Nickel boron coatings are nothing new. They actually burst onto the firearm scene later than some other markets. Before we dive into all of that, lets take a look at the proposed purpose of the coating. Nickel boron will provide an incredibly hard and very slick finish. Dry it has a lower coefficient of friction than Teflon or graphite in most applications. When heat treated the hardness can be over 60RC. Some of the coatings detractors claim by being so hard this will accelerate wear to the soft aluminum upper. This does not even make sense as the phosphate coated steel BCG that comes standard in most weapons is already several times harder than 6061 or 7075 aluminum. Some of that hardest aluminum alloys barely make it onto the Rockwell C scale at ~15RC. Re-enforcing this is the fact that chrome which has been used for years is the highest hardness of all at over 75RC when applied to a steel substrate. If you are trying to achieve smooth operation and minimal wear, a harder bearing surface is actually preferred.
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What really matters is the coefficient of friction (µ). µ defines the ratio of friction between two objects. The force required to operate the bolt on a weapon would be defined by two main forces. The tension of the hammer spring, and the static friction of the steel BCG and hammer on the receiver. Dry aluminum and and steel have a static µ of ~ 0.61. With a coat of traditional oil, this can be lowered below 0.25 so a little less than half. As carbon builds up most assume the µ climbs. This is not actually the case as carbon will lower the µ. What is actually happening is the BCG is developing a layer that is causing binding. So as you can see its not just coefficient of friction and hardness that matters. The ability of a material to avoid deposit build up is equally if not more important. Factor in heat, and corrosive compounds and you will see that a seemingly simple problem can actually be quite complex. For those reasons so many people want to fall back on empirical evidence. IE: "I saw a weapon go x,xxx rounds before having a malfunction". While empirical data can be an indicator, with only one data sample the information has little scientific value. While we will preform a long term review and post updates, we are not going to rely on it as a definitive study. Instead we will rely on the merits of the tangible data along with trying to collect data from others to form a more comprehensive conclusion. People cay they have seen Failzero groups go over a thousand rounds suppressed and full auto with no lube. Sadly I have seen mil-spec bolts do the same. It is not the norm, but it can and does happen.
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With that primer out of the way, the initial impression of the Failzero basic kit was very favorable. The entire kit comes with complete instructions that were easy to follow. Packaging was nice and shipping was very fast. In one kit we ordered there was an issue with the gas key. A quick email to customer service had it sorted out and a new BCG was on our door later that week. The EXO coating from UCT was uniform and complete. After some initial testing the entire group was very easy to clean. More so than even its polished chrome counter part. At around $200, this kit is about double that of a basic BCG, and on par with most "premium" kits. Given the quality and claims of the kit, this has the potential to be an amazing product. While I do not intend to run it completely dry, it will provide peace of mind with extended use of a suppressor. The fact it eases clean up as much as it does is reason enough for me to purchase these kits exclusively in the future. We will follow up with long term reviews as issues or praises arise. The only stem of the install that may throw some of the most basic AR users is the hammer install. Below is a quick video to walk you through.