Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Range Reviews: YHM Black Diamond Specter XL Upper

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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I had the opportunity this weekend to handle and work with the latest AR15 upper from Yankee Hill Machine Co: the Black Diamond Specter XL.

YHM Black Diamond Specter XL

I don't normally handle or even use the AR platform very frequently, but after the 2009 SHOT Show, I was determined to refamiliarize myself with the AR15 and its many derivatives. I spent some time with the fellows at YHM, discussing the production, advancements, and accessories for the AR platform.

Upon receiving the Black Diamond Specter XL, I was pleased to see a very smooth, black matte finish with no variations on the upper and the free floating four rail forearm. The machining is exceptional, clean and crisp with no burrs or hooks. Assembly was done by someone who cares, not a mark, scratch, or ding anywhere. The rifle upper had a definite lean, aggressive look to it with the rails, flattop, and jagged flash hider.

Some of the features include:

* Mil. Spec. Forged 7075-T6 Aluminum YHM Flat Top Upper Receiver
* "T" Marked Upper Receiver
* Forward Assist
* Mil. Spec. Bolt Carrier Assembly
* 16" Chrome-Moly Vanadium Steel Barrel, Heat Treated to RC 25-32
* Chambered in 5.56 N.A.T.O., Chrome-Lined with either a 1:9" or 1:7" Twist

*Total Weight: 4.8 Pounds

The nice thing about buying a complete upper is that most everything you need is included.

* YHM Phantom 5C2 Flash Hider / Compensator (YHM-28-5C2)
* YHM Rifle Length Diamond Handguard (YHM-9635-DX)
* YHM Forearm Endcap (YHM-9484-B)
* YHM Low Profile Gas Block (YHM-9383)
* YHM Forearm Mounted Flip Front Sight (QDS)
* YHM Flip Rear Sight (QDS)

You can put it on a lower, put a magazine in it, sight it in, and fire away to your hearts content.

Forearm End Cap

The Diamond Series forearm (YHM-9635-DX) is free floating. No amount of reasonable pressure on my part could get the forearm to touch the barrel. The top rail is extended so that there is no gap between the receiver and the forearm and the rails are marked for accessory locations. Anti-rotation screws are used to prevent loosening and insure a secure installation. The tube is made of 6061-T6 aluminum and is hardcoated to military specifications. The forearm end cap provides protection for the end of your YHM forearm. It does not interfere with the free floating of your barrel and helps keep out debris. I'll be doing a separate post just on the forearm itself in the future.

Phantom 5C2 Comp/Flash Suppressor

At the business end of the rifle sits the Phantom 5C2 Comp/Flash Suppressor. (YHM-28-5C2) The popular Phantom Flash Suppressor has been redesigned by YHM to work as a muzzle compensator while maintaining the excellent flash hiding capabilities of the previous model. This five port design has no downward facing port which helps eliminate dust problems when shooting in the prone position. Notice the aggressive V cuts at the end for the occasional mano a mano!

In order to mount a full length rail system to a carbine length barrel, a low profile short gas block has been installed. The (YHM-9383) is mounted by the use of two set screws and is manufactured from high quality steel and finished with a mil. spec. phosphate coating.

The new Quick Deploy Sight System features an automatic deploy system. Pushing a button on the side of the sight base deploys the sight.

QDS Rear Sight deployed

QDS Front Sight folded

QDS Front Sight deployed

Both front and rear sights lock positively in the folded and deployed positions and are made from aircraft quality aluminum and hardcoated to military specifications. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and features dual apertures. The front adjusts for elevation and is a standard post. I found the sights to be at an excellent height allowing me to pick them up instantaneously. The larger aperture worked best for my eyesight, as the smaller blurred the target.

I'll be working with the YHM some more over the weekend. So far I am impressed with the fit and finish of the upper, and the thought put into the engineering of the product. Next week it will be going out to the range for a full workout. If the quality I see is indicative, the range tryouts should be a breeze.

YHM Yankee Hill Machine Co.
YHM-7820 Black Diamond Specter XL Top End
MSRP $865.00

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Albert A Rasch, Hunting in Florida

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.


Dennis A Carroll said...


I'm anticipating the range results.

Aaron said...

That Upper is so nice, but is it worth the price. Most people I know use thier AR as a toy, not as they were ment to be used. So is it worth the extra $$? Nice review thanks.

Albert A Rasch said...


Interesting observation. Let me look at some of the other offerings, give it some thought and I'll answer back.

I didn't think of it that way quite frankly. I was interested more interested in the utility and reliability.

Thanks for the comment and I'll get back to it, maybe make a whole 'nother post!