Last Updated on
Rifle Longevity and Reliability
When it comes to reliability and service life, your bolt carrier group is your most valuable part. The mechanics of your rifle’s action depend on your bolt carrier group.
A good bolt carrier group will last for tens of thousands of rounds. Maybe more.
A bad one can cause reliability headaches and will need to be replaced sooner.
We’re here to help you dodge those reliability and replacement woes.
Our Favorite Choice
Daniel Defense M16 5.56 BCG
If you’re eager to get out and shoot, get the Daniel Defense M16 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group. It’s a solid bolt carrier group that will run in any rifle, with any ammunition.
If you want something a bit fancier, or maybe just want to know what the rest of your options are, stay with us. We’ll show you around the bolt carrier group world.
The Top AR-15 Bolt Carrier Groups of 2020
The 7 Best AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group Reviews: Keep Your Rifle in Action
1. Daniel Defense M16 5.56: Best Overall AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group
Daniel Defense is known for durability and reliability. Their rifles are some of the most respected on the market. The Daniel Defense M16 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group helps you get some of that durability and reliability without purchasing an entire Daniel Defense rifle.
Daniel Defense magnetically particle inspects all their bolt carrier groups to ensure that there are no imperfections.
And they shot-peen the bolt to increase the hardness and durability. This is how they achieve the industry-leading quality that’s built the Daniel Defense reputation.
This bolt carrier group is properly constructed for full-auto fire. An, the extractor is fitted with an extractor booster that ensures reliability during rapid fire and full-auto fire.
The finish is parkerized, which is good. It could be better. But, a parkerized finish resists corrosion well, and keeps the cost down.
Overall, this is an excellent go-to bolt carrier group for any rifle, even very high-end boutique rifles. It’ll handle anything you throw at it without a hiccup.
2. Brownells M16 5.56 TiN MP: Titanium Nitride Coated AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group
The Brownells M16 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group TiN MP might be the most affordable titanium nitride coated bolt carrier group on the market. It packs a lot of performance into a surprisingly affordable package.
Obviously, the coating is the frontrunning feature. The titanium nitride coating offers excellent corrosion resistance and low friction operation. It’s also gold. So, it looks cool and performs well.
The components themselves are constructed from 8620 tool steel, and the bolt is machined from 9310 tool steel. All the steel is heat treated for durability and magnetic particle inspected to weed out bolt carrier groups with imperfections.
As you might expect, this bolt carrier group is constructed for full-auto operation. So, it will easily hold up through rapid fire in a semi-auto rifle.
The only complaint about the Brownells bolt carrier groups is that sometimes a bad one slips through the quality control process. However, if you get a lemon, the return and replacement process is easy.
But, if you want a well-constructed, sharp looking bolt carrier group at an amazing price, this one should be at the top of your list.
3. Bravo Company Manufacturing M16 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group: Mil-Spec AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group
Bravo Company Manufacturing is one of the most respected AR-15 manufacturers in the industry. They’re known for excellent quality and good prices. The Bravo Company Manufacturing M16 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group might be the best blend of quality and affordability on the market.
This bolt carrier group is built to meet military specifications. However, it actually exceeds mil-spec standards.
The carrier and bolt are machined from Carpenter No. 158 steel, and the extractor and ejector are machined from tool steel. This makes for an extremely durable and reliable bolt carrier group.
On the exterior, the finish is parkerized. However, the internals are chrome lined for smoother function and longer service life.
All the components are magnetic particle inspected and high pressure tested to ensure there are no imperfections. Additionally, Bravo Company test fires all their bolt carrier groups at the factory to ensure they function before shipping.
Although this bolt carrier group possesses a lot of true mil-spec features, there are a lot of subtle improvements that make this an outstanding upgrade over a standard mil-spec bolt carrier group.
4. Spikes Tactical M16 5.56 Nickel Boron Bolt Carrier Group: Nickel Boron Coated AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group
Spikes Tactical has been a staple in the AR-15 market for years. They’re respected for their reliable and durable AR-15 rifles. The Spikes Tactical M16 5.56 Nickel Boron Bolt Carrier Group puts the Spikes reliability and durability into your custom AR-15.
The bolt carrier is machined from 8620 carbon steel. And the bolt itself is machined from Carpenter No. 158 alloy steel.
Internally, the bolt carrier is lined with chrome for smoother bolt movement. Externally, the components are nickel boron coated, which is harder and slicker than hard chrome. This means better reliability and longer bolt carrier life.
Additionally, the nickel boron coating is silver, which gives your rifle a sharp look, especially if your upper receiver is black.
Of course, this bolt carrier group is constructed for full-auto operation. So, it’s well-suited for high-intensity semi-automatic fire.
Some might say that mil-spec steel isn’t worthy of such a nice finish. But, the payoff is that this is a high-reliability bolt carrier group that comes at an affordable price.
5. Brownells M16 5.56 Titanium Bolt Carrier Group: Titanium AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group
Many manufacturers have started using alternatives to steel that are lighter and stronger. Titanium is one of those metals. The Brownells M16 5.56 Titanium Bolt Carrier Group DLC offers the benefits of titanium without the restrictive price.
Obviously, the titanium is the big seller here. The bolt carrier is machined from 6A1-4V titanium. The bolt itself is machined 9310 tool steel. This makes the bolt carrier group extremely strong and light.
The whole package weighs just 7.9 ounces. A lighter bolt carrier group means faster rates of fire and reduced recoil. However, a light bolt carrier group sometimes causes hiccups if you don’t have an adjustable gas system.
As if titanium construction weren’t enough, the entire bolt carrier group is diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coated. The coating is harder and smoother than typical parkerized finishes. So, it delivers lower friction operation and superior corrosion resistance.
Not surprisingly, this bolt carrier group is constructed for full-auto shooting. So, it’ll work just fine for semi-auto rifles.
All the components are magnetic particle inspected to catch imperfections. However, some buyers have reported needing to return and replace their bolt carriers. But, it’s an easy process.
But, at the end of the day, this is probably the most affordable titanium bolt carrier group on the market. It’s an excellent option for a lightweight build.
6. Rubber City Armory AR-15 Low Mass 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group: Lightweight AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group
Rubber City Armory has been a favorite among competitive AR-15 shooters for several years. Their stuff isn’t cheap. But it’s good. The Rubber City Armory AR-15 Low Mass 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group is designed to give you a lightweight bolt carrier group that’s reliable with a wide range of ammunition and gas systems.
This bolt carrier group is constructed from four different types of steel to ensure the utmost durability at the lightest weight.
- The bolt carrier is 8620 steel.
- The bolt is machined from 9310 steel.
- The extractor is made from tool steel.
- The firing pin is 17-4 stainless steel.
To protect all these special steel parts, all the components are given a Blacknitride+ finish. It’s a proprietary nitride finish that reduces friction and resists corrosion.
Of course, it’s constructed for full-auto operation.
The only trouble with skeletonized bolt carrier groups is that they can cause slightly more wear inside your upper receiver than a standard bolt carrier group. However, the smooth finish helps mitigate this.
This may not be the most affordable option. But, it offers an excellent blend of reliability, durability, and low weight that’s ideal for competitive shooters.
7. JP Enterprises AR-15 5.56 Full Mass Bolt Carrier Group: Full Mass Competition AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group
No article about AR-15 parts would be complete without at least one component from JP Enterprises. JP Enterprises is one of the premier manufacturers of high-end AR-15 components. The JP Enterprises AR-15 5.56 Full Mass Bolt Carrier Group might be the best standard bolt carrier group available.
The entire bolt carrier group is machined from high-grade 9310 steel. This steel offers a longer life expectancy than mil-spec steel.
On the exterior, the entire bolt carrier group is finished with QPQ. The QPQ finish is super hard and smooth. This improves wear resistance and reduces friction.
The full weight design produces excellent reliability in duty rifles or any competition rifle where absolute reliability is a must. However, there’s no recoil reduction or increased rate of fire.
8. Rubber City Armory M16 Titanium Bolt Carrier Group: High-End AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group
The Rubber City Armory M16 Titanium Bolt Carrier Group is designed for lightweight rifles and those who want to maximize their rate of fire.
The bolt carrier is machined from titanium. The bolt is machined from 9310 steel. The extractor and cam pin are constructed from tool steel. This reduces the weight, without compromising on durability and lifespan.
Speaking of weight, the entire bolt carrier group weighs 7.8 ounces. This is incredibly light. It increases your rifle’s organic rate of fire and reduces the overall weight. However, you may need to tune your gas system to ensure reliability.
To protect these quality metals, this bolt carrier group is coated in a proprietary aerospace nitride coating. The nitride coating provides better wear resistance than most titanium bolt carriers.
Even though this is an excellent high-grade bolt carrier group. However, there’s no getting around how expensive it is.
If you can stomach the price tag, this is an excellent bolt carrier group for a lightweight competition rifle with a tunable gas system and a focus on a high rate of fire.
Your bolt carrier group is almost wholly responsible for the function of your rifle. A good bolt carrier group will give you the lifespan and reliability you want from an AR-15.
And, with a little research, you can fine tune the shooting characteristics of your rifle by changing out your bolt carrier group.
Daniel Defense M16 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group
If you want a bolt carrier group that just works, get the Daniel Defense M16 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group. It’s a no frills bolt carrier group that will go for many thousands of rounds.
Now that you’ve seen all the best options, upgrade your bolt carrier group, and rest assured that you rifle will perform for years to come.