If you are piecing together an AR15 upper you have most likely wondered what bolt carrier group or BCG you should go with. These days many manufacturers are spitting out BCG’s each with its own set of pros and cons. Listing all of your required features will help narrow down the search to a handful of different BCGs. When I pieced out and built my 11.5” AR15, my requirements were that the BCG had to be affordable, full-auto rated, and TiN-coated was preferred. Enter the Brownells M16 Bolt Carrier Group with the Titanium Nitride coating.
While being fairly new as of 2019, there had not been many reviews written or people out there who had run them hard to give testament to how they actually performed. However catching them on sale for nearly $100 in April of 2019, I thought the Brownells BCG was a steal compared to what other manufacturers had out on the market. I gave it a shot, and 3,000 rounds and 2.5 years later I haven’t had any regrets. Currently, you can find it for around $180 on Brownell’s website listed here: Brownells M16 Bolt Carrier Group
First of all, I think the Titanium Nitride coating (also known as “TiN”) adds a bunch of style points, and we all know that looking cool is all that matters. While gaining +10 aesthetics, you also get a coating that makes cleaning especially easy. While I don’t clean my ARs often, I’ve found that a couple of sprays with gun oil and a few wipes with a paper towel is all it really takes to get rid of all the gunk and make the BCG sparkle again. The TiN coating also helps things run smoothly when cycling which increases reliability and could be considered more important than style points, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
The Brownells TiN coated BCG has cycled flawlessly the entirety of my time with it except for one occasion. The only issue I’ve had was that it did rust in place once… I always run my guns really dry and without much oil because of how windy and dusty it gets in western Oklahoma. I’ve tried to minimize how much dust can stick to the BCG and the rest of the operating system by not having excess lube for fine grains of dust to stick to. However, after never really cleaning my guns, and hunting in the rain, then not touching/cleaning my AR for about three weeks I found lack of maintenance could cause problems. After three weeks of sitting, I grabbed my AR and tried to chamber a round, but the BCG and charging handle had rusted in place. I tried mortaring my AR a few times and finally broke it all loose. After wiping it down with a towel, and applying a generous amount of oil, the BCG cleaned up alright and everything has continued to work without issue for the last 1.5 years.
TiN coatings are supposed to aid in corrosion resistance, but as you can see in the picture above, the rust did leave some permanent marks that I haven’t been able to scrub off. These leave locations are more prone to corrode worse in the future, as well as give dust, and carbon more surface roughness to hold onto. However, like I previously stated, this BCG has run flawlessly for the last year and a half. It may not look quite as clean, but it functions just as it should.
This BCG is also full auto rated, so obviously I had to test that out for myself. While only shooting around 120 rounds while in full auto, it never jammed up. You can click the link here to watch it chew through 30 rounds.
Whether shooting semi-automatic, binary, or full auto this BCG has run like a champ while being mainly suppressed. The carrier is made from 8620 tool steel, and the bolt head is machined from 9310 tool steel. The body is heat-treated, and the bolt is magnetic particle inspected to reject any parts with defective material or machining defects. The gas key comes fully torqued and staked so this BCG is ready to go straight out of the box. While I didn’t check the headspace before firing, I have had zero issues show up to affect either the casings or the reliability of the operating system.
Overall, and especially for the price I have been more than happy with the performance and reliability I have got out of the Brownells TiN coated BCG. While testing exclusively in my 11.5″ AR pistol, I have seen others work with 300 BLK or other 5.56 setups just as reliably. It looks good, it shoots good and is dang easy to clean if you do that sort of thing.