Cobalt Kinetics BAMF Pistol: The Perfect PDW

MIke Searson shouldering the Cobalt Kinetics BAMF PDW handgun

Cobalt Kinetics sent us a BAMF Pro pistol for test and evaluation. This one was equipped with a telescoping PDW-style brace. Externally, it resembled Cobalt Kinetics’ traditional designs with its perfect Cerakote finish in a stainless-looking gunmetal grey and flawless fit between upper and lower receivers. Perhaps, I should share a little company history before getting into the details. Please forgive my enthusiasm.

Cobalt Kinetics

A little more than half a decade ago, a new AR manufacturer turned heads on the competitive shooting circuit. Cobalt Kinetics of St. George Utah brought out a line of ARs where the magazine automatically dropped when it ran empty (this is known as the Cobalt Advantage Reloading System or CARS), two forward assists acted as a bolt drop and the futuristic looking weapon showed amazing recoil control between Cobalt Kinetics radically new brakes and an adjustable buffer system.

Cobalt Kinetics BAMF pdw pistol left profile
The BAMF was topped with an EOTech holo sight that offered a generous field of view — perfect for CQB or home defense.

Unfortunately, the AR market took a severe downturn between 2016 and 2019. It seemed as if you couldn’t give one away. Manufacturers such as Cobalt Kinetics felt the pinch when consumers could buy 5 to 7 standard grade ARs for the price of a new Cobalt rifle. If it didn’t see a change in the market, the company considered closing its doors.

Briefly, Cobalt Kinetics set its sights on building high-end 1911s. Then, new owners bought the company and decided to turn the attention back to AR production. To this end, Cobalt applied a stripped-down approach to building rifles and pistols.

Would Cobalt’s products sell without the dual bolt drop or CARS? The reduction in innovative features lowered the price by over $1,000. However, the question remained, “Would these new rifles and pistols actually justify the relatively high cost that remained?”

The answer appears to be a resounding “Yes!” Now, with that out of the way, let’s get back the details we all crave.


Cobalt sent us a BAMF Pro pistol for test and evaluation. This one was equipped with a telescoping PDW-style brace. Externally, it resembled Cobalt Kinetics’ traditional designs with its perfect Cerakote finish in a stainless-looking gunmetal grey and flawless fit between upper and lower receivers.

The dual bolt drop was gone, as was the short-throw selector. However, the selector is still ambidextrous. Cobalt Kinetics also retained the Radian charging handle and unique ambidextrous magazine release.

The chamber was .223 Wylde, so I could safely run both .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO without worry. The barrel twist was 1 in 8 inches. The barrel was threaded ½x28” and wore a linear compensator.

As much as I liked the dual bolt drop and was sad to see it go, I can understand why. I was never a big fan of the forward assist as it was. Afterall, if a high-pressure rifle round won’t chamber, why force a cartridge into the chamber?

Nike Searson shooting the Cobalt Kinetics BAMF pistol with EOTech sight
I expected to unleash a little flamethrower that would rattle my teeth and ring my ears through the muffs. Cobalt Kinetics took those worries away.

With a 6.5-inch barrel, the new linear compensator was mostly beneath the handguards. In case you’re not familiar with that term, a linear compensator primarily propels gas and concussion forward of the shooter. It does not change or eliminate the sound signature like a suppressor does; it simply pushes it forward reducing noise pollution from the shooter’s perspective.

The traditional billeted grip was replaced by a Hogue finger groove grip. The entire top of the upper receiver and the matching handguard was a continuous Picatinny rail with three M-Lok slots on the handguard for mounting accessories. The sides of the hand guards had a single M-Lok slot, 2 QD points on either side, and the bottom sports a single M-Lok slot. An end plate on the brace accommodates a single QD position as well.

This pistol shipped with a single Magpul 30-round windowed magazine with Cobalt’s logo prominently featured. I tried several other magazines as well, including Surefeed GI-pattern magazines made by Okay Industries, HK steel and polymer magazines, and a Schmeisser 60-round magazine by ATI.

The BAMF was definitely stripped down compared to its more notable product line, but it still has the amazing fit and finish, as well as enough custom touches to keep it relevant. Since there were no iron sights, and a magnified optic would not suit my purpose on such a short-barreled AR, I went with an EOTech HWS XPS2.

This is a non-night vision version of EOTech’s shortest and lightest HWS sight, so far. The CR123 lithium battery configuration of the XPS2 provides additional rail space, leaving more room for rear iron sights or magnifiers. Also, offering water-resistant capability up to 10 feet, the XPS2 is a great compact and lightweight option that offers 20 different levels of brightness. The XPS2 is rated for a host of extremes, including being submerged in 10 feet of water or going from -40 degrees to 120 degrees F.

At the Range and Beyond

When you think of an AR in 5.56 — with a barrel as short as this — you probably think of a tooth rattling, loud shooting experience, with a blinding flash, questionable reliability, and awful accuracy. However, with Cobalt, that was simply not the case.

Between the robust buffer system and the linear compensator, the rifle stayed on point. There was little to no recoil, and while I considered this one a candidate for the SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) treatment, I quite literally saw no need.

The ammo was a mix of Federal 62-grain, Black Hills 77-grain, and a few hundred rounds of 55-grain Aguila. I suffered no malfunctions, failures to feed, or failures to extract. I did not even come across so much as a dud primer. Likewise, given the variety of magazines I employed, I had no feeding issues or any failures of any kind.

It is far from a precision gun, though. At close range, the groups were well under two inches, but at rifle distance (100 and 200 yards) the groups looked more like something you’d get from a Ruger Mini-14 at 3–7 inches.

Linear comp on the BMF handgun
The linear comp on this short pistol drives noise and flash downrange away from the shooter. It made shooting this pistol extremely pleasant.

Still, that’s not the reason for which this firearm was built. The BAMF is in the class of a personal defense weapon (PDW). This is the solution to a problem where you may need more than a traditional handgun, but not quite a rifle. It also makes for an extremely fun blaster at the range.

My reasoning for trying this particular version was born out of morbid curiosity. Primarily, I wanted to see it function. A sub 7-inch AR in 5.56 NATO is one of the more challenging builds out there. You’re not merely slapping parts together and hoping it will go Bang!,repeatedly. With the shorter barrel, you must consider whether there will be enough gas to cycle the action, will there be too much gas — blasting back to the shooter’s face, and whether the buffer will be heavy enough and so on.

Cobalt was apparently firing on all cylinders with the pistols. The same thought process went into these builds as it did with its carbines and rifles.

Is there a gun game where competitors run AR pistols? I honestly don’t know for certain, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was. I see this as more of a tactical type of PDW, and while you may think that Cobalt only caters to competitive shooters, think again.

I have worked with Cobalt on some of its military projects in the past. As usually happens, success in the competitive shooting world translates to real world tactical applications. We have all seen this with compensators and red dot sights, as well as custom touches to handguns that made their way to the military as well — so it is with Cobalt Kinetics.

Cobalt Kinetics BAMF pdw pistol left profile
With an ambi-safety and pull out brace, Cobalt offers multiple options to meet the the end user’s needs.

The company has made several forays into the more tactical side of the firearms industry, aside from the competition and hunting markets. The BAMF may have a bit of race gun flair to it, but it’s 100% the same type of PDW I would grab if I was working a VIP protection detail or looking to defend my home from attackers.

Not that long ago, I tested one of Cobalt Kinetics Evolve rifles built in 6.5 Creedmoor that featured all the bells and whistles. It was Cerakoted in a desert camouflage pattern and topped with a Night Force scope. While discussing the rifle, and the unbelievable accuracy at extended ranges with one of the heroes of Benghazi, Kris Tanto Paranto, he replied, “If you told me that was any other rifle, I would have said you’re making it up, but Cobalt builds them for accuracy above all else.”

I felt the EOTech made a lot of sense on this gun, too. Especially in rapid fire. The center dot in the reticle was 1 MOA and the outer ring was 68 MOA. I mostly rely on the center dot for most applications but find the ring comes in handy when I’m just trying to nail a big piece of steel, or I want to keep it “minute of man” during a mag dump. This is the shortest firearm I have mounted it to, and it may have given me the idea to mount it on a semi-auto shotgun down the road.

Cobalt Kinetics BAMF pistol atop a plate carrier perched on a large rock
Cobalt Kinetics builds ARs that look good and work well.

If I were to change anything about this choice in a PDW, it would be the caliber. As much as I love 5.56 NATO, a .300 Blackout in a configuration like this would be far more practical. I had a heck of a time trying to find a silencer manufacturer to give the OK to mounting one of its silencers on a gun in this caliber with this short a barrel. As a result, I ended up being more thankful for the linear compensator than I anticipated.

That’s the great thing about the AR platform, you can build them, configure them, and change them again — so long as you can find the parts to do so. Of course, we know of a certain website that carries most everything you could ever want.

In Conclusion

The Cobalt Kinetics BAMF has changed since the time it was delivered to me. One of the things I have always liked about Cobalt Kinetics is the evolutionary process its guns take.

Relying on feedback from tactical trainers, competitive shooters, law enforcement — and anyone else who uses these firearms hard — has made Cobalt Kinetics stay above the level of most of its direct competitors.

Cobalt’s new slate of firearms for 2022 will have more of a focus on precision guns with calibers such as 6.5 Grendel, 5.56 NATO, and 6mm ARC. The CARS System may become a thing of the past due to reliability issues and cost.

MIke Searson shouldering the Cobalt Kinetics BAMF PDW handgun
A short barrel means short handguards that barely give you enough to hold onto. This is not an issue, but a feature to note before firing.

I tried one of the early rifles set up with this configuration. The only mags that consistently worked were my HK Maritime magazines. GI Metal mags worked about 85% of the time and PMAGs maybe 50/50. This is not a slam against any of those magazines, it just reflected the range of variety within manufacturing specifications.

The word from Cobalt Kinetics’ new owner is that the new linear compensator that it is offering is even more effective than the one used here. I’ve never been much of a fortune teller or predictor of future events, but it sounds as if 2022 is going to be yet another exciting year for Cobalt Kinetics and its new products.

Pricey, but worth it? What features and which manufacturers do you prefer when selecting an AR or PDW such as the Cobalt Kinetics BAMF? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Linear comp on the BMF handgun
  • Cobalt Kinetics BAMF pistol atop a plate carrier perched on a large rock
  • Cobalt Kinetics BAMF pdw pistol left profile
  • Nike Searson shooting the Cobalt Kinetics BAMF pistol with EOTech sight
  • Cobalt Kinetics BAMF pdw pistol left profile
  • MIke Searson shouldering the Cobalt Kinetics BAMF PDW handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (2)

  1. The improvements were noted as lowering the price by more than $1000, but I saw no current MSRP. Did I miss something or is the new price still to be decided? Just wondering.

  2. “In case you’re not familiar with that term, a linear compensator primarily propels gas and concussion forward of the shooter.” Also known as a Flash Can, AND yes they do work. If you want to witness the effect of a linear compensator, do a prone shot, with a bunch of leaves on the ground, and watch what happens about 3-6 feet in front of the barrel. Without it, that same thing is happening to your ears! FYI: It looks like the flash can is an open reversed funnel design, whereas the linear compensator has a pattern of holes. The difference is; an open reversed funnel is a lot easier to clean, and even in the picture above, one can see the lead and fowling starting in the linear compensator, much like a muzzle brake, even though it does have a higher “cool looking factor” than the flash can, not to mention the name sounds more impressive.

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