Editor’s Note: Prices noted in this article are as of July 26, 2013, and subject to change without notice.
In an accompanying story about the Army winding down its Individual Carbine Competition, one of the firearms listed in the ICC program was the Adcor Defense Brown Enhanced Automatic Rifle (B.E.A.R.), made by a small U.S. player compared to Beretta, FN, H&K, and other global arms giants. About a year ago, I had a chance to shoot a civilian semi-auto B.E.A.R. (#201-2040E) extensively, and after the experience, I bought one. It currently lists for $2,082.95 (#76044) at Cheaper Than Dirt!.
Adcor Industries, Inc., was founded in 1990 by Demetrios Stavrakis. The company is a national-defense contract supplier, building components for the Trident missile system, radar system components for the F16 fighter, and other components for U.S. military small arms. Its Adcor Defense subsidiary makes several versions of the B.E.A.R. Elite rifles, in barrel lengths of 10.5, 12.5, 14.5, 16, and 18 inches, along with other model lines, including a gas-impingement version called the GI Elite.
Michael J. Brown is the inventor and namesake for the Brown Enhanced Automatic Rifle. It has a patented gas-piston system (#065111.00128) and other patented features. All components for the B.E.A.R. are manufactured in the U.S.A., and the rifle is built in the Adcor Defense factory in Baltimore.
Dimensionally, my test gun ranged in overall length from a minimum of 32.5 inches to a maximum of 35.75 inches. It employed a 16.1-inch-long FN chrome-lined barrel with 1:7 twist. With an A2 flash hider, it went 17.6 inches in length. LOP ranged from 10.4 inches to 13.6 inches. Weight unloaded was 7.5 pounds, some of which is due to the quad-rail front end. The gun I bought did not come with a carrying case.
Beyond the basic physical description, as the patent information above suggests, the B.E.A.R.s have some unusual features.
Adcor says the design of the Elite’s gas-piston system and operation rod eliminates carrier tilt. Carrier tilt results from sloppy or loose tolerances in the receiver. When the op-rod in a piston system impinges upon the carrier lug, it does so off axis, causing the carrier to be thrust upward into the upper receiver at the forward end and thrust downward at the carrier’s rear, or tilting. These forces can transfer into the upper receiver and receiver extension and result in accelerated wear, especially on the receiver extension.
In the B.E.A.R., Adcor addressed carrier tilt using an op rod attached to the carrier bolt with screws. Stress is absorbed in two recoil lugs in the carrier bolt. The op rod threads through a small opening in the rail, keeping the assembly straight and limiting carrier tilt.
The key-locked rail system mounts to the upper receiver. The design ensures proper alignment of the rail with a redesigned boss, spline, and groove system. The rail will not loosen over time, Adcor says, and in my shooting, it never did.
The upper handguard supports the piston system, and with the piston rod, guides the carrier. It also is dovetailed into the lower handguard, which can be easily detached from the upper guard to expose the gas system for maintenance.
An ambidextrous forward-placed charging handle/forward placed assist permits the shooter to charge, clear, or forward assist the weapon without losing engagement with the target. The operator reaches forward and pulls back on a handle without losing sight of the target. If the carbine jams, the handle clears the carbine with a single pull.
The handle can be located on either side of the rifle, which is a help because some shooters want to mount a thumb-activated light on the left side, and the charging handle gets in the way.
The handle is equipped with a spring that returns the handle to a locked position after use, and the handle folds forward into a recessed area to keep it out of the way. To use the handle again, the operator reaches forward, swings the handle outward and back in a single motion. The handle does not move back and forth when the weapons fires, but only engages when the operator charges or clears the weapon. It also allows the shooter to work the bolt without raising his head. I really liked this feature, especially when shooting prone.
Elsewhere, a spring-loaded dust cover mounted on the carbine’s bolt carrier keeps contaminants out of the area between the receiver and bolt. Also, the gas block is attached to the rail rather than the barrel. Having the gas block separate from the barrel allows the barrel to free float.
At the rear, the B.E.A.R. wears a Magpul MOE telescoping six-position buttstock. The Magpul’s adjustment lever is protected inside the stock frame, and its rear buttpad is rubber. Also, the Magpul has less pitch than some other plates do, which felt good to me when I shouldered the rifle. The Magpul MOE pistol grip has a storage compartment inside. The rifle came with two Magpul P-Mag 30-round black magazines.
Component-wise, the rail system on the optics-ready B.E.A.R. offers plenty of real estate for any accessory I’ve wanted to hang on it. A nice touch: the front and rear edges of the handguards are chamfered and not sharp.
The best commercial ammo I shot out of the B.E.A.R. Elite was Ultramax 223 Rem. 52-gr. HP #223R1, which ran 2720 fps and produced 854 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy, which was about 10% below the manufacturer’s stated specs. When I cooperated, the Ultramax would shoot 0.7-inch five-shot groups at 50 yards with an Insight Tech MRDS (#2-INTMRD000A1, $459) on the top rail. But most of the time, it was a 2- to 2.5-inch gun at 100 yards with suitable optics. When I sold the gun, I explained to the new owner that I would replace the 8.0-pound single-stage trigger with a Geissele two-stage unit (#3-1030389, $211.05), but he was fine with the pull as it was.
When I read that the Army had cancelled the carbine competition because the B.E.A.R. Elite and seven other highly regarded rifles hadn’t made it out of phase II function and accuracy testing, I admit I raised my eyebrows. I didn’t take very good care of my B.E.A.R., but I never had a hiccup. I know recreational civilian shooting is not Army torture testing, but from my experience on the gun, I can only say the B.E.A.R. Elite from Adcor Defense is an awfully good piece of machinery.