It is kind of strange to be looking at a replica gun for the war I was served in, but it’s pretty cool too. BCM has made a series of authentic looking SPR rifles. The test rifle they sent GunsAmerica is the BCM Mk12 Mod 0.
- Type: Direct-impingement semiautomatic
- Cartridge: 5.56 NATO
- Barrel Length: 18 in.; 1:8-in. twist
- Overall Length: 5 (collapsed); 39.5 (extended)
- Weight: 9 lbs.
- Capacity: 30 + 1 rds.
- Sights: PRI flip-up (front) A.R.M.S., Inc. No. 40 (rear)
- Handguard: PRI free-floated
- Muzzlebrake: BCM Mk12
- MSRP: $2,700
- Manufacturer: Bravo Company Manufacturing
A Little Background … the SPR & the SR-25
The SPR program started as an upper receiver to fill the gap between a full SR-25 semiautomatic sniper rifle in 7.62x51mm and the standard 14½ inch M4. SPR originally stood for special purpose receiver; however, as the SPR eventually came to service as a full weapon system — not just an upper — it stands for special purpose rifle. It is designated the Mk12 in the typical way that U.S. Navy naming conventions make zero sense, yet Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane is where most of the SOCOM toys originate for the U.S. military. The Mk13 is a bolt-action rifle chambered in .300 Win. Mag. — go figure. This system is utilized by the U.S. Army and Navy. The concept was originally proposed by the current president of Armalite Mark Westrom, who was working for Rock Island Arsenal at the time.
The SPR has a long and storied history of Special Operations Forces (SOF). They have been used in every theater of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) by our ninjas and with outstanding success. The relatively light weight of a 5.56-chambered rifle and ammunition combined with the velocity and reach of an 18-inch barrel made them popular both in urban combat in places like Baghdad and the mountains of Afghanistan. The SPR is supposed to serve a light sniper/designated marksman role.
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Just a few weeks before this review, some of the boys from Fort Bragg called me and we discussed the idea of the SPR. Amongst the eight of us in the discussion, it was almost an even split between who would choose the SPR or the SR-25 for urban combat. With our wealth of combat experience, using a variety of weapons across a variety of times and places, we couldn’t reach a consensus on which was better. I’d choose the 7.62. (Or at least 27-year-old me would. I was sprier 10 years and a lot of injuries ago.) However, I cannot discount my friends that selected the 5.56. There are a lot of valid arguments in its favor, and no one present had any tales of bad guys walking off multiple hits of 77-grain Black Hill projectiles. In smaller cartridges, velocity kills. And 18 inches is near perfect for achieving that velocity.
BCM’s Mk12 Mod 0 Ergonomics
The original barrels were custom barrels from Douglas Barrels, Inc. and were renowned for the accuracy they delivered. The BCM Mod 0 rifle we were sent incorporates an 18-inch BCM stainless steel 410 barrel with an ion bonded black DLC coating. The original muzzlebrake was unique and designed to accept the Ops Inc. 12th model. BCM offers several different options of muzzlebrakes. The handguard is a Precision Reflex, Inc. (PRI) design, and was one of the first free-floated handguards used by the military. The front sight is also PRI. It was an early folding model.
Not to stand on my soapboxox and yell about you damn kids, but to really appreciate this rifle consider how the world stood in 2002. There wasn’t much choice in equipment, and the idea of folding anything was unique. It hadn’t been that long since we had Picatinny rails on our rifles. Before, most high-speed guys in the universe literally had a mag-lite held on by hose clamps. The SPR handguard and folding sights might as well have been space lasers from Mars. The rear sight on our rifle was the A.R.M.S, Inc. No. 40 flip-up, which became the standard on every SOF rifle in the inventory.
The buttstock is a deviation by BCM on this rifle, but still period plausible. The original SPR came with an A2 style buttstock, but most end users swapped it for another. BCM ships this one with a VLTOR, which was a favorite of SOF around the time the SPR was being issued. I ran that one for quite a while on my M4. The pistol grip is pure BCM. There were a variety of options that would have seen service on the SPR, depending on taste. They ranged from a DPMS panther style to a Tango Down or Hogue rubber pistol grip. The BCM version is comfortable and fits in with the style of the rifle.
The trigger will be one feature that shooters will be happy BCM didn’t go authentic. BCM ships with nickel boron coated trigger, which is pretty smooth for a factory job. You might want to upgrade later, but it beats the pants off of the normal parts bin.
For optics, there were a variety of options that would have been legit. I finally decided to go with a Leupold 3.5-10 LR M3. This may have been what came on the SPR from Crane as there always a gaggle of them floating around the team room. I called Leupold and was amazed to find they still make them in their custom shop. This scope was pretty high speed for its time. And if you insist on authentic, it is still a good choice. It has some features we giggle about nowadays, but that wasn’t the case when the GWOT was fresh. It features a Mil-Dot reticle, MOA elevation and windage adjustments, and it is a second focal plane (SFP) scope. The glass was clear, and I had no trouble banging a target at 800 meters with this combo. After, I remembered how to adjust in MOA. There may or may not be a shot on video that was 15 feet over the target.
This rifle review was a fun trip down memory lane. If you are a collector or carried one of these in the war, I recommend it highly. Mine shot 1-inch groups at 100 meters with 77-grain Black Hills ammo, which is pretty legit for a 5.56 gun. The 77-grain Black Hills projectiles are authentic too. It was actually a Black Hills contract ammo build for the SPR. It’s absolutely a collector’s piece, but you can still get the work done with it if you need to. The handguard and iron sights might look ancient by our 2017 standard, but don’t forget: In this configuration, this rifle, has served many of our warriors well as they fight and continue to fight in the GWOT.
To learn more about the BCM Mk12, click https://shop.bravocompanymfg.com/BCM-RECCE-Mk12-Mod0-Precision-Rifle-AR15-p/bcm-rifle-862-mk12-a5-fde.htm.
To learn more about Leupold’s custom scopes, click https://www.leupold.com/hunting-shooting/scopes/.
To learn more about Black Hills 77-grain loads, click http://www.black-hills.com/shop/new-rifle-ammo/5-56mm/.
To purchase BCM components or rifles on GunsAmerica, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=BCM.