By Roy Huntington, GUNS Magazine
I apperceive the bodies who achieve Black Rain Ordnance rifles. They alive and assignment a me, aloof south of Joplin, Mo. I’ve visited their facility, befuddled their hands, chatted with the bodies architecture the rifles, credible their machines and watched them backpack and abode guns. I’ve additionally watched their faces while they talked about their work, their dreams and their rifles. I don’t analysis this company, these people—or their rifles—lightly. As a amount of fact, it comes afterwards an about two-year adventure accepting to apperceive them and their guns.
Justin Harvel, the adolescent admiral of Black Rain Ordnance, Inc., lives and breathes the brand. He and his agents are shameless, self-proclaimed “gun-guys” as he says. They shoot, attempt and consistently strive to bear the best accessible rifles to the market. Rifles, as Justin says, “We use ourselves.”
“We achieve all our articles with the aforementioned integrity—across the board,” he explained to me. “They are all American-made and handcrafted, one at a time. Our rifles are accurate, dependable, well-balanced—and acceptable looking. We sometimes get slandered in babble apartment for actuality “too showy” or “too extreme.” We’re appreciative of that. They are showy—and they are extreme. The rifles we achieve are advised to be ancestors heirlooms, anesthetized bottomward from bearing to generation. Why not body them the actual best we can?
“We achieve not alone applied activity rifles, but affliction abundant about them to achieve them attending acceptable too! Can’t a babe be smart—and pretty?” said Justin, laughing.
I arise to apperceive Black Rain’s rifles accept been alleged the Lamborghinis of the AR world. To me, it agency aerial performance, over-the-top looks and architecture and a gut-level abode you don’t commonly get from a agglomeration of steel, alloys and plastic. And frankly, it’s a compliment—to Lamborghini.Lamborghini, booty note.
Deciding On Quality
“The affection will remain, continued afterwards the amount is forgotten.”—Sir Henry RoyceWith the flood of AR platforms hitting the bazaar over the accomplished 10 years or so, what do you charge to apperceive in adjustment to baddest one affair your needs—or wishes? It’s absolutely easy.
First off: Ambition cutting and/or hunting or self-defense? Second: Are you price-point shopping, or do you appetite article of the accomplished quality?
And now it gets interesting. Some makers and accoutrements can do both—adequately.But some makers and accoutrements can do both—excellently.
Now it’s time to accredit to Sir Henry Royce’s quote, and to apprehend what Justin has to say about quality.
“The accomplished courage and anticipation abaft our business is to aftermath the best affection articles in the exchange by application the best abstracts accumulated with the best craftsmen in the business. We strive aloft and beyond, to back-breaking accomplishment to achieve this,” he explained to me. “I anticipate sometimes bodies aloof accept it happens, like we aloof breeze our fingers and miraculously rifles appear. We charge be accomplishing article appropriate if it seems that easy—because I affiance you it’s not! The dedication, the blood, diaphoresis and yes, there’ve been tears, is the key.”
But I asked him, what about growth? Black Rain’s brand has developed over the accomplished few years. The bazaar has exploded, and accomplished buyers accept abstruse affection is area it’s at. What happens to the small-shop mentality aback the charge to aftermath looms large? How has Black Rain kept their aerial standards?
“The bigger we get, the harder it becomes,” Justin told me seriously. “At some point then, soon, you may accept neither. It’s a attempt of affection against quantity, and we accept account diplomacy to abode this. Everyone in our boutique is acute to it. But we accept an bend over best ‘factory’ makers. A lot of the men and women who assignment here, who body the rifles, who achieve the parts, who inspect, characterization and abode our guns—are allotment owners in Black Rain Ordnance. They accept an added dog in the action aback it comes to our adventure for constant quality. It’s not aloof a paycheck for them, it’s their name on the gun too,” said Justin quietly.
Why Do We Care?
I’ve congenital this adventure to this point for a reason. I’m in my early-middles, and while I assume to still be acquirements so much, one affair I apperceive for a actuality is the bodies abaft a artefact are what makes it all work. The bodies abaft a artefact acquaint you aggregate you charge to apperceive about what they produce. And this is the case with Black Rain.
If you met Justin, or anyone at Black Rain, I apperceive you’d appear abroad from them thinking: “Whatever this being does, I would assurance it.” If they fabricated bricks, or auto brakes, or shaped copse to accomplished dimensions, or did the final analysis on the aeroplane you were about to board, you could assurance the work.
Which leads us neatly to the rifles in question.
Black Rain Ordnance, Inc. makes abounding models. Indeed, you can calmly bout your assignment to a burglarize in their inventory. But I like to anticipate about the crossover effect. How do you do abounding jobs with one tool, yet do anniversary job well?
The audibly named, but remarkable, “BRO-PG9” 5.56 answers that question. Are you a cop on a beat? Do you charge an uncompromising angry rifle? Actuality it is. Do you accept a ancestors and are anxious about the accompaniment of diplomacy in the country today and appetite a burglarize you could alarm aloft to avert your family? Stop here.
On the lighter side, do you adore block prairie dogs, coyotes who annoy the livestock, charge to accept the deer in the cornfield, the pigs ripping up your crops or artlessly adore authoritative baby groups of ammo holes in targets “way out there?” Attending no further.
As aing to a “jack-of-all-trades” and adept of them all as you can get aback it comes to a 5.56 AR platform. Affection oozes from every “just-so” ambit or compellingly collapsed credible on the PG9. I absolutely begin myself staring at it, aggravating to acquisition accountability with the workmanship. I ashen my time.
Made from 7075 T6 Batten aircraft-grade aluminum, the receivers of both rifles advertise their “NorGuard” finish, a boxy and abiding adamantine coat. The t and full-auto carrier accumulation is nickel boron-coated and cleans effortlessly.
The is a 16″ straight-fluted machined wonder, with 1×8″ rifling and formed pineapple beam suppressor. It boasts a .223 Wylde alcove and a adapted throat for bigger accuracy. It also, conveniently, allows shooters to shoot both .223 and 5.56 NATO with aplomb. The absolute gas-impingement arrangement is complete with an adjustable, micro, low contour gas block. Tune the PG9 to your admired load.
Let’s accumulate shooting, go to the aing folio please…
The 9″ mid-length cloister abuse covers the operating system, giving the ballista best availability to arise accessories. The sturdy, yet brittle 3.5 pounds distinct assemblage triggers are distinct date and nonadjustable. Assurance me, you won’t charge to acclimatize it. Weighing in at 6 pounds. 7 ounces with a absolute breadth of about 32.5″, the PG9 comes complete with a bendable case, bung and one 30-round, MAGPUL PMAG.
Did I acknowledgment it has a lifetime guarantee?
This burglarize is conspicuously shootable, exudes quality, shows some of the best arduous ability I’ve credible in any gun, ever, and is about as turn-key as you could ask. What custom touches would I add?None.
I’ll accept up front, I’m no AR expert. But I’ve been about them aback the aboriginal triangular forend models from Colt, attempt best of them, and afterwards 24-odd years in the acreage as a cop, accept a acceptable compassionate of what a arresting burglarize ability charge to be. Terms like “rugged, best-quality materials,” and “advanced engineering touches” appear to mind. Like best things, if it feels right—it acceptable is right. The Black Rain PG9 feels right. At $2,109 MSRP, it’s a hell of a lot of burglarize for the money and you artlessly could not body one, engineered as able-bodied as this, for that aforementioned investment.Would I assurance my activity to it?
Yes. I’m affairs this burglarize to use as my personal, arresting rifle. There you go. Money area the aperture is, and all that.
Using a “tactical” ambit like the Meopta MeoTac 1-4×22 RD on the PG14, Roy accomplished about 1″ groups at 100 yards with multiple loads.
The bigger brother, for abridgement of a bigger way of thinking, to the PG9, the BRO-PG14, takes things to the aing level. Workmanship, affection of architecture and abstracts mirrors that of the PG9 (and all of Black Rain’s rifles), but dispatch up to the .308/7.62 NATO raises the bar. I like to alarm this a “final solution” rifle. If article absolutely needs doing, this burglarize will do it.
Hunting? Around annihilation walking in North America. Ambition shooting? How far would you like to try? A badge burglarize for administration the affliction association has to offer? Here’s your exhausted partner. It’s able-bodied (almost 9 pounds), brash, speaks with ascendancy and offers guilt-edged accuracy. Aback it’s comatose in your calmly it gives you aplomb you can handle the blackmail at hand.
Like the PG9, the PG14 in .308 has a 7075 T6 batten aircraft-grade aluminum receiver with Black Rain’s NorGuard finish. The t and carrier accumulation is additionally nickel boron coated and runs smoothly. The .308/7.62 NATO 18″ stainless, straight-fluted machined with 1×11″ rifling additionally has a formed pineapple beam suppressor.
Mirroring the 5.56, the PG14 offers a absolute gas-impingement arrangement with an adjustable, micro, low contour gas block. The 12″ rifle-length cloister abuse covers the operating arrangement too, giving the user a advanced ambit of options for ascent accessories. Black Rain’s 3.5 lb, single-unit activate is installed and is non-adjustable. The absolute breadth is 37″ (a bit best than the 5.56) and comes complete with appropriate bendable case, bung and one 20-round. MAGPUL PMAG. And, the lifetime Black Rain assurance applies, of course. The amount for all this accord of apperception is $2,699 MSRP. And accumulate Sir Henry Royce’s adduce in mind. This burglarize will pay for itself abounding times over during the decades your ancestors owns it.
For both of these rifles, the account of specific engineering touches is extensive, and if you’re analytical to apperceive added specifics, I anticipate time spent on the Black Rain website would be time able-bodied spent. Accumulate in mind, a $50 bendable case and $50 single-point bung are allotment of this package. Aback accumulated with a lifetime warranty, aback prices become understandable.
I put a Redfield Counterstrike Red Dot afterimage on the PG9 and a Meopta MeoTac 1-4×22 RD aflame optical ambit on the PG14 for targeting and accepted shooting. Depending aloft the use, either optic would assignment able-bodied on either the 5.56 or the .308.
Targeting absolutely didn’t bear any surprises. The body affection is accessible as you run the guns, with clear, apple-pie sounds and feels credible as the t cycles and controls are manipulated. If it should go “snick,” it does, and if article should “lock”—it locks. Triggers on both rifles were abiding and crisp. With several hundred different endless through anniversary rifle, there were no malfunctions. We acclimated the Magpul mags supplied and accepted aggressive affair AR mags on the 5.56. All formed reliably.
Something did crop up during antecedent targeting. I had some heavy-bulleted 5.56 endless on-hand from Black Hills and AYSM, from 70-grains to 77-grains, and one or two added weights in that range. The PG9 artlessly didn’t like the abundant bullets, and the 77-grain endless absolutely key-holed. That’s not abnormal for any .223 ability rifle, and alike if the rifling amount of aberration seems like it should balance them, added factors may access into the equation. Aback application 55 to 65-grain bullets, the PG9 delivered laser-like accurateness at our 100-yard targets.
The 4 MOA dot of the Redfield hindered absolute accuracy, but by absorption the dot on the absolute ambition I was able to get a actual constant hold. Groups aerial at the 1″ akin were calmly accessible (ammunition-dependant), and there is no agnosticism in my apperception if you scoped this burglarize with a cross-hair optic you could calmly breach .75″, and with some amount testing, I’d action you could hunt .5″. Considering a deer alone needs about a cardboard plate-sized accumulation to accompany home the meat, I anticipate you could blow easy. This burglarize is a absolute ballista and it was a amusement to use. Bragging rights are absolutely involved.
The PG14 handled the Federal 168-grain Bout load, Nosler Custom 168-grain Custom Competition and Black Hill’s 168-grain endless perfectly, carrying t-action-like accurateness aerial about 1″ at 100. I additionally approved the 150-grain Hornady GMX loaded by Black Hills with agnate results. In case you’re activity hunting, the Federal Premium Trophy Bonded Bear Claw 165-grain went into a tidy 1.25″ group.
The Meopta ambit on the PG14 is a “tactical” scope, so at alone 1-4 power, is added at home for fast work. The accurate 1x deepening lets you accumulate both eyes accessible aback close-in and the aflame reticle allows you to aces up the abbreviated “T” crosshair easily. With a accurate ambition ambit and some care, this is a sub-1″ burglarize for sure. It’s amazing—and satisfying—to feel the activate breach and see .30 ability holes around affecting one addition on that 100-yard target. Pointing your feel and smiting at a ambit can be real.
Like the PG9, the PG14 has a 7075 T6 batten aircraft-grade aluminum receiver with Black Rain’s NorGuard finish.
A Final Thought
Justin told me, “We accept always—no amount what—been fair and honest with people. Chump account is article accessible to exhausted big accumulated America at—and I anticipate it’s about accepted a abate aggregation does aloof that. It’s addition acumen bodies accept our rifles over the big guys. It’s not aberrant aback addition calls with a catechism that I’ll acknowledgment the buzz personally, or the carnality president, or accepted manager—you’ll never be shunted off to a continued delay on a chump account line.”
And that’s important, and is yet addition acumen for Black Rain’s success. I’m activity to leave you with one added affair arresting a ambit with me. Regardless of how active they are, they acknowledge to the needs of absolute customers—immediately.
Explains Justin, “We accept a action actuality any alternate merchandise, no amount the reason, goes aback out the aforementioned day. Our UPS barter drops off bales on our berth in the aboriginal morning and we accept two technicians who are assigned to stop what they are accomplishing and jump on these items. Whatever needs to be fixed, replaced, activated or whatever the charge is, it’s done immediately, and we get them aback out the aperture aback UPS picks up at 5:00 the aforementioned afternoon.”
Quality, follow-up, chump service, a lifetime assurance and same-day turn-around for aliment or absorption to your needs is arresting if you ask me. And article best of the “big guys” can alone dream about.These are absolutely congenital rifles—from aberrant people.
When you call, say hi to the Black Rain ancestors from us, would you?
Photos: Robbie Barrkman
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