When building an AK or AR chambered in 7.62×39, it is vital to purchase a 7.62×39 BCG so the rifle will function correctly. Many manufacturers make bolt carrier groups, but knowing what’s best for you with many variations can be overwhelming. BCGs are available in different coatings, weights, and finishes. BCGs are not judged by their appearance, but rather the functional reliability they bring to the table — this is ultimately what determines if it makes our list or not.
We’ll break down the benefits of each and what to look for in a quality BCG.
In This Article:
7.62x39 BCG Comparison
Below is my list of the easy-to-use 7.62×39 bolt carrier groups. I list the best choices in terms of value, performance, design, and cost.
Click on the name to head to the product page, read reviews and check prices or skip ahead to the list of BCGs.
|Aero Precision 7.62 Bolt Carrier Group|
|PSA Gen2 KS-47 7.62x39mm Nitride BCG|
|Brownells 7.62x39 Nitride M16 Bolt Carrier Group|
|Anderson M16 7.62x39 Complete BCG|
|Tiger Rock AR 7.62x39 Bolt Carrier Group|
|Radical Firearms RF 7.62x39 M16 BCG|
Why you should listen to us
There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not handling a rifle of some sort. I have rifles dedicated to 3 gun shooting competitions, a truck gun rifle for self-defense, a CQB rifle for outlaw matches, and used as a bedside weapon, plus my competition 9mm carbine. Each rifle serves a different purpose, is chambered in various calibers, and is fitted with different components.
The days of owning stock guns or purchasing a complete rifle build are long gone. After becoming a certified AR-15 Armorer this past year, I will never go back to buying complete uppers or lowers. One of the biggest lessons I learned this year is how important it is to select optimal parts for your gun.
For example, a low-mass bolt carrier may need a lightweight buffer to run correctly. There are pros and cons to different coatings and finishings that I’ve learned through test firing, function checks, and researching their uses.
All of the knowledge I have acquired can save you time and money in choosing the right bolt carrier group for your needs.
7.62x39 BCG Recommendations
1. Aero Precision 7.62 Bolt Carrier Group
Tacoma, Washington’s Aero Precision has roots in the aerospace industry — and possibly has more lower receivers in circulation than any other black rifle maker.
Still, their upper products are also worth a look. They work with military and law enforcement to ensure their products meet mil-spec standards and supply many OEM components, so Aero products are proven in civilian and LE circles. They develop, design, and machine every part, and this 7.62×39 BCG has an 8620 steel carrier and 9310 steel bolt.
The BCG is nickel boron coated and MPI tested. This mil-spec BCG is compatible with LR-308, SR25, and DPMS Patterns.
2. PSA Gen2 KS-47 7.62x39mm Nitride BCG
Palmetto State Armory’s primary goal is to sell rifle products for the AR-15. Since its inception, they have expanded their operation to selling complete handguns, rifles, and pistols as well as optics, accessories, tools, holsters, and more. What is unique about their company is they offer a 100% lifetime warranty beyond just the original buyer of their firearms and will fix it for free plus cover the shipping both ways.
PSA developed the Gen2 KS-47 7.62×39 BCG with a Toolcraft enhanced extractor for durability. What makes this BCG unique is the extended firing pin designed to work with AK-47 magazines. The carrier is made from 8620 steel, and the bolt is phosphate-coated Carpenter 158 steel.
If you are building an AK-47 or want a reliable BCG for your gun, this one was made to feed reliably with most AK-47 magazines.
3. Brownells 7.62x39 Nitride M16 Bolt Carrier Group
Brownells is one of the largest online retailers of firearm parts, ammunition, reloading equipment, gun cleaning tools, optics, accessories, and more.
Brownells is essentially a one-stop shop for all things a gun owner needs, including different caliber carriers. Brownells M16 7.62×39 BCG has a nitride finish for added durability. The bolt head is machined from 9310 steel, heat-treated, and shot-peened. The carrier is made from 8620 steel and checked with magnetic particle inspection.
The best part is this BCG is made in the USA, and Brownells runs many promotions throughout the year, including a 10% discount when you sign up for their newsletter on their site.
4. Anderson M16 7.62x39 Complete BCG
Anderson Manufacturing is a USA-based company, family-owned, and located in Hebron, Kentucky. While often a low-price leader, Anderson prides itself on making high-quality rifles, parts, and accessories, and no amount of online derision can change my mind on the Poverty Pony. They make good kit and are a large part of the shooting community.
They sponsor shooters in different disciplines, listen to feedback from competitive shooters on improving products, and have unwavering support for our Second Amendment rights. What makes them unique is they built the world’s only no lube rifle. Their 7.62×39 BCG is Nitride coated with the carrier built from 8620 steel and bolt from 9310 steel. This BCG has a standard M16 profile and has been gone through magnetic particle inspection.
5. Tiger Rock AR 7.62x39 Bolt Carrier Group
Tiger Rock is a newer company, founded in 2011 and located in Chino, California. Tiger Rock’s primary focus is to provide original equipment manufacturer replacement parts. They manufacture parts for the AR-15, AR-10, AR 7.62×39, AR 9mm, AR 300 Blk, and more rifles. This 7.62×39 bolt carrier group is M16 style, has a shot-peened MPI 9310 steel bolt.
The gas carrier and gas key are made with 8620 steel. The black nitride finish helps prevent corrosion and wear. This BCG will serve any full auto 7.62×39 rifle or rifles meant for more extreme use.
6. Radical Firearms RF 7.62x39 M16 BCG
Operating out of good old Stafford, Texas, Radical Firearms is a Title II NFA gun manufacturer that builds everything from pistols and rifles to silencers and machine guns. While they manufacture most major components, they outsource their barrels, BCGs, stocks, small springs, and pins. This 7.62×39 BCG has a melonite finish for a hardened, corrosion-resistant surface.
This BCG is one of the best options for AK or AR rifles built to perform in harsh conditions, rain, and low maintenance. It is a standard M16 profile BCG and can run full auto.
7.62x39 BCGs vs. 5.56 NATO BCGs
There are a few differences between bolt carriers for 7.62×39 and 5.56 NATO. The AR platform uses a direct impingement gas system that feeds gas from the barrel through the gas tube, which extends from the gas block into the gas key, which forces the BCG to move backward.
The Kalashnikov system operates a little differently, using a long-stroke gas piston system with the piston attached to the bolt carrier. The gas is fed through the gas port into the gas cylinder when the gun fires. The cylinder applies pressure against the piston, which moves the BCG rearward.
Like the AR, the AK bolt carrier group unlocks, extracts the spent casing, ejects it, and chambers the next round. However, the AK bolt extracts the casing from the chamber until it hits a fixed ejector that removes the casing from the ejection port. This fixed ejector is inside the upper receiver and runs in the 7.62×39 bolt carrier slot.
If you’re familiar with the bolt face of an AR-15, it uses a plunger-type ejector that is part of the BCG and tilts the casing to the right until it clears the ejection port.
AR-15s that fire 5.56 NATO ammunition operate at a higher chamber pressure than 7.62x39mm. The 5.56mm cartridge is between 55,000 – 62,000 psi while the 7.62x39mm cartridge expends 45,000 psi. The 7.62x39mm causes more damage than the 5.56mm NATO but is limited to shooting no longer than 400-yard distances. ARs and AKs chambered in 7.62×39 will also have more felt recoil than most 5.56 NATO rifles.
Coatings & Finishes of 7.62x39 BCGs
Parkerized Manganese Phosphate
Parkerizing BCGs has become popular for a more durable gun part that can resist corrosion and wear. Parkerized steel produces a matte finish, is anti-reflective, makes the metal more durable, and absorbs oil better. In non-gun parts such as engines or car parts, parkerized metals are used to improve the lubricity of parts. When you think about the life of a bolt carrier group, its primary function is to slide backward and forward.
Nickel Boron (NiB)
Nickel Boron’s primary purpose on bolt carrier groups is to decrease friction. Nickel boron is a hard coating that feels smooth which is why it allows a bolt carrier to move more smoothly, even with little lubrication. If you know you won’t lubricate the rifle often, or if you use a water-based lubricant that evaporates quickly, nickel boron is a good choice BCG finish. This type of coating also makes cleaning a 7.62×39 BCG a lot faster than phosphate or a more rough finish. Plus, who doesn’t like a little bit of bling added to their rifle?
Like motor vehicles, chrome finishes have been used on gun parts to add longevity for some time. Chrome decreases wear and corrosion, so you’ll find bores lined with chrome, inside bolt carriers, and the end of gas keys on a carrier. Chrome creates a slick surface, so a bolt carrier has less friction and cleans more easily. The downside to Chrome is as parts impact against each other, over time, the Chrome can wear or flake off.
Nitride is not a finish or coating. It is the process of giving the metal components a salt bath. This process hardens the steel and is why many bolt carrier groups are nitrided. Nitride protects surfaces and adds more resistance to wear and corrosion. The majority of bolt carrier groups will have a nitride finish.
Titanium nitride (TiN) is an actual coating instead of a salt bath. It is an extremely thin coating that increases hardness, wear resistance, corrosion resistance and decrease surface friction. These qualities are everything you need in a 7.62×39 BCG. The titanium nitride is gold in color and, once again, can add a little bling to your rifle.
Components of a 7.62x39 BCG
Many small parts make up a bolt carrier group. The AR-15 5.56 BCG and AK 7.62×39 BCG are not that different. The bolt is caliber specific and is essential to function the rifle. As a gun owner, you should regularly maintain your rifle by cleaning it after range visits and inspecting parts for wear or damage.
Each component of a BCG is crucial to not just the function of the firearm but the safety of it as well. It’s always a good idea to buy a spare parts kit on hand when something breaks.
The following are the components of a 7.62×39 BCG:
- 7.62x39mm Bolt
- Firing Pin
- Firing Pin Retainer Pin
- Gas Key
- 2 Key Screws
- Bolt Cam Pin
- Extractor Pin
- Extractor Springs
- Extractor O-Ring
- Ejector Spring
- Gas Ring
- 1/16″ Roll Pin
Types of BCGs
Not all bolt carriers are the same. In order to determine which BCG to buy, you need to know what type of gun you are building and the purpose of the rifle.
An M16 rifle can function in full-auto due to its third trigger pin hole for the auto sear. The bolt carrier of an M16 has more material at the rear of the carrier, called a gull auto lug. This added material is necessary for the rifle to function in full auto. You can legally use an M16 bolt carrier group in an AR-15 because the BCG is not what makes the gun fully automatic. The M16 lower is lawfully regulated as it can be configured to allow a sear to fire in full auto. While a giggle switch isn’t going to be an option for most of us, and the weight of an M16 BCG will always be more important than that of its AR-15 BCG counterpart.
An AR-15 bolt carrier group can be installed in an M16 rifle, but it will not function in full auto. The advantage of using an AR-15 BCG instead of an M16 is to decrease the firearm’s overall weight. This style bolt carrier group is an excellent option for multipurpose semi-auto rifles.
Low mass bolt carriers were developed to shave even more weight off to lessen the overall build weight of the gun. There are loads of benefits to low-mass bolt carrier groups. These carriers decrease felt recoil, especially paired with a matching buffer system. Younger junior shooters and some women enjoy shooting a lot more with lighter guns that don’t kick as much.
A low-mass carrier also works excellent in competition-style rifles. Most targets in competitions require precision shots, follow-up shots, or double taps to neutralize them. After firing the first shot, it is much easier to get back on target and fire subsequent rounds faster because the reduced recoil eliminates the movement of the gun. The only downside of upgrading to a low-mass carrier is that you may change your buffer system if the carrier group is not cycling correctly.
What to Look For in Bolt Carrier Groups
Every time you fire a shot from a rifle, the bolt carrier moves. One line, crack, or vulnerability in the metal of the carrier group could mean a catastrophic failure. You want your bolt carrier groups to pass; High-pressure testing (HPT) and magnetic particle inspection (MPI) tests.
These tests look for flaws in the metal, such as surface cracks or imperfections that are not visible to the human eye.
Magnetic Particle Inspected (MPI)
The BCG is placed inside of a magnetic field using two electromagnets. A liquid solution containing magnetic particles is then applied to the steel. If these particles stick to any part of the bolt carrier group, it could mean there is an imperfection with the metal. Under ultraviolet light, the defects are enhanced, allowing you to see more.
High-Pressure Testing (HPT)
Don’t try this test at home! This test is where a high-pressure cartridge (well above the SAAMI-rated specifications for the cartridge in question) is fired through the BCG to see how it holds up.
MPI testing is always performed after HPT, so if the high-pressure cartridge does cause any damage to the bolt carrier group, it won’t be sent to the customer.
Good quality bolt carrier groups should pass at minimum mil-spec standards—the better the material, the better the functionality and life of the carrier. While there are other parts on a rifle, the very core of a rifle — its beating heart, if you will — is the bolt carrier group.
It is responsible for chambering a round, ejecting the spent cartridge, and reloading the next round into the chamber. If you want a great experience with a rifle that runs flawlessly, I recommend spending any extra budget you have for a build on the best bolt carrier group you can buy. There is nothing more frustrating than a rifle that jams, doesn’t extract, or doesn’t have a smooth action.
There are countless reviews online about which coating or treatment is superior to others. Still, you must remember that people use and build rifles for totally different purposes. A gun built for self-defense should be durable, run no matter how lubricated, and be as resistant to dust, debris, and rust as possible. This style of rifle should maximize maneuverability and close-range control. A rifle built for competitive shooting is about speed, reducing the gun’s weight, and accurate precision shots.
Using broad strokes, a self-defense 7.62×39 BCG should probably be an M16 or AR-15 parkerized manganese phosphate or nitride group. In contrast, a competition bolt carrier group should be low mass and coated nickel boron or titanium nitride.
Why upgrade your BCG in the first place?
Many items go into building a custom, high-quality, functioning rifle. The bolt carrier group is the heart and soul of an AK or 7.62×39 AR 15 rifle. Upgrading your 7.62×39 BCG is the best investment you can make to improve your gun. A better coating BCG will save you time and frustration when cleaning the carbon off. The coating will also determine the smoothness of the action when you cycle the rifle.
One thing to note – the type of gas block matters with BCGs. The two main types of gas blocks are the adjustable gas block and the non-adjustable gas block (you’ll also see a low profile gas block available). If you have an adjustable gas block on your 7.62×39 rifle, you need a BCG that has a detent hole. If you have a non-adjustable gas block, you need a BCG that doesn’t have a detent hole.
As mentioned earlier, 7.62x39mm ammunition is less accurate at a distance and slower velocity than 5.56 NATO. If you want to build a rifle capable of shooting past 400 yards, the 7.62×39 cartridge will not perform. The 7.62x39mm is also a much heavier bullet than a 5.56mm, so a fully loaded 7.62x39mm rifle will weigh more than a similar AR-15 chambered in 5.56.
While 7.62x39mm ammo is typically more cost-effective than 5.56mm, it can be harder to find. Most 7.62x39mm cartridges are Russian ammo which uses steel casings rather than the more reliable brass that most 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington cartridges use.
Steel cased ammo is known to run a little less reliable than its brass counterpart — some folks complain about light primer strikes when they shoot and steel ammo causing more wear and tear on your rifle. It is crucial to clean a 7.62x39mm AR more often, keep it as lubricated as you can, and install an enhanced firing pin for better gun performance.
Price Ranges vs. Features
- Under $100. In general, most bolt carrier groups will cost a little more than $100. An affordable price for a good quality BCG (something upgraded from a stock or factory unit) will be between $120 and $150 from makers like Black Rifle Arms, Faxon Firearms, AIM Surplus, Anderson Mfg. or Brownells. These bolt carriers are typically going to be M16 and nitrided.
- $150-$300. Bolt carrier groups with a price between $150 and $250 will normally have a better coating, be built for competition, and offer more durable metal — you’ll see names from companies like Toolcraft BCG, Tiger Rock, & Aero Precision.
How we selected our recommendations
For most of our recommendations, we have reviewed the products through experience and have learned what does and doesn’t work. We asked experts in the firearms industry for those we couldn’t put our hands on. Many of their answers overlapped when asked about 7.62×39 BCGs that have performed to high-quality standards. There is a direct link between the quality of material and coatings on BCGs. While the more affordable 7.62×39 BCGs will function reliably, we found that the more expensive with better quality materials last longer and perform better.
The 7.62×39 cartridge can save you money compared to the cost of 5.56 ammunition, and it has more stopping power if you have to engage a threat at close quarters. A 7.62×39 barrel should always be paired with a 7.62×39 bolt carrier group.
- Silvex: A Guide to the Types of Gun Finishes
- Rifleman Q & A: Why Nickel Boron?
- Shooting Illustrated: Gun Coatings & Treatments: Comparing 4 Popular Options
- 80% Arms: AR15 vs. M16 BCGs: What’s the Difference in Bolt Carrier?
- DPMS vs Armalite: The Difference Between AR 10 & LR 308 Patterns – 80 Percent Arms
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