Earlier this year, Black Collar Arms, partially owned by TTAG’s own Jeremy S, released their ultra-premium one piece forged carbon fiber scope mounts. These mounts are made for Black Collar by McVick manufacturing out of Oklahoma.
It’s lauded as the same technology developed by Lamborghini and used in several key structural components of their vehicles (suspension arms, spaceframe, etc) as well as by Calloway Golf in their fanciest club heads. I don’t care. I’m not a car dude and golf is a good walk spoiled.
But a cool looking, rock-solid scope mount — allegedly the stiffest on the market — that only weighs 5.2oz? Jeremy, sir, you have my attention. And no, that’s not a misprint. The mount weights a mere 5.2oz.
I don’t really like the term “forged” for this type of manufacturing, but I don’t know what else exactly to call it. That’s what Black Collar calls it, because that’s what the industry calls it, and it’s different enough from the layering and wrapping pattern we see with other carbon fiber items to just leave it at “forged” and call it a day. After all, it is compressed into shape like you’d smash a lump of metal rather than simply laid up in a mold.
When it comes to durability, there should have never been any question about the mounts. Simple materials science would explain that these mounts will be as or more durable than other premium mounts on the market.
When Jeremy told me his plans to bash a perfectly good scope in order to prove the mounts were good, I expressed the opinion that this event would prove little. After all, smart people already knew the scope itself is the weak link, and stupid people would still be stupid. So there were zero surprises when, after destroying a scope by smashing it with a mallet, the tube bent, the bell broke, the Picatinny rail ripped out of the gun and then out of a railroad tie, and the forged carbon fiber mount showed no signs of wear.
Durability was never a real issue, but there are other concerns.
One of the worries with carbon fiber is that other materials have to interact with it, and mixing very different materials always presents challenges. One of the most obvious of these is the screws that hold the rings together and the screws that affix the mount to the receiver. Those screws are metal, and over time metal screws tend to route out thread holes in carbon fiber objects.
In the case of the ring caps on the ring bases, the solution provided by McVick is to insert metal thread sleeves into the body. These are screwed into from the top, with the screws passing through a simple metal bracket.
The mount is held to the receiver based on a standard 1913 Picatinny rail and it locks down with four bolts. Simple washers keep a good, even pressure on the squeezy parts.
To test how well these mixed materials play with each other, I performed a prolonged, but relatively easy test. I torqued the ring caps to the specified 17 inch-pounds and set the mount in a deep freeze. Sometime during the day, I took it out and measured it with my Brown and Sharpe calipers. I did this every day for a month.
Physics is physics, and different metals expand and contract differently. That said, using my manual calipers, I was not able to determine any difference in height, length, or width, ring diameter, or any other dimension I could think of when the rings were frozen vs. thawed.
The widest temperature range from frozen to thawed over that month was well over 100 degrees. When the mount wasn’t in the freezer, it lived outside here in Central Texas. It didn’t rain that month (at all), but it did get lots and lots of sun. No damage was apparent.
I also set an AR-15 SBR upper receiver with the mount attached inside the chest freezer. The results were the same as with every other mount I’ve ever put on any other AR receiver, but with a slight twist.
The first time I did it, I performed my standard test mount practice of turning a torx wrench against the screws until it felt like I was going to bend the wrench. That turned out to be at 34 inch-pounds. I know that because after all of the testing was done I got the original box and found that the base screws were supposed to be tightened to 25 inch-pounds. So I did a quick test before backing the screws out to where they belonged.
At 34 inch-pounds, I pulled the receiver from the freezer, gave the mount a strong whack with a rubber mallet, and measured the movement. Maybe it moved 1,000th of an inch. Maybe.
When I backed off to the correct base screw torque rating and repeated the freeze/thaw/mallet test, the mount moved to the back of the rail section. I did the same thing, but waited until both had thawed. No discernable movement. This is what I am used to with other mounts. Long story short, check your mount if you are in negative 30 degree weather for 10 or more hours. Also, reconsider your life choices. Plus you should install your mounts or rings — any mounts or rings — pressed as far forward within the Picatinny slots as possible so even if they don’t grip as hard as the Black Collar setup here, they can’t move under recoil.
Since I’m still not able to move around too much from my recent nephrectomy, I asked a buddy of mine to do some shooting. First was 200 rounds through a .458 SOCOM rifle. (I provided the ammo. Ouch.) This was with a Nightforce SHV 3-10X42mm scope mounted in the rings. He then removed the scope and mount and put it on a bolt action rifle chambered in .308 Winchester.
Neither rifle moved the scope in the rings. The rings also didn’t scratch, discolor, or otherwise mar the scope or the AR-15 receiver. That was a particularly nice feature.
I also wanted to see how round the rings were, or to see if they needed significant lapping. When I set the 30mm lapping bar in the rings, I noticed there was a bit of room on the side. Measuring the closed, but not torqued tight rings, I found they measured 30.5mm.
With a scope in the rings and the rings torqued to spec, I was unable to find any gap anywhere with a feeler gauge at even 1,000th of an inch. I tried this with a Leupold 30mm scope that actually measured 29.93mm as well as a Vortex 30mm scope that measured 29.95mm.
I suspected the answer, but got in contact with the manufacturer, Mr. McVick himself, to talk to him about why the rings were slightly oversized. The answer is simple: carbon fiber doesn’t flex like aluminum.
As I found when I torqued the rings down to the correct spec, they snugged up tight against the scope tubes despite this material being stiffer than aluminum. Mr. McVick left the rings slightly oversized so that they wouldn’t mark or crush the tubes underneath them, plus the ever-present tension on the hardware that’s provided by the rings acts as an extremely effective lock washer. No thread locker compound or actual lock washers needed.
Now, I don’t care if my scope is marked by the rings. Heck, it’s probably going to get all rattle-canned up anyway, but I understand if others do. Keeping the hardware tight is always an appreciated bonus, though.
Between the months of testing I’ve put into these rings, including 30 different freeze/thaw cycles, as well as the ridiculous tests Jeremy put it through, I’d say any real concerns with these mounts have been put to rest.
What we are left with are really cool looking mounts that stand up to use and abuse in a wide range of temperatures. They take a beating. They also do everything a high quality mount is supposed to do: they hold the scope in place with rock solid tenacity, and they do it with the added benefit of not marking up the tube or the receiver. The huge benefit is the fact that these mounts have a full footprint, with lots of ring contact, and are incredibly stiff, and yet they weigh next to nothing.
Specifications: Black Collar Arms Forged Carbon Fiber One Piece Scope Mount
Centerline height: 1.18″ (30mm)
Weight: 5.2 oz
Ring size: 30mm (34mm also available)
Overall * * * * *
Yay innovation. The future is now. The Black Collar forged carbon fiber scope mounts are extremely light weight, practically temperature insensitive, impossibly strong, and they do everything you’d want a good mount to do. If you’re on a tight budget, this is not the mount for you. If ultra light weight is a plus yet you still need the grip and stiffness of a full footprint mount, this is the mount for you. If your thing is next-level gear, this is the only mount for you.