You might ask why amidst an avalanche of reviewed, customized, and one-off custom AR-15s, why I keep going back to Barnes Precision Machine (BPM)? There are certainly fancier or cooler looking ARs and parts out there. However, BPM continues delivering the best value for the buyer of anything I have found on the market; all paired with sub-MOA match grade precision. My BPM-15s outshoot the vast majority of my upgraded guns. In fact, my BPM rifles even outshoot some of my own full-on insanely custom rifles. Just one of many reasons why I voted the BPM rifle as a top rifle in my Best Budget AR-15 Shootout. BPM rifles are far from standard and are exceptional shooting guns for the price.
Last year Barnes Precision added AR-15 pistols to the model lineup as exceptional sport and defense tools—I had to have one. Beyond a review of the BPM-15 Pistol, this article also showcases the NP3 Parts Upgrade package available from Barnes Precision Machine for any AR-15 rifle or pistol.
Who is BPM?
Generally, as a reviewer of a continuous stream of AR-15 rifles, I must strain a bit to understand the benefits X brand delivers versus Y brand… because in most cases 99% of AR-15 manufacturers all use the same parts from the same OEM manufacturers. Barnes is one of those OEM manufacturers on that list who makes parts for the biggest names in the industry.
With Barnes making nearly every part in-house, they can assure every part they use comes together in the highest quality optimal fashion. The result is a tighter fitting and feeling rifle with a higher potential for exceptional accuracy.
Barnes has both the build and part quality perfect. What sets them apart is the 100% in-house production, excluding springs, trigger, and furniture. There are approximately four manufacturers in the U.S. that are making 95% of the AR-15 parts in-house. LMT, Daniel Defense, Colt, and Barnes Precision. However, there are a few others starting to pop up here and there. The even smaller handful of manufacturers like Barnes who are making detents, take-down pins, forward assists, bolts, and carriers—yes, insanely, Barnes turns their own freaking tiny little spring detents.
BPM does not do it because it’s cool
Many manufacturers are creating ARs and AR accessories because they look cooler than the original. Do they work better? In a word, no. Generally, it is about blinging out your AR versus adding any real level of performance. Barnes Precision takes a different route with the belief that the overall AR-15 platform and design is excellent as is. With some smart tweaks, it can make it exponentially better without huge cost increases which still maintain the integrity of a Mil-Spec rifle.
Barnes adds in real honest and true AR-15 functional innovative improvements that do make their BPM-15 better versus prettier. Little things on the BPM AR-15 make a difference like:
- A captured take-down detent spring that does not go flying out when you remove the buffer tube.
- A tight receiver-to-receiver fit that you can even tighten with an internal receiver tension screw.
- A sub-MOA match grade barrel included even in their least expensive rifles, and softer shooting mid-length gas systems.
BPM includes their own Barnes Nickel (NiBo)-Boron-coated bolt carrier group and very nice lockable hard-sided Patriot Case with die-cut foam inserts for no additional charge.
There are other innovative design concepts that BPM pioneered to improve reliability and durability of the AR-15 platform. The in-house-made bolt’s cam pin hole is reamed versus peened which increases the strength of the bolt. BPM designed the first long extended barrel nut design for free-float handguards that does not require indexing, allows perfect torquing of the barrel, and delivers a significantly stronger rigid handguard—in my opinion, it is the most solid in the industry. The design is so rigid that certain Military units are using the handguard to mount precision sighting systems. BPM was also the first in the industry to offer NP3 coating on AR-15s not because it was cool looking, but because it protected all those typical phosphate-coated parts from rust and corrosion in a marine environment. Of course, all these notable features are included in the BPM-15 pistol as well.
Almost all of BPM’s product development is in collaboration with military and law enforcement. During the period when BPM was just making AR-15 parts, that collaboration led to the push for the development of the BPM rifle, the unique and rigid handguard system as well as the NP3 coating. BPM also went back to those military and law enforcement teams during the development of the BPM AR-15 pistol. There are reasons for each feature on every rifle and their AR-15 pistol design which amount to a firearm far higher quality than the price would indicate.
Not just another AR-15 pistol
Back in 2014, I had several discussions with Andrew Barnes, president BPM around his newly released AR-15 pistols. His perspective was that he did not want to offer an AR-15 pistol because everyone else had one. He wanted to assure it could be a tool for military, law enforcement, and civilians from a practical perspective. With the rise of the SIG Brace and civilian comfort with Trusts to register short barreled rifles (SBR), he believed there was a niche. Input from his military and LEO contacts indicated wanting a fast AR-15 pistol or SBR that could get in and out of vehicles fast with all the same features as the BPM-15 rifle, including very good accuracy. College campus security wanted something light and fast that could address a terroristic threat, yet light and small enough to carry every day on the golf carts and Segways used on campuses.
The base of the pistol is the same as their rifles, but with a shorter 7.5-inch match grade barrel, shorter handguard, and Sig Brace with an extended buffer tube. The result is a civilian legal short, fast and powerful defensive and sport pistol that is a tool versus an AR-15 pistol toy.
The handguard, for instance, is not the cool looking extended over muzzle length style because the handguard length is sized to assure clearance of any muzzle device or suppressor without worrying about handguard interference. Barnes also used a heavier barrel to assure it could the demands of sustained continuous fire versus a faster heating thin skinny barrel. Instead of just slipping a SIG Brace on the back of a standard pistol buffer tube, BPM used a KAK Industry buffer tube to provide a more comfortable shooter platform with the SIG Brace. The end result is a tight, well-thought-out AR-15 pistol useable right out-of-the-box as a defense and shooting tool. It can be easily converted to a shoulder stocked SBR with the properly acquired tax stamp also.
Barnes Precision Machine – BPM Robar NP3 and Melonited Marine AR-15
Almost every other manufacturer who offers some fancy diamond hard finish is only at best delivering an upper and lower receiver with a really hard finish. The problem is that they are coating the hard-anodized items which are already the most impervious to corrosion. Hard anodizing is extremely impervious the corrosion. When only focusing on the receivers, all the other phosphate parts are left exposed which can rust or corrode quickly in a marine or wet environment. Barnes was the first to offer 100% NP3-coated firearms with the receivers plus every other part housed in the receiver plus the flash hider being NP3 coated. Now they are offering another upgrade option for any BPM or other AR-15 owners which addresses all the vulnerable phosphate parts; enter the BPM NP3 parts upgrade package.
The package includes NP3-coated trigger assembly pins, a trigger set, ejection door components, forward assist components, charging handle, the selector, the take-down and pivot-pins, the springs, castle nut, egg plate, even the detents, the handguard bolts, barrel nut, crush washer, and flash hider are treated. On my model, the stainless match barrel, gas block, and gas tube are all Nitrocarburization-treated inside and out. This treatment makes it better than chrome because it delivers superior corrosion resistance and does not degrade accuracy like chrome can.
In the end, the coatings deliver a totally corrosion-resistant AR. All this was done not to deliver the stunning custom looking AR-15 it has become. The reason was simply to increase corrosion-resistant performance around saltwater environments. Andrew Barnes was quick to point out, “the cool factor is only a side benefit…it’s all about performance.”
My testing did not center around testing accuracy perse. Rather, testing the pistol for what it was designed for – fast shooting on man-sized targets from 0-300 yards. For this task, I attached an Israeli Mepro 21 sight—a proven one of the best combat reflex sights on the market. My Mepro 21 features the triangle dual (fiber optic and tritium) illuminated reticle. Frankly, I love this optic and it proved perfect for this BPM15 Pistol.
Once I established a 25-yard zero and confirmed no additional tweaks were needed at 300 yards, I started having A LOT of fun. With my steel action targets set at 25, 100, 200, and 300 yards, I was extremely impressed with how easy the Barnes pistol was to shoot. They had done their homework with all the design points I previously incorporated into my custom AR-15 pistol build. Headshots at 200-yards anyone? Yep, I was able to keep my hostage 6-inch swinger swaying on the 200-yard line. Of course, I missed a few shots here and there. However, for an AR-15 pistol, this and a serious pistol for serious work whether that be defense or sport.
AR-15 pistols are of course just as legal and easy to acquire as any other handgun through your local FFL. An AR-15 pistol is a great path to acquiring a short barrel rifle complete with any rifle shoulder stock you might want. A buyer can purchase and enjoy the AR-15 pistol while waiting for ATF SBR tax stamp to come through; then swap out the SIG Brace for a rifle stock. I cannot wait to push my SBR stamp through on this build to convert from pistol to short barrel rifle.
Back in 2014, I was very skeptical of the usefulness of an AR-15 pistol in home and urban environments. Today I stand converted. Once I shot the well-designed AR-15 pistol and realized how quick the gun is for urban home interiors, I began to believe that the AR-15 pistol is actually the best home defense option, combining the accuracy, power, and capacity of the AR-15 with the maneuverability of a pistol. This BPM-15 pistol embodies that concept perfectly.
Features and Specifications
- SIG SB15 Stabilizing Brace and Magpul MOE grip
- Magpul MBUS sights with front sight adjustment tool
- 7.5-inch SS 300 Blackout
- BPM A2-style flash hider / breaching tip
- Exceptional commercial grade, semi-auto AR-15 fire control group
- BPM bolt carrier group with Nickel Boron coating
- Mil-Spec 7075 forged upper and lower
- Upper receiver and lower receiver hard anodized to Mil-Spec Type III specifications
- All BPM Inc. lowers feature adjustable tension screw and detent retention set screw for rear take down pin detent
- Pistol-length gas system
- 7.5-inch 416 stainless steel barrel blanks, CNC machined in house with 300 Blackout chambers
- BPM Inc. PSFFRS Ultra-lite Extreme 7-inch handguard complete with quick detach sling swivel inserts, FDE Cerakote
- Every BPM rifle ships with Patriot AR case with custom high-density foam inserts, user manual with warranty and one Magpul PMAG
Do you have an AR-15 pistol? What are your thoughts? Share what you think in the comment section.