Bear Creek Arsenal Bear Essential Rifle Review ~ VIDEOS

By Graham Baates YouTube personality, Graham Baates, gives us a video review of the Bear Creek Arsenal Bear Essential Rifle in .223W.

Bear Creek Arsenal Bear Essential Rifle Review
Bear Creek Arsenal Bear Essential Rifle Review

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
Author Graham Baates testing the Bear Essential Rifle

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 .

  • 18 thoughts on “Bear Creek Arsenal Bear Essential Rifle Review ~ VIDEOS

    1. Have a 10.5 upper from bear creek with red dot scope it is a tack driver from 100 yards to 250 yards . shot coyote at 200 yards running straight away across a valley. Head shot after 2 ar15s with scopes missed .sometimes shorter is better!

    2. I just purchased a POF USA AR-10, P308 EDGE Gen4 SPR with NP3 coating. Q; Why did I pay the premium? A; Because Frank DeSomma won’t hire illegals to build POF hardware! The excuse about not knowing is exactly that, an excuse.

    3. BCA doesn’t actually make anything. They buy all their parts elsewhere, and assemble them. The difference is in the attention to detail used in assembly. And remember, “mil-spec” is the bottom rung on the quality scale. Sloppiest tolerances, minimal accuracy requirements, only has to go bang- most of the time! I would not buy anything “mil-spec” except magazines. I did “mil-spec” at the office for 37 years, and learned that for pennies to dollars more, one can vastly exceed “mil-spec”.

      1. You really dont know about Bear Creek they mill the lowers the uppers and build their own barrels i know thid first hand i live in the same town i know a few people that worked there yes they build as much as all the others

    4. I took a chance and bought a 6.5 Grendel 20″barrel complete upper from BCA right before the ICE raid. After that I had my doubts about what I had just bought and the general consensus I found among Grendel enthusiasts was not to expect too much. I took it out for the first time this weekend, and like the article says, it’s not a tack driver, but still shoots well. It certainly will fill my needs for a hunting AR at less than 200 yards. One thing I don’t get, BCA’s website talks about having an ISO 9002 quality system on several pages. The ISO 9002 standard was dropped with the 2000 revision of the ISO 9000 series standards. Either this is a mistake and they’re registered under ISO 9001 or they are just doing their own thing with an out of date quality standard.

    5. The management in charge of hiring are not trained to detect very professionally made fake documents. As a retired Border Patrol Agent, I can’t say they are to blame for hiring persons that illegally entered the US. Some speak perfect English too. Now if the staff had a background in forensic documents or knowingly hired them then I would not do business with them. I believe the staff was fooled by the fake documents and I will most likely do business with them. Now that the illegal aliens we’re caught by ICE I am sure the staff will scrutinize the job applicants much more closely than before.

    6. I bought an upper receiver from Bear Creek Arsenal and although I’ve had accuracy issues with it one thing I will say is their customer service is as good as any. Their warranty is unbelievable.

    7. Sorry I refuse to buy anything from or pay attention to a company that hires illegal immigrants. This is especially true for a firearms manufacturer. Just Google them and ICE and see what pops up and you’ll know why there items are so cheap.

      1. Why the hate though i understand they are here illegally and such but there is no reason to refuse to buy product made by said immigrants.

        1. If they are here illegally, they are not immigrants. Immigration is a legal process. Key words- legal, and process. If they are here illegally, they are criminal infiltrators. Key word- criminal. AR’s are not rocket science. They could hire Vets, or high school kids for the same salaries.

        2. Oh for Christ sake, you sound just like Pelosi, “Just because they’re here illegally doesn’t mean they’re doing anything illegal”!!!! Are you frigging kidding me!!

        3. @Ryker, It is not hate. It is jealousy on my part. They get to disobey the law, with no consequences, and I do not. And that is just the crimes of being here and remaining here. What about the drug smuggling, raping and murdering. Yep, pure jealousy.

    8. I’ll agree that BCA prices tend to be great. I have had mixed results with build quality and customer service. One of their G17 barrels for a build. Cheap and performs reasonably well. .458 upper. Had to send it back twice to get them to fix feed issues. Still wasn’t happy. Was headspaced improperly, feed ramp was crude. Burned a lot of not cheap ammo trying to work it in. Gave up eventually and sold.

    9. I bought a bca 224. Valkyrie. Tore it apart, lapped the receiver and at 100 yds it holds dime size groups with 75 great federal. The cost of the upper was $225. Far out preformed my expectations.

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