Bear creek arsenal complete upper receiver review electricity 101 video

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These are my initial impressions of the Bear Creek Arsenal upper I received. I have not fired this upper so I cannot make any determinations in that regard. My remarks may seem negative at points, as it’s problems that people want to know about, but overall I am pleased with the purchase so keep that in mind while reading.

I was certainly underwhelmed by the amount of care given to the packing. The box was much too large and/or the packing material too sparse to afford any real protection to the upper receiver. At this price point Bear Creek Arsenal is going to be competing with the lower line uppers from Palmetto State Armory and PSA sends their uppers in egg carton foam lined boxes which fit tightly. Considering that Bear Creek Arsenal is in the upper selling business I’d have expected them to use a more appropriately sized shipping box. That being said the upper does appear to have arrived in fine condition.

The upper came with the obligatory tie wrap but it was just shoved between the bolt and the chamber. I usually see them wrapped around the back of the bolt carrier and receiver to keep them together. I don’t really know what purpose is trying to be served by wedging the tie in this location.

Machining quality of the full-auto profile bolt carrier is very good. I saw no excessive tool marks as I have seen in some lower end bolt carriers. I will note that the firing pin cotter pin was very tight in the carrier. Often I can remove these with just my fingernails or at least with a small eyeglass screwdriver but this one required a small pair of pliers to grab and pull out. I’m sure this will wear in over time.

This is the "staking" done to the gas key screws. It looks like they were just struck across the top with a cold chisel. Clearly this is not how you do it properly. Here they’ve just pushed the gas key material out when it should be pushed in against the screws. This "staking" relies on the weak bond formed when the steel of the gas key meshes with the steel of the screws.

The disassembled bolt which Bear Creek Arsenal says is made of 9310 steel. I was disappointed there was no donut around the extractor spring and shocked that there was no rubber insert inside the extractor spring. This rubber insert is standard so presumably this was an oversight on someone’s part. If you have one of these bolts, or really any bolt you haven’t disassembled, make sure it has this insert. It’s usually black but sometimes blue.

For dry fire and fit testing I put the upper assembly on a Spike’s Tactical lower. Fit was just fine with no tightness or sloppiness between upper and lower receivers. I then used a Magpul M3 PMAG with two snap caps to test feeding, chambering and extraction. The rounds fed into the upper and chambered without issue. The extraction was also strong despite the lack of an extractor spring insert. Aside from that missing part the only thing I can really take issue with is the gas key staking. Time will tell if that holds up so I’ll keep an eye on it for now. If the screws do work loose I will see if I can re-stake them or maybe just replace the gas key if needed.

I contacted Bear Creek Arsenal nearly three weeks ago about the missing extractor spring insert and did not receive a reply. I followed up four days later asking if the part had shipped and received a reply consisting entirely of "Yes.". Having not received it after six days from that email I followed up again. Nine days after that and I have received no reply and no insert. To me the measure of a company is how they handle a customer problem, no matter how minor. In this case it seems their poor reputation earned while operating under the name "Moore’s Machine Company" is going to follow them into their new name. I was willing to take a chance at the $235 shipped price but at their regular price they’re competing with Palmetto State Armory products. In my experience PSA beats them in packaging, proper assembly and customer service so that’s where I’ll spend my money.