after it was anodized.

At best this was yet another quality control miss, at worst…this is considered within spec.

Either way isn’t good.

Now the Good News

Other than the trigger issue, everything ran perfectly. Tula ammo, Wolf Gold, IMI, the BCA ate it all.

It was also surprisingly accurate, this was shot at 50-yards using a Bushnell 1-4x LPVO off of a tripod sitting down using Wolf Gold.

BCA @ 50 yards with Bushnell 1-4x (2)
BCA @ 50 yards with Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x

Sure, that isn’t long-range match quality — but for a barebones AR-15 with a mil-spec trigger, “meh” ammo, and a 4x LPVO — I’m very happy with it.

The top two shots were mostly me, I called them high — without getting out my good shooting bags and breaking into my fancy .223 ammo, I’m willing to call this rifle right around 1.5 MOA.

Best .223 Bang-for-the-Buck
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at Brownells

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Going 10 for 10 on steel at 100- and 200-yards was no problem.

By the Numbers

Reliability: 1/5 (<100 rounds), 5/5 (>100 rounds)

The trigger not resetting was a real issue. And since it wasn’t something I could point at and say “ah, that’s the cause” I’m marking it down as a QC failure more than anything.

It works now, but it did take time to get there. This is why you should always test a firearm before trusting it.

Accuracy: 5/5

This really pleased me, for a barebones AR-15 and a mil-spec trigger I was expecting a lot worse — but the BCA put rounds where I wanted them and did it with a huge range of ammo and weights.

For what it is, it’s great.

Looks: 1/5

Bird poop mark, scratches, weird blotches, if this upper were a blem I would understand and not think twice about it.

But I double-checked with BCA before writing this and they confirmed that this was a standard factory unit and that it had been inspected before being placed in inventory and inspected again before being mailed out.

Ugh

It was also test-fired at the factory, so that might explain a little bit of it but not all of it.

Since it was inspected at least twice, I guess bird poop marks are within spec…?

Ergonomics: 5/5

It’s an AR-15. The nice thing BCA does is give you a sling attachment point at the castle nut, so that helps plus things up a bit. The sling points in general are great with more QDs on the stock and handguard.

Customization: 5/5

Again, AR-15.

Value: 1/5 (complete rifle), 4/5 (separate upper and lower)

The complete rifle from BCA is a staggering $1,014. Even in a pandemic, right after an election, with AR-15s flying off the shelves — that is a ridiculous price for this rifle.

1014
at Bear Creek Arsenal

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

However, the separate complete upper and complete lower are also sold and combined are under $700 total. During these times, that’s a much more reasonable price.

Even with the blems and the trigger issue, under $700 for a complete rifle is a good deal.

I would strongly recommend testing your rifle and ensuring that it is 100% functional before trusting it though.

1014
at Bear Creek Arsenal

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Overall: 3/5

I can’t say this would be my first choice for an AR-15, but it’s not a wrong choice either. And with almost everything being sold out right now, if this is in stock and in your price range — go for it.

difference between screwing around and science
Don’t forget to write down your results after you test your rifles!

Brands like BCA are built on price and volume. Nothing catastrophic happened and the rifle does run great now and it required zero actual maintenance or replacement parts.

For a range or training rifle, this works.

Break-in periods for high-end rifles enrage me, but a break-in period for a budget rifle makes complete sense.

Conclusion

This rifle passes my standards…but barely. We as an editorial team even had a discussion on if we should even give it a passing grade or not.

At the end of the day though, it does run. Outside of the trigger needing to be broken-in, the rifle runs perfectly and is surprisingly accurate for its specs.

1014
at Bear Creek Arsenal

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

If Cs get degrees, this BCA is the AR-15 version of that philosophy personified.

Are cosmetic blems a hard pass for you? Had any experience with BCA? Let us know in the comments! For some higher-quality rifles, take a look at the Best AR-15: Ultimate Guide!

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81 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Dennis Eagleberger

    I have purchased 3 uppers in 300 BO and 556, place them on AERO lowers and they run perfect. Works for me and gives me cheaper caliber choices on many of my rifles. I love my BCM's and Aero's, but this works for me. I'll always be in the game and not broke. No malfunctions.

    August 22, 2022 11:22 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dirk D

    I have owned a BCA-15 w carbine gas system for a over a year now. My experience with this rifle so far has been positive. I had to make a few minor tweaks to make but that was all with one exception, the trigger. The BCA trigger is absolute garbage. Once I replaced that with a Rise armament trigger everything has been golden. For a rifle that cost me under $600 I am very happy with my purchase.

    August 3, 2022 12:49 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Shane Jones

    Their customer service is not the best in the country! 2.3 out of 5 reviews speaks for itself. Matter of fact they are 1 of the worse in America. Thousands say the same thing!

    May 11, 2022 9:37 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Travis Glenn Gregory

    Well I now this article is a little old but after a lot of research on bca I see alot of negative reviews but when you read them I noticed it's alot of gas block was loose barrel nut was loose maybe machining marks etc but what are we expecting from a budget line product? Anyway finally decided to try one out do I ordered an upper they have on sale for entire month of fed 2022. 20 inch barrel nitrided 4150 steel heavy profile 1 on 7 twist 556 chamber. Can't really do a review yet got a out for delivery notice for today feb 10th then got notice sorry we missed you will redeliver tomorrow to ups store. That's on ups not bca. My review is the shipping time ordered on sun fed 6th they are closed on sun so mon Tues wed delivery thurs. So many reviews on how long it takes to ship from bca and psa. And that's another story ordered both the upper and psa lower on sun both out for delivery thurs that's no bad . Hope when I get them both will be good to go. But a complete upper 20 inch nitrided 1 in 7 twist 4150 steel side charger upper for 246 bucks ain't bad not expecting match grade accuracy but with bca 1 moa guarantee if it don't shoot with match ammo send it back

    February 10, 2022 12:31 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jason Scott

    Took mine out for the first time the other day. Same upper, PSA lower. Ran great! But the barrel nut was loose. Other than that, was accurate and ran flawlessly, no trigger problems, no malfs at all. The shop took care of the nut for me, but I am changing out the handguard to something that doesn't need to be clocked correctly to properly install the handguard.

    I checked everything but the barrel nut. Live and learn, I will make sure to do that in the furture (first AR). As it is, I really enjoy this rifle. Kind of miffed I can get a complete upper for a lot less than I did earlier this year but, whatever. Will use it until it breaks and I have to replace parts, or build a new one.

    December 31, 2021 1:37 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Blockade Runner

    I have bought my last upper from BCA and l am sending it back for reimbursement. It is a 22LR and should have been sold as a blem. Failed to feed, 8 misfires and eject. In the beginning what caught my eye was the side charging (gen l). Scratched handles and coming loose. Sent them back for the gen ll exchange program ($99X3) and still own 2. Good runners. The .22 upper packing for ship is a upgrade but the 10 rnd mag was unprotected and loose in the box. I was hoping for a good runner and inexpensive shooter. Ordered a replacement from PSA. This was going to be a gift for my granddaughter Christmas day.

    December 30, 2021 8:58 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steve McGee

    How do you get ahold of them??? I've tried to order online, and it doesn't work. They don't answer their emails or phones! Can anyone help???

    December 29, 2021 12:39 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Blake Lunsford

      Reviews everywhere speak to this issue. They just don't have or apparently care to have/staff a good customer service dept. To make things worse they have enough problems of every kind that having good customer service would have them receiving a lot more positive reviews instead of the all too numerous angry customers who just needed a little communication. Too bad.

      January 11, 2022 8:03 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Robert

      Weird. Nobody was around during the holidays? Nobody in any sector of the gun industry skips December 21-Jan 3 ever.

      February 15, 2022 8:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    the gun brotha

    I just got a rear charging 16" complete upper in 556, I mated it to a spikes tac lower with a CMC single stage flat trigger and BCM furniture and threw on an Eotech 552. Blemishes aside my experience and my review wouldve been exactly this including the trigger reset issue and accuracy.

    December 20, 2021 2:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Infidel

    I've had 3 of their uppers in hand. I sent a side charging. 223 Wylde back due to a throating problem with my 77 gn. cast bullets.
    My first upper was a 10.5" .223 Wylde, and it ran perfectly from the gitgo, with everything from 55gn to 77 gn. cast.
    I have an 18" Socom .223 Wylde, that I haven't had time to take out yet.
    But, all 3 ,of these were cosmetically perfect (with the exception of the side charger, that took a hit to the charging handle in transit). BCA replaced that on my first return over the chambering problem. The returns process was quite painless, as they covered all the shipping. The customer service people were courteous, with a bit of Southern charm.
    I don't know how the author managed to spend $700.00, on one rifle. I have 2 uppers from BCA ($200 + $274), with a PSA pistol lower ($150.), which comes up to $624.00. I'll go over $700, once I pick up another complete lower, but not by much. These are definitely budget firearms, but my pistol holds a much tighter group than my grandson's 11.5" SBR ($1600+$200 non refundable donation to Uncle Sam).

    December 19, 2021 8:24 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    dennis J davidson

    I have built several ar 15 and ar 10 rifles using BCA uppers. I have not in my experience seen any of the blems that you did with yours. everything looked legit, and was well assembled. I just got a slick side 6.5 creedmore upper fro BCA, but have not had the chance to test its 18" Barrel accuracy.

    December 19, 2021 7:18 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Higgins

    I run a BCA side charging upper on an Anderson lower and love it. It was one out of two prototypes for their Gen 2 side charging uppers. Had a failure to properly extract issue and when it did extract it would throw the shell the casing would just sorta fall out. Swapped out the extractor and put a lighter buffer spring in and problem solved

    December 3, 2021 12:04 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    thomas ray light

    I currently own and built 3 AR 15's from BCA. I have not had any issues what so ever with any of them. my brother in law has a couple as well. he had issue with one, we originally thought the BCA upper and the BCG was the culprit, but turned out to be the 80% lower he finished. it was a factory problem with the mag lock in the well(which was not from BCA) I also have other AR's from Colt, PSA. my number one short rifle for now is my 16" BCA build.

    December 1, 2021 9:53 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jerry

    After reading the BCA reviews/complaints below and having experience with them on an Issue that shouldn't ever happen (see my comment below) "If C's get Degrees..."(funny) in this case I'd say C stands for something more earthy. Terrific review BTW. You have a way of saying things w/o actually saying it.

    November 25, 2021 1:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jerry

    I bought one of their side charging LR-308 uppers. It was ejecting to the left jamming up the works. Bolt was 180° out! Bolt retainer could be installed from either side which is impossible with a correctly machined bolt (No, it wasn't the pin). The owner told me it wasn't a big deal as it wasn't a safety issue. Offered to replace it if I paid the return shipping. Customer service? Kept it. Bought one from Brownells. Didn't want another klinker. I'm sure they have others just like it. I use it for show and tell. People are amazed when I pass the pin in from either side.

    November 25, 2021 1:17 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Eric Snyman

    I've bought 5 complete upper in 50 Beowulf, 6.5 Grendel, 350 Legend, 5.56, and 7.62x39 (7.5" pistol). All have operated near flawlessly. All are side chargers. The only thing to note is 2 of then are gen 1 and the charger knob needed Loctite to stay tight. The other 3 are gen 2 and have worked perfectly. BCA will convert a gen i to a gen 2 for $100.
    l built my own receivers using Anderson stripped lowers with Armaspec stainless parts and a Nickel Teflon trigger from Bravo company.
    I'm sold on BCA

    November 16, 2021 10:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    STEVE

    On my 3rd upper, 2 556($220 delivered, 10.5" & 7.5", no sales tax!!)and 1 308 ($300 delivered, SS 20" barrel)......so far I'm amazed at quality for prices.. no blemishes, consistent good finish, and flawless performance w all ammo....
    Gonna quit before I jinx myself but their gosh darn disposable for those prices but I actually sold the 7.5" 556 on and Anderson lower for $1200, so their all free now anyway!!

    Keep your powder dry and beer cold!

    November 15, 2021 10:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Paul

    I purchased complete BCA S/c upper chambered in 556 NATO with 1/8 twist. The charge handle and cap screw were lost in shipping. BCA Fedex the charge handle and screw asap. Very Pleased with BCA value and swevice. I Idiscussed BCA with
    gun snob friend about and he said they are junk but that's because he buys big names and then upgrades evey possible part; spending a lot on the weapon and more changing parts that are already quality.

    November 6, 2021 2:04 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Key

      how does it usually take bca to ship and deliver to you?

      November 9, 2021 2:34 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chip

    I ordered a BCA upper in 5.56 in December of 2020. I was able to shoot about 8 rounds before I started having issues. I let the bolt slam closed as is normal. It would not fire the round. I then could not eject the round with the charging handle. I had to get a cleaning rod an run down the barrel and tap to get the bolt to open. A little touchy with live ammo. I tested a number of ammo types all of which had the same issue. On further investigation I found that without any rounds in the firearm I could let the bolt slam into battery, but could not open the bolt with the charging handle. So I changed the bolt with a PSA bolt from another rifle. This bolt worked in the upper just fine. I contacted BCA customer service relating this information. They provided an RMA. I got the gun back in a month or less with an explanation they had fired 30 rounds through it without a problem. I do not know how they did that. I tested the upper by letting the bolt slam closed without any ammunition. I had difficulty opening the bolt with the charging handle. I knew at the point the bolt need to be replaced. I explained my issue again with customer service and asked to just let me return the upper and call it a day. They sent me a second RMA. I returned the upper and they credited the cost back to my credit card. Customer service was responsive. I really do not know what to say about the person working on the upper . The person may not have read the information I provided or just did nothing.

    October 22, 2021 6:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ken Deliz

    I have bought 4 of their uppers. Thought I had a problem with the first, but it turned out I had a problem with my reloads. Took 2 clip loads to get the Grendel running right. But the 223 and 300 blackout worked great right off the bad. Also got a 308 which worked great. Love the side charge, works great with a scope. Will be buying another 223 with a 20" barrel in the near future. The Blackout is a ton of fun to shoot.

    October 19, 2021 4:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    North Georgia Wood

    I've purchased 2 uppers in 300BLK from them. A 16" and a 10.5". Both required a good bit of hand-cycling rounds initially before subsonic ammo would feed consistently. Both now have 1,000s of subs and supers through them with zero failures. Considering the <$300 paid for each I'd consider them steals for the money.

    October 18, 2021 5:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Oscar Pack Collins

      I got the 10.5" side charging 300blk for $209 shipped. Its heavy but i like it. I added an adjustable gas block and its my fav ar as of late.

      October 27, 2021 7:25 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Terry D

    Purchased a side charging upper from BCA last year and ended up putting it on my 7.62x39 with a 16 in. barrel, looks and runs great.
    Just purchased a complete upper 7.62 side charger and a 7.62 M4 style both with heavy barrels. I decided to do some changing around so I started disassembling the side charger and found the gas block damaged while installing the roll pin. Looks like the assembler beat the hell out of it. Decided to continue, but then I could not loosen the barrel nut. Used a vice block and could not break it loose.
    I decided to take a closer look at the M4 and noticed that the front site pins were flat on one side. Looks like they used a press or beat on them also. Didn't go any further than that.
    contacted customer service and arranged a RMA. Return labels for shipping were incorrect and now I cannot get any response from customer service. No one answer the phone, returns messages or response to email.
    Not real happy. Check you assembly.

    July 29, 2021 9:57 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Edward E Claybrooks

      Having the same problem with customer service. My 7.62 extractor was not completely milled and won't grab the round. After calling and emailing I have had no response. Bought 2 uppers and the other works great. They need to work on service before I give them any more of my money.

      September 21, 2021 4:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    LD

    My family has bought several complete uppers from BCA. They’ve all arrived with minimal blems at most. The finish on them has been pretty damn solid actually. The only real issue was one arrived for me with a broken FA. I called BCA and had a new one sent to me very quickly. Otherwise, my upper looks mint. I’m surprised to see yours being shipped like that and can only imagine their QC is stretched by a crazy labor market leading to a lot of inconsistencies. Hopefully it gets figured out soon.

    Thanks for doing the review!

    LD

    June 14, 2021 7:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Donnie Brite Jr

    I can't speak for BCA's lowers because I haven't got one of them. I did buy a complete upper with the BCG and I should have went with an 18 or 20 inch barrel but I am new to this platform, as far as owning, I've shot any type of complete rifle from the well known distributors, like a bushmaster, all the way to the cheapest dmps a vet friend of mine has. One thing I noticed on all the ones ive shot and the adjustability of the stock was cool, but the point it hooks to the aluminum frame was a concerning weak point that me being tough on equipment, knew I would break one eventually. Which is one of the reasons that kept me off the AR platform in general. Until recently, when I saw a one piece poly inject molded lower that got rid of the adjustability of the stock for a short stock that is pretty comfortable from K.E. Arms the KP-15 lower...I was searching online for a solid stock to reciever frame lower and it hapoened to pop up and better yet I found one at a local shop for 221. And some change after tax for the complete lower. I picked it up next day and had already been searching for a decent budget friendly upper that was also complete because I am still learning about all the parts internally. Thats when I ran across BCA and started perusing their little Treasure Trove of all their different complete uppers that they offer, and anything that would fit on an AR-15 frame we'll work on the KP-15 lower because its a multu-caliber which was another plus for it, anyway, I just decided to go with the 5.56 NATO chambering because though I don't know much about AR-15's I do know that the 5.56 chamber can also shoot two 223's SafeLink because the pressure generated by 223 is not near as substantial as the 5.56. And after looking through all the different 556 chambered complete uppers I decided to settle on the 16in parkerized 5.56 chambered Barrel with a carbine length gas tube and BCG included and it also has a 15 inch M Lok rail system which through research from what I seen was the easiest to find aftermarket parts for too attached to it and even during this whole pandemic s*** and they're elevated order demand, they still had my upper to me within a little over a week, which was pretty fast to me. I also ordered parts from opticsplanet including a utg Bug Buster 3-9x32mm scope and instead of going with see-through mounts which I don't really like I went with a set of 45 degree offset sights spring loaded and a vertical foregrip. At the same time I also bought and aluminum GI style mag from BCA because I wanted a man to show up the same day and I guess I had pretty good luck, as far as blemishes initially cuz I didn't find anything out of whack with mine and I took it out to my personal gun range that day as soon as I got the notification that it has been delivered I was at a friend's house and I told him I got to go and not hauled ass to the house picked it up and was happy as hell when I got it. I already had the lower in my car with me and I snapped the two together right in my driveway and lock up between upper and lower was nice and tight I actually had to take some 3,000 grit sandpaper sand the front lug of the BCA to get it to fit perfectly in the kp15 upper but other than that I think is absolutely perfect on the fit. I hauled ass out to my personal gun range on a family member's property because work just so had it in my favor that UPS dropped off couple hundred rounds of m855 green tip that morning and I already had that with me too so I just wanted to ask the gun range and that polymer frame lower made the rifle fuel front end heavy but it wasn't a big deal not to me anyway, so I loaded up the man got. Walked out to the range rack that charging handle back and my first time shooting it felt alright but I didn't have my scope or my sights in yet so I couldn't really tell except for shooting a couple rounds where I was hitting but it seemed to hit the same spot every time so I was excited and then a couple days later my utg bug Buster came in along with the 45 offset science which I immediately attach them and Bug Buster came with quick detach mounts which I don't know how I feel about those yet time will tell I like something that's solid locking in all honesty but for now we haven't done me wrong yet. So another trip back to the range decide in the scope and just don't feel as 45 degree offset. I got there. Set up at 50 yards just cuz that's all the room I got so I hot ones adjusted shot twice adjusted third shot dead on and then I emptied the man and group was 1/2 inch at the 50-yard mark, without sandbags just shooting from a kneeling stance taking my time I was satisfied with that and started transitioning between the scope snd offset sights and I liked that it was easy fast transitioning, and the irons were awesome right out of the box I didn't have to adjust anything except flip from the big CQB to the aperture sight and was pinging 4x4 inch plates and 2x2 inch plates at 50 yards. I didn't experience the malfunctions that you did but like you explained it was a problem in the lower. Overall pretty damn impressed with my complete then I got from BCA. For a budget upper I'm pretty impressed with how accurate it is and I haven't had any of my functions except for some hand-loaded ammo right now because of the fact primers are impossible to get it and I'm having to improvise my own homemade primers which are definitely not as reliable as some Factory primers. Other than that though and I had to Pioneer a load with some 55 grain performance and some 55 grain fmg boat tails both from and I don't have any powder for 223 reloading which is the tiring Pioneer part and I scoured the internet and found a forum are a couple guys did most work for me and had pioneered a 223 load with a 55 grain using Lever Revolution powder which doesn't even have load data for a 223 bullet because as the name implies it's meant for reloading 3030 lever action bullets and is the only rifle power I have one and good luck trying to find any right now it is ridiculous. But armed with the knowledge that the internet gave me which made me nervous as f*** I loaded up some 55 grain bullets for 25 grains of lvr and I loaded 5 with 25 and loaded 5 or 26 grains of lvr and I was sweating like crazy because I've never taken anybody's advice on the internet when it comes to load data and everything you read on the internet is true so needless to say I said my prayers before pulling the trigger on that first one but after I did I realize wasn't a load of bull crap and recoil wasn't much different from the m855 any accuracy was on par what do you make 55 so there's that. All in all I'm satisfied for getting what I expected to get something that I'm betting eight major top-of-the-line s*** but I didn't pay the major top-of-line price either oh no I'll do business with BCA again

    May 14, 2021 1:10 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Alldatjuice72

      Did you write a short bus as a child?

      July 28, 2021 3:43 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Terry Meek

        Think maybe Donnies a little lonely.

        January 29, 2022 4:46 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    J. Michael

    David,
    I usually agree with your personal evaluation comments in the 90% to 95% range but I have to take up the flag for Bear Creek on this one. I don't doubt your words of the weapon origin or anything about it BUT I can very honestly say that I have never seen one of their weapons or parts with damage or scratches much less the disaster you had on your hands. Bear Creek has been my savior business wise over the past year with availability of quality product. They kept me guns and spare parts through the panic buying frenzy and the pandemic days. I am retired military and was on the range every week; often multiple sessions before a mission, so I have done a lot of shooting throughout my career . The BCA-15 IMHO would go head to head with anything that I was ever issued in the 5.56 caliber. Your trouble with the trigger is strange but the BCA does come with a heavy pull that is easily fixed for <$5 with a set of KAW springs. Keep up the good work but I had to yank your chain on this one. Mike

    May 7, 2021 12:58 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      I'm glad you've had better experiences with BCA than I did!

      May 7, 2021 2:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    EvanBB

    My first bca upper came in the mail yesterday it took 2 days to deliver its a 18" stainless steel "socom" barrel with a side charger in 223 wylde with 5r rifling and a 1-8 twist it doesn't look too bad the finish was even everything was tight the only scratches were on the barrel near the gas block and they were very light and would probably buff out there were no scratches or marring around the screws maybe I'm lucky or their qc guys got their act together but anyway i just ordered a psa classic lower with an a2 stock when I get the rifle together I'll comment again but for 345.99 I'm pretty happy the only thing it needs are the feed lips smoothed out a little but some wd-40 and Emory paper will fix that

    May 4, 2021 4:14 pm
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    Richard Loewe

    for the same price you get the LaRue Ultimate Upper assembled with the lower from LaRue. Their quality is outstanding and their triggers cannot be beaten. For a standard AR, I would choose them any time. Damn shame they don't have AR pistols...

    April 25, 2021 10:43 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chad Wilkins

      Because ar pistols are dumb as crap. If you "must" have one, just assemble the lower as a pistol. Or do it right and sbr it.

      May 2, 2021 2:09 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    J. Ruggere

    Well... i have 3 Bear Creek Arsenal Uppers (1 is a 5.56 7.5", also 2 16" 223 Wylde uppers) and a complete BCA 5.56 all have taken an Ass kicking and have been flawless. If I remember correctly the 7.5 is from early 2018 as is the complete BCA Rifle. Yes they are economically priced..... but as far as bang for your buck goes they are hard to beat. I have Some PSA stuff that works, a few Anderson builds that work as they should..... and a random RGUNS build.....and I find myself always grabbing A BCA rifle to go out back and play. I have heard of some horror stories about BCA but I had not had anything but great experiences dealing with BCA and their Products. I hope everyone can have just as flawless a time as I did.

    April 7, 2021 6:40 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bernard Apolinario

      I have the opposite expediting BCA uppers. I purchased a 16" 7.62x39 upper and the extractor on the bolt sheared off with less than 50rds. They replaced the complete upper with another one but the first time I tested it with Tula ammo, the extractor sheared off again. I contacted support again to ask for a partial refund. Just enough to purchase a bolt from another company with better quality materials. I doubt a replacement bolt from BCA would last for more than 20rds. They suppisedly offer a lifetime warranty but a lifetime of RMAs is not for me. They offered store credit but that does not help me get a quality 7.62x39 bolt. Needles to say, this was my first and last purchase from BCA.

      May 5, 2021 3:31 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jus Sumguy

    If these were "Normal" times my considerations would be completely different. In 1973 I waited 8 hours in line to buy a few gallons of gas. I didn't care if it had detergents or color additives or what octane it was or even how much it was. It had to be done...I needed this gas so I could do it all over again in a coupe of days. I didn't have a Porsche as a backup either. Supply and demand...and how close are my enemies were key factors.

    April 3, 2021 11:38 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Angry trucker guy

    Love my 300 blackout upper. No issues , only ran 5 30round mags so far and I love it. Built the lower myself with Andersen Parts kit. Their trigger sucks (like 10lbs of suck)but I’m going for the 16l 556 upper next.

    March 8, 2021 12:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Angry trucker guy

    Love my 300 blackout upper. No issues , only ran 5 30round mags so far and I love it. Built the lower myself with Andersen Parts kit. Their trigger sucks (like 10lbs of suck)but I’m going for the 16l 556 upper next.

    March 8, 2021 12:12 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Angry trucker guy

    Love my 300 blackout upper. No issues , only ran 5 30round mags so far and I love it. Built the lower myself with Andersen Parts kit. Their trigger sucks (like 10lbs of suck)but I’m going for the 16l 556 upper next.

    March 8, 2021 12:12 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chris Fail

    Bought a BCA upper a while back to stick on an 80% lower as my first AR. Went with a fully assembled upper thinking it would be smarter than trying to build my own with 0 experience on the platform.

    Out of the box the flash hider was completely loose, no torque at all. Figured "oh well, budget upper, I'll just tighten that and... Why is the barrel wobbly?". Yeah, the barrel nut was completely loose, 0 torque. Sent BCA an email pretty much saying "uhh, what", was told that that was completely fine and I should just torque it down with the ar-15 barrel nut wrench I apparently keep in my back pocket

    I opted to return the upper and buy PSA instead. If Bear Creek doesn't care enough to make sure the damn barrel is attached, I don't even wanna know what else would pass QC

    February 8, 2021 6:03 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    BoboPhet

    At over $1000, I would hardly consider this BCA to be a "Budget" AR-15. Between the uneven finish, the damaged finish, the apparent heat heat damage and the reliability issues you experienced, this rifle belongs on the seconds rack, period. For less than $800 one can purchase a Ruger AR-556 or S&W M&P15 Sport II, without blems, uneven finish or reliability issues. Or step up to a Springfield Armory Saint B5 or Saint Victor for less than you paid for the BCA. And like the Ruger and S&W, the Springfields do not have the blemishes or reliability issues that you experienced.

    The BCA was test fired at the factory? And they didn't notice the trigger reset issue? Are they conserving ammo by test firing only one shot? There is no way that the BCA you tested would ever join my other ARs in my safe.

    February 7, 2021 8:29 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Richard Behrens

    I just recently bought a BCA side charging upper 16" barrel with a vey nice 15" M-Lok handguard chambered in 7.62x39. T\It was very good price and came with the BCG. The fit and finish are very good and no blemishes, nicks or scratches at all.

    February 5, 2021 9:36 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Racer X

    I purchased a BCA fluted stainless Hunter rifle kit, minus the bare lower back in 2017, and last year a 7.62x39 side charging upper, with nitrided bolt. Just 2 weeks ago, an "AR-10" complete upper, also with a nitrided bolt carrier group. It lines up perfectly with my DPMS "AR-10" lower.

    The way I look at it, whenever the barrels get shot out, a Faxon Match barrel will replace them. But they shoot just fine as-is.

    February 4, 2021 5:43 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    WPC

    Damaged in shipping somehow? I got one of BCA's free (Veteran's Day deal) barrels and built my first AR with it. Not alot of rounds through it but as accurate as I am. I agree though $1k is not a budget price, and any AR should work 100% right out of the box.

    February 3, 2021 4:05 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      I don't think so, it was packaged very well and the external box had no signs of damage.

      February 3, 2021 5:58 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bob D.

    I have a Diamondback lower, mated to a BCA upper. My BCA is 16”, chambered in .223 Wylde. I have put several hundred rounds through this weapon. I have run a variety of .223 and 5.56 ammunition of different weights and bullet designs. I had three mis-feeds of the purple-cased DHS range rounds, but haven’t had a single feed problem since. I had to tighten all of the hand guard screws after about 75 or 100 rounds, but I didn’t check them before my first trip to the range.
    Overall, I am extremely satisfied with my BCA upper and with the Diamondback lower. It is both accurate and reliable. The fit and finish are excellent.

    February 2, 2021 11:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Pawolf

    Recently got a 20"side charging 6.5 Grendel upper. Fit and finish seem fine and no problems mated to a Ruger lower. 100 rounds of steel and brass and not a single issue and getting right around 1 moa with hornady black and 1.5 with Wolf steel. Also got a 10.5 inch 556 pistol upper and it looks fine too, waiting for my lower to try it out.

    February 2, 2021 8:31 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    David

    I purchased a 7.62x39 side charge upper back in June of 2020. The cost then, with shipping, was $227.05 and now it's $400? Glad I purchased it when I did. It only took 20 rounds to make it run perfectly. It had one FTF and one FTE in that first mag. It has run flawlessly since then. Cosmetics were perfect on mine. It also hits the target I'm aiming at.

    February 2, 2021 7:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dakota Harless

      Do you think it was a mag problem? I hear 7.62x39 is mostly magazine related issues and not the lower/upper.

      February 3, 2021 4:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Lyndon Jernigan

    How about reviewing a true "budget" AR? Not many of us would consider a thousand dollar gun a budget rifle, not unless that third stimulus check has hit the account and the second gummie has kicked in. I just got a Radical Firearms 16" Socom 5.56mm AR for $599. That's a true budget rifle price! It's incredibly well built, runs flawlessly and is spot-on accurate, no matter what ammo I cycle through it. Everything about this rifle is solid and consistent.

    February 2, 2021 7:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Michael

    hey guys! sup pewpew? Well i only purchase a BCA AR 47 in of course 7.62x39 and have built my own lowers with either mil-spec nickel-tef trigger or stainless Mil-Spec.They just run smoother and with all Anderson lowers are great solid guns at a low price by building them myself! The upper i have had no blemishes and runs great along with nice features. Im thinking they were maybe training someone that built yours?lol But i cant say for sure as i have not purchased a brand new complete gun from them yet. But your review dosnt scare me. Too many Exp. gunners have purchased their products with great reviews. Maybe you just got a lemon that fixed it self?hehe thanks for you input though it will help me on my next purchase. Its just going to be another upper though since i have a bald lower at the moment? Going with a 6.5Grendel! :>)

    February 2, 2021 7:02 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    sound awake

    i have 4 bear creek arsenal uppers
    theyre not like "super pretty" but nice enough for the price and they all run like a sewing machine:
    1) 18 inch fluted .223 wylde chamber 1/8 twist mid length gas that shoots factory match ammo less than 1 moa to 300 yards
    with a vortex 4-16x on top and a rock river arms 2 stage match trigger in the lower
    its the upper for my "budget mk 12 spr clone" - $400
    2) 10.5 inch 7.62x39 that is 10 inch steel plate capable at 300 yards with tula and a 2 moa red dot on top - $230
    3) 16 inch 7.62x39 that 2 weeks ago i put 5 rounds in a group just under 2 inches at 200 yards with tula and a primary arms
    1-4x on top - $360 with billet upper receiver
    4) 16 inch 350 legend that regularly puts hunting ammo in 1-2 inch groups
    at 100 yards - $350
    the mlok slots on the rails are a bit tight for mounting accessories at first but theyre still usable
    bonus: every upper shipped free and i got them all within a week of ordering and all arrived with a premium nitrided "angled flats" bolt carrier group
    caution: i personally wouldnt buy a ar rifle for 1000 from them...
    especially when my local gun shop regularly has sig treads saints m&p 15s ruger ar 5.56s and stags in the 900-1100 dollar range

    February 2, 2021 6:44 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Keith

    Maybe you should tryout Radical Firearms AR-15. At almost half the cost I'd pit it up against rifles costing 1/2 again what they cost........

    February 2, 2021 6:38 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Lyndon Jernigan

      I'm with ya, Keith. I just posted up about my Radical Firearms 16" Socom 5.56mm AR. What a great rifle! I've got a few other higher echelon AR's, but the RF has become my favorite to shoot. Love to see PPT give Radical Firearms another look.

      February 2, 2021 7:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Tee

    Overall, it doesn't sound like a great buy. Strange that it's 30% less if ordered in 2 parts. Anyone know why?

    February 2, 2021 6:35 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      I asked BCA and was told that the price difference was because of "extra labor that goes into building and transferring a completed option as opposed to a nonFFL upper and just having to FFL the lower."

      February 2, 2021 6:57 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        7.62 fo U

        This is true. PSA does the same exact thing.

        April 8, 2021 9:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Greg

    Thanks for the review. I bought what they called an "Bear Essential 223W Complete Rifle" back in November 2019 for $365 !! It has a 16" barrel and looks very similar to the one you bought and tested. However, the one I received was flawless in aesthetics and has never mis-fired. And very accurate. I agree it is a basic AR-15, but man, for $365 (pre-pandemic price), I am very pleased. They must have let their aesthetic quality control slide a bit trying to keep up with orders, but maybe they should have looked who ordered it; the great PEW PEW Tactical !! (and sent you a spit shined version). Geesh.

    February 2, 2021 6:05 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Robbe

    Perhaps it is just me, but a rifle that gets 5/5 in all categories but looks and value (although a 4/5 for upper is close) is an exceptional rifle. I bought a BC A 7.5 upper in 556 and it has been exceptional... bought a 16 upper in 556 soon after (no range time yet). I say buy an upper, an Anderson lower, a good trigger, and a can of spray paint. A SHTF rifle that may not win a popularity contest but will hold its own.

    February 2, 2021 6:00 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Barry Beard

    I purchased a BCA side charging 7.62 rifle about 3 years ago. The quality is excellent. Zero issues to this day! Two years ago, I purchased a 223 complete upper, a 300 Blackout barrel, and a 9mm barrel. There were no blems and zero issues with any of those! The quality was excellent when I purchased those items. I am appalled at the condition of the rifle received by the author! Unfortunately, It sounds like things have changed at BCA!

    February 2, 2021 5:56 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dave

    Built an 20” target upper using BCA barrel with 1 in 9 twist. Took about 100 rounds for barrel to come in. Almost replaced barrel, just too stubborn to give up. Finally dialed in a 50 gr fmjbt load that’s under 1 moa. For the cost of that upper, I made out great.

    February 2, 2021 5:47 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Will

    A new AR for $1,000 that looks like Fido's hind end and also won't function? Big "PASS" on this one. I can't imagine any inspection at all that would let that piece of crap get thru. I have had AR's at half that price (S&W and Ruger) that looked good cosmetically and never failed to function, new or in later use. Surely this was a "loaner" rifle for journalist, etc.

    February 2, 2021 5:44 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    76shovel

    I ordered and received a .300blk pistol upper from BCA, $267.13 delivered. Granted that was mid October 2020 but the price was fine and I didn't notice any particular finish or function issues. It is more accurate than I am. Maybe not typical but I am happy.

    February 2, 2021 5:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Marc Haughaboo

      Same experience for me...

      February 2, 2021 6:11 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    James Houston

    I own many BCA uppers and none of them have ever give me one problem. They run and they run well. If any of the parts looked like yours I would definitely have sent them back. It looks like the gun you have in the pictures was tortured.

    February 2, 2021 5:31 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Johnny Bullington

    I'm shocked that Bear Creek shipped you a rifle in that condition, at least cosmetically. I've bought complete uppers and parts from them for builds. I've never had anything come to me looking like that. And I have never paid more than the mid $300s, usually less for a complete upper. That was before the current craziness but as you pointed out, you can buy their uppers and lowers separately and come in under their complete rifle list price. I hope that the unit they sent you was an inadvertent screw up on their part and not an indication of things to come. I also hope that they take a serious look at how/why they shipped such a substandard unit to you. I would really like to see a response from BCA.

    February 2, 2021 5:30 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jim L.

      I sold firearms for over 40 years retail for 3 different stores. We inspected every fire arm shipped to us, and that includes a well known national retailer. Bottom line we would have shipped it back to the MFG or wholesaler. Customer good will is too important not to

      February 2, 2021 6:16 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Cactus31

    I'm willing to be that disconnector had a barely visible, yet thumbnail-detectable burr that prevented 100% reliable trigger reset. A bit of 600-grit or an un-drunkenly used fine file will fix that. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't seen this issue multiple times.

    February 2, 2021 5:22 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      This is very probable.

      February 2, 2021 5:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Javier Antonio Quinones Ortiz

    This isn’t the time to buy firearms or ammunition. Wait 6+ months. The Palmetto State ARs are a much better value.

    February 2, 2021 5:19 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dennis Sumner

    Got my 450 Bushy upper a week ago. After cleaning, chambered a round and had to use two hands on the charging handle to cycle. Took it in, stripped it down and lubed the bejesus out of it, finally got it to (barely) eject. Cases dribbled out onto the bench and wouldn't even come close to picking up next round or lock back. Shoots great "single shot", followed everyone's advice and opened gas port to .076, still snowing so I have to wait to shoot. As for customer service, I have multiple e-mails to them with no reply yet.

    February 2, 2021 5:19 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ben K

    I literally cannot fathom why anyone is buying BCA or PSA at the prices they're selling them for these days. You can still get an Aero for $800 or a BCM for $1400 if you sign up for in stock notifications and act fast. What a joke.

    February 2, 2021 3:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    David

    I purchased a BCA side charging upper in .223 Wylde, matched it with an Anderson stripped lower & AT3 six position stock for my first AR build. All parts matched up perfectly and runs every type of ammo without a hiccup. The resulting rifle is every bit a "bacon defender" as the A2 I carried long before you were born. Fit and finish are as showroom perfect or better than the "high end" models I have gazed upon, without the "higher cost". My experience with BCA has been exemplary, but obviously everyone's mileage may vary.

    February 2, 2021 3:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Randall

    I bought a 6.5 grendel upper from BCA and the round would not go all the way into the chamber. Very bad QC. They sent me a good one and it seems to work okay now.

    February 2, 2021 3:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steve Riche

    I think they sent a demo. I have had only what looked like PSA gear arriving at my home. I have to break in all brands before hiccups disappear. Just saying.

    February 2, 2021 3:20 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      I confirmed with the company before writing the article, it was not a demo/blem/T&E unit. It was a standard factory unit that had been inspected again before being sent out.

      February 2, 2021 3:31 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Clay

        To PPT Editor: Your review sounded like a commercial for Bear Creek. I left my comments a few days ago and they evidently hurt someone's feelings. Do you print all comments or are they censored or hand selected?

        February 6, 2021 7:25 am
        • Commenter Avatar
          David, PPT Editor

          Comments are monitored and removed if the comment is overtly rude, obscene, spam, or a personal attack. I don't see any comments of yours that were removed though -- the past week or so we've been doing a lot of backend server changes that might have caused some comments to be lost.

          February 6, 2021 7:33 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Robert

      What have you been buying that needs to be broke in every time? It should work right the first time out the box period !!

      February 2, 2021 5:33 pm
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