NEA Bolt Carrier Group Initial Review

I found a sweet deal on a new Northeastern Arms bolt carrier group. Made in Canada by North Eastern Arms, these are a little different from your run of the mill BCG. I picked this BCG up to finish my 11.5″ upper. No more swapping BCGs between uppers for this guy.

NEA BCG

assembled NEA bolt carrier group

What I Bought

NEA makes their firearms and components in Canada and they are ITAR exempt. I picked up one of their Bolt Carrier groups to complete my 11.5″ upper receiver group. This will let me have two complete uppers that I can swap with out having to mess around with swapping the BCG between the uppers.

Specs

  • Upgraded Extractor
  • High Pressure Tested (HPT)
  • Magnetic Particle Inspected (MPI)
  • Properly staked gas key
  • Bolt: Carpenter No. 158 steel
  • Carrier: 8620 Tool Steel
  • ARC+ Nitride finish

According to NEA “ARC+ treated components have been tested to 50 hours immersion in 10% weight by volume salt water with zero corrosion. The ARC process provides our steel components with a hardness of 60HDC to a depth of 0.030″”

What I Thought

The price for a HPT, MPI, with good steel, made in Canada, bolt carrier group is pretty darn reasonable at $144.99 CAD, plus taxes and shipping. A run of the mill DPMS, Stag Arms, or Rock River Arms, BCG goes for around $200 CAD. Higher end BCG tend to get up to $300 or more.

stripped parts

L-R firing pin retaining pin, firing pin, cam pin, bolt

I expect all modern manufactures to individually High Pressure Test, and Magnetic Particle Inspect thier BCG. I’d love to know if NEA tests each of their BCGs individually or if they test a percentage of a batch.

NEA advertises their BCGs as coming with an upgraded extractor. I pulled it off the bolt and gave it a once over. It doesn’t look very enhanced to me. The spring is pretty stiff, and maybe that’s what makes it enhanced. I was expecting to find an o-ring around the extractor spring, but that’s absent.

The ARC+ Nitride finish is NEA’s propriety firearms finish. Nitride finishing (Nitrocarburizing) seems to be growing in popularity as an alternative to bluing. Nitride is supposed to increase wear-resistance, fatigue strength, corrosion resistance, and lubricity. It makes the outer layer of the treated metal much stronger then it would be if it were left untreated. The ARC+ treatment is propriety to NEA, and I suspect it has to do with now they apply the Nitride finish. The result is a dull charcoal, not quite grey, finish. It’s definitely not the same ebony colour seen in some other manufactures’ Nitride finishes.

stake

Gas key steaking

I’m disappointed by the staking on the gas key. The bolts do not move with gentle pressure from an allen key, which is always good. However the BCG was advertised as having a “properly staked gas key”. I don’t think this is proper, or at least not what I would do. It looks like a punch was used with a hammer to “stake” this gas key.  I use Colt, Diemaco (Colt Canada), and Stag Arms as my bench mark in what I think of as the correct method to stake gas keys. The four stake points are all different depths. It might be time to invest in a jig and make the stakes more robust. I suppose as long as it holds the bolts in, it’ll be good enough. This is something that I heard about when NEA first brought rifles to market, and I’m disappointed they haven’t made visible improvements to the gas key stakes.

Pros

  • Price
  • High quality steel
  • HPT/MPI
  • Made in Canada

Neutral

  • ARC+ Nitride Finish
  • Upgraded Extractor

Cons

  • Gas key steak looks weak

Bottom Line

For under $150 CAD this is one of the least expensive BCGs I can find in Canada right now. I’m also a huge fan of Made in Canada products, especially when it comes to gun stuff. I don’t love the ARC+ Nitride finish, I don’t hate it either though. I’m just not sold on the technology. The only thing that really disappoints me is the lackluster staking on the gas key. I wish NEA had made a little more effort to really show that the staking was done correctly. I guess I’ll have to see how everything looks in a couple thousand rounds.

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