Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) and EAG Tactical recently partnered to offer a first-of-its-kind package that offers training and a first-rate purpose-driven fighting carbine that is set up to go out of the box.
Combining high-demand, hard-use features that have been thoroughly validated in years of EAG classes with BCM’s obsession with build excellence, the pairing is a great opportunity for those looking for a quality 5.56mm duty or training gun.
Readers may not be immediately familiar with BCM’s rifles. The company has recently expanded the booming business it was doing in quality accessories and components to upper receivers and bolts to complete rifles (BRAVO ZULU: Bravo Company M4 Carbine Mod 2, December 2010 S.W.A.T.). The company has established itself in the training community as having no near peer in hard-use reliability and build quality, competitive pricing and extent of user-requested options available directly to the consumer.
BCM’s founder and owner, Paul Buffoni, established the rifle line with a singular focus on giving the private military contractor, law enforcement and hardcore training community products that met or exceeded milspec in every way. A serious shooter with experience as a Marine Infantryman, Buffoni was frustrated with the inferior cosmetic spec’d offerings that were flooding the market, as well as the lack of availability and scarcity of options in service-quality carbines. The shooting community readily embraced his efforts to rectify that situation.
EAG Tactical is probably familiar to most S.W.A.T. readers as the training company led by S.W.A.T.’s own Pat Rogers. Pat’s background merits elaboration to provide context.
His combat experience goes back to the wood and steel days with multiple operations as a Marine carrying the M1 and M14, including combat in Vietnam. He personally observed the USMC testing of the M4 in the mid 1980s and was able to see firsthand many of the transition issues as special units adopted the SOPMOD M4A1 in the 1990s.
Following a colorful and decorated career with the NYPD, where he served in some of the toughest precincts and with special units, he retired and moved on to what he refers to as the “other address,” training many of our nations’ allies and “enemies of our enemies.”
Rogers has had a long connection with certain specialized DoD units and, with a ready supply of weapons, ammo and students, he saw much of the development of the equipment, tactics, techniques, and procedures that would become vital in the post-9/11 world. His influence is directly or indirectly evident in the development, fielding or proliferation of many pieces of tactical gear over the last decade, while his writing has effected growth and change across the community.
All of that frames the significance that the first carbine to bear the EAG logo has serious provenance. Rogers has had numerous offers over time to collaborate on a special rifle after the commercial success of other trainers’ spec guns, but was not interested.
EAG had been doing endurance testing of BCM uppers and then rifles (Filthy 14, September 2010 S.W.A.T.) for some time, with the quality and consistency being increasingly apparent. When Paul Buffoni introduced the 14.5 BFH (Barrel, Forged, Hammer) in the mid-length gas system, Pat recognized the quality and utility of that carbine set up, as he tends to run all of his personal guns, and the package was created. I had the opportunity to shoot the first prototype carbine and was immediately in line for a production gun.
EAG TACTICAL CARBINE, M4A1
The BCM/EAG collaboration is officially the EAG Tactical Carbine, M4A1. It is set up as a lightweight fighting carbine at 6.75 lbs, built around a government contour 14.5” hammer forged barrel with a permanently installed BCM A2X flash hider to bring the barrel to the legal limit.
The increasingly popular mid-length gas system runs to the fixed and pinned fixed front-sight base to reduce bolt velocity and provide increased service life while softening out the recoil impulse from a carbine-length system.
This also allows a nine-inch free-floated LaRue Tactical quad rail with built-in QD sling swivel sockets vice the contemporary seven-inch handguards or non-floated quad, so that accessories can better be configured around the shooter’s preference. Additionally, the free-floated LaRue protects the carbine from point of impact shifts under a wide variety of hard use and helps maintain zero of any mounted visible or IR lasers.
The included SureFire LED G2 in VTAC mount can be configured to the shooter’s preferred offset on the rail to ensure the gun is ready to go around the clock. TangoDown pistol and vertical foregrips are mounted and three SCAR panels included to protect both the shooter’s hand from heat and the sections of rail not being used.
A TangoDown PR-4 accommodates the rear QD swivel on the included padded VTAC two-point sling.
A Troy Industries flip-up back-up iron sight is mounted to the flat-top receiver and is capable of either serving as the primary sighting system with the fixed front or secondary to an optic.
A Mod 3 BCM Gunfighter charging handle runs the chrome-lined bolt carrier and High Pressure/MPI Tested 158 carpenter steel bolt, allowing aggressive manipulations on a bomb-proof latch. The gas key and castle nut are heavily staked and there are well-executed M4 feed ramps to ensure reliability.
The milspec trigger is protected by a Magpul MOE trigger guard to facilitate gloved use, while the buttstock is the Magpul MOE with rubber pad to ensure a good “stick” when shooting with armor, as many of the carbine’s customers will do.
The package is completed with SLiP cleaner and lube bottles, a BCM cap, and last but not least, a certificate good for $200 toward an EAG Tactical training class.
The carbine is visually balanced, with a great mix of parts that come together to make a striking combo. The rollmarks and laser etched “EAG” and EAG logo are very well done, as is the finish. This is one of the better finished rifles I have seen from an AR maker in some time, for those who enjoy that aspect of ownership.
The balance in the hands is superb, with the carbine “feeling” as compact as an NFA M4, but with better balance due to the extra length handguard. On target, the handling is quick and snappy, allowing the shooter to blaze target to target, but with such great balance that the carbine “hangs” just right for tough snap shots.
The trigger is a best quality milspec. It broke so well, with just a hint of roll to signal the sear’s release, that I guesstimated it much lower than its measured seven pounds. Resetting the trigger or prepping it to the second stage, the hammer fell at 3.5 pounds.
I broke the carbine in over a number of sessions, using it just as it came from the box, and thought it handled exceptionally well. Adding an Aimpoint T-1 as Pat prefers on most of his personal guns, I zeroed it at 200 meters.
Every BCM barrel I have fired has shot well, most remarkably so with Black Hills Ammunition 77-grain Sierras. The EAG gun was no exception. From magazine monopod prone supported by the VTAC sling, the 1:7 twist, 14.5-inch barrel put four rounds into just over an inch at 200 meters.
That is theoretically beyond the capability of the 4 MOA dot in the optic and certainly the position used, but speaks to the outstanding quality of the barrel. Confirming at 50 yards, the carbine put all shots into an overlapping ragged hole. The M4A1 is not meant as a multi-role or special-purpose rifle, but it boosts confidence to know that level of accuracy exists with quality ammo.
T&E AT CARBINE OPERATORS COURSE
The M4A1 accompanied me to an EAG Carbine Operators Course to round out the testing. The Carbine Operators Course is a unique experience among contemporary training. It bears more than a passing resemblance to the carbine marksmanship phase that certain Marine units conduct as part of a unit work-up, with a tremendous amount of no-nonsense information on running and maintaining the carbine condensed into a shorter format.
It is entirely normal for a given class to have experienced and talented shooters coming back for their third or fourth time to recalibrate the fundamentals, focus on a certain area, or shake out new weapons, optics or equipment. Meanwhile, next to them a rookie patrolman is shooting a carbine for the first time. The class is unabashedly focused on fighting up-close with a rifle. All drills push toward aggressive employment of the weapon with a strong connection to developing and exercising combat mindset.
It is noteworthy that there were several of the EAG guns in class already, along with Pat and Assistant Instructor Mike Hueser’s personal copies. Over three days of hard training, the half-dozen BCM guns were fired across a variety of scenarios and through particularly muddy and wet conditions, due to the steady rain throughout much of the course.
The second and third training days emphasized shooting on the move and multiple targets. The layout of the EAG carbine shone in closing drills, allowing me to quickly point into targets and deliver fast center hits, despite the muddy footing and rain collecting on the Aimpoint’s lenses. The test gun ran flawlessly, gobbling up Black Hills cartridges through BCM, USGI, PMags, and TD ARC magazines.
The fighting carbine ingested a significant amount of water and mud as magazines were retrieved from puddles after reloads. It continued to chug along with no issues despite no cleaning and with minimal lubrication at 300-round intervals.
The features on this particular rifle all proved their worth at some point during the class. The Gunfighter charging handle provided helpful leverage in conducting immediate action drills during the malfunction portion of the class against the accumulated mud and grit. This is something one would not necessarily appreciate in fair weather or with a low-round-count maintenance cycle.
The fixed front sight post was used to good effect for the red dot failure practical exercise, allowing the optic to be run as a ghost ring and still achieve combat accuracy.
The SCAR panels protected the M4A1 shooters’ hands as the drills “heated up” and tended toward box drills and non-standard responses, pouring 5.56mm downrange. The exceptional balance mentioned earlier facilitated hits across the course in all scored drills, with the new carbines accounting for the high shooter and several of the next highest scores.
Several of the M4A1 users were experienced carbine shooters and veteran cops—the bullseye of the market this carbine is aimed at. Many are not gun junkies, able to sift through the various features and performance of the bewildering expanse of the AR market, but are knowledgeable enough to recognize that quality counts, and were reassured by BCM’s reputation for hard-use endurance. The shooters appreciated the package set-up on the M4A1, which enabled them to focus on building skill rather than selecting and bolting on accessories. As a group, they were enthusiastic about the EAG guns’ performance and features, and to a man they were better shooters when they left the course than when they arrived. Several were hoarding their training certificates toward future EAG classes, joining the ranks of repeat students.
Among numerous law enforcement and military trainers, the EAG course is considered the standard for a strong foundation in fighting with the rifle.
The BCM M4A1 provides a jump start to gaining that foundation; something that Paul Buffoni is particularly proud of. His hope is that real-deal users will take the carbine to EAG’s class and gain lifesaving skills as well as become more informed consumers.
On the rifle market, there are many options that are difficult to distinguish cosmetically and appear to have similar features. Opening the plain brown BCM box, the user is really only able to see that it is an attractive package. But by taking the M4A1 to a class like EAG’s and running it hard, the shooter can appreciate how well it’s built and what truly makes it special: its reliability, accuracy and toughness during hard use and adverse conditions.