Don’t let anyone tell you that all AR-15s are the same.
They may look similar on the outside, but the way they’re made and the materials they’re made from tell the true story. If you’re a casual shooter and plinker, this might not matter, but to those who wear the uniform and put their lives on the line every day, it’s critical.At first blush, the Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) M4 Mod 3 looks like any other AR-15/M4-type carbine. The 16-inch, M4-contour barrel features a cutout for the M203 grenade launcher and is topped with an A2-style fixed front sight tower. The stock is a standard M4-style, collapsible model, and the upper and lower receivers feature a matte black hardcoat anodized finish.
With that said, looking deeper at the BCM M4, you will find all the extras that separate Bravo Company’s ARs from other run-of-the-mill AR-15s. There are a lot of manufacturers’ AR-15s that work great for plinking, shooting for fun and hunting four-legged animals, but there are a limited number of companies who make AR-15s that you would carry when lives are at stake. The BCM M4 Mod 3 is one of them.
BCM is located in Hartland, Wisconsin, and was founded in 2003 by Paul Buffoni. The company started building complete rifles in 2008 with all BCM parts being 100-percent American made to U.S. government print specifications. What sets BCM apart is mil-spec quality. No shortcuts or substandard parts are used in BCM rifles. When the rifle is going to possibly be used to save a life, you don’t want a product made with manufacturing or assembly shortcuts. BCM products and rifles are solely designed and manufactured to go into harm’s way.
Let’s start with what everything gets attached to: the BCM receivers. AR-15 receivers are generally made from one of two types of aluminum. Most manufacturing companies use either 7075-T6 or 6061-T6 aluminum. The first four digits of the number “7075” give you the aluminum type of alloy, while the “-T6” tells you the material was heat treated and artificially aged. 7075-T6 aluminum is one of the highest-strength aluminum alloys available and has almost twice the strength of 6061-T6. While 7075-T6 costs more than 6061-T6, the strength-to-weight ratio of 7075-T6 makes it ideal for use on highly stressed parts. Both the upper and lower receivers on the BCM M4 Mod 3 are made from 7075-T6 aluminum forgings.
The 7075-T6 aluminum receivers are given a mil-spec (MIL-A-8625F, Type III, Class 2) hardcoat anodizing treatment, which adds a thin coating. About 50 percent of the coating penetrates into the surface of the receiver while the other 50 percent builds up on the surface. Some of the benefits of mil-spec hardcoat anodizing are improved lubrication, increased wear resistance and increased abrasion resistance. All this adds up to making the M4 Mod 3’s receivers super tough—something LEOs can depend on.
The hammer in the BCM M4 Mod 3’s lower receiver is un-notched and is compatible with a 9mm ramped bolt. This means it works well in the 5.56mm upper and will also work if you swap in a 9mm upper with a ramped 9mm bolt. BCM has also added a larger pistol grip and a Magpul MOE enhanced triggerguard to provide greater control for users wearing gloves when the weather gets cold. Attached to the rear of the lower, the receiver extension is made of the same tough 7075-T6 aluminum alloy and is held in place with a staked M4 lock nut. This is another great example of BCM’s attention to small details, as staking the M4 lock nut ensures the extension does not come loose under hard use.
Secured into the M4 Mod 3’s T-marked upper receiver is a 16-inch, government-profile barrel. The barrel comes with a 1-in-7-inch twist rate and has a standard A2 flash suppressor attached. Different AR makers use different materials for their barrels, but BCM barrels are made from independently certified 11595E steel. This is the military specification for steel used in the making of M4 barrels. BCM barrels also get high-pressure tested and magnetic-particle inspected to ensure top quality. The M4 Mod 3’s barrel comes with an M4 feed ramp barrel extension and has a 5.56mm NATO chamber. Per military specifications, both the chamber and bore are chrome-lined.
The M4 Mod 3 forend is a new product from Midwest Industries. This forend is not free-floated; rather, it’s a two-piece component system that easily replaces the standard handguards. The Midwest Industries system allows you to place the Picatinny rail sections where you want them on the forend. The forged, F-marked front sight has tapered pins to keep the front sight base attached to the barrel. Both the front sight and the entire barrel have a manganese-phosphate finish. This finish protects the barrel from rust and helps reduce light reflection.
The M4 Mod 3’s bolt is machined from Carpenter 158 steel, and the extractor is made from tool steel. Each BCM bolt gets high-pressure tested, magnetic-particle inspected and shot peened. The extractor has a black extractor insert with a heavy-duty BCM extractor spring to guarantee the round is held firmly in place as the fired case is ejected from the gun. The BCM bolt fits into a chrome-lined bolt carrier. The bolt carrier has a chrome-lined gas key held in place by two Grade 8 hardened screws that are securely staked in place.
For enhanced reliability and less wear on internal parts, the M4 Mod 3 utilizes a mid-length direct gas impingement system. Together, the mid-length gas system, the bolt with its black extractor insert and the heavy-duty extractor spring mean BCM took the extra steps needed to make sure the gas system parts are durable and will work under the toughest conditions.
The M4 Mod 3 carbine came with a backup BCM flip-up rear sight and an F-marked forged front sight. I added the new 1-6x20mm Leupold Mark 6 scope with an illuminated CMR-W reticle in a LaRue LT112 mount. Adding the Leupold scope and LaRue mount brought the empty weight of the M4 Mod 3 up to 7.94 pounds. I then zeroed the carbine for a 50-/200-yard point of aim/point of impact.
Running a new gun through different Gunsite reliability drills gives me an idea of how well it’s going to operate in a critical situation. I turned the Leupold scope down to 1X power and turned the illuminated reticle up. To confirm that the carbine would run in different positions, I started with dedicated pairs, sped up to hammers, ran some non-standard responses and finally shot some drills from supine and urban prone positions. One nice feature on this BCM carbine is the Gunfighter Mod 4 charging handle. This slightly oversized charging handle makes it easy to clear the Leupold Mark 6 scope and run the bolt to the rear without having to worry about missing the standard small charging handle. I fired over 250 rounds of ammunition through the BCM M4 Mod 3 at distances of 5 to 200 yards. The gun ran flawlessly and did not have one single malfunction.
After the reliability testing, I cleaned the carbine’s bore with JB bore paste—it was time to test its accuracy. This cleaning guaranteed I had a clean barrel to start the accuracy test to find the real potential of this gun. I dialed the Leupold Mark 6 up to 6X power and turned the illuminated reticle off. Using the higher Leupold scope setting and the 1-MOA dot in the CMR-W reticle made it easy to shoot groups, showing the true accuracy of the carbine and the ammunition. Three different bullet weights from three different ammo manufacturers were used for this portion of the testing. Since anyone can get lucky and shoot a small group once, I used the average of three 5-shot groups to give a more precise measurement. I shot all groups at 100 yards using a Harris bipod for a front support and a shooting bag from The Wilderness under the rear of the M4 Mod 3’s stock. The best group of 1.15 inches came from the Hornady 55-grain V-MAX ammo.
The Midwest Industries forend, the larger pistol grip and the Gunfighter charging handle definitely improved the ergonomics of the BCM M4 Mod 3. What may seem like a lot of small improvements actually adds up to one dependable AR-15. When serving on patrol to protect our streets, Bravo Company’s attention to detail in its M4 Mod 3 will give you confidence you can bet your life on. For more information, visit bravocompanyusa.com or call 877-272-8626.