Sunday, December 8, 2013

Young Manufacturing YM Factory Tour

Young Manufacturing YM Factory Tour
Making the Best AR Carriers in the World

During a recent trip to the Pheonix area, I was fortunate to be provided a personal plant tour of Young Manufacturing by Dan Young himself and it was stunning how much work goes into making just the Carrier and complete Bolt Carrier Group. But first let’s look at what this critical part does in the AR15.

The beginning of each Carrier
Carrier is profiled & the milling continues..
For every round fired, the BCG (Bolt Carrier Group) is generally beat like a red-headed step child. (my apologies to all red-headed step children… it must have been a rough upbringing.) Pull the trigger and the BCG goes to work. The firing pin is whacked by the hammer with thumb crushing force (don’t ask how I know), the tiny firing pin tip hits the primer detonating the round, a bullet zips down the barrel and then things really heat up for the BCG.  The gas block and tube reroute some hot gas back to the BCG gas key.  

The red hot rerouted gas delivers a 100-125 psi blast behind the three bolt rings which push the bolt forward in a cam-ing effect about .25” forward and turns the bolt face clockwise to unlock the bolt from the barrel. The remaining gas pressure slams the BCG rearward from its previous motionless state, extracting and removing the empty case.  The BCG continues rearward until the buffer and spring deliver a brief delay before violently reversing the rearward direction and slamming the BCG right back into battery at about 6.88 ft/sec or around 5 MPH all while still managing to pick up one and only one more round in the process. It does this entire roughly 6” round trip in around .092 seconds. 

Each Carrier is hand inspected and polished.
The inspection work is obviously very detailed.

This is a pretty impressive feat and elegant when working perfectly, however poor materials, design, and workmanship can make any or all of the fourteen components vulnerable.  It is without a question the most difficult design challenge of an entire AR, performing the most complex mechanics, all while being both durable and graceful enough to eject and grab the next round in the process. If any of the fourteen Bolt Carrier Group components fail or are out of spec, then the gun will not fire, not cycle, not feed another round, jam, or cause some other more catastrophic issue. It is the most complex part on the rifle affecting every critical function of the rifle from accuracy to reliability.

Ask a hundred AR owners who makes the best BCGs (Bolt Carrier Groups) and most will name a bunch of manufactures whose name appears on the side of rifles.  The reality is that the industry rarely works that way.  There are only a few true AR component manufactures making AR parts and fewer who make the highest stressed and most functionally critical component sets in any rifle; the BCG. Young Manufacturing - YM is one of the preeminent BCG manufacturers and considered the best in the business and here is why.

Most of you probably do not know the name Young Manufacturing however you probably do know their products and chances are high you already own a YM BCG if you own a higher quality AR.  YM has a very long list of customers who make the top ARs in the market.

Many manufacturers just assemble parts made elsewhere. It is refreshing to see real manufacturing where raw steel going in one end of a plant and finished product going out the other. To assure the highest quality, YM starts by sourcing 100% USA virgin steel rod instead of the less expensive but inferior imported “re-melt” steels. YM then machines components in its Pheonix USA plant on state-of-the-art CNC machines.  Obviously starting with the highest grade materials and using top end machining technology with a focus on each detail delivers the best BCG in the business.

Once the rods are roughly to a carrier size, they are profiled, then turned and milled to a more recognizable carrier shape.  Final machining delivers a carrier that is ready for final inspection and hand polishing.   In fact on facet of production is stunning; YM actually has two guys hand inspecting and hand polishing each and every edge and radius on the carrier under giant magnifying glasses. Nearly every other manufacturer just tumbles the carriers to polish edges, however YM believes the only way to assure perfect quality is by hand inspection.
YM's own in house manufactured Bolts

As of late 2013, YM manufacturers all Bolts in house with Carpenter Steel - considered the best steel available for AR15 bolts. YM did exclusively use either FN or Barnes Precision bolts, however during the great AR15 parts shortage of 2012-2013, Dan decided it was time to begin manufacturing the bolts in house as well as their own gas keys. At this point YM manufactures 100% of the bolt carrier group in house.

This picky material sourcing and production delivers BCGs which consistently surpass US MIL Specs including their own patented National Match AR-15 bolt carrier and superlight National Match carrier which are prefered by those that like to shoot tiny little groups.  Although their website does not reflect their complete product line, the company also produces a broad array of phosphate and chrome AR-15 and AR-10/308 bolt carriers, flash hiders, rail systems, bolt assembly tools and many other AR related products. 

There has been a lot of talk about the pros and cons of staking the gas key on the carrier. Many an “expert” including me has advocated or indicated a preference of having the gas key staked. Young manufactuering’s opinion is that they will not stake keys, nor have they since 1991 and this has never been even a minor issue from customers.

Per YM, the US Mil-Spec assembly drawing requires the carrier key to be staked and “sealed” with Permatex gasket sealer. Contrary to some popular opinions staking does not “SEAL” the gas key and in reality only has one function; to keep the screws from backing out. In addition, staking can cause problems. If you do not properly torque the screws to 56 inch pounds you will be staking a screw that is loose or one that is over torqued and prone to breakage. Although required, to YM’s knowledge, this is a process no one other than YM does.
A stack of gas key getting machined.
To complete Permatex sealing and prevent the screw from backing out they first clean the oil from the gas key and the mating surface on the carrier, clean the oil from the screw threads, apply a light coating of Permatex high strength threadlocker gel on the bottom of the key, and allow to cure for 60 minutes. Next they coat the screw threads with the same gel. Install the key and torque the screws to 56 inch pounds. Even the really nerdy AR builder rarely if ever assemble a carrier key with Peratex because of this precise and somewhat delicate procedure of potentially gluing shut the vent holes. In fact I know of no one who has even done it; it is a task left to professionals such as YM and if the top BCG manufacturer says staking is unnecessary and potentially decreases reliability, I for one believe them.

YM - Young manufacturing is a super premium BCG and a brand which is very well respected in the industry.  In fact many regard Dan as the new godfather of BCGs as his work on bolt refinements have made the AR plateforms work better and longer than we thought was possible.

Whether you are looking for a special Chrome National match BCG or stock level BCG or something in between, each and every bolt carrier group is of supreme quality and will enhance the overall functioning of your next AR build. Don't forget YM is now making charging handles, gas blocks, forends, and soon... even more.

YM M16 National Match Bolt Carrier Group
Weight .70lbs

YM AR15 Super Light National Match Bolt Carrier Group
Weight .55lbs

YM – Young manufacturing, Inc.

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