Anyone who regularly shoots an AR-15 suppressed, particularly a pistol or SBR, knows that there will be some degree of gas to the eyes. If you are looking for a way to minimize the gas to your eyes, there are a few ways to accomplish this.
The first is to use an adjustable gas block. An adjustable gas block lets you to adjust the amount of gas that enters the gas tube. When you minimize it so the bolt only receives the force it needs to operate reliably, you create softer recoil as well as reduce the amount of gas that hits your face/eyes.
While an adjustable gas block is an excellent way to reduce the amount of gas hitting your face, there are some drawbacks. For one, depending where your gas block is located under your rail, it may not be convenient to access the gas block’s adjustment screw, especially if you are planning to adjust the gas regularly to accommodate suppressed and unsuppressed use. An adjustable gas block can get carbon lock. This occurs when the gas block’s adjustment screw locks up due to carbon fouling so that it is unable to turn.
However, one of the advantages of an adjustable gas block is that it enables you to use a standard carbine buffer. As a result, you may notice a little less recoil as well as a little less wear and tear.
Another option is to use some type of gas buster charging handle. From my experience, the Griffin Armament SN-ACH (Suppressor Normalized Ambi Configurable Handle) works very well to reduce the amount of eye stinging gas hitting your eyes/face (especially when used with an adjustable gas block or adjustable BCG). It costs about $85 which is about the same you’d spend on most any quality, ambi charging handle without the gas redirecting feature.
Then there’s the adjustable bolt carrier. There are two brands of “full-mass” bolt carrier groups that are most popular, Gemtech and Bootleg. Gemtech only has 2 settings – suppressed and unsuppressed. Bootleg has four settings – Suppressed, 2 intermediate positions and Unsuppressed. Bootleg also includes the bolt, cam pin and firing pin, while Gemtech only provides the adjustable carrier. Bootleg also costs about $50 less than Gemtech. Bootleg weighs approximately 11.125 oz.
Features of the Bootleg Adjustable Carrier
- Machined from S7 Tool Steel
- 4 Setting Adjustable Vent System
- Lithium Isonite Coating
- Gas Adjustment
- Full Auto Rated
- Staked Mil-Spec Gas Key
- Removable Adjustment Pin
- Forward Assist Serrations
Price of the Bootleg Adjustable Carrier
As of the writing of this review, pricing directly from Bootleg’s website was $199.99
The Bootleg Adjustable Carrier has a Lithium Isonite coating which is very slick and smooth. Machining seems good and the gas key appears to be properly staked. I also like the fact that it is very easy to adjust the settings. Simply use a flat-head screw driver to turn the adjustment screw through the ejection port. That’s right, you won’t need to remove the Bootleg Adjustable Bolt Carrier in order to make adjustments, unlike the Gemtech. And unlike an adjustable gas block, you can easily remove it and use it in another AR.
In case you’re wondering, the Bootleg weighs in at 11.125 oz which is slightly less than a non-adjustable, Mil-Spec BCG which weighs approximately 11.5 oz.
At the Range
I ran the Bootleg four position, adjustable bolt carrier group in an AR-15 pistol (10.5″ barrel) with a YHM Turbo Suppressor, H3 buffer and a BCM carbine action buffer spring. With the carrier set to “Suppressed”, there was a noticeable reduction in the amount of gas to my eyes compared to that of a non-adjustable bolt carrier. Additionally, with the Bootleg, brass (M193) ejected at 3:30-4 as opposed to ejecting at 1-1:30 with a non-adjustable bolt carrier. After shooting only 60 rounds (due to the ammo shortage), I experienced no failures whatsoever. However, running suppressed, it seems like the Bootleg adjustable BCG is a little louder at the ear, which is likely because it vents more gas than a standard bolt carrier.
One strange thing I noticed when I first put the Bootleg in the upper receiver was that it caused the ejection port dust cover to frequently pop open with the slightest nudge to the AR. However, this annoying phenomenon eventually went away once I put some rounds through it.
If you are looking for a convenient way to adjust the gas in your AR to reduce the amount hitting your face/eyes, you may want to check out the Bootleg Adjustable Carrier.