Phosphate, chrome, nickel boron, nickel teflon. Sound familiar? You may be a “Gun Geek” (If so, you’re in excellent company.), particularly one looking at an AR-15 bolt carrier group, or BCG. These may be the most common coatings for BCGs, but several months ago, I discovered something new. The BCG I found, and obtained, was the Leitner-Wise Manufacturing Black Nitride M-16 Enhanced Bolt Carrier Group—dang, that’s a mouthful. I had the privilege of speaking with the man himself—the owner of Leitner-Wise Manufacturing—Paul Leitner-Wise, and will be discussing some of his thoughts and decisions behind some of the enhancements on this BCG. Also, because I have personally been using this new BCG for over a couple thousand rounds in my newest AR-15 build, I would like to share with you my experiences with it.
Black nitride is a finish that according to the black nitride website is “…the thermochemical that simultaneously diffuses nitrogen and carbon into the surface of ferrous metals.” Huh? When I asked Paul to explain what black nitride was in non-engineering/scientific terms, he described it as a finish that actually bonds with the metal rather than being coated or plated onto the metal. I asked him what the benefits were and he informed me that black nitride does not chip or flake, is highly resistant to corrosion and wear, offers lubricity, and because it is a deep black color, offers some aesthetic appeal. Paul stated that black nitride specifically has “20 times more lubricity than hard chrome and has a Rockwell rating of 70.”
In my own experience, after almost three thousand rounds, my black nitride finished carrier shows no major wear, still maintains a “slick” feel and remains a dark black color. I can also say that when I applied FIREClean to the entire BCG, it didn’t resist it and had no issue “soaking” it up during the FIREClean treatment, but I’ll talk more on that in a future article.
Besides the black nitride finish, the Leitner-Wise Enhanced BCG includes some features that I consider unique. I consider them unique because, well, I personally have never before seen features like them anywhere else.
The Firing Pin Retainer
One of the enhancements that caught my eye right away was the firing pin retainer. I was surprised to learn from Paul that his firing pin retainer design was based off of the original Stoner M67 design. I actually had no idea there was ever an “original design” for a firing pin retainer. Typically, a firing pin retainer is just a simple clip-sort-of-looking thing, but the Leitner-Wise retainer is more of an actual pin.
Paul informed me that his retainer is designed as Stoner had originally wanted it: strong, not prone to bending, and doesn’t need to be replaced often. Another advantage is that it does not need to be completely removed from the carrier when field stripping the BCG. This is because the small end of the retainer is slightly bulbous and will stay in the carrier while still allowing removal of the firing pin. What does that mean? It means that the probability of losing your firing pin retainer when out in the field is much smaller.
The Cam Pin
It’s said that “the devil’s in the details;” I think Paul Leitner-Wise has taken that to heart. Only a detail-oriented person would have looked at the simple cam pin and thought to improve it.
What Paul has done to enhance his cam pin is laser engrave a directional arrow onto the head of the cam pin. This allows the user to always replace the cam pin into the carrier the exact same way, every time when reassembling the BCG. That means wear patterns (or lapping patterns, as Paul calls them) will remain consistent and uniform with both the carrier and the cam pin.
Think of it like tires on a car. Proper inflation and rotation of all four tires will maintain a proper tread pattern and, arguably, better gas mileage (even if it’s a fraction of a mile). Uniform and consistent wear on the enhanced cam pin and carrier can benefit the overall life of the BCG.
- S7 billet steel gas key.
- Custom made gas key screws made by Leitner-Wise Mfg. following the original Colt M-16 specifications and steel.
- 3,600 psi hydrolic staked gas key screws.
- Faceted carrier.
- Nickel boron (NiB)-coated firing pin, firing pin retainer and cam pin.
To date, my Leitner-Wise Enhanced Black Nitride Bolt Carrier Group has been in my AR-15 for just short of 3,000 rounds. During this time, I have used ammo from several different ammunition manufacturers, both 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington. I have also used the Leitner-Wise Enhanced BCG with different lubrications such as Ballistol, Slip2000 EWL-30 and FIREClean. Any malfunctions I have experienced have either been operator error or ammunition related.
On a subjective note, I like the way the black nitride finish looks and physically feels—smooth and slick. Because of its dark black color, it matches the rest of my “black rifle” well. I find the enhancements on this bolt carrier group offer usefulness when disassembling, reassembling or cleaning. Another aspect of the carrier that my eyes rather enjoy are the aggressive facets near the front of the carrier rather than the typical rounded surface.
On a sidenote:If you happened to catch my video or my article on AR15news.com, you will know that CIV Tactical did replace my bolt in this BCG with a different one. CIV Tactical did this due to a minor headspace issue caused by my barrel extension. Switching out the bolt was the quickest, easiest, and cheapest fix, even though the headspace issue was not an issue with the original bolt.
At the time of this article, Leitner-Wise Manufacturing offers this black nitride enhanced bolt carrier group for $190 and it can be found on their website at leitner-wise.com