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The AR-15 is a dirty, dirty girl. The gas expansion system it uses to operate sprays hot carbon all over the internal parts of the gun every time it cycles, leaving a baked-on layer of gritty, nasty gunk that can clog up your rifle and make it stop working. It sucks, and the traditional method to keep your gun running sucks even more: regular and thorough maintenance. I mean, this is 2014, surely there’s a way I can throw money at the problem and make it go away, right? That’s where Cryptic Coatings comes in with their new bolt carrier groups . . .

Cryptic Coatings (or “CC” due to laziness) is a new company that specializes in extra slippery bolt carriers. The concept is that by coating the bolt carrier with a tough yet slick coating, the gun can keep working long after the lube has evaporated. It also makes for quick cleaning of the bolt carrier group, since the coating is so slick that carbon fouling has a hard time sticking to it.

promo_mystic_gold_ar15_bolt_carrier

Where CC has started catching people’s attention is the look of their bolt carrier groups rather than the coating itself. Where most people are still drooling over standard nickel boron coated BCGs, CC has gone ahead and made them in colors including gold and bronze which may be of particular interest to third world dictators and aspiring rap music artists who may have had a hard time “bling”-ing out their guns while keeping them functional up until now.

I was approached by CC and asked to test out their bolt carrier group myself to see if it worked as advertised, and while I was hoping to get the “YOLO” edition gold colored BCG, they sent the Mystic Black model instead. Which I’m fine with, since it seems to have the best specs out of the entire line.

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Speaking of specs, the listed claims for this specific BCG are pretty wild. CC claims a coefficient of friction of 0.01, which is four times as slippery as lubricated Teflon rubbing against itself. They also claim that the coating is good up to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, almost twice as hot as nickel boron can get before it starts to fail. In short the thing is as slippery and tough as you can make it, kind of like a metallic version of Travis Haley dunked in motor oil.

Playing with the bolt carrier group, it does seem to be much more slippery than anything else I have tested. Even the nickel boron BCG in my 300 BLK rifle seems like sandpaper compared to the glass smooth finish on CC’s product. In fact, the finish is so mirror smooth that you can see reflections in the coating.

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After thinking about the best way to test the claims that Cryptic Coatings makes — namely that the BCG makes for smoother recoil, faster cyclic rates, easier cleaning, and reduced fouling — I figured I would just throw it in the worst scenario I could think of. Suppressed SBR rifle for maximum back pressure and fouling entering the chamber. No oil or lube whatsoever on the bolt. Periodic rest periods face down in the Texas dirt. And a grand total of 500 rounds fired through the gun in one sitting, shooting as fast as I could load the magazines.

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I may have gone a little rougher on the testing than intended. The gun was so hot by the time the last hundred rounds were fired that I was no longer holding on to the barrel — the closest I could come without burning myself was holding the magazine and gripping pretty far down on the pistol grip. Heck, by round 450 the trigger had become searingly hot to the touch. But throughout the entire test, the rifle continued to function flawlessly with not one single malfunction and no noticeable impact on the operation of the gun. Even when loading a fresh magazine, the bolt locked all the way to the rear on the last round and always slammed home with authority.

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When I was done, the bolt looked pretty rough. The entire thing was covered in carbon and it had lost its shine. But all of that carbon build-up was easily removed — this image shows the difference between the bolt as it came out of the gun and a small section where all I did was lightly rub a Q-Tip against the bolt. The carbon melted straight off, and the bolt carrier readily returned to its starting condition.

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All it took was 30 seconds of rubbing the bolt with a cloth towel and it immediately returned to its original mirror finish. The only place where I had to scrub a bit to remove the carbon was the rear of the bolt, but even that took considerably less time and effort than with a traditional phosphate bolt carrier.

There is a drawback: the Mystic Black bolt carrier retails for about $275. That’s twice the price of a traditional bolt carrier group, but there are some definite tangible benefits. Cleaning is much easier, the reliability of the gun does increase, and the gun works longer. The claims that CC makes are all true — well, except the whole improved accuracy thing. I’m not entirely sure how the coating on a bolt carrier can magically improve accuracy, but it wasn’t a noticeable difference on my guns.

If I can offer one complaint about the bolt carrier group, it would be the price. The thing costs a good chunk of change, about $100 more than a nickel boron BCG from any of the other guys, and $100 more than Rubber City Armory’s “enhanced” BCG that Chris Cerino has been pimping. But $100 isn’t really that much in the grand scheme of things, and is a price I’m willing to pay if it means I can finish cleaning guns quicker and get back to doing more important things. Like finishing Metro: Last Light.

Specifications: Cryptic Coatings Bolt Carrier Group

  • Material: 8620 Aircraft Quality Steel
  • Warranty: Lifetime, transferable to new owners. 100% replacement guarantee.
  • Color: Black, silver, bronze, gold
  • Price: $275 / $235 / $235 / $235 respectively from the manufacturer

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fit, Finish, Quality * * * * *
It definitely seems like someone took care when making this. There are no stray machining marks, the finish is even and polished, and everything feels as chunky as it should.

Reliability * * * * *
I broke the firing pin retaining pin. Well, it probably broke itself, but that’s an expected replacement at 500 rounds for this gun and firing schedule. Nevertheless, the gun kept running no matter what I did to it.

Overall Rating * * * * *
Expensive, but it works as advertised and makes cleaning a snap. In my estimation, the benefits of the bolt carrier are definitely worth the price. Not for the reliability claims or anything else, but simply because it makes cleaning the BCG after a hard day of shooting an absolute breeze.

54 Responses to Gear Review: Cryptic Coatings Bolt Carrier Group

  1. Why did you have to mention Last Light. I just convinced myself that I can wait and pick up the remastered version later (it’s out now) and now I’m going to have a lighter wallet and a renewed fear of going outside with only 12 gas masks and 1,127 filters for them. On a related note would the AR-15 now have apocalypse suitable reliability or does the AK still get the, on Fallout-Day your guns going to jam while mine can run while glowing prime light?

    • Pretty sure I had about four hours worth of filters by the time I was done. Still not enough.

      The AK is nice, but I really want that quad barreled break-action shotgun. Blasting mutants in the face with one volley and seeing them go right down? Priceless.

      Really, firearms choice depends on where you are. In Europe, AK no question. But in the US, 5.56 is prevalent and spare parts are everywhere for the AR. So that’s my choice, simply based on ammo availability.

  2. Why not coat an entire gun in this stuff?

    Or all the spare parts I can buy on Brownell’s for all my guns? I would love to clean a gun in under 2 minutes!

    • Heh. Glad to see my thoughts mirrored in someone else’s comments.

      Price and perhaps the way the coating lays down on different materials.

  3. As a Proud Infidel, one can also cook Hickory Smoked Bacon on an AK. ;-D

    Alright I’ve got a dirty girl AR, and another complete lower, was considering the BCG from Bravo Co. Considering what I spent on the Geissele Tricon Super T trigger, this may get a closer look.
    Thanks Nick. Pretty darn slick.
    (Literally).

  4. Colour me impressed, since non-lubed carbine lenght surpressed DI gun isnt something I would expect going beyond 100 rounds. I wonder how it would pair with the JP captured buffer, since those seem to be the best update I’ve seen to the AR platform.

    • I will let you know (nearly two yrs later) as I have the Captured spring and I just ordered the BCG.

  5. Damn. I just spent an hour total on a Black Rain Ordnance nickel boron BCG and an Ares Armor (now I’m on the list) nickel boron BCG with Otis 085 and various brushes and scrapers. This looks really cool.

  6. This sounds like a good coating to put on other semi-automatic guns.
    I can say that I was never wild about the AR-15 gas operation, but I suppose it works.
    I will say that while the earlier Mini-14 I had was inaccurate, it was like the Energizer Bunny in that it would just keep chugging fine as long as it had Ruger magazines.

  7. Ive been on their website way before this review …Thanks affirming my thoughts with this review. I have the .308 version in mystic black

  8. That’s it I think I officially hate you now. You have cost me thousands of dollars with all your reviews 5.56 ,300blk,and 458 SOCOM I quit!!

    • After ten years, I managed to decipher the first line of the Voynich Manuscript. It starts:

      “There once was a hermit named Dave”

      I’m still working on the rest.

  9. The reality is that it’s a nice to have thing, but not absolutely necessary for a combat ready gun. And saying that the AR15 is dirty is misleading, as if it’s the only one. ALL self loading actions get filthy dirty, because they ALL pass powder residue back over the brass as the action unlocks, dumping it into the works.

    What we don’t see are side by side comparisons, and when you do, then reality soaks in. Fire 450 rounds thru a .30 cal battle rifle like the G3, FNFAL, M14 etc. You WILL get a nasty bolt and have to clean the action just as much on them. With the AR15, tho, it’s a lot more likely. Low recoil and cheap ammo means more shooters will dump more ammo than a big caliber fan will.

    I don’t doubt the coatings do what they are advertised to do, what has happened is that there are more shooters mislead about the blowback from self loading actions and what it takes a soldier in combat to do – which is keep all the mud, grit, brush, and gunk off it so the weapon continues to function. It’s not about the residue, Colt has tested and we know the guns will function thru two basic loads – over 800 rounds – without a stoppage. That is a LOT of combat, and since combat isn’t continuous, it’s not hard for the well trained soldier to simply wipe down and lube his weapon in a lull – which his experienced combat supervisor will direct him to do.

    It’s the unknowledgeable civilian shooter and owner who hears the constant drumbeat of “The AR is a nasty gun” who buys into the whole culture of overcompensation.It’s basically marketing by businesses and ego trolling by fanboys who keep perpetuating the myth – when the reality is that all the self loading actions ever invented share the problem, and it’s not so bad that the weapons are critically inadequate. And that is because the engineers made them more than adequately protected by design because they never had the coatings to use.

    Just keep it lubed and wiped down. Even the pros stop with that – because the issuing agencies aren’t bothering. Maintenance has to be done regardless, and that answers the problem up front.

    • Tirod is a bench warmer. Cool not story bro. Maybe one day you will shoot a GI issue peice of shit Colt and go black on ammo in a foreign country, but not before having massive problems with premature failures of your rifle due to chinese made imported parts. The struggle is real couch potato and it’s not at your local range. What an idiot!

      • Preach brother, Tirod I agree it’s all gravy until you are in a forward combat area, where sand, unburned powder, high winds, and enemy fire are bad enough, but having your M4, (that has clearly been abused in every fashion imaginable) fails in the middle of a firefight, due to a broken bolt and extractor, that also took out my firing pin, it’s not something you wish to have repeated and I would and did take any advantage to improve my weapons reliability.I would have shelled out more than 275 USD to improve reliability and cut down on length of maintenance intervals. Anything I could do to not have to repair my primary weapon any more times than I had to, there are few things worse than feeling naked and being concerned that you brothers in arms who depend on you are in danger because the parts that just failed you were made by the lowest bidder on a Friday afternoon. Just remember talk is cheap until you feel the, concrete spalling in your face and you can actually see the glint and hear the sound of incoming rounds in the hot ass sun. You would be surprised how many rounds you can get downrange when you and your brothers are in the hot seat. But hey, what would I know???

  10. If it wasn’t 275 bucks I’d probably go for it, especially if I was building a new rifle. Maybe when I get to building a .300 blackout I’ll throw one of these at it. Maybe.

    Or I’ll just invest in a sonic cleaner because I’m lazy and that would make it easier to clean up after a range day.

  11. I use young manufacturing bolt carrier group s. I’ve used them since 1996 and never had an issue, however I am very interested in the would like to know more about them.

  12. Now if they made a lightweight carrier with the fancy coatings….

    The operating window is supposedly lower when it comes to filth in the works for the lighter carriers (never compared on vs other, but my JP runs, so ), so a magic coating on one of the lightweight carriers, well that might be tits.

  13. “I mean, this is 2014, surely there’s a way I can throw money at the problem and make it go away, right?”

    Well, you could buy a progressive press, powder, primers and pills to suit your purpose and load your own ammo with cleaner burning powder.

    You could even load your ammo with powder that reduces copper fouling in the barrel (eg, CFE-223).

    You could invest in a piston gas system.

    You could invest in a second BCG and an ultrasonic cleaning tank.

    There are all sorts of ways to deal with the issue of powder fouling in the DI AR-15 action.

    As to these super-hard coatings: While PVD or CVD coatings on a BCG sounds sexy, it might not be as good an investment as what the benchrest folks have been getting out of using the same type of technology on barrels. When you coat the bore of a barrel with this type of deposited, ultra-hard, ultra-slick coating, you can see increased barrel life, very little fouling and those two issues add up to less money spent on an accurate rifle on a per-round basis.

  14. I would rather get a good piston driven AR with a standard nickel boron coated BCG or NP3 coating for the BCG. The Bolt and trigger would stay cool so the 1000 degree CC Temp rating is meaningless in a piston driven weapon. I have both and the BCG in my Piston Driven POF is always clean and cool.

  15. Question is, shoot a few hundred rounds through it then leave it for 2 weeks then try to clean it…. So far every time I do that with a nick-bor bcg I end up having to use extra elbow grease… That would mimic a realistic lazy shooter cleaning pattern.

    • Better yet… Shoot 200 rounds each weekend for 4 weeks in a row. No cleaning between trips. I did that with my suppressed Adams Arms 11.5″ SBR. It is a piston gun, but I definitely won’t ever do that again! It took me a couple of hours to get through all the soot.

  16. I do not own one of these but I have a LWRC that has a Nickel Boron coated bolt and let me tell you I wish I had that for the 13 years I was in the Marine Corp. Clean up is a snap.

  17. Unless the barrel is orangy-looking and starting to droop, it’s not really hot.

    Of course, it helps to have full-auto to get there.

  18. The AR industry is full of fads and gimmicks to part you from your money. Backed up by Internet mythes if reliability problems.

    This BCG is a total waste of money.

    Gas piston AR’s are a solution looking for a problem.

    Frog Lube, Slick 2000, KY……as BS IMHO.

    Fancy cleaning tools, carbon scrapers…..BS.

    This…

    http://vuurwapenblog.com/2010/08/27/cleaning-your-ar-15-is-pretty-much-a-waste-of-time/

    The original M-16 had some issues that were gun/powder/user combined. The powder was fixed. Some minor tweaks were made to the system (Chrome-lined barrel and chamber). Users were trained to know that the AR platform needs more oil than previous guns. In 2014 there are no problems with the AR that are not user induced.

    IMHO all you need to do is around every 500 rounds of use, pull out the BCG, take it apart, wipe it all down with paper towels, apply liberal amounts of CLP and slap it back together. I say 500 rounds but there are plenty of tests out there that say even that is not needed.

    If you can’t pull it apart for whatever reason (in the field) throws some CLP at it.

    • ^^This. To each his own but my non super duper coated BCGs run just fine on Mobile 1. I drank the frog lube koolaid briefly but quickly switched back to Mobil 1 after cold weather issues.

      • Yeah mobile one is even cheaper than CLP. A car engine works 1000 times harder than any AR at temps as high or higher.

      • Indeed, my own “special sauce” gun lube is a mixture of Mobil 1 synthetic (or similar) motor oil, ATF (Dextron-III or similar) and Marvel Mystery oil or similar semi-penetrating oil.

        After mixing one batch of it years ago, I can barely tell I’ve put a dent in it.

        Gun lubes just aren’t that high-tech. In a pinch, I’d go with ATF over most any other lube if I had to walk into a store and buy one lube “right now” to lube guns.

        • Interesting mixture. Care to share the ratios of those three ingredients your special brew? I’ve been using Mobil 1 synthetic with good results, but I’m curious to try this concoction.

        • Do a web search for “DIY gun oil” and/or “Home brew gun oil”. ” I’ve used a variation of “Bug Juice”, consisting of the leftovers (bottle residuals – they do add up) from oil changes in the family vehicles (choice of Mobil 1, Car Quest full synthetic, Walmart Super Tech 5w-30); I prefer “Type F” AT fluid, but Honda CVT leaves the oil a slightly greenish tinge rather than the bright pink from conventional U.S. types; STP; and a penetrating oil like Liguid Wrench. Do not use WD-40 for this purpose.

          12 oz Synthetic, 6 oz ATF (which is also synthetic, since the 60s), 3 oz each of STP and
          LW yields a little less than a quart – maybe a lifetime supply.

    • “Gas piston AR’s are a solution looking for a problem.”

      You do realize that all ARs are gas piston ARs, right? 😛

      • Really??? Don’t think so.

        Yes both use “gas”.

        However one is a DI or DGI “Direct Impingement or Direct Gas Impingement” normally referred to as a “DI AR” and the other is Gas Piston…PISTON being the key word. I used the word piston.

        98% of M-16/M-14, AR 15’s are DI guns. Gas Piston AR’s were, like this fancy coated BCG, a solution to a non-problem. Gas Piston guns only really make sense in very short SBR’s (10inch?) that are also suppressed as the DI guns need proper amounts of gas length/dwell time to function reliably and very short DI guns have to be tweaked (buffer, buffer spring, over sized gas ports etc) to get them working good.

  19. I just got my Mystic Black BCG the other day, and it is really nice. However, the downside is that it closed on the “No Go” gauge. Hoping to send it back and get a properly milled bolt. Can’t chance the extra headspace.

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