By Graham Baates YouTube personality, Graham Baates, gives us a video review of the Bear Creek Arsenal Bear Essential Rifle in .223W.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Panic buys of the Obama era made the AR-15 an incredibly common rifle. Whether they were interested or not thousands bought their first rifle (or fifth) in fear of not being able to buy another. Prices went up with demand as supply dwindled. Lately, we've enjoyed relatively increased availability as demand has dropped and supply increased. While some now shop for an ultra-premium build or build there own, the increased commonality has also helped open the hobby to new shooters who may have previously seen the AR as intimidating.
The extreme modularity of the platform as supported by an immense aftermarket cannot be denied. Parts providing the same function can range in price by a factor of ten or more, so where does one start If they're not yet familiar with the platform and just wants an affordable place to start, or affordable rifle to build upon. Bear Creek Arsenal, a known source of affordable barrels and parts has created the Bear Essential Rifle and offers it chambered in both .223 Wylde and 7.62×39 for a price of about $400. For this article, we took a look at the .223 Wylde version. The video below takes a look at build quality and will be followed by technical specifications.
Specifications as received from the Bear Creek Arsenal product page.
- 16″ M4 Contour Barrel
- 4150 Chrome Moly Vanadium
- Parkerized Finish
- 1:7 Twist
- 15″ MLOK Rail
- .223 Wylde Caliber
- Carbine Length Gas System
- M4 Flat Top Forged Upper Receiver
- BCA Standard BCG
- Charging Handle
- Bird Cage Flash Hider
As you can see, this rifle seems almost too good to be true. Although the price reflects closer to the actual cost of the rifle when not hyped up by brand, it's still an uncommon value. Wanting to believe the rifle would perform, but somewhat leery the GBGuns team consisting of Graham Baates, Burgundy.Bomber, and Maddy_A.R hit the range for a rather unconventional though realistic test.
With Mil-Spec parts magazine compatibility was not tested, and though the build could lend itself to most any use, we decided to jump right to accuracy testing. A Nikon FX1000 4-16×50 was mounted in a Warne XSKEL and zeroed. We shot six different, commonly-available loads from 55gr to 77gr including options from Barnaul, Black Hills, DoubleTap (Ted Nugent load), Fiocchi, Winchester, and Wolf. The realism comes from using a simple rest and having each shooter put five rounds of each load into the target. The result was a 15-shot group representing the performance of the rifle with three different shooters of different skill levels. Results of the test and more details are in the video below.
The results were better than expected. With above-average ammunition performance was excellent for such an affordable rifle. A few relatively inexpensive upgrades or some premium ammunition would likely produce even better results. An interesting point of note, however, was the perceived sensitivity to projectile weight. We've tested rifles that could produce similar groups nearly regardless of bullet weight. Perhaps it's the 16″ barrel limiting stabilization time, or the type of rifling. Regardless the Bear Creek Arsenal Bear Essential Rifle proved to be a great value. We did not expect a tack driver, nor did we find one. What we did find though was a rifle that was 100% reliable, even with steel-cased ammunition that can sometimes bind in .223 Wydle chambers. I would not hesitate at all to recommend the Bear Essential Rifle as an affordable option for a new shooter looking to get into the AR platform.
About Graham Baates
“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the local 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel on the side. Visit Graham on Youtube .