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Black Rain BRO-PG11-18, c Nick Leghorn

It isn’t often that you see a new firearms manufacturer come into the scene and even rarer that they start with the kind of bang that Black Rain Ordnance has been enjoying. Going from an unknown manufacturer to being a featured firearm in Cheaper Than Dirt’s catalog in less than four years is an accomplishment, but that speed also means that there haven’t been many opportunities to review their guns. We asked BRO to provide a rifle to test at the SHOT Show… back in 2012. And we asked yet again in 2013. But it was only when I was squadded with one of their guys at the Fallen Brethren match that they finally shipped us out a rifle. And man, was it ever worth the wait . . .

There are a TON of AR-15 “manufacturers,” but not many of them actually, well, manufacture. Take Bushmaster, for example. All the parts for their guns are made elsewhere and they are simply assembled and branded with the Bushmaster accoutrements at their factory before being sold. It means that while you’re buying a Bushmaster, the exact same parts probably went into a Windham Weaponry AR-15 as well.

While other manufacturers might be content with buying their parts and assembling their rifles, Black Rain had other ideas. From the barrel down to the forward assist, every single part is manufactured by Black Rain. Well, except the obvious (stock, magazine and grip). According to Jared Moser (one of their managers that was squadded with me), the reason behind manufacturing everything from scratch is that it’s the only way to maintain the level of quality they wanted to give their firearms.


While Black Rain might be serious about the quality of their parts, they don’t let that get in the way of having a little fun along the way. One of the first products I noticed of theirs was a spiked muzzle brake that looked like a metallic pineapple, a design that had no purpose other than looking bad-ass. The same goes from the “LET IT RAIN!” dust cover. There are design options incorporated into their stuff that seems like their sole purpose is to make the gun look nifty or just to inject a little humor. I almost expected to see something in their catalog marketed as the “COME AT ME BRO,” but alas nothing yet.

Speaking of quality, the fit and finish on this rifle is simply amazing. The receiver is coated in a NORGUARD nickel finish which gives it a gleamingly shiny appearance and a satin-smooth feel, and contrasts nicely with the black furniture. The edges are perfectly rounded with not a single rough spot to be found, even on the trigger. It gives an excellent first impression, given the attention to detail that was put in the finish alone.

While the rifle looks amazing, there are some technical differences between the standard AR-15 design and this rifle that I want to highlight.


Like I said, Black Rain makes everything on this gun — and that includes the charging handle. I HATE the standard charging handle on the AR-15, so much so that whenever I buy a new upper receiver I immediately order a replacement BCM Gunfighter charging handle as well. While the BCM Gunfighter has served me well, I think that Black Rain’s design is better in every way possible.

The latch on the handle feels much better to the touch, the mechanism operates extremely smoothly, and it looks aesthetically pleasing. I’m actually considering asking Jared really, really nicely for a discount so that I can buy one of these for every rifle and dump the BCM Gunfighter. And yes, they do sell the charging handle as a separate part.


Next up on the list of nifty features is the free floating rail. While a full length rail is nice if you’re putting optics on your gun, the reality is that most people don’t need all that rail space. All you really need is some rail at the end of the tube for iron sights or a flashlight, and then provide mounting points on the tube for add-on rails should the need arise.

Black rain’s rail goes one step further. Not only do they give you rails where you need them and flat metal where you don’t, they recess the metal on the top of the rail as well. This allows the shooter to mount optics with a large objective lens much closer to the bore, which is very much appreciated by us long range shooters. Larger objective lenses means a clearer picture, and keeping the bell of those objectives from impacting the rail is required for accurate long range shooting. Good to see BRO thinking about these things in their design.


The last thing I want to point out is the trigger. There are companies out there that have made triggers for years, yet failed to produce an actually “good” trigger. Black Rain, on the other hand, hit the nail on the head. Not only is the design aesthetically interesting, but the feel of the trigger is perfect. The trigger blade itself feels smooth against my finger, and the break is light and crisp as I would expect from an excellent competition rifle. It’s just everything that a trigger should be, and even gives the likes of Geiselle and Timney a run for their money.

Add up all of the components and what you have here is, on spec, an excellent competition rifle. It has an eye-catching design that is sure to make the other competitors jealous, so it checks the “pretty” box pretty hard. The 18″ barrel and long handguards give enough leverage to manhandle the thing around a course of fire, and the lightweight barrel design (with a fluted barrel and compensator) make the gun nimble and make recoil mitigation extremely easy. And add in the trigger for the complete package. Assuming the thing worked on the range, this would be my new default recommendation for the perfect 3-gun rifle.

At this point, I was convinced that there had to be a catch. A brand new company starts making everything from scratch, BARREL included, and hits the nail on the head right out of the gate? No way! And yet…


That one high and left flier? Yep, totally my fault. Ignoring that called shot, that’s a 4 round group that is decidedly within a 1 inch circle at 100 yards. In other words, sub-MoA accuracy.

Considering that the first place I saw a Black Rain Ordnance rifle was a Cheaper Than Dirt catalog, I was expecting a mediocre firearm at best. Instead, what we have here is one of the finest 3-gun rifles available for purchase form any vendor. It compares favorably with Colt Competition’s CRP-18, out-performs anything Bushmaster has to offer, and even gives Noveske (my favorite AR-15 maker) a run for their money. And that’s where we run head-first into the issue: dollars. This rifle is on par with the very best out there, but it’s still a good $700 more than the competition as well. I consider JP enterprises’ JP-15 to be the gold standard when it comes to competition AR-15 rifles, and even that clocks in at only $1,999 compared to the $2,700+ for this rifle.

That said, it may just be worth the price. . .

Black Rain Ordnance BRO-PG11-18NORG


Caliber: 5.56 NATO
Barrel: 18 inches
Size: 35.5 inches
Weight: 7.1 lbs empty
Capacity: Standard AR Mags
MSRP: $2,729

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
All ratings are relative compared to the other weapons in the gun’s category.

Accuracy: * * * * *
Sub-MoA is the gold standard for competition rifles, and it meets if not exceeds that standard.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
Absolutely outstanding. It points well, handles like a champ, and is extremely comfortable to shoot.

Ergonomics Firing: * * * * *
Recoil is light and easily mitigated, and the trigger is amazing.

Customization: * * * * *
Change whatever you want — it’s an AR-15.

Overall Rating: * * * * 1/2
The perfect competition rifle. And I mean perfect. I had to knock off a half a star for the pricing though.

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  1. Hmm…the price just about mirrors what I’m expecting my 2013 tax refund to be. I wanted to pay off some debt, but maybe I’ll just be a typical American consumer and…CONSUME THE PURDIEST RIFLE I’VE SEEN EVAR!!!

    I had my heart set on a SIG556, but maybe I’ll splurge. The only question is how many nights on the couch can I stand, once my wife finds out. At least I’d have a shiny new toy to cuddle…

    • Just imagine what you could have already done with that money if you hadn’t loaned it to the government interest free. Just up your exemptions on your W-4.

      • I don’t pay taxes they’re stolen from my check. I wonder how mad the cops would be if I reported a bi-weekly theft.

  2. Who still shops at Cheaper Than Dirt? Not only are their prices gouge-tastic but they totally folded on selling “evil” looking weapons after Newtown. CTD can eat a bag of dicks.

    • Their prices have always sucked, even before Newtown. Either that or dirt is WAY more expensive than I previously thought and I am in the wrong business.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong, wasn’t it CTD that cancelled a bunch of orders that were in the pipeline when SandyHook happened and then re-posted those same items after SH at greatly inflated prices. That’s not capitalism, but rather breaking contracts.

    • I’m with you Bob. Same thing with Dick’s Sporting goods. I haven’t been inside their store in 10 months.

    • And they can eat a load of shit on top of that. I will never forget how they gouged, way over the top, even more than the most notorious gougers in the past. If you are giving CTD business you are a fail.

    • I think you are thinking “ordinance”. “Ordnance” means the provision of weapons and/or ammunition. “Ordinance” is a municipal or local law.

  3. Any word on reliability?

    The rest of this package is great but for that price it better run through hell and back as well.

  4. Nick, I think I would rather have the JP CTR-02. There is something about JP rifles that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

  5. Funny coincidence, I just left gander mountain where I saw two of these on the rack from across the store. I went right over to them as if drawn by a magnet. I fondled one for a good 10 mins before i finally put it back in the rack. Marked $2499. Gorgeous rifle, but I need another 556 like I need a hole in the head. Make it in 300blk and we will talk.

  6. It better make me coffee and mow the lawn for that price. I have competition bolt action rifles that shoot tighter than that for less money and I have a RR that would shoot well enough for 3 gun. Looks like an overpriced 3 gun to me. You are only hitting plates, not group shooting. Yowsers… That’s like recomending an H3 for rock climbing and high stress offroading. It would probably do a good job but if you roll the sucker thats an expensive fix. Might as well had a dressed up Jeep instead.

  7. I’m partial tothe Ranier Arms Raptor charging handle, $90 but when I fondled one at the Precision Firearms both at the local gun show, I had to have it. The charging handle was the most solid feeling handle I ever felt, and there was BCM product on one of the other demo rifles. It made me forget my desire for a JP side charger.

    Regarding the BRO, it’s a nice looking rifle that obviously shoots well. I just think it’s overpriced unless those atheistic touches are must haves.

    I saw the same rifle in Gander, checked the price, and said the same thing…for that kind of money I would buy a JP, and not just a JP15 but a CTR.

  8. Dumb question: What is the black dumbbell shaped part above the trigger on both sides of the receiver for? Don’t recall seeing that before.

  9. I’ve got the 16 inch skulz version of their rifle. It’s awesome, however, they don’t actually manufacture everything in house. My understanding is that a lot of the parts are still outsourced and rebranded with their info. Black hole weaponry actually makes their barrels. (And they are AWESOME barrels!!!) They also use KNS pins in the lowers. I will say that their standard mil spec trigger is the nicest mil spec I’ve ever shot.

  10. LOL I cant say it without snickering…
    Friend: “So what kinda AR is that?”
    Roll: “I got a BRO”

    ETA: I got one of the catalogs, the girl with the pink ar is waaay cute.

  11. And for only $1700 less, you can buy a Colt or BCM, which are actually built correctly and work, ALL THE TIME

  12. Call me skeptical regarding the “we make it all ourselves” claims, but the first time I saw one of these ID’d the rail as a Parallax Tactical design. Maybe they’re making it under license using the same CNC programs, but I’m more inclined to believe that they’re sourcing those rails from San Diego…

    And those anti-walk trigger pins look an awful lot like the tried and true KNS design.

  13. Lol at spending $2700 for this when for a similar hefty sum a superior Noveske/Geissele/Krieger system can be built.

    • Yes.

      Funny their claim on triggers. Geissele triggers have been good enough for the AMU for years, as well as the rest of us shooting accuracy-modded AR’s.

  14. Also, no BUIS? At least slap a pair of cheap mbus’s on it and get yourself a better scope mount. Really, only Bobro or LT quick release mounts should be on a rifle that costs this much.

  15. I have a BRO AR 15 and love it. It is my favorite gun. To me, one thing that I like about it, is that it has a crisp feeling. Nothing feels loose, wobbles, or makes extra noise. I have other AR 15s and they all feel loose to me.

    • I agree, the fit and finish is great, nothing feels loose. Everything has a precision feel to it, especially the drop-in trigger, which feels better than even a Timney trigger, uptake, break, and reset is outstanding. Trigger pull is consistent and precise, even from one BRO rifle to another.

  16. This review rings true and absolutely gives Black Rain the Credibility they deserve. These aren’t mediocre productions from a manufactory. These rifles are cnc’d from 7071 aluminum, AMERICAN METAL, not forged or cast. They take pride in their work. If you haven’t shot one or held one to feel and compare, your reply to this post is bogus. You don’t complain about this price if its quality you are paying for. Performance with class. Do you feel better driving the American Muscle Corvette, or the more affordable Honda 4 door Prias? Competition shooters know quality, and this guy hit it right on the head.

  17. One question. If BRO says they manufacture everything in house then why do they buy so many FINISHED parts from DPMS (sister company of mentioned Bushmaster)? They sure bought a lot of hammers and triggers among other parts from them…

    • Hammers
      Buffers and springs
      Extension tubes
      Lock rings
      Flash hiders
      308 Bolts
      Bolt catches
      Front and rear take down pins
      Gas tubes
      Safety selectors

    • I’ve been in the Marines for 6 years and I would have loved to have this rifle in the field. I’ve shot all kinds of AR platforms, and this one is top notch. I love my pg3 piston. Very solid rifle
      OooRah Devils
      WPNS co 2/3

  18. Great rifles i got a Bro13 with the skulls 223/556 with case red dot scope 500 rounds of ammo 4 sale like great shape shot very little.asking the wright price deal.

  19. Black Rain Ordnance has never manufactured a single part of their own…they lie!!

      • I don’t know about every single part but Beth may be on to something. I bought a horrible lower parts kit from Black Rain that sure looked like a failed Asian manufacturing job.

  20. I know that this is a old post but are these still worth getting or not? Have a friend who found for around $1050.

  21. Depends on if it’s a complete BRO, or just some BRO parts, mixed with other companies parts, to make a complete rifle.

  22. I bought a Black Rain standard lower parts kit from a dealer. I had previously purchased other Black Rain AR components including their bolt carrier group and several stripped lowers. Everything up to the lower kit was excellent. That was the reason I decided to get the lower parts kit from them. I have substantial experience building AR’s. I could put a lower kit together in my sleep. When I opened the package I noticed that the parts appeared to substandard. Then I thought maybe they know something that I don’t. I did this because of my previous excellent experience with them. I was wrong. The kit is absolute junk. They went so far as to grind part of the trigger down removing its finish to make the disconnector work. After all that it still did not line up. The detents are not the standard ones. They are black and look like either plastic or aluminium. I would not use either of those materials for those parts and I do not believe it meets the Mil Spec. The take down pins fit poorly. Oh, and by the way, I was building a billet Black Rain lower that did not appear to have anything wrong with it. I am going to build this lower with an Anderson kit now as I sent back the horrible Black Rain lower parts kit. I would never purchase another kit from Black Rain based on this experience. I wrote to them before I returned the product to the dealer and they would not even answer. I am totally shocked by this experience with Black Rain and I would not consider using another kit of theirs. I might buy another bolt but I would have to see it first. I would not order blind on the internet. I question all this talk about how they build all their parts in house. This kit that I received looked like something that was made somewhere in Asia and ordered by people with little or no experience dealing with Asian bulk contract manufacturers. Black Rain should get its management engaged properly or hire new people. The sort of product I saw will put Black Rain out of business.

  23. Got one of these for 1300$ from a guy who buys hella nice guns and sells them after a couple hundred rounds. He didn’t even get 100 rounds through this one. I’m glad I’m his buddy cause he pretty much gave it to me compared to the price he paid! And I don’t have one complaint about it, it’s made all of my friends and coworkers jealous for sure!

    • I liked the stag 1-9 better but I’m starting to like this one better … I shoot the cheap 55g pmc ammo that the 1-9 barrel is perfect for at 100 yds . I was going to switch up to the 63g because of the twist rate but the black rain setup works perfect with it

  24. Anyone have the basic BRO SPEC15? They go for $799-$899. Any issues? I have 2 Stag Arms AR’s now with chome lined barrels. I like them and the finish is very nice on the Stag’s, but they are both 1:9 twist and they don’t shoot anything heavier than 55gr well at all. 60+gr bullets are all over the place. They only like 55gr and the groups are nothing spectacular with OTC ammo. Only Hornady 55gr gives me best groups of 1.25-.1.5″ @ 100. I want to get a 1:7 barrel to shoot the 62gr M855 that I have a ton of, and heavier rounds 62+ up to 75gr for deer hunting. Now I am apprehensive of BRO with so many people saying they don’t make their own parts. I hope the barrels are still good, and that they test fire every AR like most manufacturers do before shipping them.

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