Today’s review is a bit different from the norm. It took four years of testing through many a 3-gun competition and practice session, but here is probably the most tested review of a Battle Arms Development AR-15. Also referred to as B.A.D., Battle Arms has been a top name in the competition shooting world. They have some of the most innovative and lightweight designs out there, but how do they hold up? 

Well, they hold up awesome. As a 3-gun petite competitor building her first AR-15 rifle about five years ago, I did extensive research on the best lightweight and most reliable parts out there. In fact, you might be researching your own build. My research led to Battle Arms, and I’m happy it did. Over about 8 months, I built this AR using almost exclusively their products. 

Four years, 40,000 rounds, and some heavy abuse later, this AR is still performing. It has carried me through my 3-gun career from first season locals in New Hampshire to today, where I compete in national-level competitions. 

Why? Well, here’s the scoop: 

The Build

•    Upper and Lower Receiver Set: B.A.D BAD556
•    Lower Parts Kit: B.A.D 
•    Barrel: B.A.D 16-inch Ultramatch 5.56/.223 Wylde
•    Gas Block: V7 Adjustable Titanium 
•    Handguard: 2A Armament 15-inch BL-Rail Keymod 
•    Stock: B.A.D SaberTube 
•    Bolt Carrier Group: Iron City Rifle Works Black Diamond Enhanced 
•    Firing Pin: V7 Titanium 
•    Buffer System: JP Rifles Silent Capture System  
•    Trigger: ELF Tactical AR-9 Match Trigger
•    Grip: B.A.D ATG Adjustable Grip 
•    Optic: Vortex Razor HD II 1-6x
•    Muzzle Break: DPMS Miculek Muzzle Brake 
•    Charging Handle: Noveske Super Badass 
•    Cerakote: Wicked Weaponry “Taylor’s Teal” and “Zombie Green” 

Total Weight Without Optic: 5.2lbs 


battle arms lower upper
To save weight, as much metal as possible is shaved off the lower and upper. (Photo:Taylor Thorne/

The AR-15 is a great platform because it is so modular, and there is a wide variety of options and upgrades available. Whether you build or buy, there is always tuning to be done. Taking the time to make sure everything is running just the way you need it is key.

After completing the build, I spent some time adjusting the JP Rifles Silent Capture System, tuning the gas block and tweaking things like stock position, grip angle, etc. Like most builds and AR-15s, you find what works and doesn’t work, then you hit the workbench to make modifications. 

I found the original muzzle brake (V7 Titanium) was actually overcompensating and driving the rifle down, this was due to it being a lightweight design. Throwing on the DPMS cured that and the rifle now stays flat on target. Light strike issues lead to changing the trigger from the ELF Tactical 3-gun to their AR-9 group. Now, this may seem odd, but the hammer in an AR-9 trigger is very heavy, so this ensured it would effectively hit the primer every time. 

When I consulted ELF about my issues, they said they were making changes to the 3-gun trigger and to use this in the meantime. Since it works and feels AMAZING, there has been no need to change it again. Despite some issues with the first trigger, I would still recommend ELF. There is a lot of data showing how great a trigger it is. The original optic was a Vortex Spark II, which was a great red dot. But moving to long-range shooting meant it was time for a 1-6x, which is where the Razor HD II came in. 


 B.A.D SaberTube
The B.A.D. SaberTube can be canted to fit your shoulder perfectly. (Photo: Taylor Thorne/

Other than changing parts through tuning, there have been zero issues – knocking vigorously on wood. This Battle Arms AR has seen 3-gun competitions all over the country and has been subjected to abuse such as being spiked into barrels, dropped into mud, and many … I mean many … consecutive rounds fired. Simply said, the high-quality parts have done their job. 

Final Thoughts

Vortex Razor HD II 1-6x
The Vortex Razor HD II 1-6x is a perfect competition optic. (Photo:Taylor Thorne/

Whether you are building or buying an AR-15, think about what your needs and uses are for the gun. Defensive, long-range, or competition-style ARs will all have variances. For instance, in order to keep the weight down, this rifle discarded a dust cover and forward assist. The specific purpose of this rifle was competition.

If you are looking for a competition AR or just a high-performing range rifle, Battle Arms is well worth taking a look at for your next purchase.

 Four years and 40,000 rounds later, Battle Arms is going strong
 Four years and 40,000 rounds later, Battle Arms is going strong. (Photo: Ben Philippi/



revolver barrel loading graphic