Just a little over a year ago, I connected with a couple of folks over at Bear Creek Arsenal (BCA) and started conversations about the possibility of reviewing some of their products. To be honest, I was a little hesitant about the prospect. While I had never personally tried any of their products, I had seen a few mixed opinions about one of their products. However, I receive regular requests from readers to cover all sorts of guns for various applications at different price points. As such, the conversations continued until we finally settled on reviewing one of their bufferless BC-9 9mm rifles, which is for all intents and purposes a value priced pistol caliber carbine (PCC), that I finally got my hands on a couple of months ago.
I must say I’m quite impressed with the BC-9. It has some quirks and, like one might expect from a value priced firearm, is a little rough around the edges. However, it’s been remarkably reliable and has some interesting features which I’ll cover in this review.
Before we get deep in the weeds, I’ll start by disclosing my relationship with Bear Creek Arsenal. As of writing, I do not have a financial relationship with Bear Creek Arsenal. However, they did provide me with the BC-9 free of charge in exchange for an honest review. And as always, I will do my very best to provide an unbiased review. With that out of the way, let’s look at the blaster.
The street price for one of these bufferless BC-9s is just north of $600 depending on available sales. For that $600, one can expect:
- The stockless rifle,
- A manual,
- A cable lock,
- And a cardboard box.
The entire package is a little light in my opinion. The very first thing that I noticed was the lack of a magazine, which is mentioned clearly on the BCA website but I failed to notice. I reached out to BCA and learned that they don’t include magazines in the package in order to keep a streamlined operation that allows them to quickly fulfill orders without having to manage inventory for magazine capacity restricted areas which also helps keep the prices of the rifles down. The good news is that all of the BC-9 accept Glock 17/19 compatible magazines and the good ole PMAG 27s are relatively cheap and easy to find.
The next thing I noticed was the lack of a buttstock. Again this is evident in the description of the product and the product images on the BCA website. However, it is an accessory that will lighten a wallet by at least one Benjamin ($100) if not more. It’s not the end of the world and even with having to pick up a few magazines and an inexpensive buttstock, the total package price is still in what I would consider a value priced price range for PCC. Given that, regardless of price range, most PCCs in the market today don’t include a sighting system, as is the case with the BC-9, I wasn’t expecting for the BC-9 to be range ready out of the box.
It’s time to walk the hefty 6.5 lbs PCC from muzzle to butt, which begins with the muzzle device. I’m fairly certain it’s a flash hider, but I’m not entirely sure. Either way, the device has diagonal slots that reminds me somewhat of spiral fluting that is something found on barrels. It’s not fancy, but it’s not a traditional A2 birdcage style device.
The muzzle device is threaded onto a 16” parkerized M4 barrel that features a 1:10 twist rate. The barrel is then surrounded by a rather clunky octagonal shaped 15” long handguard that features six or so full length MLOK compatible slots centered along the right, left, bottom, and 45º surfaces. The slots on the right and left surfaces are surrounded by a couple of QD swivel compatible attachment points. The top of the hand guard offers two small Picatinny rail sections at the frontmost and rearmost portions of the handguard. The handguard isn’t pretty and feels a little heavy, but it’s functional and is secured with four pairs of hex head screws in four different directions.
You may have noticed I’ve made no mention of a gas block or gas tube. This is not an omission. The rifle is not gas operated, but rather blow-back operated. As such there is no gas system or pistol.
Next up is the proprietary billet upper receiver which is compatible with AR-15 patterned lower receivers. The top of the flat-top receiver is adorned with a Picatinny rail. Within the receiver, we find the BC9 bolt carrier group which includes a steel guide rod and recoil spring that terminate in the buffer plug found in the lower receiver where the receiver extension (or buffer tube depending on your preferred nomenclature) would be installed. On the right side of the upper receiver, we find the ejection port along with a cutout that allows the charging handle which is attached to the right side of the bolt carrier to reciprocate during operation.
The billet lower receiver is essentially an AR-15 pattern receiver with the exception of the magazine well and controls that are necessary to allow Glock 17/19 compatible magazines to be accepted. As such, we find the controls in the typical locations. That is the bolt catch/release and safety on the left hand side with the magazine release button on the right. The trigger system appears and feels to be exactly what one would find in a mil-spec lower parts kit. The grip is a standard A2 style grip. Along the back of the lower receiver, we find a cap that encloses the buffer extension plug and is necessary in order to retain the spring and detent that work with the rear takedown pin. The rear of the receiver cap is adorned with a section of Picattiny rail where a 1913 rail compatible stock or folding sock can be attached.
The tolerances between the upper and lower receivers are a little loose and allow for a little play between them. While this doesn’t appear to present a functional problem, it does contribute to the budget friendly feel of the rifle.
Due to the nature of the bufferless system, the disassembly process for cleaning and maintenance (or field stripping if you will) is a little different than the process one would expect for a AR pattern rifle with a buffer. Instead of being able to disengage the rear takedown pin and tilt the upper receiver forward which is sufficient for basic cleaning, one has to disengage both take down pins and carefully separate the lower and upper receivers by pulling the upper receiver forward just enough to negotiate the recoil spring interface with the lower receiver. It took a tiny bit of effort to figure the disassembly out since the included manual, which is a little out of date, only covers the disassembly of AR-15 and AR-10 pattern rifles without any mention of the bufferless system. Anyone in a similar position should checkout the Bear Creek Arsenal YouTube channel as there are several videos there that address the details of the newer products that haven’t made it into the manual.
That’s the rifle in a nutshell. It’s not the prettiest thing and has a bit of a budget feel to it. That aside it’s a hoot to shoot. After procuring a few PMAG 27s, a stock tube with a lightweight stock from Midwest Industries, and slapping the Primary Arms MD-25 micro red dot, I wasted no time in getting this PCC out to the range to get it sighted in and run some simple drills.
Given the lack of magnification combined with my visual prowess and the ACSS reticle on the optic, I sighted the PCC in for 25 yards and shot several hundred rounds at distances ranging from 3 to 25 yards. It ran reliably without a single hiccup and was precise enough for work at those ranges. I did, however, pick up on another quirk – the bolt doesn’t lock back after the last round is fired. Not a big deal, but it’s a good thing to know.
Having been pleasantly surprised with how well it ran at the range, I decided that shooting a local IDPA match with it would be a good way to further test and evaluate the PCC. So that’s what I did. Ending up with a second place PCC division finish was surprising. Especially, since this was my very first time shooting in that division. I don’t consider my performance particularly stellar since many of the top PCC competitors were not present, but I’ll take the win. More importantly for this review, the PCC held up under match pressure. I did have one failure to fire malfunction, but there was no evidence to suggest that the ammunition wasn’t at fault.
The BC-9 reminds me of that first car one gets as a teenager as soon as one could afford a car after getting their driver license. The inexpensive clunker that wasn’t much to look at and probably sounded a little off when it was running, but no one can deny that it can be counted on to get one from point A to point B again and again.
With only a little under 500 rounds through the BC-9 so far, it’s too early to tell for sure how well the rifle will hold up long term. My current plan is to continue to shoot it at local matches for the foreseeable future. Given an expected frequency of 2 to 3 matches per month, it shouldn’t take long before this rifle has a couple thousand rounds through it. As such, I suspect it will get at least a couple of follow up reviews within the next year. Especially, since I don’t have any plans of evaluating another PCC any time soon.
All things considered, my current opinion of the Bear Creek Arsenal BC-9 is that it is a solid option for folks who are looking for a value priced PCC in 9mm. It could play a role as a home defense rifle and I suspect the Glock magazine compatibility is a significant bonus for folks who are already invested into Glock pistols (or clones). Folks who are looking for a low priced entry point into competing in PCC divisions should also consider this as a potential option. This rifle can also be a budget friendly option to become familiar or introduce others to AR pattern rifles given the operation and controls are identical and 9mm ammunition is considerably more affordable.