JR Carbine from American Tactical Imports
By Chris A. Choat

American Tactical Imports (ATI) has become one of the most successful importers in this country, bringing into this country some of the most innovative firearms and accessories made. Not only are they offering imported guns but some new guns that are made right here in the USA. Their newest offering is the JR (Just Right) Carbine.

The JR Carbine is a straight blowback-operated, semiautomatic, pistol caliber carbine that is completely ambidextrous. It comes equipped with an M4 type 6-position collapsible buttstock and a free-floating quad-rail forend. The gun is available in several caliber models that include 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. One of the neatest things about the gun is that is uses magazines that are already used in some of the most popular handguns which include the Glock and the Colt 1911. The 9mm and the .40 S&W guns use Glock magazines and the .45 ACP gun can be had in either a Glock magazine based version or a version that uses 1911 type magazines. The carbines are completely modular and can also be changed from one caliber to another in a matter of minutes. This is accomplished by the use of a separate, interchangeable magazine well that is coupled to the front of the trigger group. By changing out the magazine well you can change calibers as well as being able to change the type of magazine used in the .45 ACP version.

The gun received for testing was in .45 ACP and used Glock 21 magazines. It came with one 10-round magazine. Higher capacity magazines can be used but more on that later.

The gun’s receiver, trigger housing and magazine well are machined from aerospace grade 6060 T-6 aluminum with an anodized hardcoat finish. This makes for a very lightweight gun at only 6.5 pounds. The barrel is 16 1/4 inches and is completely free floated. The company will offer threaded barrels as well as short barrels for shooters that would like to have an SBR. A machined aluminum quad-rail forearm surrounds the barrel and allows the user to add lights, lasers or foregrips as they choose. As stated before, the carbine comes equipped with an M4, 6-position stock, which rides on a commercial buffer tube. If the user doesn’t like the standard M4 type stock you can change it to any commercial aftermarket style in seconds.

. The bolt is very innovative. It features a threaded hole, on either side, that the cocking handle screws into and is ambidextrous and can be configured for either right or left handed shooters. The upper receiver has cocking handle slots on both sides so changing the handle from the right side to the left just requires removing the bolt and reversing the handle. The upper receiver also has an ejection port on both sides. The cocking slot is also machined with a recess to rotate the cocking handle into and provide a bolt hold-open. There is a cover plate that installs on the ejection port that is not being used. This cover plate has the ejector machined into it. The bolt can also be converted to extract and eject from either side.

The trigger group portion of the lower receiver accepts standard AR-15 hammer, trigger, disconnector and selector along with the associated pins and springs. It also accepts the standard AR-15 pistol grip.

The upper receiver has a Picatinny style rail that runs along its top surface. This rail mates up with the top rail on the quad rail forearm thus providing a continuous rail all along the top surface. The rail allows the shooter to install optics and sights of his or her choosing as the gun comes with no sights. The slots are not T-marked. The author chose the new Yankee Hill Machine Q.D.S. (Quick Deploy Sight) Same Plane Sight System. The sights feature an automatic deploy system that springs the sights up with a push of a button. Both front and rear sights lock positively in the folded or deployed positions. They are made from aircraft aluminum and hardcoated to Mil-Spec. The flat black finish matches the finish on the gun perfectly. The rear sight is available with either a single large peep, single small peep or dual peep aperture. The one used on the JR Carbine for this article was the dual peep sight. The front sight mounts on the same plane as the rear sight and is available with either a hooded or standard stem. Both sights measure only .435 inches above the rail when folded.

Also added to the carbine was the new SPARC (Speed Point Aiming for Rapid Combat) red dot sight from Vortex Optics. This small red dot has some great features and can be used on most any firearm including ARs, shotguns and even handguns as it has unlimited eye relief and a very high recoil rating. The SPARC has a 2 MOA dot. The sight comes with a modular three-piece base that offers four separate mounting heights. With this many heights you can set the sight to absolute, or lower 1/3rd co-witness with the iron sights. It has rubber covered control buttons for power on/off and dot brightness of which there are 10 levels. There is even a Night Vision button that sets the sight at the lowest possible level that can only be seen with a NV device. The sight runs on a single CR 2345 battery of which two are included with it and has a 6-hour auto shutdown feature. The sight even comes with a 2X magnifier that screws onto the rear lens. The front of the sight is threaded to accept the optional KillFlash anti-reflection device. Vortex also makes a 3X swing-to-the-side magnifier and mount. Another really great feature of the SPARC is the elevation and windage turret caps and battery cover are tethered to the scope with rubber covered retaining cables. This small sight is loaded with high dollar features yet has a retail price of just $289.

Range and field testing was done with a variety of .45 ACP ammunition. The ammunition ran the gamut from FMJ reloads through Black Hills 230 Grain +P Hollow Points and even some of the new Federal Premium 165 Grain Guard Dog personal defense rounds. The Guard Dog bullet is an interesting design in that it looks and feeds like a Full Metal Jacket bullet but hits the target and expands like a Hollow Point. This is accomplished by the use of a jacketed bullet with a polymer type material inside the nose. As it hits the target it drives the nose of the bullet back into the polymer material expanding it dramatically. In testing, the bullets expanded to about the size of a quarter.

The JR Carbine proved to be very accurate when test fired. Groups fired at 50 yards measured 1.5 inches with one 5-shot group measuring just under 1 inch. The Black Hills 230 Grain +P Hollow Point round also grouped very well out of the carbine. The gun fed hollowpoints, FMJ’s and even some semi-wadcutters without a problem once we found magazines that it liked. The gun is shipped with one 10-round Glock .45 magazine. It worked with no problems but switching to high capacity magazines was a different story. A gun like this begs for a high capacity magazine. During the test the gun was fired using an original high capacity 13-round Glock mag, some 27-round Korean mags from KCI and a 30-round magazine produced by adding a Kriss Super-V extension to a standard 13-round Glock magazine. The 13-round Glock worked flawlessly. Out of the two KCI magazines tried, one worked and one didn’t. The Glock 13-round with the Kriss Super-V extension (30 rounds) could not be made to work regardless of what ammunition used. The point here is, if the gun is used for home or self defense, make sure that it works with the magazine you choose.

American Tactical Imports is also offering caliber conversion kits for the JR Carbine. The conversion kit consists of a barrel, bolt, magazine, magazine well and ejector plate. The conversion can be easily completed with the simple tools provided with the kit.

In conclusion, the JR Carbine is a handy, lightweight carbine that proved very accurate. It is available in popular handgun calibers and uses readily available handgun magazines. It has a retail price of under $700 with caliber conversions going for around $250. The gun’s AR-15 fire control parts make the gun easy to learn for anyone familiar with AR style guns and it would make for a good carbine for use by police in a short range scenario. It also makes for a handy home defense carbine loaded with today’s high performance self-defense loads.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review SAW (August 2012)
and was posted online on July 20, 2012


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