The pistol caliber carbine (PCC) divisions in competition exploded several years ago. Easier to aim, faster to shoot, higher magazine capacities and less felt recoil meant everyone who tried it, loved it. USPSA even allows you to shoot PCC in place of pistols at their matches. So what is the problem? Direct blowback is the problem. AR-15s are gas operated and have rotating locking lugs that keep the bolt in battery until after the bullet has exited the barrel. This means the bolt carrier group (BCG) slides back into the buffer tube in a controlled manner.
Direct blowback doesn’t have that. When the gun goes “bang,” the BCG rockets back like a bat out of hell. We increased the weight of the BCG, increased the strength of the buffer spring and increased the weight of the buffer to try and slow it down, but it still comes back so violently that it literally beats guns to death. Hammer and trigger springs break, and hammer pin holes become elongated. Plus, the recoil needs to be tamed for faster follow-up shots.
JP Enterprises JP-5 Details
A bunch of top firearms companies started working on solutions to this problem several years ago. If they can’t fix the problems of direct blowback, they can use another operating system. Right now, the choices seem to be gas-operated, piston-operated or roller-delayed blowback. Most of us are familiar with gas and piston systems, but unless you have spent time with an H&K MP5, you probably aren’t as familiar with roller-delayed blowback. This system has a bolt that doesn’t rotate but slides back into the BCG. As it slides back, two rolling cylinders pop out on each side of the bolt, increasing the friction and slowing it down as it comes back. It is a very smooth system, as any MP5 aficionado can attest.
JP Enterprises is well known in the PCC competition world and with good reason. They offer lots of innovative solutions like their custom, tunable Silent Captured Spring System that replaces normal buffer springs. It was no surprise that JP would be at the forefront of replacing direct blowback in the PCC. The JP Enterprises JP-5 Carbine with roller-delayed blowback is rarer than hen’s teeth. They haven’t gone into full production, and I am told there are less than 20 out and about in the real world. I found myself in the right place at the right time and was lucky enough to get my hands on one of these for a short time. I embrace innovation and I wasted no time in taking full advantage of the situation.
The gun looks about like most AR-style PCCs, but it boasts an ambidextrous bolt release, mag release, safety selector and Radian Raptor charging handle. You are sometimes forced to shoot from both shoulders in some competition stages, so these are great features. It takes Glock 9mm magazines and has last round bolt hold open. Mission First Tactical’s BATTLELINK Minimalist Stock works great on it, and Magpul’s MOE-K2 pistol grip is more vertical than normal grips, which pulls the shooter’s elbow down and in tight to the body.
The JP Silent Captured Spring system is standard. The trigger is the JP Enhanced Reliability Fire Control Package, which has unbelievably short take-up and reset besides being insanely light. I measured it as averaging 2 pounds, 13 ounces, on my Lyman Trigger Gauge. The gun I got did not have the standard JP Mk III Hand Guard System but instead sported the narrower JP 12.5” M-LOK series, which I prefer. The stainless barrel matched seamlessly with the JP 3-Port polished titanium compensator. In a word, it is a Cadillac.
Shooting the JP Enterprises JP-5
The owner of the JP-5 requested Hawke Sport Optics send me a red-dot optic for it. A Reflex Dot 1×30 ‘Wide View’ Circle Dot arrived in the mail. I was instantly impressed with the wide field of view, easy controls and side battery replacement. I was a little surprised I hadn’t heard a lot more about Hawke Optics before this. Instead of trying to make a pistol optic work on a carbine or a rugged but sight-limiting “tube,” this was truly a larger reflex-style sight made for PCC.
I pride myself on my gun handling but I am good enough to know there are plenty of shooters who are a lot better than me. My first stop with the gun was at the Rio Salado gun range in Mesa, Arizona, which hosts competitions daily. I loaned the JP-5 to a young competitive shooter I know named Joe Murray. After running it, he definitely felt the difference between it and straight blowback. He noted the recoil impulse feels different and he felt the rate of the bolt going back into battery might be slightly slower than direct blowback. However, we did not have the opportunity to adjust the delayed roller action to him, and I soon found out what a difference that would make.
I am a big believer in testing and results over conjecture and opinion. Finally, it was my time to hit the range, so a week later I booked myself a private range at Cowtown just north of Phoenix. First, I conducted my accuracy test. I mounted Crimson Trace’s Hardline 4-16x42mm scope and slowly worked on five-shot groups at 25 yards. Normally I would have done this at 50 yards, but the range was a little too short. And PCCs are frequently sighted in at 15 yards for competition, so 25 yards seemed like a fair compromise.
The JP-5 is a tack driver. My LabRadar didn’t pick up the initial shots. That was when I learned the barrel compensator really throws the blast to the side, and not to the rear like most muzzle brakes. I moved my muzzle back to being in line with the LabRadar and voila, it worked perfectly. I dread being on the range next to someone with an aggressive muzzle brake and I really like the fact that this one doesn’t punish nearby shooters.
Next, I remounted the Hawke Sport Optics Reflex Dot 1×30 ‘Wide View’ Circle Dot and started running some drills. At first, I wasn’t overly impressed. I got out my CED 8000 Shot timer and my own direct blowback 9mm PCC and put them in a test with the same ammo and magazines. The control gun was equipped with Rise Armament’s Blitz Single Stage trigger, which also has extremely short take-up and reset. While this wasn’t a perfect comparison, it was pretty close. I loaded identical Glock mags with identical ammunition. Splits between shots were almost identical, and recoil was only slightly milder with the JP-5.
The JP-5 had one more trick up its sleeve. JP is known for being able to custom-tune their guns to fit different ammunition and different shooters. Jesse Gangl at JP Enterprise sent me a couple of different Lock Pieces that change the amount of friction on the rollers. Little change equals a big difference. I switched from the 90 Lock Piece to the 80 and then to the 70. Split times got a little faster. They hovered around .18, but that may have been me getting better with practice.
The big difference was my shot groups. My groups with my personal gun were barely staying on the paper as I slammed the trigger as fast as I could. The groups with the JP-5 stayed in the A Ring. The muzzle jumped less, and there was less felt recoil. Everything was simply smoother. My testing went on for hours, as I switched ammunitions and ran everything from 147 grain down to 115 grain and then ball ammo vs hollow point. The JP-5 could be tuned to match the ammo, and the resulting controllability was night and day. The JP-5 is a PCC on a completely new level.
JP Enterprises brings innovation and convertible parts to their guns, which were designed for competition. These guns aren’t for everyone, but shooters who measure their success by placement on the score sheet know that equipment makes a huge difference. The JP-5 rejuvenates the roller-delayed action and shows us it can be fine-tuned to fit any shooter with any type of ammo. The JP Enterprises JP-5 runs like a clock. Besides amazing accuracy and an unbelievable trigger, it never jammed or hiccuped on any of the different ammo I threw at it. I can’t wait until the JP-5 goes into full production, and they start showing up at all of these weekend matches. I think a lot of people are going to be very impressed. For more information, visit jprifles.com.
JP Enterprises JP-5 PCC Specifications
- Caliber: 9mm
- Barrel Length: 14.5 inches
- OA Length: 31.5 inches
- Weight: 6.1 pounds (empty)
- Stock: BATTLELINK Minimalist Stock, JP M-Lok forend
- Action: Roller-delayed blowback
- Magazine: Glock 9mm
- Finish: Matte black receiver, polished stainless or black Teflon
- MSRP: $3,200 – $3,350
JP-5 Accuracy Results
|Federal Syntech PCC 130||1,061||.73|
|Federal Punch 124||1,245||.84|
|Hornady Critical Duty 135||999||.40|
This article originally appeared in the September-October 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.