Pretty Much The Worst AR-15s I've Ever Seen

Today I was wandering around the NRA show and saw a few AR manufacturers I wasn’t terribly familiar with, so I decided to check out their wares.

A selection of Battle Rifle Company firearms.

At “Battle Rifle Company,” I was invited to dry fire their triggers.

So I did.

After four distinct and palpable points of creep, the trigger broke at a weight of somewhere upwards of six to seven pounds (by my estimate). I tried another rifle, and it did the exact same thing. Hey, at least they’re consistent, right? I told the BRC employee who was showing me the rifle that I didn’t think it was very good, and he responded that I was the first person to say so.

Looking at another rifle, I saw that the railed handguard – to which the front sight was attached – was noticeably crooked. I pointed this out, and the rep said “Well, it might have gotten dropped.”

I checked out a third rifle, a .308, and saw that it had a midlength position gas block and a carbine length rail, exposing approximately two inches of the gas tube. I asked why, and the employee said it had been put together like that by accident, but once it was together, they liked the way it looked, so they left it that way. Another employee saw me looking at it and asked why I thought it was a problem. I said, “It might get damaged,” and he said, “Yes, that could happen,” with no followup.

They thought it looked good.

Sensing that I might be skeptical about the quality of their rifles, the first employee told me that they had given a rifle to a former Top Shot contestant, who had fired 4000 rounds through the rifle in a year, and that he had encountered no problems. As a point of reference, here is a small example of my experience with the platform.

He also said that another rifle had accidentally been dropped 50 feet from a helicopter and still managed to function, which was a testament to how tough their rifles were. When I inquired what made their rifles more durable than any other AR, they described how tight the fit was between the receivers and the railed handguards. This is an example of how some AR manufacturers intentionally confuse the attributes of the platform with the attributes of their particular product.

At this point, I had had quite enough, and decided to walk away.

To summarize my trade show observations:

- Their modified triggers were, in my opinion, of lower quality than a standard AR15 trigger
- Their firearms were improperly assembled, both from workmanship and design standpoints
- They have no concept of proper quality control or testing and evaluation procedures

Not confidence inspiring. So I checked them out on the internet…

On their website, they describe their products:

We make the finest, most functional battle worthy tactical rifles and work hard every day to make sure our quality is never compromised. We also bring added value to every rifle we field, from M4 to M16, because we know – you need reliability on a budget. Whether you are patrolling the streets of a big American city, or moving house to house in a busy foreign village, you can count on the reliability, functionality and performance that a BATTLE RIFLE gives you, wherever you might have to end up fighting the good fight.

…yeah, okay.

And how their rifles are put together:

Each Battle Rifle is put together by a Master Armorer with years of experience. Proprietary components are fabricated to tight tolerances so that the fit is cleaner and enhances functionality. Upper and lower Receivers are matched and fitted to maintain tight fit. All of the internal components are buffed, filed, polished or smoothed to make them fit perfectly.

Mmmmhmmmm.

There’s also a list of what makes their rifles special. Among things like “Butstock Pad” and “Rail Covers” are gems like “Polished Feed Ramps,” “Polished Chamber,” and “Resized Gas Port.”

Given their inability to get very basic things like railed handguard alignment – and even proper handguard length! – correct, I shudder to think of how poorly done their polishing and resizing might be. Not to mention the fact that resizing gas ports is generally something to avoid without a specific reason, and “polished feed ramps” end up wearing prematurely.

I cannot think of a single reason why anyone should consider purchasing a product from this company.

72 comments

  • I laughed out loud

    • If that made you laugh, pull up the google street view of their factory. Look at the little house on the right with the guys sitting out front.

  • So the logo didn’t bring you over to liking the gun……?

  • Ever sine The Troubles started, every Tom, Dick and Harry with a CNC mill and the ability to download AR blueprints has decided that now is the time to get in on the gun market.

    The mid-tier machine shops with aerospace and medical industry experience, but not quite one of the top-tier shops that are constantly busy and expanding, likely have the ability to knock out a pretty good AR. Their machining ability and background in attention-to-detail, QC oriented assembly makes AR production relatively trivial for such an outfit.

    Now the mid-low tier job shop guys, who get all impressed with themselves when they hold 0.002″ tolerances and think a Haas is the bull’s tits of the CNC world? Those guys are the ones that will be embarrassing themselves as seen above.

  • Greg Latosynski

    Thanks for the heads up. Looks like crap to me just from the pictures.

    • You mean the exposed gas tubes aren’t battle worthy? Looks like they can take several sharps blows from corners, vehicles and other gear before they break and render the weapon into an AR style bolt action.

  • Greg Latosynski

    Rednecks with Dremel tools.

  • The guy in the first pic looks like he ate a bad burrito and it’s about to bite him back…

    I’ve only had my AR for a couple of years and consider myself a ‘novice’, but even I know you don’t leave the gas tube exposed no matter how ‘TactiCool’ it looks.

    • Alexandra Kyle

      I may be mistaken, but isn’t that Chris Kurzadkowski the owner of Battle Rifle Company?

  • Varmint Dave

    FINALLY!!! I see an HONEST OPINION from these shows!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

    I am so sick of articles where “this is great!” would be followed up by blogs of, “don’t buy this garbage” after someone has spent their hard earned money on junk.

    The rail/block issue was the first thing I saw before reading your input. How can anyone say it “looks good?” It says, “break me, bend me, make me malfunction” written all over it.

    Keep up the good work! I look forward to more insights.

  • I have fired one of these totally awesome weapons, your review is entirely too kind. I am surprised that you missed the fact their logo has two muskets in it instead of their own rifles.

    Oh, you missed their totally battle ready Colorized Emblems and Markings service too.

  • Curtis Cannon

    Reminds me of Hess Arms. Now those were some crappy rifles.

  • great report!!

  • When people say the American market is too over saturated with AR’s I think of companies like this.

  • Sounds like the Lorcin of the AR world.

  • Nice writeup. I used to subscribe to magazines to get honesty about new and custom products, but they never actually gave a bad review about any product they tested, like they were always doing multipage advertising for said product. so i stopped reading the magazines. Keep up the good work.

    Cheers
    -Steve

  • WHAT WOULD RICK TAYLOR DO???

  • I always find it interesting when self appointed experts claim all AR15s are pretty much the same.
    It’s a little like saying all cars are the same because they look similar and are made of the same stuff.
    What they’re really saying is they don’t understand the differences, and that’s what companies like this are counting on.

  • Reports like this are so rare, thanks.

    (And if’n I was them, I’d be talkin to a lawyer to figure out some way to get this report flushed down the memory hole.)

  • You sure this wasn’t a company called RED X Arms? They couldn’t have been any worse that the crap that REd X produces!

    • Yes Red X is total junk. But, they have terrible customer service to compensate. :-)

      • Crazy_Redneck

        As an Army helicopter crew chief, a red X was an aircraft status that meant it was not airworthy. I’m guessing the same applies to firearms.

  • You forgot to mention the sling mount attached to a free floating barrel.

  • Hey thanks for the heads up . I do want to say 1 of my personal armorers I use who has been working on them since early 60′s both in the military and Out mentioned looking at same rifles you did . Not to sell Greg short but My guy says he could of made a better Rifle with a dremel and drill and file LOL He said to him seemed like was bunch of guys bought a bunch of parts and through em together ‘

  • The most wonderful thing about AR15′s from a consumer perspective is that any monkey with a rock can assemble one from parts and get something that shoots.

    The most terrible thing about AR15′s from a manufacturers perspective is that any monkey with a rock can assemble one from parts and get something that shoots.

    For the consumer, it really is a wonderful thing. The fact that anyone can work on their gun without destroying it (for the most part) is a very powerful enabling thing. No longer do you have to take your gun to a “gunsmith” to have black magic in a back room performed on it in order to change out a buttstock, or front sight, or handguard.

    What it means from a manufacturers standpoint, however, is that these monkeys after building a half a dozen AR’s from parts think they are now “manufacturers”. Then they buy parts from OEM’s (I see lots of Troy handguards up there, for example), slap them together, call them “custom” and give them hardcore military-sounding names and they’re in business. And to the consumer newly into the AR world, they have no idea how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

  • I noticed a few that I wouldn’t even bother to pick up to look at especially that one.

  • I own an Oberland Arms OR15. Very good quality, very precise. Unfortunately they don’t have a fully English translated homepage: http://www.oberlandarms.com/

  • I agree, very refreshing review. We saw these guys and just kept walking. It was obvious they were the “Today we do ARs” opportunists.

    We LOL’ed when we read this.

    I’m reposting this review on our site.

    Marky
    Tacticaltshirts.com

  • Hah! Looks like something a Tennessee Gun Owners Member did!

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  • They remind me of a weapons assembler specialized in Polish AKs and the hiring of drunken simians for the assembly of their rifles.

    • T. Edward Price

      That comment was TOTALLY uncalled for! From what I’ve seen, drunken simians would be ashamed to use this chunk of metal to club to death their next meal. Quit insulting drunken apes like that!

  • “M16 Bolt carrier Group shot peined…” ???

    “Each rifle has a guarantee from factory defects and workmanship” This is missing a comma after “guarantee”.

    • Putting a guarantee on your product only show how much you don’t have confidence in said product……just sayin

  • I must say, that was quite the bomb-basting you gave us- Yet, we have produced in a 2 year time over 800 rifles without any problems. We have been making rifles since 2010, and although we are relatively new, we are working at a level now to allow us to be able to expand out to the general market.

    My rifles are used in the air by the contract holder for the State of Texas Hog Depravation Program- 200 rounds a day, every day for the last year and a half, without a problem. I have our rifles with several tactical training schools- without a problem. My rifles are on the street with several police departments- without a problem.

    You made reference to a trigger at 6-7lbs- we have it rated at 4.5 to 5lbs. That is almost 1/2 less than the Mil-Standard, yet you said we were of lesser standard that an AR15 trigger- I find that a bit confusing.

    If I recall, I offered to have you come out and test fire the rifles, to see how we build them – you declined. My offer stands to anyone who whats to come out- they are welcome to. you can call me direct- 281-777-0316 and I’ll be happy to make time to see you, let you pull a rifle off of our final shelf, and fire it-

    NO MANUFACTURER WILL LET YOU DO THAT- BUT I WILL, BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE.

    I have learned over the years, that quality control is so important, and I work daily to make sure we move in that direction to insure that we are doing all that we can to take care of our customers.

    I do appreciate you bringing to light the rail being off a bit on the one rifle you saw, and I did speak to the armorer that was responsible for putting that weapon together. After a long discussion about attention to detail, that will not be an issue moving forward. we always work to learn from mistakes- and not to repeat them. I must say though that one hick-up should not be a reason to diagnose a patient with a terminal disease.

    We stand behind our product. We work hard everyday to make sure its right. If something isn’t- we take care of it, and we are always accessable to our customers to hear what they have to say, and respond to thier needs. We will bend over backwards to make sure our customers are taken care of- and work everyday to earn both thier trust and respect. The parts we use are all top rated components- with rated components like the bolt carriers, Barrels and Bolts meeting all the inspection criteria.

    The end result is that I have hundreds of happy customers, from every aspect of this user segment- Law Enforcement, Lettered Agencies, Special Operations, Tactical Trainers, Professional Hunters and avid sport shooters.

    I will say this again- you are more than welcome to come and test fire any rifle from the ready rack, at any time from our shop. you’ll find that, not only are they properly assembled, but they operate and perform to a high degree.

    Please feel free to contact me at 281-777-0316 to answer any questions- or you can write me at chris@battleriflecompany.com

    thank you

    • Andrew Tuohy

      Your rep at the show told me that you use whatever parts Brownells sends you. Your carrier keys were a mixture of staked and unstaked as a result of this. Not only was the rail misaligned, the gas block was off, too. Proper installation/torque values for clamp gas block and rail screws were not visually evident. Your gas block setscrews were unstaked. Your triggers were objectively inferior to any other AR trigger I have used. I don’t need to shoot your rifles to know that making a trip to see them used in their current state would be a waste of time.

    • Taking two years to assemble 800/2 years rifles is pretty isn’t something to brag about. In fact, that noodles out to 1.5 rifles every business days or 5.3 man hours per rifle. You may be trying to imply that is a sign of craftsmanship, but that tells people like myself that your business is suffering from low order volumes, workflow management problems or both. Just by brushing through your site it’s rather apparent the “Battle Rifle Company” is what it claims it isn’t.

      It’s just another company purchasing OEM parts of unknown pedigree and assembling them (hopefully your claims that you “buff, file and polish” vague internal components is grossly overstated and you’re just slapping these rifles together, though the excessive amount of time it seems to take your armorers to assemble one of these rifles leads me to believe that you are in “buffing, filing and polishing”). Fortunately for you, ARs are ridiculously easy to assemble from parts and as long as those parts are even halfway decent you’ll have a functioning, and reasonably fault tolerant rifle.

      On that note, if your “proprietary” parts were held to such tight tolerances, why would additional fitment of your “internal components” be necessary? You’re implying that you have control over your manufacturing process yet your parts require excessive amounts of additional fitment to function?

      While I’m picking at nits, you stated trigger your weight is between 4.5-5lbs which happens to be below just below the nominal trigger weight set forth by the Military Specification MIL-C-71186 (3.4.3). In fact, your lowest stated weight isn’t half of the highest stated weight. Even if Andrew’s weight measurement was off (and he did make note of his measurement being an estimate), a 4.5-5lbs trigger isn’t anything to write home about.

      However, I’m curious how are you modifying your triggers? Perhaps your employees are polishing the engagement surfaces on your mystery triggers? If they are then you should be well aware that stock AR-15 triggers are simply surface hardened, and that cutting into them will drastically reduce their overall working life. Eventually these triggers will fail and may result in an accidental machine gun, or an accidental discharge.

      Your entering a highly saturated market with an awful lot of mid tier builders and it’s going to take more than a few anecdotes about your rifles, 800 sales, and claims of special cryo treatments to make your company really stand out in the market.

      • “However, I’m curious how are you modifying your triggers? Perhaps your employees are polishing the engagement surfaces on your mystery triggers? If they are then you should be well aware that stock AR-15 triggers are simply surface hardened, and that cutting into them will drastically reduce their overall working life. Eventually these triggers will fail and may result in an accidental machine gun, or an accidental discharge”

        I too wondered this – at first. If they are willing to modify gas ports and polish feed ramps, they are probably willing to go to work on the surface-hardened components in the fire control group… “polishing” away the hardened surfaces. In light of the rail length and gas key staking errors, I doubt they were initially aware of this.

    • Wow. 800 rifles in two years?

      I’m sure the real manufacturers could do that in a week or two.

      Quit drinking your kool aid and face it, you got called out on an inferior product.

  • Just because anyone can assemble an AR doesn’t mean that everyone should. Unfortunately there are too many of these posers in the industry and too many uneducated consumers. Thanks for unmasking this one!

  • “AR15 for Sale – CHEAP”

  • —-
    BRC Owners comments:

    Channeling is something we do when the gas blocks have large holes, and w take the tip of the drill bit and create a small cup around the gasport hole in the barrel- like 1/32 . Secret trick to better performance, can’t say anymore without having you sign a non-disclosure statement.

    someone asked about Cryo- new technology, over the last 10 years or so for the firearms industry, but aerospace and racing have used it for years. Cryogenic treatment aligns the molecules in the metal, making it stronger, less maliable, better performance when heated, easier to clean, more durable. with cryo treatment, the 30,000 round barrel will go 50,000 rds- the better performance in heat means that the barrel will shoot truer- which means tighter shot groups- yes tighter MOA. it works best on the chrome molly- really makes no difference that we have seen with chrome lined.

    the Battle Rifle Combat Trigger is offered seperately- we can also provide a “Extreme Makeover” of your AR15 and make it to Battle Rifle standard. if you have one of those strictly discount guns, we can go through it, change out and redo your rifle- prices range between $375- $475 depending on how much work or parts need to be replaced and worked. when you are done, you have a whole new weapon.

    like I said, the difference is in the firing. there is NOTHING BETTER than the Chunk-ka-chunk-ka-chunk of a tripple tap with one of our rifles. solid feel, the more you shoot the more it wants. 2 steps short of a heavenly experience-
    —–

  • When one doesn’t understand what one is building, it’s pretty easy to get it wrong.

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  • I can not, will not, down an arms manufacturer down before even testing there product in the field. Most importantly, I will never judge a gun’s worth by it’s looks. Testimonials can be a big winner from the people that use there AR’s, but can also be a big downer for those that have never tested one out…
    Sh*t happens sometimes, and it just might have happened when putting that one AR together. I have never shot a Battle AR, but would rather give it a try to maybe go from “Worst AR Ever Seen” to “Sweetest AR I’ve ever shot!”

    There is always room for improvement, with any arms manufacturer…

    • I’ve personally built triple-digits worth of AR-15′s. Probably somewhere in the 200′s. Certainly well over a hundred guns. If you can’t put the correct length handguard on, and put it on straight, then you shouldn’t be building AR’s. Period. This isn’t just a “shit happens” kind of thing. “Shit happens” is when you accidentally put the FSB pins in from the wrong side. “Shit happens” is when you launch the front takedown pin detent and sprint across the room. “Shit happens” is when you put the hammer spring on backwards. But if you accidentally put a handguard of too short a length on, and then later think it looks COOL, you are a moron and you don’t even have the most basic of understandings when it comes to the AR-15 platform.

    • You just have to wonder, if the obvious was messed up and corners were cut, how is everything else? Sure everyone makes mistakes, but it is hard to believe words when you can see mistakes that clearly would not be missed by most guys working out of their garages.

  • Don’t worry, you can always take it to RED JACKET and have them make a Mini Gun out of it.

  • They appear to be targeting 1) government agencies and 2) tacticool floperators. Assuming that these retail for 8k it’s good enough for government, and who cares about tactifools?

    Per their facebook page they are “rolling out the Battle Rifle swag”. This swag comes in black. BLACK! How cool is that?

    Me, I’m offended by .22 salesmen who call their product “battle rifles”. It’s a varmint gun, always will be.

  • What a bunch of effing idiots!

  • Their website is a whole lot of WTF, too. One of the rifles they offer comes with an exposed gas tube as a factory standard also.

  • I am so glad I found this article, not because I was ever going to buy this finely crafted firearm but the flaming here is epic. That poor company just wanted to show off their home made guns and BOOM!! FLAME ON!!! hahaha

  • I will never gripe about Rainer Arm’s cost or build times ever again. (my home town firm)

    From a Trade show perspective, this was only second to the shot show in exposure and marketing. You HAVE to have your act together because you never know who’s wandering buy your booth.

    Were they assembling these in the hotel the night before? What was the rush?

    Your booth boys better know their sh*t or go straight to booth babes.

    What are the odds these guys are around 5 years from now?

  • I just noticed the bottom rail on that troy alpha is mounted too far forward (or so it appears). This reminds me of our Zombie KSG photo: “how many things can you find wrong in this picture”….only this is not meant to be a joke.

  • Ryan Burbridge

    I think everyone missed one thing. What would you expect from a company that sits on “shady lake” lol could stop laughing after seeing the company address.

    • “It’s full military rated.”
      “You’re not going to find a more betterly priced, better quality weapon than these.”
      “With a matched upper and a matched lower… the synergy that goes on here is straight out of the box, works every time.”

      And of course, BRC owner with finger inside trigger guard or on trigger as much as possible.

  • Andrew – I’m crossposting from TFB here.

    i don’t see how “dropping it on the ground” is a reasonable replacement for documented testing. I don’t see how using standard parts with “custom” modifications, with claims regarding quality being much greater compared to OEM parts being dubious at best is substantiated. I don’t claim to be an AR expert, but the basic operation of the rifle is dependent on the cycling of it. After claims of modifications to the gas port leading to improved performance and/or reliability were noted, my BS meter went off the charts. How is this a reasonable claim with no evidence to support it? Bigger tube = more gas into tube = faster/harsher cycling, at the very least. Not to mention more wear and tear. The big players have been doing this for years, and I’d venture a guess that most of them use a pretty standard gas port size, for good reason, with YEARS of real-world testing in some of the harshest conditions. Why would something like this ever need to be changed? (that is an honest question – I’d like to know for my own reference – your insight, Andrew?)

    I don’t think Andrew should have any qualms about posting an honest analysis. With that being said, it’s on the consumer to be informed about what they’re spending their money on – as well as what alternatives are out there. “A fool and his money are soon parted…”

    I also have to agree with the sentiment regarding not needing to shoot these rifles to get an understanding of the quality of these rifles. I don’t mean to split hairs, but to people with a basic understanding of the English language, seeing basic stuff like “torked” instead of torqued is a dead giveaway. I’m not even talking about their claims of
    mil-spec+” – what does that even mean? I read his explanation on m4carbine.net, so I understand what he means and the context in which it is used, but [i]really[/i], how many people have fallen for that line? Snake oil much? Bad trigger discipline? Puh-lease. Go to the booths of Noveske, LMT, BCM, (shall I continue?) – and see how many fingers are on triggers there. I’m sorry, but I just call it like I see it. On second thought, that’s not really splitting hairs, but I digress.

    While I am all for the “lil’ guy” getting out there and doing his thing, if he’s pushing an inferior product, one of two things can happen – they get called out, and fix it, or they don’t fix it, and just make excuses. This is a great opportunity for BRC to really make some dramatic improvements. If they don’t, oh well. They have no one to blame but themselves. I won’t feel bad for them. The AR market will always be a competitive, if not overly saturated market. To succeed in it, your product needs to do something to stand out in a positive way.

    I don’t see why anyone would willingly put their name on something that is rife with shoddy workmanship. Frankly, by exposing us all to BRC’s half-truths and potentially steering some people away, you’re doing them a favor. What hits harder than word of mouth? $$$. I’d bet if 5-10 potential sales were steered away with an explanation as to why money was spent elsewhere, you’d see some pretty speedy fixes. At least I’d hope so.

    Disregarding the availability (or lack thereof, more accurately) of something like the LMT MWS, why would someone want to choose this rifle over an LMT? (enter any high-end, ~$3k .308 AR in there for the sake of argument)

    • I was thinking about something after I posted this…

      larger diameter gas tube = lower pressure = perhaps SLOWER and weaker cycling? Maybe that’s what I was getting at. Been up a long time.

  • Is there some irony to their shirts saying “tools of the trade”? Why yes, you guys are in fact now the TOOLS of the trade. A whole bag of tools.

  • Thanks for the article. I have a small budget but have recently put together my first AR15.(BCM upper, DPMS lower) It took me months to research all of the parts and accessories that wanted, and then a couple more to figure out what I actually needed and would use. I can’t imagine saving up to buy your first/cheaper AR15 and ending up with a gun that was slapped together and has obvious build issues. It does look like Battle Rifle Company is trying to cash in on the market, but I am most concerned with “Law Enforcement, Lettered Agencies, Special Operations” that supposedly have purchased and have to use these.

    • It may well be true that some agencies are buying these weapons. Sadly too many making purchases of weapons for law enforcement agencies and other government types are not familiar with how to assess the value and quality of the weapons they are buying. The do, however, know a great deal about how the purchasing process works and the low bid usually prevails. If BRC is coming in at low bid (and I’d bet they are) then their rifles are going to agencies without expert assessment of the weapons being purchased. As such cops are getting stuck with having to make due with junk, or having to spend money on gunsmiths to correct the correctable errors on these poorly made rifles. I am far from a rifle expert, let alone someone who can diagnose detailed quality control issues with an AR-style weapon, but I have been involved many times with government purchasing decisions and all too often the dishonest vendors out there trying to make a fast buck at tax payer expense.

  • We had the opportunity to show everyone the performance of our rifles- so on May 14th, we took 2 different rifles and ran 1,000 rounds through them in less than 20 Minutes. Each rifle fired over 2 times the basic combat load in a short amount of time to show the performance- there were no cycling issues, both rifles performed spot on- and both were pulled directly off of the final inspection rack, straight to the firing line. For information about our rifles, contact us at info@battleriflecompany.com
    http://youtu.be/xDRfI6Pro1U

    • 500 rounds per rifle? That’s not impressive at all. Run 5000 rounds and then get back to us.

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