Friday, October 14, 2011

Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 AR15 Rifle Review

Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 AR15 Rifle Review

Everyone these days is making an AR15.  Most are striving to offer quality bare bones ARs and some are focused on Mil-Spec combat rifles, and then there is Black Rain Ordnance who’s goal is to offer the finest most technically advanced production semi-custom AR15 rifles available loaded with everything you would ever want.  If you start thinking of how popular custom three-gun competition AR-15 rifles have become, you get the idea that Black Rain Ordnance is following the same concept on AR15 rifles that semi-custom 1911 pistol manufacturers have been so successful with. Semi-custom production AR15 rifle ready to compete.

Black Rain was founded in January 2008 by two gun enthusiast with retail management backgrounds. They were frustrated by the lack of quality and option in AR15 firearms. 

Their original goal was to offer the finest custom billet upper receivers for AR-15.  They then expanded to custom billet lower receiver models called “Fallout15” and now complete Fallout15 rifles. Today Black Rain is striving to manufacture each of their rifles parts on site, but in the interim has partnered with the top AR part manufacturers to assure any part not made on site is of the highest quality possible on each of their rifles and assure each part is made here in the US.  As of late 2012, Black Rain has now expanded its line to .308 SR-25/DPMS-308 variant big bore rifles and just introduced an AK-47 at Shot Show 2013 like only Black Rain could build.

Beyond their custom 7075-T6 machined billet uppers and lowers, Black Rain Ordnance is the only manufacturer who offers ceramic coated aqua transfer patterns on production rifles which adds a stunning level of bling and head snapping looks at the range. They are also the only AR15 company to offer stainless .223 Wylde chambered match grade barrels as standard in all their production rifles, extras and custom parts I will get into later which improve performance and reliability are all standard in their builds... it all adds up to one hell of a reliable three-gun competition level AR.  

Black Rain’s offerings are a lot like buying the luxury line such as Nissan’s Infinity or Toyota’s Lexus, leather seats and power sunroof are included, if you get the idea. Like many Semi-Custom 1911 pistol manufacturers have done with standard models, Black Rain is working through a growing number of “stock/standard” models to offer production semi-custom AR15 rifles, however you can also build your own personalized AR based on Black Rain’s components. Black Rain provides your choice of standard direct impingement or upgrades to Adams Arms Piston driven models. This review was the first full published reviews of the Black Rain Ordnance which I sincerely hope help Black Rain Ordnance to expand their innovative offerings. Even since this article was written, Black Rain still remains the best deal for a fully loaded premium quality AR15.

This original review was published way back in October 2011 as the first review Black Rain Ordnance had ever had by any writer... anywhere and they were just starting an insane growth path.  Almost two years later, they have grown and grown with models stocked across a huge dealer network nationwide and in August 2013 were even featured on Glenn Beck's The Blaze. I cannot take credit for discovering Black Rain Ordnance, but I can take credit for being the first guy to say "Ohh yeah I need to tell everyone about my Fallout15".

Black Rain offers their Fallout15 in a variety anodizing colors and aqua transfer finishes, however my feeling is if you are buying a rifle called the Fallout15 it should have skulls on it. My Fallout15 was $2069 as tested back in 2011 however the price may be a bit more now. My rifle is a mid-length configuration with a standard profile stainless fluted barrel, rifle length forend, Magpul MOE stock, grip, and sights, in the Skulls theme, with a Geissele two-stage trigger and weights in at 7.2lbs without a magazine.

My rifle, was a gently tweaked version of Black Rain’s standard $1999 Silver Skulls carbine length direct impingement model or I suppose what Black Rain would refer to as a Silver Skulls Mid-Length.  The only changes I made were swapping to a mid-length system and rifle length forend and downgrading the Magpul UBR stock to a MOE version to offset my financial expense of upgrading to a $250 2-stage Geissele trigger.  

My first statement after handling the Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 was “Wow” and then it seemed I came down with Tourettes syndrome to express my glee at each detail on the rifle.  Utilizing an Aqua Transfer process, Black Rain Ordnance has assured a truly unique and outstanding finish.  Many people will think the finish is paint, however it is actually a film which is floated and suspended in water and the pattern is transferred by dipping, in this case, the upper and lower receiver through the water suspended pattern which conforms and covers ever detailed crevice on the receivers. Black Rain Ordnance assures the upper and lowers are matched and dipped together so the patterns flows perfectly from the upper to the lower... we can’t have of a skull cut off now can we.  

Like the hard anodizing process the receivers are sand blasted for high adherence before being dipped/coated.  After the transfer process the receivers are coated inside and out with a 28% ceramic coating which is the hardest clear ceramic coating available and contributes both to very high durability, but also to very smooth cycling and charging. The extremely cool looking pattern is actually more durable than hard anodizing after its ceramic coating. This is definitely not a coating that will chip off like paint however I have noticed after hundreds of rounds the deflector area has taken a beating as the deflector area would on any other AR.  My only initial finish concern was that apron separating the upper and lower receiver it appears the internal receiver areas are unfinished, however although they don’t have the transfer pattern they have been coated with the ceramic coating.

My Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 forend was Level III hard anodized and tastefully milled with the Black Rain Ordnance name and logo.  I will get into the barrel specs later, however the stainless fluted barrel and flash hider is very nicely finished with the fluting detail that peeks through the lightened forend.  The Magpul furniture and single point sling is certainly top notch as well as the US made and stamped stock tube that all contribute to this premium finished rifle.

The fit of all the components are very tight on the Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15.  For a competition gun you want that upper and lower receiver locked down as tight as possible and with the added Aqua transfer and ceramic finish the take down pins need a little assistance to be removed which I think is the perfect setup.  With another Hard Anodized version I handled, the pins were still tight, but could be popped out by hand.  If you truly want to lock things down, Black Rain has a nylon tipped tension-ing screw in the receiver which can tighten up the upper to lower receiver fit.  For the accuracy nerd in the group like me, this is as good as it gets. The rest of the fit on the Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 certainly matched the top quality of the components and proved this was just not a pretty looking AR.
At 7.2lbs the Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 rifle is considerably lighter than it looks, however the billet upper and lower, stainless standard profile barrel, rifle length forend, and other extras do add about a ½ lb over your average bone stock mil-spec AR15.  It looks heavy but feels light and handles and transitions quick.

Generally I find quad picatinny forends to be pretty harsh on the hands.  Some forend picatinny sections I have handled feel downright sharp.  Black Rain Ornance has done a little work to ever so slightly soften the edges of the rails while still maintaining spec which from my perspective negates the need for rail covers and makes the Fallout15 very comfortable to shoot without gloves.

The feature list on the Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 is pretty impressive.  Aqua Transfer and 28% ceramic internally and externally coated upper and lower 7075 billet receiver are logo’ed top and side.  General accessories include Magpul MOE stock, grip, MBUS II low profile sights, USA made upper and lower parts kit, Geissele two-stage trigger ($250 upgrade), captured pins, and Black Rain’s own 7075 billet charging handle and over-sized charging latch.  Once cool little feature that does nothing other than make you chuckle is when the dust cover flips down it has the phase “Let it Rain!”.

The Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 series all feature USA made nickel boron coated bolt and M16 carrier groups with heavily staked gas key and Black Rain Ordnance logo. The M16 bolt adds just a little extra weight to slow cycling slightly to improve reliability when an adjustable gas block is not used. Since I have that long rifle length forend, my build featured a low-profile gas block and their standard stainless gas tube.

The 7075 billet upper receiver and Type III anodized rifle length forend has t-marking on ever other slot.  Just in case you are one of those extremely anally retentive folks that keeps track of which slot you flashlight belongs in. the forend has every other slot marked with respective numbered T (top), R (right), L (left), and B (bottom) marks.

The standard Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 rifle features M4 extensions and feedramps and .223 Wylde chamber.  If you are unfamiliar with the .223 Wylde chamber the first thing to know is it will safely shoot both .223 Remington and 5.56 Nato rounds.  The .223 Wylde target chamber is not new by any means, but is now being widely used by competitors and target shooters because it provides improved accuracy with both rounds while maintaining .223 and 5.56 operability.   Black Rain’s barrel have to be one of the values in the industry and would certainly choose them for DIY builds. The Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 barrel is 1:8 twist made from fluted 416R stainless with a Rockwell of 27 and features 3-groove polygonal rifling.  

Here are the quick answers to why this is optimal for a target rifle.  The 1:8 twist is a best .223/5.56 compromise twist to put spin on the bullets between military 1:7 twists designed for heavy bullets, and standard 1:9 twists designed for light 55gr bullets.  Generally 1:8 is a preferred twist for the .223/5.56 accuracy nuts.  Polygonal rifling has been around for a very long time.  In a nutshell traditional rifling has sharp grooves for rifling.  Polygonal has more of an almost imperceptibly gentle hill and valley rifling.  This rifling has been noted to increase barrel strength, provide better gas sealing and higher velocities, less bullet deformation, reduced buildup, easier cleaning, longer barrel life and improved accuracy.  I can’t confirm the velocity increases, however I definitely experience a noticeably cleaner barrel and better accuracy.

The medieval/sci-fi looking entry brake/flash-hider worked really well and prevented any noticeable muzzle rise all while not being load as hell.  In fact I like it so well I may have to swap out the A2 cages on my other ARs to this brake. A word of caution this brake is sharp and will cut up things, so consider yourself warned as it does catch on things... like a couch in my case.

Black Rain Ornance sets you up well with a number of standard accessories.  The hard cases many manufacturers provide are nice, however most of use end up with a closet full of them and end us using a tactical soft case for all but the rainy days.   All Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 rifles come with top end ACE 46” soft cases which features four magazine pouches, zipper locking ring, handles and shoulder strap.  Really nice case upgrade that I know is about three-four times the price of the atypical hard cases.

Black Rain includes one standard 30-round Magpul magazine and their own very heavy duty single point sling with HK clasp.  This works perfectly with the installed Magpul single point sling and makes for a ready to compete combo.

According to Black Rain Ordnance each Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 rifle undergoes a three round cycling and last shot hold open test fire.  Any rifle not passing the test are sent back to the shop and rebuilt.  With the ceramic coating and dry film lube inside the receiver, the nickel boron coated bolt, and hard anodized 7075 charging handle and latch, this rifle is the smoothest action I have every cycled.  I tested every various round I had from Wolf, Herters, Winchester, Federal, Fiocci, and handloads and they all feed, fired and functioned perfectly.  Over 500 rounds in total over the last two month and not so much as a bobble.  Very nice slick feeding sewing machine they built here.

This is where I was freaking impressed. Using my Simmon Predator Quest 6-24X scope, my best 3-shot 100 yard off the rest group with the Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 AR15 rifle was with the Federal Match 69 Gr which was a .4” group.  While I was sighting in I actually managed a three shot .5” group with Cabelas Herters ammo, but then blew the group out to .9” in the last two shots, still not bad though. With a high power scope, the right loads, and a steady hand, this is a very accurate gun and in better hands I am sure even more accurate.  As an off the shelf rifle with off the shelf ammo and in my hands, I was impressed.  After satisfying the accuracy question I dropped back to a more reasonable powered Millet 1-4 Designated Marksman Scope which still kept my best groups well under 1” at 100 yards and tested a Bushnell Zoom Dot red dot optic for some faster shooting drills which still netted of the rest 2"-3" groups at 100 yards.


  • WOLF FMJ 62GR = .85”
  • WINCHESTER FMJ 55GR = 1.1”
  • WINCHESTER PDX1 60GR = .89”
  • FEDERAL MATCH 69GR = .68”
I never would have thought I would say a $2000 rifle is a value, but in the case of the Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 Ar15 rifle it is easy to say.  There are a lot of extras here that add up quick and make this a buy it and go shoot semi-custom rifle.  That is what I like about the Black Rain Ordnance Fallout15 rifles is there is no assembly, no tweaking, and outside of a scope and a few magazines, nothing extra you need to buy, no drawer full of spare parts, no swearing over parts that don’t quite fit.... its already upgraded, ring the bell, done, head to the range with the bag, clip in with the single point sling and start shooting. For the budding three-gun competitor this gun seems like the perfect gun to start with.

Black Rain’s philosophy of providing to the AR15 market what the production Semi-custom 1911 pistol manufacturers like Kimber and STI have done with ready to go models that dealers can stock and you can just walk in and buy.  Right now though Black Rain is still recruiting dealers and chances are you will need to call Black Rain directly and do the FFL transfer routine. Separately their components are also a good value for the builder.  The barrel shot very well and I have seen them from $200-$250 which I think is a deal for a target grade barrel.  The funky looking brake works surprisingly well and although unusual should get some consideration for use on other builds.  This is one rifle I was more surprised with after shooting it than before and proved itself as a premium rifle far more than just a cool looking rifle. If your intent is a hoped up custom rifle this seems like a smart way to go.


  • Receivers 7075 Billet Aluminum, Aqua Transfer, 28% Ceramic Coated
  • Forend 7075 Billet Aluminum, Type III Anodized
  • Grip/Stock Magpul MOE stock ,Magpul MOE grip
  • Sights MBUS II low profile sights
  • Gas Tube Stainless Steel
  • Internal Parts Kit USA Made Upper and Lower Parts Kit, KNS Anti-Rotate Pins
  • Trigger Geissele two-stage trigger ($250 upgrade)
  • Charging Handle Black Rain 7075 Billet Charging Handle
  • Charging Latch Black Rain7075 Billet ChargingOversized  Latch
  • Bolt/Carrier Group M-16, Carpenter Steel, Nickel Boron Coated, Staked
  • Buffer Standard
  • Chamber/Caliber .223 Wylde (Compatible with .223 Remington & 5.56 Nato)
  • Barrel Brand Black Rain Ordnance
  • Barrel Twist 1:8, 3-groove Polygonal Rifling
  • Barrel Material 416R Stainless Fluted, 27 Rockwell
  • Brake/Flash Hider Black Rain Ordnance Stainless
  • Feedramps/Extensions M4
  • Magazine(s) 1 - Magpul 30-Round PMAG
  • Sling Black Rain Ordnance Single Point Sling
  • Case Ace 46” Soft Side Case
  • Weight 7.2lbs without magazine
  • Retail $2069 as tested


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Unknown said...

Nice writeup! Thanks!

Unknown said...

I bought one, this post helped. Thanks

Unknown said...

I bought a PG-3 myself, this post helped. Thanks.

Kansan said...

Thank you for the detailed review. My local gun shop is a BRO dealer and I have been wanting one for over a year. I just purchased one yesterday and fell in love with it. I now love it even more after reading your review. Thank you again

Unknown said...

Thanks for the review. I have won a 300 Blackout SBR in a raffle. It is going to be the longest 6 months of my life!

Unknown said...

Great review!I absolutely love my FallOut 15.I mounted a Vortex StrikeFire sight and couldn't be happier.Let it rain!

Unknown said...

I seen one of these in the 308 and fell in love with it. I go to bed thinking about it and get up thinking about it. This write up helps me get to know the developers of this masterpiece. Now I just have to find an extra 3000.00 to get it. I believe it would be the perfect take out of box and shoot gun out there. This write up has just proven that the company knows what they are doing and how to satisfy there customers.

Unknown said...

Interesting rifle, I'm kind of in the market for an AR-15 and BRO's Fallout-15 is pretty intriguing.

The sci-fi nerd in me digs the medieval-futuristic muzzle brake and skull theme- all on a rifle called the "Fallout 15". And the "Let It Rain!!" on the ejection port cover, ha ha...

But quality is where a rifle really proves itself, and if this one performs as described it is a great deal indeed. Gonna check this one out further for sure.