The AR pistol has always had a conflicted place in the panoply of guns. You can’t shoulder it, so it is difficult to fulfill its accuracy potential. Its size means it is not practical for concealed carry. It fires a rifle cartridge, which seems to some like overkill (it’s not). It is unbalanced and front heavy. Its short barrel means increased muzzle blast, making it uncomfortably loud and bright for home defense, etc. But an interesting thing has happened to change this dynamic and popularize the AR pistol, and the RECCE-11 KMR-A pistol from Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) is perfectly suited to take advantage of this development and serve the needs of gun owners and shooters.
What changed things? The arm brace. Nowadays there are several varieties of AR arm braces available to increase the controllability of the pistol by bracing it against the shooting arm. This reduces fatigue and improves the balance of the pistol, increasing user comfort and accuracy. For many, it is much easier to buy an AR pistol and add an arm brace than to go through the process of registering a short-barreled rifle (SBR). Caution is in order, however, since the regulatory agency in charge of this matter, the BATFE, has approved the arm brace as an arm brace and specifically criminalized its use as an ersatz stock. (So make sure you don’t shoulder an AR pistol with an arm brace.)
BCM RECCE-11 KMR-A Features
BCM has been making outstanding AR components since 2005, including the extremely handy Gunfighter charging handle. The company also makes impressive feature-laden AR carbines and pistols.
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The BCM RECCE-11 KMR-A is a perfect example of a purpose- built AR pistol ready to be fully accessorized by a customer. It is a semi-automatic, direct-impingement pistol chambered in 5.56mm NATO with a carbine-length gas system. Compared to a pistol-length system, a carbine-length system moves the gas port closer to the muzzle, providing less dwell time—the amount of time the bullet spends in the barrel after it passes the gas tube port and before it exits the barrel. This shorter dwell time reduces the amount of gas and fouling that goes back into the chamber to operate the bolt, helping to reduce wear and tear on internal parts as well as perceived recoil.
The upper and lower receivers are machined from 7075-T6 aluminum that has been hardcoat anodized to mil-spec standards. The flattop upper receiver features nearly 16 inches of uninterrupted T-marked Picatinny rail thanks to the KeyMod Rail-Alpha (KMR-A) handguard made from magnesium and aluminum alloy. This makes the 10-inch handguard incredibly lightweight (a measly 4.1 ounces). The handguard also allows the barrel to remain free-floating, helping to improve accuracy, and the KeyMod slots make it easy to add accessories.
Internally, the upper receiver features M4 feed ramps. The BCM bolt carrier is machined from shot-peened Carpenter 158 tool steel and is both high-pressure (HP) and magnetic-particle (MP) tested. The bolt carrier is fully chrome lined and has a hardened gas key staked with Grade 8 fasteners.
BCM has also used many of the upgraded parts that it manufactures in this pistol, including a tool-steel extractor as well as a black extractor insert and spring. This improved spring/insert uses a heavy-coil, heat-treated, stress-relieved design in addition to an internal insert to increase tension and ensure reliable extraction and operation in short-barreled ARs.
The BCM RECCE-11 KMR-A Pistol boasts an 11.5-inch barrel with a standard GI profile, helping to keep the pistol’s overall weight down. The barrel has a 1-in-7-inch twist rate to stabilize a wider range of bullet weights. The barrel is all also independently HP/MPI tested and certified as mil-spec with a manganese-phosphate finish and a chrome-lined bore and chamber. The barrel is topped off with a stainless steel BCM Gunfighter Mod 0 compensator that has the same exterior dimensions as a mil-spec A2-style flash suppressor so that blank-firing adapters and flash-hider-mounted suppressors will still function. This compensator reduces flash, muzzle climb and felt recoil.
The lower receiver features a low-shelf design that allows for the installation of an Accu-Wedge or a registered, drop-in full-auto sear (the bolt carrier also has a full-auto profile). All of the standard controls for a right-handed shooter are present, including the magazine release, dust cover, forward assist, bolt release and safety selector. The pistol buffer tube will not accept a stock, but it will accommodate any of the popular arm braces on the market today. It features a properly staked locking nut and internally utilizes a tungsten/steel H-buffer.
The pistol is also equipped with the BCM Gunfighter Mod 4 charging handle, which allows for fast, single- handed operation, retracting the bolt with only half of the handle. With this charging handle’s extended latch and reinforced design, operators can get their guns into action much easier and faster. The extended latch also makes operation much easier with ARs equipped with low-mounted optics.
The BCM RECCE-11 KMR-A Pistol also has the ergonomic BCM Gunfighter Mod 3 pistol grip, which includes a convenient hinged bottom for a watertight storage space, allowing the operator to keep spare batteries for optics, a small container of gun oil, cleaning supplies or emergency spare small parts for field repairs. The grip has an extended beavertail that places the finger more in line with the trigger, and it’s made from tough impact-resistant polymer with rough texturing for a secure grip.
At the rear of the pistol is an end plate that allows for the use of a single-point sling with a quick-detach (QD) attachment. The polymer BCM triggerguard is enlarged to allow for gloved use and has no sharp edges for comfort.
The pistol also features an upgraded trigger pack, which is a very welcome addition. The BCM PNT (Polished Nickel-Teflon) trigger pack is precision machined for perfect alignment with the trigger pins and receiver holes, producing a smoother trigger pull. The heat treatment yields a stronger, more wear-resistant surface. The trigger sear engagement is hand-polished, and the entire assembly receives an electroless nickel finish with embedded Teflon particles. The end result is an incredibly smooth and crisp single-stage trigger pull with almost zero travel and no creep that broke consistently at 6 pounds.
The pistol comes with no sights, but backup iron sights are widely available. In my case, I installed the Steiner Micro Reflex Sight (MRS), a tiny and very lightweight holographic red dot that is ideal for larger pistols of this type. This sight features a fully adjustable 3-MOA dot, automatic or manual brightness controls and a tough hardcoat anodized aluminum housing. The sight is waterproof and shock-proof to 10 meters, and provides 550 hours of operation with a single battery.
At the range, I ran the BCM RECCE-11 KMR-A Pistol right out of the box. Over several days of sighting it in, conducting chronograph testing with three different types of ammunition and accuracy testing, the pistol exhibited zero malfunctions of any sort. The short, lightweight barrel made handling extremely easy, and recoil was minimal. I tested rounds with bullet weights varying from 55 to 75 grains, and despite the 1-in-7-inch twist rate, the pistol seemed to prefer the lighter bullets.
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I tested the RECCE-11 KMR-A at 25 yards from a steady benchrest using the Steiner MRS. Firing three 5-shot groups with each load, my best results (a 0.52-inch group) came with Aguila 55-grain FMJs. For a comparison, I also fired a few five-shot groups at 50 yards, and those averaged about 1.5 inches. I expect that with a magnified optic, this pistol could perform even better.
An AR pistol, especially when paired with a suppressor, can make for an excellent home-defense firearm. A suppressor also, at least partially, resolves issues of noise for in-home personal defense and addresses muzzle flash/blast, which can disrupt night vision in low-light settings. AR pistols also make for outstanding trunk guns and are small enough to be stored in discreet carry cases. In the end, there are many options when it comes to AR pistols, but for shooters that want the best, BCM is certainly one name to consider.
Caliber: 5.56mm NATO
Barrel: 11.5 inches
OA Length: 27 inches
Weight: 5.1 pounds (empty)
Grip: BCM Gunfighter
Action: Direct impingement semi-auto
Finish: Matte black
For more information, visit bravocompanymfg.com.
This article was originally published in “Combat Handguns” July/August 2017. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.