"When failure is not an option, you can depend on FailZero!"
One logo to rule them all, and a bold one at that! When it comes to what Massad Ayoob calls "Life saving rescue equipment", reliability and dependability pretty much trump everything else. I for one appreciate a bold commitment to excellence when making something that I might depend on to save my life some day. But talk is cheap. Does Fail Zero live up to it? Let's take a closer look.
FailZero's parent company is UCT Coatings of Palm City Florida. They are famous for their EXO Nickel Boron coating which is the finish that is applied to the Fail Zero Bolt Carrier Group in this review. Firearms is just one of the many areas they have expertise in though with other areas including oil, gas, tooling and marine applications.
A quick look through their industrial applications gives me the impression that the EXO Nickel Boron finish might be overkill for the simple life of a bolt carrier group - and I like that.
There are different formulations of Nickel Boron and the EXO type developed by UCT Coatings delivers an unprecedented balance of hardness and lubricity and received a patent from the U.S. Patent Office in the early 1990s.
Above: The Fail Zero BCG uses the patented EXO Nickel Boron finish from UCT Coatings.
What does EXO Nickel Boron bring to the table you might ask. For one - durability. As applied by UCT Coatings, Nickel Boron is so bullet proof that it is specified on Army mortar tubes (60mm and 81mm), Blackhawk helicopter hoists, and for hard use applications on some Navy ships!
Beyond durability, EXO NiB has a surface slickness that has to be felt to be believed. When you handle an oiled Fail Zero BCG you have to be careful that it doesn't slip right out of your hand. Seriously. Oil-on-glass-slick is what a friend of mine calls it, and Nickel Boron has it! That slickness makes for a BCG that operates much smoother than a regular BCG. All of the friction points in the operation of a BCG from sliding inside the upper receiver to the cam pin and the gas rings riding inside the carrier benefit from this super slick surface.
Ease of Cleanup
Cleanup is easier in two ways. First, the finish is slicker so carbon is easier to get off. Second, the silvery nickel color makes any remaining dirt easy to spot and remove. When a Fail Zero NiB BCG is clean you know it's clean. The area of the bolt tail will still foul with carbon and I haven't seen a finish yet that makes this area any easier to clean, including NiB. If carbon build up in that area bugs you, a brass cartridge case works well as a scraper. There are even scrapers made specifically for that area. I personally don't worry about it as it causes no negative function issues at all.
No matter the finish, to make a great BCG you need a great bolt and Fail Zero makes one of the best. The FailZero bolt is machined from the tried-and-true MIL-SPEC Carpenter 158 steel. This is the steel that has been proven time and again on the battlefield and I like that.
The extractor is another area where Fail Zero cuts no corners. As AR15 barrels and gas systems have gotten shorter, with it has come a nagging extraction problem. The extractor spring that worked well with the original 20" guns is often not up to the task of reliable extraction with the shorter guns.
Above: The Viton O-ring can be seen around the Fail Zero BCG extractor spring
Fail Zero recognized this and uses the sure fire solution of adding a Viton O-ring around the extractor spring on their BCGs. This gives the extractor much greater tension and is a great solution to this potential problem.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is a good example of that. Some folks really like the contrast that the Nickel finish gives against an otherwise all-black rifle. Some folks wouldn't be caught dead with it. I personally like the color contrast as well as the Fail Zero logo.
Above: The Fail Zero logos on both the bolt and the carrier
The Fail Zero EXO NiB bolt carrier group can generally be found at a middle-of-the-road price point. That puts it somewhere between the Black Nitride on the low end and the Ionbond DLC or Titanium Nitride on the high end. One great thing about the Fail Zero product is that you know you are getting the very best Nickel Boron finish available and the fact that it does not cost far more than other BCGs on the market makes it especially appealing.
Fail Zero has applied some of the best of modern technology to the heart of the AR-15, the BCG. The combination of high tech with high manufacturing standards makes the Fail Zero BCG one of the best on the market today. Throw in their Limited Lifetime Warranty and the FZ BCG is a great option.
Has Fail Zero lived up to their motto? I for one would say YES!
Learn more about Nickel Boron: Top 3 Reasons You Might Want a Nickel Boron BCG
Explore other BCG finishes: Best AR-15 BCG Finishes: Pros Cons and Recommendations