It’s impressive that nowadays, sometimes, the cheapest choice can still be the American choice. In the American firearm market, various companies dominate the budget price point of handguns, shotguns, and rifles. In the AR-15 market, the lowest-priced ARs are put out by Bear Creek Arsenal. They don’t just put out budget-friendly, base-level AR-15s but a wide variety of AR-15s, AR-10s, and AR-9s. Today, we got the BC-15 in a very stripped-down format.
The BC-15 is one of many designs, which include every caliber under the sun, from the AK favorite 7.62x39mm to crazy stuff like the .410 shotshell. The BC-15 in our hands is about as standard as an AR-15 can be. To me, this represents what’s likely the most common AR-15 on the market and likely what most shooters are looking for when they go AR-15 shopping for the first time.
Live Inventory Price Checker
BC stands for Bear Creek, but it could stand for basic. Basic isn’t bad. Basic is the standard, and there is a reason it’s the standard. The BC-15 in our hands is a 5.56-chambered rifle with a 16-inch barrel. That barrel, impressively enough, is cold hammer forged. At the tip sits a flash hider, but it’s not your typical A2 style; it’s a BCA design. It’s your typical AR-15 carbine. This includes the use of a carbine-length gas system.
The rifle’s bore has a 1:8 rifled twist, and the barrel is made from 4150 Chrome Vadnium. We got M4 feed ramps and an M4 barrel contour.
Wrapped around the barrel is a 15-inch M-LOK rail that allows the barrel to float freely. The furniture is a standard M4 style six-position stock and an A2 type grip. The charging handle is a MIL-SPEC type, and the gun doesn’t come with a magazine. It’s as standard as it gets. One of the few things that I found interesting was the use of a 9310 steel bolt carrier group. That’s tougher than MIL-SPEC.
In a very crowded market, this makes it kinda tough to stand out, so what does the BC-15 do to stand out?
Well, this particular model costs less than 500 dollars. There was a time when AR-15s for less than 500 dollars wasn’t super uncommon, but that was well before 2023, COVID-19, and inflation. These days, the budget AR-15 realm is nowhere like it used to be. Finding an AR for less than five bills, with an M-LOK rail and free-floating handguard, is pretty tough.
Digging Into the BC-15
So, what does a rifle that costs less than 500 dollars look like? I took the gun part and did a deep dive into the parts and pieces. On the outside, the first thing I noticed was the anodizing of the upper and lower didn’t match. If you’re OCD, it isn’t for you. However, it doesn’t affect the function of the rifle.
Another thing that annoyed me enough to change it was the stock. The stock M4 design is fine, but the stock is very loose and rickety and annoyed me to no end. I dropped the stock for a Magpul replacement when I attempted to zero the gun and an optic I added. It really annoyed me.
The castle nut is also not staked. It’s attached tight enough that it’s not capable of being loosened via your hand. I would still prefer a staked castle nut. On the flip side, the gas key on the BCG is staked, and as mentioned, it’s 9130 and not Carpenter 158.
The M-LOK rail is solid. It’s well-made and stable. It’s seemingly secured with several bolts. It doesn’t shift, move or twist. The finish is a little iffy and not evenly spread, but it’s not all about looks. The finish is applied, and there are no missing spots that will generate surface rust.
The rear takedown pin is fine, but the front takedown pin is super tight, which could be a sign of an out-of-spec pin or out-of-spec lower. This could be a problem down the road, or it might not. It will take a lot of rounds in a short period of time and some measuring gauges to reveal the problem.
At the Range with the BC 15
The gun comes without sights, and since it’s a budget-friendly rifle, I used a budget-friendly optic and budget-friendly scope mount. The optic is the Athlon Argos Gen 2, and the mount comes from UTG. I know the Argos is solid, and it offers a 1-8X magnification range. It was in zeroing this optic that the shaky stock drove me nuts. A quick switch to the Magpul stock solved the shaky stock problem and made zeroing a breeze.
Zeroing the rifle proved to be a great way to test for accuracy. The BC-15 printed nice groups when fired from a supported position at 100 yards. At that range, it appears to be capable of about 2.25 MOA accuracy with basic MIL-SPEC M855. That’s not bad for a rifle that costs less than 500 dollars. I was capable of kicking the blackout of the B8 I used to zero the rifle with ease.
What doesn’t help with accuracy is the somewhat heavy trigger. Let’s be clear: the trigger isn’t terrible. It’s just quite heavy. There isn’t grit or creep. It’s just a surprisingly heavy wall. It feels like there might be an extra power trigger spring in the gun.
I would guess they use the same trigger in this gun as they use in the 7.62x39mm guns, and those guns require a heavy trigger spring for those Soviet Era primers. This is speculation. The reset is chunky, and I mean that’s the noise and feel it has when it resets.
Recoil is as you’d expect for a 5.56 caliber rifle: light and crisp. Running the basics like failure-to-stop drills, multi-position drills, and lots of good, long strings of fire showed the rifle could run quickly and easily. It won’t beat you up, and you’ll have no problems running the gun in a more tactical manner. It seems to be as properly gassed as a carbine-length gas system can be. No ejection issues, no extraction issues. It consistently puts the shells in what is basically a small pile.
I experienced no reliability issues with several magazine types. After four hundred rounds of 5.56 from Wolf, Tula, and Winchester, I have no malfunctions to report outside of a single Winchester round failing to ignite. The primer had a nice, clean hit, but it seemingly failed to ignite.
I broke the gun open and didn’t see any problems with advanced wear. Looking around the buffer and receiver extension, I didn’t see any battering, chipping, or finish issues. This is usually a quick way to determine if the rifle is poorly built.
Ergonomics were standard AR-15s, which means they are quite nice. The mag release is excellent, the safety clicks and pops into place, and the bolt lock works. Everything works without a problem.
Call Me Surprised
The BC-15 offers you a low-cost AR-15 for the everyman. It appears to be reliable and accurate enough. It’s far from fancy but acts as a starter rifle. Stake that castle nut, and add the furniture you want. Other than that, I’m fairly impressed by this budget-friendly rifle. It might not be the best choice to go into Fallujah Part 3 with, but for the average shooter, it’s not a bad rifle to learn the basics of the AR-15 platform. It’s a blank canvas for an inexperienced shooter to make their own.
About Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.