A number of years ago, I reviewed a modern sporting rifle made by Battle Rifle Company. It was one of the nicest finished ARs I had worked with. I definitely put it in the top tier at the time of my review, but sadly never heard much from them after that article was written. I later learned that the company’s owner had passed away.
However, a new owner stepped up and decided to continue the legacy of these great rifles made in Houston, Texas. My initial impression was that the latest incarnation was miles ahead of the original rifle I tested 7 or 8 years ago.
The Battle Rifle Company BR4
This is no standard-issue, rack-grade AR. The upper and lower receivers are perfectly matched, and every part on this rifle seems to be a grade or two up from what you most typically see in a local gun shop or big box store.
I’ve long said that the barrel is the heart of the rifle and this one is truly exceptional. It comes with a 1:7 twist rate and is rated to last between 50,000 and 60,000 rounds. This is roughly 3 times the longevity of a standard AR barrel. You may be wondering how they can pull that off. It is all due to a cryo-treatment process.
Cryo-treating a barrel means the metal is exposed to extremely low temperatures (300 degrees below Fahrenheit, to be precise), which causes the molecules to expand and synch up completely, making the metal inherently stronger. This is a process used throughout the aerospace industry to reinforce metallic components.
For the casual shooter, it may seem like overkill and in a sense it is. Most hobbyists will simply not shoot that amount of rounds in their lifetime, let alone out of one rifle. Because of this, your typical AR manufacturer is not concerned with shooters and that volume of fire. They know that 90% or more of their customers will never hit that level and the ones that do will simply order a new barrel when theirs is shot out.
In today’s climate with ammunition availability being what it is, I’m not going to put 50–60 thousand rounds downrange, but it is comforting to know that the potential is there. This barrel has a lot of heart.
If the heart of the rifle is its barrel, then the trigger is its soul, and Battle Rifle Company has done an impressive job with its factory trigger. The trigger is the most common part I switch out on my personal ARs, and with more than 30 of them in my safe, I think maybe two have their factory triggers. The reason those two have a factory trigger is because they were quality triggers from the start. Battle Rifle’s trigger would definitely be in this category.
I measured the trigger at an even 4 pounds using an RCBS trigger pull scale. There was no slop, creep, grit, or anything of that nature. A competitive shooter running this gun might want to upgrade, but I had no problems with it. This rifle definitely has soul.
The remaining furniture on the rifle included an 11-inch quad rail that was M-Lok compatible with a full-length Picatinny rail gracing the top. The spot closest to the rear contained opposable QD sling attachment points. The rail felt strong, yet remained lightweight.
For the pistol grip, I was surprised to find my most favorite style in a rubber overmolded Hogue grip, complete with finger grooves. I found this to be a sturdy dependable grip that is vastly underrated.
The buttstock was a custom-built Choate carbine style with four positions (including completely collapsed).
The rifle was coated in NP-3 and apparently, Battle Rifle Company has performed extended testing with exposure to saltwater — complete with input from Coast Guard personnel and Navy SEALs. These tests included submerging the rifle in Galveston Bay for up to 30 days to see which parts failed and what did not. The end results were so impressive that the company’s SHOT Show display included a rifle submerged in a fish tank… complete with goldfish swimming about.
Direct Impingement vs. Piston
When it comes to ARs, one of the biggest debates has to do with direct impingement (DI) vs. piston operation. In the AR platform, I tend to lean toward DI guns. This probably has more to do with being set in my ways — I learned on a DI rifle almost 35 years ago as a 17-year-old Marine recruit. If a piston gun is set up more like a SIG MCX or an AR-180 which gives you the option to fold the stock to the side, I’m interested. However, I’ve never been truly swayed by the piston arguments.
That said, DI guns can have their share of issues too, many times you will find DI rifles over-gassed. This can increase wear and tear on the rifle and make suppressed shooting a potential nightmare unless you take other precautions and make adjustments to the rifle.
Battle Rifle’s solution on the DI platform is to enlarge the gas port from the industry standard of 0.067–0.07 inches. You might expect an over-gassed gun as the result, but I found the operation to be quite smooth and detected no excess gas while running a can.
For a suppressor, I decided to go with an Elite Iron Battledog. This is a 6-inch stainless steel .30-caliber suppressor that weighs slightly under a pound. It mounts over the company’s Bravo 1 muzzle brake that also has a cover for use when the silencer is not mounted. This allows it to act more like a linear compensator. This cover directs the muzzle blast forward and away from the shooter as opposed to just off to the sides.
The Battledog offers a decibel reduction of 28 dB. I particularly like the .30 caliber silencers for use on 5.56 rifles because they are more solidly built and typically offer a greater volume for improving sound reduction. It may not meter that way during testing, but sometimes improved tonal quality can make for a better sounding suppressor.
Shooting with the Bravo 1 muzzle brake is extremely effective and pleasant. The point of impact was identical with the can detached, mounted, or while using the linear compensator sleeve.
While the silencer worked well, I was equally as impressed if not more so with this brake as a muzzle device. If I were to choose the perfect muzzle device for unsuppressed shooting, this one would be it.
This seems like a great suppressor for 5.56 NATO, 7.62 NATO, or .300 Blackout. The brake design just seems like pure genius from a design standpoint. This system is worth taking a look at if you are serious about shooting.
Even though the Battle Rifle Company BR4 ships with a perfectly usable set of MBUIS sights, I like to change things up. What better way for a fast-handling carbine than a non-magnified red dot?
When red dot sights first came on scene 30 or more years ago, they were not affordable for the average shooter. Another issue was the fact that they were on the delicate side — meaning you could take them out to shoot competitively or shoot dirt mountains on the back 40, but you wouldn’t really want them in a combat zone due to the short battery life and hardware limitations. Over the years, red dots have evolved in many ways with sights becoming smaller, more robust, boasting greatly-improved battery life, and thankfully more affordable.
Lucid Optics was one of the first to hit the market with a quality optic at an affordable price, and I have been using Lucid’s products for over a decade. The latest generation of optics seems light years ahead of Lucid’s first efforts, which were excellent to begin with.
This is the M7 sight and it is a marked improvement compared to past offerings.
The button clicks have a much more positive type of click to them and the turrets as well. The glass is crystal clear and closer to a quality European-made optic. Lucid is definitely tailoring its offerings to a more discerning customer base. It’s light, it’s rugged and it looks good.
The M7 has the new and proven M5 reticle. According to Lucid, this reticle has been proven to shave time getting on target by over 25% as compared to a conventional dot. The M5 reticle is set in the M7 and features 11 brightness settings to provide a clear reticle and sight picture in bright sunlight all the way down to NVG-compatible operation. With a quality battery installed, the M7 offers over 1,000 hours of battery life, ensuring you enjoy the match or stay on mission without fail.
Lucid’s modular mounting system allows the M7 to be placed on a Picatinny rail directly in a low setting to a 1/3 Co-witness height, making it extremely versatile.
Some readers might prefer a magnified optic by way of a low-powered variable scope. The biggest advantage to a red dot is that it allows you to get on target at a much faster rate than a traditional scope or iron sights. What made red dots a hit among competitive shooters in this regard paved their way for use among law enforcement, the U.S. military, and serious shooters.
Battle Rifle Company ships its rifles in a high quality and seemingly very durable nylon range bag that holds the rifle and spare magazines or other accessories. It is branded with the Battle Rifle Company logo and makes range trips very convenient.
Additionally, a quality nylon sling is included. Aside from an optic and a quality weapon light, this rifle is ready to serve as a duty rifle right out of the box (or in this case bag).
I had a few hundred rounds of SS109 and while not exactly burning a hole in my pocket, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to burn it up with the Battle Rifle Company’s AR.
There were no failures to feed, function, or extract. I wasn’t really anticipating any with a rifle of this quality, though.
At 100 yards, I fired five 5-shot groups. Each one measured between 1.75 inches and 2.4 inches while standing. This probably had more to do with using an unmagnified red dot than any fault of the rifle. Perhaps a little bit of magnification or a good bench rest would help here, especially with a 50-year old set of eyes. Unfortunately, the range I had access to did not have any provision for using a rest or a bipod off a bench.
I was completely satisfied with the performance. My only regret was the limited amount of ammunition I had on hand for testing. Hopefully, we will see an improvement along those lines as 2022 gets on its way. This is a rifle that truly deserves to be tested with thousands of rounds as opposed to a few hundred.
Battle Rifle Company BR4 Specifications
Caliber: 5.56mm NATO
Barrel: 16 inches
Overall length: 33.75–37 inches
Weight: 6.1 pounds (empty)
Sights: A2 front, carry handle rear
Action: Direct impingement semi-auto
Finish: Matte black
The Battle Rifle Company BR4 Spectre was a pleasure to shoot. If I was starting out now as a competitive shooter, military contractor, or police officer, this might be my rifle of choice. It would definitely be in the top 5 list of ticking off all the boxes of what I like in an AR.
Battle Rifle Company’s offerings may seem a bit pricey, even in the era of pandemic pricing, but these are essentially rifles that are built to order. A lot of hand fitting and finishing goes into every build. I have heard of other shooters achieving ¼ MOA with one of these rifles. That’s a tinge above my skill set, but I can see the potential in this one. Maybe next time, I’ll try one with a good low-powered variable optic.
The Battle Rifle Company BR4 Spectre has certainly made its mark and raised the bar in an already competitive market. How do you think it compares to your favorite AR platform? Share your answer in the comment section.
Battle Rifle Company BR4 Spectre: Built to Spec AR-15 is written by Mike Searson for blog.cheaperthandirt.com