Black Rain Ordnance (BRO) has been in the gun-making business for some time now, but that doesn’t mean they have stopped getting creative. Nearly all Black Rain gun parts are manufactured in-house, and they offer a wide range of customization and upgrades to their rifles. I had the opportunity to customize my own AR Pistol and started with the Subatomic mode. Black Rain rifles are available in stock models, but they make customizing a rifle fun and easy.
Having a customized rifle or AR pistol is appealing to me for those “family heirloom” guns. It becomes much more than just a gun and its personal value becomes greater than the price of the gun. Now don’t get me wrong, when it comes to custom guns, I enjoy starting with a stripped upper and lower, and building it from scratch myself. Or, buying that stock AR and making upgrades to it so it is just a little bit different than the other guy’s. But it is also fun to place an order and tell them what you want and then wait in anticipation.
What customizations can they do?
When I ordered the Subatomic, I started with their stock “fallout” upper & lower and asked for a 10.5” stainless steel barrel chambered in 5.56mm. For the color, I picked Cold War Grey and upgraded to a 3.5 lbs. drop-in trigger. I also upgraded the charging handle to an extended one and the SB3 pistol brace to the Maxum Defense CQB pistol brace.
Since this one is going to be a keeper, I asked if they could engrave my agency badge on the side of the gun and my name on the dust cover. I wouldn’t normally want my name or agency badge on my guns, but for a keepsake, it’s pretty cool. The finished product was impressive, but the time frame was even better. I was told to give them a few days. It was done in two.
The finish is a Cerakote, gloss finish. They also offered a battle-worn hand rub over the finish, but I decided to go with the solid color. The stainless barrel made the gun a little heavier than a standard molly chromed barrel, but I wanted the stainless barrel on this one. When I picked it up, it came with a soft carrying case that I will actually use. Most of the time, I toss the cheap flimsy cases they put them in. This one came with three mag pouches on the side and shoulder straps for easy carrying.
A Close-Up Look at the BRO-Subatomic
I ordered a nickel-born BCG and low-profile adjustable gas block. The pistol grip is a Magpul MOE and the handguard is a 12” MLOK Hybrid handguard made in-house by BRO. The hybrid handguard has Picatinny rails on most of the top and two short rails on each side. The twist rate on the barrel is 1:7 and the bolt catch and safety selector are mil-spec. When purchasing a new gun, the shell casing from the manufacturer’s test fire is usually in the case. With Black Rain, I received three casings and the paper target with three holes they shot from the factory.
The trigger guard on this lower is a fixed, built-in trigger guard so it cannot be changed later. That does not bother me on this model however because the trigger guard leaves plenty of room, even with gloves on.
While it may not change the quality of the gun, the metals used to build this rifle came from the USA and that means a lot to me. The lower also has some deep indentations on the front of the mag well that give it some character. Besides the great finish and looks of this rifle, the upper and lower together are very solid and have no play in them at all. Every part was adjusted and tooled to fit together.
On the Range With the BRO Subatomic
For breaking in the Subatomic, I used Winchester 55-grain target ammo. I installed a Holosun AEMS optic and sighted it in at 50 yards. After that, I put some rounds through it at 50, 75, and 100 yards. The Black Rain is a smooth shooting gun and held good groupings at the 100-yard mark. The drop-in trigger is very crisp with virtually no play in it at all. When shooting a stainless barrel, I like to put a couple of hundred rounds through it to get some copper fouling in the barrel for better accuracy. Even from the beginning though, it was pretty accurate.
The thickness of the barrel helped keep the heat down during the speed drills. The Subatomic has good balance making it feel comfortable to shoot quickly. One of my favorite upgrades is the Black Rain extended charging handle. It has an aggressive oversized tactical latch that is easy to get ahold of, even with gloves on. What I like even more is that they sell just the latch in their store. This allows the standard mill-spec charging handle to be converted to an extended charging handle for $15.00.
As I have mentioned in many articles, customer service can make or break a company for me. Regardless of the quality of the products, if they don’t have good customer service, I won’t be a customer. With this company, I can say they put customer service at the front of their marketing and sales strategy. If you are not happy with a product, they are not happy.
When my build was complete, they wanted me to look it over and make sure I approved. If there was anything that needed to be changed, they were more than happy to take it back to the production floor and change it. They also offer a lifetime warranty on their product which is why many law enforcement agencies in this area are switching to them. If you have a problem with a gun, they will fix it faster than Jimmy Johns can get you a sandwich.
Final Thoughts on the Black Rain Custom Build
I am very pleased with this custom build from Black Rain Ordnance. They appear to be very law enforcement friendly and even have a law enforcement sales rep to work with agency orders. Their customer service is excellent, and their product is made in the USA. BRO has their own paint department that will work with customers to mix a custom color for them, help design custom graphics, and just about anything else a person wants to be customized on a rifle.
If you want a custom build at a decent price, this is one of the better high-end, quality AR-15 manufacturers you will find.
BRO Subatomic Specs
- Receiver: 7075 T6 Billet aluminum
- Charging Handle: 7075 T6 billet aluminum with oversized latch
- Barrel: 10.5” 416R Stainless Steel
- BCG: Nickel boron coated
- Gas System: Direct impingement, .750 low profile adjustable gas block
- Weight: 6lbs, 14oz