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AR15 Armorer: Review/How-to: Young Manufacturing Inc. Chrome National Match Bolt Carrier

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Review/How-to: Young Manufacturing Inc. Chrome National Match Bolt Carrier


The heart of the AR is the BCG (Bolt Carrier Group). Without a complete BCG your rifle is pretty much useless. I was fortunate enough to be able to test out and review a National Match Bolt Carrier by Young Manufacturing, Inc. This chrome BCG is a work of art and something to be admired. Upon opening the package the entire BCG was fully assembled with lube and ready for use. The workmanship and quality based on first impressions is no surprise other top companies in the industry use Young Manufacturing bolt carriers. Since the company’s founder Dan Young has over 30 years of experience in the Aerospace industry it comes as no surprise the attention to detail which went into this product. As an Engineer in Aerospace myself I appreciate those little details. Besides the nice chrome finish there are other benefits of using this BCG which I will discuss in detail.

The process to make this chrome BCG is quite extensive and precise. The carrier is made from 8620 solid bar stock to start with and cut in house by precision CNC machines. All critical areas of the carrier are left with extra material intact prior to the heat treatment process. The carriers are hardened to MIL-SPEC as called out by engineering drawings and after the heat treatment process they grind the outside diameter and inside bore diameters to eliminate any possibility of warping which might occur during the heat treatment. Finally the carrier is hard chrome plated to 68-69 Rockwell C inside and out for that hard corrosion resistant finish, which is smooth to the touch. The carrier gas key is machined from solid 4140 bar stock than heat treated to 36-40 RC, than hard chromed all over. There is no casting or extrusions process used to make any of the parts. The bolt is actually not made in house, they are purchased from a Government contractor, once they arrive at Young facilities they are disassembled, glass beaded and then sent out for chrome plating. After they return with a nice chrome finish they are assembled in house and an O-ring is added to the extractor spring. Most BCG’s come with either a soft Blue or black insert which will wear overtime and lead to extraction problems. The unit is 1/2 oz heavier than standard parkerized units and has more surface area at the carrier front for help improving alignment as it slides in the upper receiver. The results are tighter tolerances and better overall function when in the battery position.

The biggest advantage of using this chromed BCG is the ease of cleaning due to the slick finish. Compared to a standard parkerized carrier cleaning takes much less effort, and if you clean often it takes even less time between cleaning sessions. The chrome finish also makes it easy to see where the carbon has accumulated. Since the surface is smoother and has a reduced coefficient of friction, it naturally gives less of a hold to powder and residue that would normally build up on a standard parkerized BCG. Take for example a piece of 1000 grit sand paper compared to your standard office paper, run a crayon across both and you will see more crayon buildup on the sand paper naturally due to the fact it has a higher coefficient of friction. So a harder and smoother chrome surface will not completely prevent carbon build up but it will do a better job of resisting natural buildup. The proof is simple, hard chrome has a higher Rockwell rating which makes it excellent for resisting heat and having a low coefficient of friction.

Reduced wear is also a benefit of this chrome BCG. The higher RC rating of chrome also helps with wear and corrosion resistance, if the coating was properly applied. By proper, I mean the material to begin with before it is coated is smooth. It is critical to have a clean smooth finish before any coating is applied which Young Machines does to eliminate any defects or rough edges. Wear between a carrier and upper receivers can be an issue with out of spec BCG’s. Young carriers are machined to spec and ensure a proper fit. Chrome does a better job of resisting wear due to the low coefficient of friction even against other metals such as aluminum upper receivers. The extra 1/2 oz of weight also helps slow down the cycle of operation of the weapon. This can be an added benefit for those who like fast follow up shots but also prefer to be accurate since it gives the bullet more time to exit the barrel before the next follow up shot and all the moving parts which would cause movement of the rifle. Another advantage is it will help with extraction issues on carbine length gas systems where a slower cyclic of fire comes in handy. Lastly Young BCG has a slightly larger profile which reduces the amount of dirt and debris which can get in.

Before I get to this next point about BCG’s I will try to clear up a common problem I see too often these days. What I find really disturbing on the internet is the miss-conception about the word “MIL-SPEC” The definition from Wikipedia:
[i][indent]“A United States defense standard, often called a military standard, "MIL-STD", "MIL-SPEC", or (informally) "MilSpecs", is used to help achieve standardization objectives by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Standardization is beneficial in achieving interoperability, ensuring products meet certain requirements, commonality, reliability, total cost of ownership, compatibility with logistics systems, and similar defense-related objectives.“[/indent][/i]
For those who have worked in the defense industry long enough or are in the Military will agree with this statement: “MIL-SPEC does not always mean it is the best or right.” There are upsides and downsides to defense standards. What is alarming is the ignorance among people who have no business giving their opinions on the internet simply because they believe if it is not MIL-SPEC it must not be good enough since the Military does not use it. The truth is there are a lot of knowledgeable people who know firearms, but what they are lacking is experience working in an industry which deals with defense standards. Having close to a decade of experience in the defense industry I have had the pleasure to work on some very cool Unclassified projects and some others which I can not even talk about. I have hands on experience with MIL-SPEC products on a daily basis and have been involved in developing products to MIL-SPEC standards. what I’m going to tell you might shock some of you. MIL-SPEC is not always the best standard or practice to come to a solution. I can not get into details due to the nature of the classification but what I can tell you is there are lots of COTS products which are much more advanced and go above MIL-SPEC standards. So with that said lets talk about the Gas key bolts off this Young BCG which is not staked.

I asked Dan about this and this is his response:
[b][indent]There has been a lot of talk about the pros and cons of staking the gas key on the carrier. Here is our opinion and why Young Manufacturing will not stake keys. We have been making carriers since 1991. The US Mil Spec. assembly drawing requires the carrier key to be staked. Contrary to some popular opinions staking does not “SEAL” the gas key. Staking keeps the screws from backing out. Period. If you do not properly torque the screws to 56 inch pounds you will be staking a screw that is loose or one that is over torqued and prone to breakage. We have seen plenty of staked screws that are loose or broken. The Mil Spec. also calls for the gas key bottom surface to be “SEALED” with Permatex gasket sealer. Something no one does to our knowledge. Here is our procedure for installing a gas key. First clean the oil from the gas key and the mating surface on the carrier. Then clean the oil from the screw threads. We use brake cleaner for this. Next use a very light coating of Permatex high strength thread locker gel on the bottom of the key. PN 27010. This is much easier to use than the Permatex gasket sealer. It comes in a plastic twist dispenser and can be purchased at ACE Hardware. Make sure you don’t use so much that it squishes into the gas port hole. The cure rate is 60 minutes. Next coat the screw threads with the same gel. Install the key and torque the screws to 56 inch pounds. Should you decide to remove the key for some reason don’t use the old screws when you put the key back on! You will most likely break them during installation or when you fire the rifle. Go to the local hardware store and buy new 8-32 x ¼” SHCS. If you feel the need to stake the screws spend the money and get one of the staking tools from Brownell that uses a screw type system to swedge the material into the top of the screw. Don’t use a hammer and a punch! You can stretch the thread on the screw and now you have a loose screw that will eventually break if the gun even fires. You may also swedge the material out so far that it drags in the upper receiver. We will not warrantee a carrier with a staked key no matter who staked it. You will be charged for a new key and any labor required to remove broken screws.
Good Shooting!
Daniel H Young
President[/indent][/b]
The point I’m trying to make is MIL-SPEC is a word thrown out loosely on the internet. Since the Gas key screws on the Young BCG are not staked, I felt compelled to share the letter and give my opinion. The bottom line is engineering, procedures and products are always evolving and the general Military population is not always up to snuff with the latest and greatest unless you’re in certain elite branches which get to test the latest in technology available. There is a reason DARPA was created and will never go away! Sometimes MIL-SPEC standards will never change for a product line, instead it will simply be replaced by the next best product out there which goes above and beyond old standards. If you want to stake your screws, go right ahead and do it but it is not necessary on the Young BCG.

Getting back to the BCG, it was everything I expected after putting a few hundred rounds through the rifle. I was pleased how well it performed and cleaning the carrier was a breeze. I had lots of positive comments from spectators at the range and quite a lot of interest in the product. Overall I’m very satisfied with this product, not only does it look good matching my White Oak stainless barrel but it performs as expected and I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone looking to replace their BCG.

Video assembly & dissassembly
[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEFnlF7KTNY"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEFnlF7KTNY [/url]

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  • Submitted
    11/04/2011 04:43 AM

 

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