Saturday, January 21, 2012

JP ENTERPRISE AR15 BARREL KIT REVIEW

JP ENTERPRISE AR15 BARREL KIT REVIEW

I am a self professed accuracy nut. Unlike many of the folks that buy for accuracy and then never visit more than a 50 yard range, I am the guy that will spend weeks and months over years finding the perfect load to improve and tighten that already consistent group.  These days almost any $100-$200 barrel equipped AR will easily deliver 2” or less groups with good ammo and a higher power scope, spend a little more on a quality target or match barrel in the $200 range and you will typically see constant 1” groups.  Further accuracy improvements the prices start to go up fast with target triggers and generally we need to commit $350-$600 for a premium barrel to achieve consistent sub-MOA accuracy. 

If you ask the question who makes the most accurate AR15 barrels you get a lot of opinions so qualified and some... well not so much. As I spoke with numerous individuals in the know, the usual premium barrel manufacturers names came up however one name came up more than any other; “JP Enterprises” and especially from the three-gun and target crowd.  Further peaking my interest, almost all noted ½” benchrest 100 yard groups as commonplace with JP Enterprise barrels kits, uppers, and complete rifles with higher power optics.  In the land of precision barrels JP’s prices are not the least expensive but are reasonably priced at $399 considering their proven pedigree. This of course peaked my interest as I was pondering my next build.

ABOUT JP ENTERPRISE
John Paul, the founder and president of JP Enterprise is first and foremost a shooting enthusiast.  These means he is not some forum jockey or marginally respected writer [cough] like myself, he is one of the pros out there on the circuit using, evaluating, testing, competing and tweaking his products so that final production models improve.  The result has been success and industry respect far beyond what slick advertising or computer simulations can provide. JP products have been tested and proven to be among the best in real competitions and not just in a lab environment. Currently JP barrels and accessories are found on some of the top 3-Gun competitors rifles including the cyborg fusion powered “Go Army” Daniel Horner.  What makes JP Enterprises unique is that they are truly innovating old ideas with out of the box thinking to be better and creating new products along the way. 

THE JP BARREL BUILD
If you are less inclined to do a build, JP has complete rifles and complete uppers that will deliver sub-MOA accuracy without touching a barrel wrench however I have grown to really enjoy the build process. What does make a build considerably easier is springing for the one time purchase for the correct quality tools such as the PRI receiver vise and wrenches I used for this build.  With the intent to upgrade the build’s grip and stock later on, I wanted to concentrate my dollars on the build components specifically increasing accuracy. The goal was a tack driving squad designated type rifle that I could use for target, varmint, distance, and 3-gun type training. I am not a 3-gun competitor, however after watching a seaon of 3-Gun Nation, at some point I think it is inevitable.

The foundation of this accuracy machine is a JP Enterprises 18” Medium Contour JP Barrel Kit which features a Thermal Dissipator, adjustable gas block, Cryogenic treatment, matched bolt, and the JP Contoured barrel profile all in an effort to wring the last drop of precision from their barrels ... probably quite a bit different than the stock barrel riding aboard your AR15.  

I chose to use Aero Precision upper and lower receivers. Although not a known brand, Aero Precision is actually a aerospace based receiver manufacturer for premium high quality brands you know. Other build components include Squad Designed Marksman focused Geissele SSA-E Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced Trigger, PRI Gasbuster charging handle, Hi-Lux 1-4X-24 CMR scope, Millet Rings, a Double Star parts lower parts kit and re-purposed tube and stock assembly, and JP Enterprises’ own Modular Hand Guard to fit over the heat-sinked barrel profile.  Because the JP Barrel Kit includes a matched and head-spaced bolt, I plugged the JP Bolt into a Model 1 Sales Chrome Carrier Group.

FEATURES
First it should be noted that what I am reviewing is not just a barrel, but a $589 barrel kit composed of JP Enterprise’s innovative products which provide the builder a very special set of tuned components.  The JP Enterprises Kit delivers an install ready complete barrel assembly and can be ordered in your choice of 16”, 18”, 20” and 22” barrels and includes JP’s own head-spaced bolt matched to the chamber, adjustable gas system and tube, and tactical compensator or recoil eliminator.  I opted for the Tactical compensator and added a $75 JP Thermal Dissipator which is in essence a large heat sink for the barrel
Mounted to the 18” rifle-length gas system barrel is JP’s own adjustable gas block and stainless gas tube. Most gas systems are over gassed and have too high of a bolt velocity.  The result is a recoil impulse which flogs you, affects shooting speed, and sight recovery. Typically over gassing is attempted to be remedied by utilizing (H) heavier and (h2) heavier buffers. The JP Adjustable Gas System allows you to adjust up or down the bolt velocity for hot and even reduced loads. You can even turn the system off for bench single shot shooting. The Adjustable Gas Block features a picatinny top rail to attach your choice of accessory or sight.  The quality of the gas block is outstanding and its features allow you to tune your AR to a smooth, easy and flat shooting AR that holds the sights from shot to shot.  Most will tune the gas block for one specific load, I tuned mine down just enough to assure cycling with all my rounds tested.
Tipping the barrel, I chose the 3-gun legal Bennie Cooley JP Tactical Compensator.  This compensator is designed to be compliant with SOF, WC 3-Gun and USPSA Limited Class competition rules while maximizing flat shooting performance. Compensators are effective at providing a flat shooting near recoil-less rig however the trade off is they are louder than a standard flash supressor and this one will definitely require hearing protection.  It did deliver stunningly flat shooting for me and the reason for this are the extra holes along the top 1 o’clock position which apparently provides just enough push to prevent the typical up and right movement of the muzzle.  Worked great and looks awesome and is a whole bundle of fun when you start shooting fast.

The button rifled barrel itself is made from 416 stainless alloy chambered in .223 Wylde with a 1:8 twist which is “the” preferred configuration for precision shooters. The .223 Wylde chamber represents the best compromise between the SAAMI commercial spec .223 chamber and the 5.56 NATO-type chamber resulting in peak accuracy with the widest variety of ammo at safe pressures.  The barrel has a unique best of both worlds profile which promotes cooling at the highest temp area 2”-3” in front of the chamber with a thinner barrel profile and then transitions to a bull profile after the gas block to assure precision accuracy.  The barrel is turned on state-of-the-art machines and cryogenically treated for cold bore shot predictability, minimum thermal drift, outstanding accuracy and extended barrel life.  JP is definitely leading barrel technology innovation in the AR market ahead of anyone else.  I choose the 18” barrel because I wanted a weight compromise between a heavy bench gun and a shoulder-able off hand gun.  With the JP profile and 18” length the barrel feels like standard heavy AR profile barrel but shoots like an 18” bull barrel.

If you opted for the JP Thermal Dissipator, it attaches to the thinner barrel profile between the gas block and receiver.  The Dissipator increases barrel stiffness and provides 700% more surface area and seven times the cooling of a standard barrel profile, increased barrel life and accuracy, and improved heat management for more comfortable high rate shooting. Because of the heat dissipation abilities, heat distortion is limited and barrel temperatures are controlled even during sustained firing. The Dissipator is available for .650” and .750” barrel profiles in black, red, blue, and white anodized finish and will fit other barrels with those profiles.  The red looks sharp peeking thought he handguard. Seems like someone should have taken this queue from the electronic industry and installed heat sinks long ago.

The last part of the kit is a JP Enhanced Bolt which accepts standard non-proprietary firing pins, and extractors. The JP bolt is made from SAE 9310 high-grade steel and head spaced matched to the JP barrel chambers. The primary advantage is a sizable upgrade from atypical 8620 steel. This standard 8620 steel has been shown to only last around 6000 rounds and some can show stress fractures in as little as 3000 rounds where the SAE 9310 steel is shown to last easily twice as long.


FIT, FEEL
When JP notes that their barrels are made to exacting specifications they are not kidding as this barrel is by far the most stunningly gorgeous barrel finish I have seen.  Even the transition to the JP Tactical Compensator is so flawless it looks like a perfect turned and milled extension of the barrel.  The chambers and feed ramps are polished, the target crown is perfect and the fit into my Aero Precision upper receiver was nice and tight.  JP is obviously picky about quality as every component in the barrel kit is of outstanding custom grade quality.
FUNCTIONING
No problems, gotchas, or issues came up with the build other than an observation for those that add the JP Thermal Dissipator to existing or JP barrels.  The Thermal Dissipator’s size requires a round 1.78” inner tube diameter for proper clearance.  My originally intended quad handguard was too small and instead was replaced with a JP Modular Handguard... a great choice. Look for a review soon just on the handguard. Once everything was mounted up it was time for the recommended JP Enterprises barrel break in procedure.  The break in procedure amounts to cleaning the barrel after the ten shots for the first 300 rounds and preferably using JB Compound. Some folks don’t believe in a break in process and some do, I am a believer and find my groups always improve by doing so. Though I am past 300 rounds now, I have not had any feeding, extraction, or firing issues.  Reliability has been excellent and seems to be getting smoother.

ACCURACY
Reporting on the accuracy will have to be a long-term update type review so check back occasionally as I really have only ran two types of ammo through the barrel at this point and need to wait until the weather warms back up.  Moving through the recommended break in procedure with the inexpensive steel cased ammo still netted a few .75” groups. I have to say I more and more impressed with each shot.  With Hornady 75 Grain TAP ammo, groups started at solid .75” groups at 100 yards and reduced through the 100 round range to .6” and though the 300 round count I managed several .5” groups and one .4” group.  It could be I just became a little more comfortable behind the 6-24 Simmons Predator Quest scope used as testing continued, however I was quite happy with the results. The Simmons 6-24 was used to squeeze out accuracy, however the 1-4X Hi-Lux CMR scope is simply more practical for 3-Gun and tactical shooting.  The Hi-Lux CMR still easily delivered .75” or better groups at 100 yards and provides a MIL and MOA combo illuminated circle dot and bullet drop and wind drift reticle for fast and easy Kentucky windage adjustments.

Because the barrel is a very hard stainless alloy which should take a little longer than the typical 200-300 rounds to break in, it is my impression that the barrel could still deliver further accuracy improvements well into the 500 round mark. Yes the the JP Enterprises barrel kit delivers on accuracy and in my situation at least .5” groups and counting and if I the barrel break in continues and I were a bit more talented I am sure .3” groups or smaller would be possible. Most impressive to me was that I was able to hold very close to these groups from the first to the last shot during higher rates of benchrest paced fire.  Obviously JP’s barrel profile, cyro treating and heat sink all contribute to that first to last shot consistency.

What does this mean for the average shooter, tactical operator, or 3-gun competitor?  Well if your average barreled AR’s best day produces 2” groups at 100 yards, then the JP Enterprises accuracy solution offers a 400% improvement and consequently 400% higher hit probability, 400% more potential that the bad guy or 300 yard 3-gun steel goes down or simply more probably that you will out shoot your buddy at the range.

FINAL THOUGHTS
JP Enterprises has a well earned reputation as one of the finest barrel and AR15 accessory innovators and manufacturers in the industry and my experience certainly proved that reputation again.  I like the fact that there are all 100% US made parts, the warranty and commitment of JP himself to assuring quality and customer service, but one of the more innovative things I like is the “We’ve got your back” program.  The program supports law enforcement who purchase one of his rifles and if that rifle is held in evidence, JP will provide a loaner at JP’s cost until the officer’s firearm is released from evidence... now that is a commitment to our boys in blue and a commitment to customer service.  
There is no doubt that this is not a budget build, however tipping just over $2000 is a bargain for a proven ½” tack driver any way you slice it. I understand the science behind cryo-treatment, different JP barrel profile, and accessories like the thermal dissipator, but some will say they are just voodoo. If I thought having each of my rifles hand rubbed with old Bennie Cooley practice targets, blessed, dipped in garlic infused holy water followed by a a live sacrifice of cooked carrots while citing Hamlet, I would, but luckily the JP kit easily delivered sub-MOA accuracy without all that. There are certainly a sea of premium target grade barrels out there on the market however based on my experience JP has definitely gained another accuracy nut as a fan.

BUILD SPECS

  • JP Enterprises 18" Rifle Length Barrel Kit   $589
  • (Barrel, Gas Block & Tube, Bolt, and Tactical Compensator)
  • JP Thermal Dissipator $75
  • Aero Precision Upper $59.99
  • Aero Precision Lower $139.99
  • Model 1 Carrier $195
  • Geissele SSA-E Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced Trigger $200
  • PRI Gasbuster charging handle with Tactical Latch $85
  • Hi-Lux 1-4X-24 CMR scope $359
  • Millet Tactical 30mm Rings $50
  • Doublestar parts lower parts kit $58.99
  • Re-purposed stock assembly $0
  • JP Enterprises’ own Modular Hand Guard $189.99
  • TOTAL BUILD $2001.96

SOURCES
JP Enterprises, Inc
http://www.jprifles.com/

4 comments:

Nate Home said...

Will this JP barrel with the Thermal Dissipator installed fit inside your Aero Precision C.O.P upper?

Major Pandemic said...

Probably not. It requires a larger for end like a JP, Nordic or PRI.

Nate Williams said...

were you able to remove the gas block without removing the tactical compensator to install the barrel nut?

Nate Williams said...

can you remove the gas block without removing the compensator in order to install the barrel nut? Great write up on your build!