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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

SRC Balanced Bolt Carrier

     Enhanced AR components are making their way into all kinds of rifles these days.  Competitive shooters, eager to gain an edge, began replacing mil-spec components with upgraded parts from up-and-coming manufacturers.  Finishes, metalworking, and production processes that weren't even dreamed of when the space-age AR was designed have become the norm.

     Some guys want to keep their guns stock.  Mil-spec is good enough for Uncle Sam, so it must be good enough for them.  And that's fine.  But there are a lot of great innovations out there, and one of them is the new Balanced Bolt Carrier from the Sharps Rifle Company.

     The Balanced Bolt Carrier (BBC) was designed to resolve camming issues with the bolt as it unlocks from the receiver extension as well as carrier tilt as the bolt carrier group is forced back into the receiver extension before traveling forward to pick up the next round.

     Carrier tilt is typically associated with piston-driven guns as the piston strikes the carrier above its central axis, forcing it slightly down as it cycles to the rear.  The direct-impingement system avoids this by keeping the acting forces in-line with the central axis of the BCG.  However, there is still the issue of mass, and more mass at one end or the other will cause the BCG to tilt slightly.

     SRC went back to the drawing board with this carrier, and added several lightening cuts to the rear end of the carrier, keeping the front end more heavily weighted to counteract the tilt that occurs when force is applied.  When you compare the SRC to mil-spec carriers, you'll notice it is much more square and blocky up front, and that the rear end has several lightening cuts and scallops.

     This keeps the carrier more balanced as it cycles within the gun, as the increased forward mass resists the tilting action of the lighter rear end of the carrier.  SRC deliberately did not go with a low-mass BCG, as they have found that the mass of the carrier has to remain within certain parameters to avoid timing issues.

     So, while all of this is well and good, what does it mean for the shooter and the rifle?  It means an incredibly smooth shooting gun.  The BBC is coated with the NP3 coating process, which renders it very smooth to the touch, and makes cleaning a snap.  A traditional BCG's phosphate coating lets carbon and other fouling stick to it due to its porous surface.  The SRC BBC is very slick, and wipes almost completely clean with nothing more than a paper towel.  When you add their Relia-Bolt, cleaning your AR's operating system can be done in a fraction of the time, with fewer chemicals and tools than ever before.   If you've ever spent a significant amount of time cleaning your AR, you'll know how awesome that is.

Many manufacturers advertise that their products allow you to run your gun without lube.  I believe that the enhanced lubricity reduces the need for lubricants, but does not eliminate them.  No matter how slick your enhanced BCG is, that coating is probably not on the inside of your upper receiver, so you'll have less friction from the BCG, but the receiver will still produce its half of the friction equation as usual.  When I dropped the SRC BBC into my rifle and hand cycled the action, it felt like I was working a fresh, well-lubed rifle.  I pulled the BBC out and wiped my finger through the inside of my upper, and sure enough, it was still caked with crud like I left it.

I cleaned out the rifle, and slapped it back together without lube and headed to the range.  The gun ran like a top, chewing though a few hundred rounds of steel cased Tula ammo without a hitch.  I squirted some Slipstream in the action, and kept going, and the rifle ran like the internal parts were barely making contact.  The entire system felt smooth and slick.  I dig that.

So far, the BCG has chewed through over 2000 rounds with no issues.  This is mostly steel case (Tula, Wolf), with some brass here and there (Federal, PMC), and it has run smooth and easy to clean. I routinely dirty up my guns by running .22 through them with a conversion bolt before shooting 5.56 thoguh them. This thoroughly coats the receivers with carbon and crud, and the SRC BCG has had no problems cutting through the crap and cycling the gun.  It has gotten to the point where I dread cleaning out my mil-spec BCG's instead of this system.  But when you can wipe off your rifle's operating system with a paper towel and be ready to roll, its easy to get spoiled.

The exterior of the BCG is handsomely engraved with SRC's logo and text, and looks great in the rifle.  There are a lot of options out there for enhanced AR parts, but if you want a BCG that looks good and performs great, I highly recommend you get a SRC Balanced Bolt Carrier in your gun.

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