For competition shooters, weight is key. You are running and gunning in a scenario where every 10th of a second count. You want something that will help with your speed and make your follow up shots faster. A major way to accomplish this feat is with a lightweight bolt carrier group (BCG).
The BCG is the major moving part of the AR platform rifle and runs dead center of the gun. When the gun rocks back into your shoulder, you are feeling that BCG compressing the buffer spring and then spring forward. By reducing the weight of the BCG, the amount of spring compression is reduced, and the amount of overall gun movement is reduced. Traditionally a lightweight BCG is also paired with an adjustable gas block. Most manufacturers recommend this, and if you are running a sporting gun, I'd recommend that too. Optimize the performance of your gun by adding a lightweight BCG then match the corresponding parts. I've been looking at the options out there, and these are the three that stood out to me.
Brownells has been manufacturing rifles and parts for years now. They took what they learned in the industry from being a parts supplier and began making their own. They give you quality parts at a low price. For the shooter looking to dip his or her toe into the world of custom ARs, this is a great option. Their lightweight BCG is machined from 8620 stainless steel with cuts made to reduce the overall weight, without reducing strength. Meant to be a part swap to reduce recoil and obtain overall better performance without gunsmithing, this is an awesome drop-in part. Brownells offers this BCG in 3 different finishes; nitride, nickel-boron, and titanium-nitride. I've always liked nickel-boron, so that's my choice. This style of finish is super strong and smooth. This allows you to punish the part with less lubrication and maintenance. Weighing at 8.2 oz, it is a true drop-in lightweight option. It retails for $144.99 for the nickel boron finish and is truly a less expensive option for those wanting to reduce weight and recoil.
Faxon calls their parts and rifles "Gunner" because they have runners and gunners in mind. They build their parts to mil-spec or better strength and tolerances, and they use the most up-to-date manufacturing technologies to ensure the longevity of their parts. This is a machined 8620 stainless steel BCG with reduction cuts to ensure the lighter weight. All the parts of the BCG are fully tested for strength and reliability. They use 9310 steel for the bolt and give the locking lugs a 45-degree chamfer to ensure reliable lock up and feed. Their parts are QPQ salt-nitride to improve corrosion resistance, over chrome or phosphate finishes, and reduce friction. They also offer them with a Nitride TiN or Chameleon PVD finish for those looking for something different yet still extremely durable. All said, they run smoothly and reliably with less recoil and keeping the strength you come to expect. One unique feature with this BCG is that it is full-auto capable and rated. This is unique to lightweight BCGs and is a testament to its strength. Retailing for $249.99 or $299.99 for the Nitride TiN or Chameleon PVD, definitely an investment for your competition rifle.
JP Enterprises have a reputation for high quality engineered parts. I have one of their triggers in my competition, AR, that is the envy of everyone at the range. When you look at something with their name attached you know you are looking at top quality. Their Ultra Low Mass Operating System is no exception. Per their website, "While use of the LMOS™ components is recommended only for competition and sporting use, this is only precautionary as their reliability is excellent, particularly on rifles with adjustable gas systems." Whenever you consider a non-ferrous moving part, you have to be aware it won't last forever. However, it is made with the best features you can find, and you should never doubt its reliability. Made of 7075 T6 Aluminum and cut to feature a 100% increase in bearing surface, this carrier is made to function smoothly, reliably, and with less wear inside the receiver. Everything JP does is specifically engineered, and this BCG is no exception. Made to be the ultimate addition to a lightweight competition AR this will significantly reduce felt recoil and noticeable muzzle rise, keeping you on target longer and with faster follow up shots. They retail these BCGs for $460.95 and have a steel option (which is a bit heavier) for $352.95.
Competition guns are tuned and built to suit the shooter. In many respects, they are the pinnacle of what a custom gun is. The BCG is the heart and soul of the AR, which means it has to well-built and perform. Lightweight ARs are top dogs in the competition world. They make the shooter quicker and are just as accurate as their heavier counterparts. Once you've had a chance to pull the trigger on one, you'll understand. Whether you are just getting into this world or are a professional shooter, there are options out there. Like always, do your research and buy from quality manufacturers. These are just a few of the great options out there that caught my eye and from manufacturers that I trust.
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Prices accurate at time of writing