When it comes to correcting overgassing issues on the AR platform, there are a few approaches you can take involving springs and buffers, but one company offering another solution to overgassed rifles is Black River Tactical. We recently sat down with its owner, Clint Lupton, to talk about overgassing and how his company’s products can potentially help builders.
Q: Clint, can you talk a bit about how your company started?
Clint Lupton, Black River Tactical – I started Black River Tactical back in 2009. Our first product was the Covert Comp, which is a low signature muzzle device. It makes the rifle really nice to shoot. Most things that are similar in size have more blast that this one produces. It’s ideal for short barreled rifles, and I find that it’s nice for both the shooter and for those at the range who are around them as well.
It’s technically a linear compensator. It does not have any ports on the sides like most traditional brakes which send blast off to the side. All openings on this are forward and everything goes out the front. Our Covert Comp does a really good job of flash reduction as well. Almost as good as an A2.
Q: One thing that Black River Tactical is known for is your products that can assist builders with gas issues…
Clint Lupton, Black River Tactical – I think a lot of manufacturers, perhaps for reliability, tend to make the gas port larger than it needs to be. What that allows is customers to run low powered ammo, and then perhaps have other out-of-spec components. So, if you run poor quality components and run bad ammo, if you over gas the gun by having a large gas port, it will still work. That seems like a good thing…and for those people that want a cheap gun with cheap ammo, it works.
The problem lies when you have people who are a little more “switched on” and they have all of the best quality components in there, and they are running full powered 5.56 ammo. With that same gas port set up, they find that the gun is now way overgassed. It’s just too much. Unfortunately, I think the majority of barrels that are on the market have gas ports that are probably larger than they need to be when they are set up properly.
Q: For our readers that may not be familiar, what are the symptoms of an overgassed gun?
Clint Lupton, Black River Tactical – You’ll get excessive cycling speed…that can be hard to tell, but it will give you more recoil, it will kick a little harder than it should due to cycling and it bottoming out into the receiver extension harder than it should.
Also, the ejection pattern of the brass will tend to move forward. With a properly gassed set-up, you’ll get ejection at 3-4 o’clock-ish, depending on your ammo. As the bolt carrier speeds up, the way the case bounces off of the case deflector tends to bounce the cases a lot further forward to the 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock downrange direction.
Those are mild examples. With further overgassing you can get into actual malfunctions where you might have an extractor slip off of a case and have a case stuck in the chamber, or cases don’t fully eject…they get half way out of the ejection port and you get a stovepipe. When it comes to overgassing, it’s like anything else in that there are shades of grey.
Q: Can you talk about some of the solutions that your company offers in regards to overgassed ARs?
Clint Lupton, Black River Tactical – Our Custom Tune Gas Port came from the idea that you can’t drill a hole smaller. (laughs). Once it’s too big, you’re kind of stuck. The traditional solutions are to add a heavy spring, add a heavy buffer…those are not great solutions.
They’re great for tuning small adjustments, but the amount of actual adjustment you can actually do to slow a gun down by adding heavy weights or springs is much less than what a large gas port providing extra gas can do. Another way to say that is you can be way more overgassed than any amount of buffer can actually correct.
I started really looking at the problem, and I figured out a way to get a smaller port, not in the barrel, but right outside of it, inside the gas block. There’s a gas transfer port right inside the gas block, so we have an insertable port that goes in there, and that port has a calibrated orifice that restricts the flow of the gas and corrects it as if it was properly sized in the barrel itself.
Q: Installing a port like that…would you say that is something that anyone could do?
Clint Lupton, Black River Tactical – The port itself needs to be installed inside your existing gas block. It works in front site bases as well. When it comes to installing these ports, you do want to have decent armorer’s skills to accomplish it.
As such, we also created the MicroTUNE Gas Block. That’s our gas block with the port pre-installed into it. It’s a bit easier to do because it’s just like putting in a regular low-pro gas block.
Q: You also offer a gas tube, correct?
Clint Lupton, Black River Tactical – Correct. The third option we have that just came out recently is the EZTUNE Gas Tube. We made this because there are several cases where changing out the front sight base or gas blocks isn’t possible or desirable. Generally it’s when you have a pinned muzzle device, or a pinned gas block that you don’t want to change out to something else…
The EZTUNE Gas Tube is great because it is easy, and it works great. It’s a gas tube and it has the reduced port size inside the tube itself.
Q: So, is there any adjusting that you do once you install?
Clint Lupton, Black River Tactical – All of gas control products…you can put it in air quotes…they are “adjustable”, but they’re really just a fixed adjustable. Most of the other products that are adjustable will have either a dial or a click or a screw. Those can work and they are nice because you don’t have to know anything beforehand and you can just try them out, and click away until you get the results that you think are right.
All of our products take the opposite approach. Ours have a fixed orifice size. We have done extensive calculations so we can accurately calculate the size required for basically any configuration of rifle that you might have. So, then we can pick the port size you need, and it’s done. You then have a fixed port with nothing to adjust, nothing to go wrong, and nothing to forget. It’s as close as bulletproof as you can get.
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