Yankee Hill Machine goes for gold with its new burnt bronze Model 57 Specter.
While it has been manufacturing dependable AR-type rifles and parts for the last couple of decades — often for other big name manufacturers and military contracts — Yankee Hill Machine (YHM) introduced the burnt bronze Model 57 Specter in 2015, showing that it’s ready to go for gold.
YHM has developed a reputation for making some of the best AR parts in the industry, and in the mid-90s decided it would produce complete rifle builds distinct to its name and unique style of machine work. In addition to AR-type rifles, YHM manufactures handguards, rail and optic mounts, muzzle devices and suppressors. The Model 57 Specter is a sort of crowning achievement in the company’s line of ARs, with a fitting burnt bronze Cerakote finish to give it that golden look of AR royalty.
The Model 57 was originally introduced in a black finish at the 2014 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, with additions like a new KeyMod-integrated, SLR Slant hanguard and YHM tactical charging handle latch added in 2015. The Model 57 is available in several chamberings, including 5.56 NATO, .300 Blackout and 6.8 SPC II. This review featured the 6.8 SPC, which comes with a 16-inch barrel and 1:10-inch twist. The most eye-catching addition is obviously the industry-standard burnt bronze finish, while the foundation of the rifle is the artfully machined receiver set.
Built for Gold
The Model 57 Specter features billet 7075-T6 aluminum receivers that are machined at the company’s Florence, Massachusetts, facility and have matching grooves on the receivers and handguard. Those stylistic grooves run along the sides of the 9.5-inch SLR Slant handguard, on the front of the magazine well and on the sides of the upper receiver.
While billet aluminum receivers are considered to possess slightly less strength than their forged counterparts, they are still tremendously tough. One of the biggest advantages with a billet receiver, however, is the customization that can be applied through machining into the design. And that’s exactly where the YHM Model 57 Specter shines — the lines and grooves crafted into the burnt bronze rifle are head turning, to say the least. Fresh out of the box at the local gun shop, a group of onlookers swarmed around the rifle with oohs and aahs. It was much the same at the range, as other shooters congregated to inquire about the gold-looking AR.
The upper and handguard feature a continuous top rail for plenteous optic mounting options, while Picatinny rail mounts are positioned at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions at the front of the handguard. The handguard also comes pre-equipped with YHM Q.D.S. flip up sights and has a slanted front section to match a Slant muzzle brake. The brake, which is really a brake/compensator hybrid that works to reduce recoil and limit muzzle rise, is an especially nice option for the 6.8 SPC chambering, which carries a bit more punch than the 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. The forward rail sections are great for accessories, though they do not provide the most ergonomic or comfortable hold for those who prefer a forward grip.
The beauty of the Model 57, however, is that its stunning exterior is equaled by its well-made integral parts. The Specter features a 16-inch barrel in the 6.8 SPC chambering, as well as a 1:10-inch twist. The barrel is heat treated, 4140 steel with YHM’s exclusive ball-cut fluting to improve rigidity and aid in barrel cooling. The barrel is also threaded for various muzzle products, including the standard Slant compensator/muzzle brake.
The rifle also utilizes a two-stage, 5-pound, drop-in trigger that makes it enjoyable to shoot and highly accurate. The aforementioned flip-up sights come stock, as does the tactical charging handle latch and low-profile gas block. The Model 57 comes with a Magpul CTR buttstock and MOE pistol grip, as well as two PMAGS (the 6.8 version comes with two standard metal magazines). The overall weight of the rifles is 7.6 pounds, which makes it well balanced to shoot but light enough to provide added maneuverability.
The Model 57 Specter was tested for accuracy with two loads: the 115-grain American Eagle FMJ from Federal Premium and Nosler’s 90-grain Defense Bonded Performance. Accuracy testing was conducted from a bench at 100 yards with Steiner’s uber-impressive M5Xi 3-15x50mm Military optic. Accuracy data was based on five three-shot groups. Close-range target work was also conducted with Trijicon’s RMR and the stock YHM Q.D.S. flip-up sights.
With a rated velocity of 2,675 feet per second (fps), Federal’s American Eagle 115-grain FMJ produced an average group of 1.37 inches and a best group of 1.25 inches. For everyday range work, the American Eagle FMJ is accurate and cost effective, running you about $16 for a box of 20.
The second test load was Nosler’s 90-grain Defense Bonded Performance, which has a rated velocity of 2,840 fps. The best group produced by the 90-grain bullet was 1.10 inches, with an average group of 1.29 inches.
Yankee Hill’s Model 57 Specter is visually appealing and made for long-term reliability. Its components are made in the U.S. and produced by one of the most skilled machine shops in the country. For an upgraded rifle straight out of the box that sets you apart from the crowd, the Model 57 is just the ticket. It comes in all the hot AR-15-platform calibers, including the rising stars like the 6.8 SPC and .300 BLK. And if burnt bronze isn’t your color, you can always go with a Henry Ford classic: black. For a price of $2,635, you do pay more than you would for a bargain basement build, but you also get a lot more, too.
YHM Model 57 Specter Burnt Bronze
Type: Semi-auto, direct gas impingement, carbine-length gas system
Caliber: 6.8 SPC
Barrel: 16 in., 1:10 twist
Weight: 7.6 lbs.
Handguard: SLR-Slant 9.5 in.
Stock: Magpul CTR
Grip: Magpul MOE
Trigger: Two-stage, drop-in, 5 lbs.
Capacity: 25 rounds
Manufacturer: Yankee Hill Machine, Co.
Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from the July 2015 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.