Report | Black Rain Ordnance – BRO Urban 16"

black rain ordnance review
January 2, 2017  
Categories: Guns

You know what’s really good for gun sales? Banning them. California has seen an unprecedented rise in gun sales due to the “assault weapon” registration and ban of any guns with “scary features”. Shops can’t keep items in stock, and some gun stores have seen 600% sales increases. I know folks who would have never owned an AR, but when the ban was passed they bought one or two rifles just to sit on.

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Will these new laws cause those hell-bent on chaos to curb their plans? I doubt it. Will all criminals register their weapons? I doubt it. I’m not a victim of fear-mongering and I realize I have more of a chance in getting into a car wreck than having to blast my way out of a home invasion, but, like insurance, it’s nice to have the option.

Not to get off topic, but today we’re going to look at the Black Rain Ordnance BRO Urban 16″ AR. I only bring up this political crap because Black Rain Ordnance (BRO for the remainder of this article) makes rifles compliant in states with strict laws. So if you live in NY (and now CA), they have a rifle that will meet those insane guidelines. Let’s send a few down range now.

URBAN BRO in action

(Photo by: Eric Hsueh)

The URBAN BRO is part of the RECON Series. The RECON series features their 7075-T6 aluminum receivers. 7075-T6 is a super strong, high-quality aluminum. The rifles in this series also feature nickel boron bolt carriers and 416R stainless barrels, as well as their drop-in triggers. They also come with adjustable gas blocks, Magpul furniture, and unique-looking hand guards.  I asked Dusty Altman from BRO, what separated them from all the other AR manufacturers, and he said it was their all US-made materials and commitment to making high-quality, precision rifles. All their parts are made in-house. Besides that, I think they stand out aesthetically from the herd.

Bro Urban leaning against a target.

“What the fuck is that?”

When I pulled the BRO Urban from its case, it definitely got a few looks, from curiosity to disgust. I attribute the harsh looks to the fact it doesn’t fit the trend of operator-as-fuck tactical rifles. This particular one is done up in Norguard. Norguard is an electroless nickel plating that is corrosion-resistant and highly durable. It’s definitely a flashy-looking color, but the coating seems top-notch. The other visual standouts were the stainless barrel with fluting, the uniquely shaped hand guard, and the flash suppressor that looks like something Sauron would wield while battling enemies from Middle Earth.

Barrel of the Bro-Urban with a broken bowling pin in the background in the dirt.

There’s no mistaking that this is a Black Rain rifle due to the branding, and there’s a lot of it. Based purely on looks, you either like it or don’t. Seeing that we are victims of fashion to some point, this rifle might not fit your current steez. I really liked how it made some people uncomfortable and question my ‘tacticool’ fashion sense. At the end of the day, I’m a square range “ranger” with most of my enemies being made of paper and steel. I could give a fuck that this thing is flashy, and I respect that it is. Looking at precision shooting or 3-gun, I could see this rifle being right at home at those events. Hell, look at those crazy 3-gunner outfits with logos that make a NASCAR driver jealous. Ok, enough of my rant; let’s shoot some shit.

Bro Urban on a wooden table.

Oh, that’s nice.

I mounted a Leupold VX-6 to the BRO Urban, and bro, let me tell you, this piece of tubed glass is my favorite. Nothing can make your shooting experience better than having high-quality optics. Sure, there’s a list of other things like private ranges, learning from the best, etc., but dude, mounting a Leupold scope on this thing was a game changer. Sorry for the distraction; let’s get back to the rifle. After zeroing the rifle, I set up various targets ranging from speed racks at 30 yards, VTAC paper at 20 and 30 yards, bowling pins at 50 yards, and 5 inch steel plates at 100 yards plus. For ammo, I used 55 gr PMC X-TAC as well as some random mix of other 5.56. Shooter ready?

Urban Pro photo by Eric Hsueh

(Photo by: Eric Hsueh)

BRO recommends seasoning the barrel by shooting a bunch of rounds and then cleaning. I’m lazy and didn’t do this, but was impressed still with the overall performance of the rifle. The single stage 3.5 lb trigger was really positive. The recoil on the rifle was pretty good and didn’t have me spazzing out. The groupings were pretty tight, and the steel gongs in the distance were being rung consistently. After 500 rounds, I walked away, thinking this gun would be a good competition rifle. The ergonomics, the precision, and the flashiness really add up to a nice boom stick. I have to say; even after my testing period was over (600 rounds), it’s been my go-to rifle for range days. It’s really fun to shoot, and I like the conversation it generates from the looks. Black Rain Ordnance has a bunch of rifles and parts, and if you are in the market to build or buy something complete, it’s worth checking out.

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One last thing.

BRO had also sent me their BRO-Lock, which is an amazing safety feature. The BRO Lock fits in the chamber, pushing the bolt carrier back just enough to prevent disassembling the rifle and loading a round. Such a cool idea, and it only costs $34.95.


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Additional Reading:

Craig Metzger

Craig Metzger

About the Author

Craig Metzger is some sort of evil creative genius who enjoys everything from Billabong to ZevTech. He’s one of those dudes who mountain bikes, hikes and snowboards with the same enthusiasm he has for spending time on the range, offroading in Moab, fly-fishing and attending Renaissance Fairs. He’s definitely our first minion so far to have a subscription to Thrasher magazine. Kyle Lamb (the Viking Tactics Kyle Lamb) really does call him the Tactical Hippie, that’s a true story. Although we cannot confirm rumors that he played the role of Everett in Delta Farce, we can advise you to check out his work on his website or on his blog.


  1. Terry Martin

    I have 3 Black Rain rifles. Mine are all the norgaurd. These guns are of the upmost quality and worth spending the extra money for. If you want a cheap rifle, those are out there. But if you want quality, Black Rain is where it’s at. I have visited the Black Rain facility twice and they are very friendly. I have called them a few times about new products they are making and they answer the phone right away and I am very happy with my interactions with them. The norgaurd is milled instead of forged or stamped. That I’m sure is what makes these norgaurds more expensive along with the stainless barrel. Black Rain in my opinion is the best AR manufacturer. Noveski is the only company that makes a better barrel but Black Rain makes the rest of the rifle better then even Noveski.
    TOP QUALITY!!!!!!!

  2. Tim

    Do not waste your money with black rain! Why? thanks for asking 🙁 I like most have delt with some terrible companies but black rain takes the cake. Ive called emailed and called and emailed some more A lot . Ive spent nearly 2500 on their gear and they cannot take the time to help me return their faulty 65 round drum for my AR. The worst hands down!!

  3. strych9

    OK, I have to ask. Please don’t take this the wrong way, it’s a serious question.

    What makes a rifle like this worth $1700-$2000? What makes it significantly better than say a $1000-$1100 RRA 16″ rifle?

    Is there a legit reason for this price difference or, like 1911’s is there a high-end market just because people have the money and say “Fuck it, we’ll do it live… with a Cabot”?

    • CM

      This particular rifle has some pretty extensive machine work on it as well as the process and machining done on the barrel and coated bolt carrier. Your also paying for a pretty sweet drop in trigger. You can get this rifle cheaper than list from an authorized dealer. In terms of; “is a 1000 rifle any better than a 1700 rifle” it all depends on what you are looking for. They all go bang-bang and will get the job done, normally the higher priced models have more finishing work done to the upper and lower, the barrel is slightly nicer as well as all the components being better fits and having higher tolerances. In the end though you are probably right…”Fuck it”

      • strych9

        Thanks for the reply.

        I’ve seen a lot of people shooting high-end AR’s and other high-end firearms who clearly are lucky to have figured out which end of the thing a bullet comes out of. So, I was curious if there’s an actual reason (in terms of performance or longevity or something) to drop that kind of money on an AR.

        I don’t have a problem with people spending their money any way they see fit I just wanted to know if they knew something about these guns that I was missing because for all the really high-end rifles and pistols I’ve seen get talked up at various ranges I haven’t met very many people who could shoot them well enough for me to make an assessment as to what exactly that coin they dropped was buying them.


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