The AR platform — advanced.
One of my long-running projects has been the build-up of a bench/varmint AR-15. (I’ll be doing an article about this rifle shortly.) In my search for some finishing touches for this rifle, I ran across a company called JP Enterprises, sometimes known as JP Rifles, in Hugo, MN. JP Rifles evidently is the kind of company that prefers to focus on their products, rather than on high-visibility marketing, because I knew next to nothing about them before my search for a specific component led me to their web site. Trust me, though: this is a company worth getting to know.
To an AR aficionado, a visit to JP Rifles’ web site is like a kid’s trip to a candy store: they have a huge number of products, and you just end up wanting one of everything. I went to their site looking for a gas block for my varmint profile barrel, and I ended up using several of their components. I’m thrilled with the quality, the ease of installation, the quality of documentation, and the level of customer service that the company offers.
The EZ Trigger
One of JP Rifles’ newer products is their EZ Trigger. Anyone familiar with generic AR-15s knows how unsuitable most USGI triggers are for sporting applications. The EZ Trigger is a wonderful upgrade to this critical component. It is single-stage, can be ordered in a variety of spring weights, and features adjustment for take-up and overtravel.
A clarification of terminology may be in order here. JP Rifles refers to the EZ Trigger as a “drop-in” unit. To me, a drop-in trigger is a self-contained unit that is installed in one piece. JP Rifles’ definition is a bit different; by drop-in, they simply mean that no gunsmithing is necessary. While this is true, there are adjustments involved, and a true novice may not feel comfortable performing these himself. The entire installation procedure, however, is very well documented, and well within the abilities of most people who install their own AR components.
Once installed and adjusted, the EZ Trigger is an absolute delight. Simply put, it gives the AR the feel of a high-end bolt-action rifle, and imparts a sense of confidence and control that is rare in a single-stage trigger.
Adjustable Gas System
I discovered the JP adjustable gas systems when I was looking for a simple gas block that would fit my bull barrel. While reading the information on the JP site, though, I came to realize that the gas system can have a significant effect on the recoil impulse of an AR-15. While this might not matter to many shooters, it was important to me since I was building a varmint rifle and wanted as minimal a recoil as possible.
The JP Rifles system is really quite simple: a set screw adjusts the amount of gas flow into the gas tube, which in turn influences the velocity of the bolt carrier group during cycling. If desired, you can turn the screw in so far that the BCG doesn’t even move (your AR-15 is essentially converted into a non-autoloader at this point). With a bit of trial and error, you can set your gas system to allow the action to cycle as gently as possible. In addition to reducing perceived recoil, this will reduce the wear on your rifle’s innards.
The adjustable gas system is available in black or stainless finish, for a variety of barrel profiles, and are definitely worth a look.
Modular Hand Guards
Nicely complementing the clean, all-business look of the gas system is the JP/VTAC hand guard. The hand guards are fully free floating, have a not-too-smooth finish for a non-slip grip, are available in several lengths and can be left bare or equipped with any combination of rail options (hence the “modular” term).
The mounting system for the hand guard is worth a word or two. Many free floating handguards are held in by only a few threads at the back end, and can feel somewhat wobbly as a result. The JP Rifles’ mounting method, by contrast, is rock solid. The outer nut attaches firmly to the upper receiver, and features a deep sleeve over which the hand guard slides. The hand guard is then fastened to the outer nut by several screws for a positive, secure feel.
As most of us know, the AR platform wasn’t designed for scopes. Back in the Viet Nam era, iron sights were much more reliable, and perfectly adequate for the aiming precision needed by soldiers engaging enemies at uncomfortably close distances. In recent years, though, the AR platform has become hugely popular for hunting (both varmint and big game), competitive shooting, and just plinking for fun. As such, many if not most modern AR-15 shooters prefer scopes.
This poses a bit of a problem, though. Mounting the scope over the receiver almost always results in a scope that is several inches too far back for a comfortable shooting position. JP Rifles has obviated this problem with their new flat top optical mount, which permits the scope to be mounted considerably further forward. Before I installed this mount, I simply could not get my Leupold scope positioned comfortably. Using this mount, the scope went right where it belonged. Like all JP products, the mount is well made, nicely finished and a pleasure to use.
Believe it or not, this list of products barely scratches the surface of JP Rifles’ offerings. They also make complete rifles, bolt carriers, barrels, muzzle treatments (one of which I may discuss at a later time) and too many other components to mention here. Their customer service, moreover is as good as the products, and their documentation (which is always important to me) is excellent, too. This is a company, and a product line, worth getting to know.