Gun Digest

Streamlined Lethality: Blackheart’s Take on the AR-15 Rocks

Designed by Green Berets, the BHI-15(S) takes the AR-15 platform to the next level.

When you handle guns for a living it’s easy to get jaded. There is a lot to see and even more to learn. In this business you get lots of calls that begin with, “We have created a new AR-15 that you are going to love.”

So when Erik Lawrence of Blackheart International called, he could probably hear me nodding my head as he tried to describe his new rifle. Then he said something that shook me back to reality. “What would a bunch of Green Berets know about designing a rifle?” Good point. Guys in the field know what they need. So I decided to take a closer look.

The truth is Lawrence didn’t do a great job of describing his new rifle over the phone. When I got the thing in my hands it occurred to me that someone had finally taken the AR-15 platform to the next level. And the best part is that moving to the next level is not about all the stuff you can hang on the rifle, but rather creating a rifle that functions the way it should, feels better than anything you’ve carried before and gives you the versatility your mission demands. The BHI-15(S) does all that with no apparent downside.

What am I talking about? The most noticeable thing about the BHI-15(S) is the hand guard system. It is thin. It is easy to grip and handle and it offers amazing versatility. Instead of being bristling with picatinny rails the Blackheart hand guard is knurled for a great grip. Strategically placed slots allow for the attachment of short segments of picatinny rail. This lets the operator configure the rifle in any number of ways. BHI sells rail segments in 1.5-, 2- and 4-inch lengths, making the hand guard ultra-versatile and more importantly keeping weight and extraneous gear to a minimum. Right out of the box the hand guard just feels right and it only gets better when you can put only the things you need exactly where you want them.

A chromed bolt and internals for long life and easy cleaning are some of the small touches that make the BHI-15 a great rifle. You can also see the slim handguard making for a versatile foregrip and accessory platform.
The view downrange.

The hand guard covers a mid-length gas tube system that operates with a low-profile gas block. When running a 16-inch barrel the mid-length gas tube is the way to go. It offers less wear on parts, easier extraction, and less muzzle rise, with no downside. This all comes back to the physics of how an AR-15 operates. Gas from the barrel is used to operate the action. The pressure and violence of that operation is based on the length of the barrel after the gas port. As long as the bullet is in the bore pressure is high and hot gas is running back into the action. This is called dwell time. The 14.5-inch barrel on the M-4 carbine uses a short gas tube. The original M-16 uses a long gas tube. And the dwell time is the same. But because Uncle Sam makes it difficult for civilians to own rifles with 14.5-inch barrels some makers decided to run carbine-length gas tubes on 16-inch barrels. This increases the dwell time and puts more stress on the internal parts. A mid-length gas tube solves that problem and makes for a smoother shooting rifle. This showed up nicely on the range.

With a lower receiver precision machined from a billet of aluminum the BHI-15(S) includes optimum fire-control parts like Wolff spring and a Geissele SSA two-stage trigger. If you are not running a two-stage trigger on your AR, get one and learn to use it. The Geissele offers perfect feel for ultimate control. You really can’t beat it. Other nice internal touches include a titanium firing pin and a hard-chromed bolt-carrier group that improves durability and eases cleaning. The Mag-pul collapsible stock and Stark pistol grip round out the external furniture, but not the features.

The results speak for themselves.

A good-looking, sweetly balanced, maneuverable rifle designed for hard use still has to put rounds on target. All those other features support and enhance the chrome-lined Criterion barrel (1:9 twist). Also helping out were the Mag-pul flip-up sights. These are fast, tough and easy-to-use. The front is adjustable for elevation and the rear for windage. They lock up and down and deploy with the flip of fingertip. Best of all, they co-witness perfectly with the EOTech sight locked in above the ejection port. Both shared the same point of aim and point of impact.

On the range, the BHI-15 did everything a shooter might ask it to do; shooting outstanding groups on targets ranging from 25 feet to 100 yards. The balance and handling were outstanding, especially while shooting on the move.  Recoil, specifically muzzle jump, was not an issue during rapid fire and any combination of sighting (irons only, EOTech only or both at once) proved accurate. Head shots at 50 yards were no trouble and over the course of more than 300 rounds reliability flawless.

The end result is something you would expect to see when a group of SF guys put their heads together to build a rifle for those who carry a rifle to work every day. The BHI in-house gunsmith, who formerly worked as a gunsmith in the Army Marksmanship Unit, builds all BHI firearms. This is quality you can see and feel. From sub-MOA accuracy to furniture that works the way shooters need it to work, the BHI-15 will certainly give you that warm fuzzy feeling.

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