JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube JPHG3-1M-RC Review

How Tactical is too tactical? A few years ago everybody who was anybody had a quadrail handguard mounted on the front of their AR style rifle. The conventional wisdom was that […]

How Tactical is too tactical?

A few years ago everybody who was anybody had a quadrail handguard mounted on the front of their AR style rifle. The conventional wisdom was that the full length picatinny rails were tactically critical to anyone who sought to employ their weapon tactically with maximum tactical effectiveness.
So, the humble masses flowed forth with great zest to scoop up any and every sort of quadrail handguard produced.
It didn’t take long to sort out that the quad railed design had a few drawbacks:

  • Quad rail AR15 handguards are TacticalOperator’s hands are covered in skin. Skin is often found to be incompatible with quad rail equipped handguards. Simply put, the hard aluminum cut at sharp angles produced myriad opportunities for operators (from weekend warriors to the secret squirrel variety) to sustain injuries simply from handling their quadrail equipped AR.
    So, the top tactical operators modeled the use of highly sophisticated rubber/plastic covers to protect their battle-hardened hands from eminent puncture.
  • Rail covers are a pain in the ass. Although this fact was not immediately apparent to the masses of aspiring operators, they eventually figured out that rail covers are annoying to deal with, easily lost/broken, and increase the bulk and weight of their already heavy quad rails.
  • Quad rails are heavy. Of course, the tactical gurus that led the quad rail charge tend to be abnormally buff, with a penchant for tight shirts and posting selfies from the gym and/or exotic training grounds. Those aspiring to move tactically up the foodchain of tactical oneness were keen to simply revel in their tacticalness, flaunting the additional weight of their quadrail as a badge of honor and achievement. I guess I’m not tactical enough, as I don’t get it.
  • Quadrails allow attachment of much tactical goodness. How much tactical goodness? If you have to ask, then you aren’t REALLY tactical!

And while the masses were worshiping at the alter of quad-tactical prowess, others were pursing a different style of shooting predicated less on the attachment of every possible accessory to the quad rails on their AR handguards, and more on reigning supreme in shooting competitions. For these fine souls the obscenely utilitarian ability to affix every tactical enhancement known to man was, well, overkill. The idea that one might move more quickly and precisely through the prescribed course of competitive fire by reducing the mass of their AR and embracing the K.I.S.S. principle led to a more streamlined approach. From this ethos we find solutions like the JP Enterprises JP MK III 12.5″ Rapid Configuration Tube handguard (JPHG3-1M-RC).

JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube JPHG3-1M-RC Review Unboxing

JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube JPHG3-1M-RC Review Unboxing

Features:

JPRifles.com describes the MK III Modular Hand Guard System as follows:

“The definitive modular hand guard, the JP MK III System has been over twenty years in the making, combining the advancements of every hand guard we’ve ever developed. With a new enhanced attachment method that combines aesthetic polish and durability, this system accommodates both the stylish, rock-blasted JP Signature tube and the Rapid Configuration tube with its faster rail relocation and new textured finish. Like its predecessors, MK III allows for easy rail mounting at any of the cardinal points along the tube as well as at the 45°s while also offering continued compatibility with all JP Tactical Rail accessories.

Manufactured as ever to the uncompromising JP standard, the MK III system is the final word on modular design fusing simplicity and utility with the benefits of both:

      • New, patented attachment method dramatically improves structural integrity while allowing for perfect alignment to bore axis comparable to one-piece, monolithic systems

      • The only forend system other than monolithics to offer top rail continuity, allowing bridging of the receiver and hand guard rail with optical mounts

      • JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube JPHG3-1M-RC Review installedBarrel nut redesign allows for easier and faster barrel installation or replacement

      • Internal barrel retainer nut serves as a lifetime component that doesn’t distort like one-piece, one-time-use aluminum barrel retention nuts

      • Unified nut design accepts both the iconic, rock-blasted JP Signature and practical Rapid Configuration tubes with new knurled finish and allows for easy change between them

      • Easily interchangeable tubes with rapid re-indexing

      • Standard, readily available 10-32 screws for rail attachment less limiting compared to the problems of proprietary hardware

      • Ergonomically optimal 2″ tube diameter easily clears minimized gas block and is available for both small- and large-frame models

      • Fully compatible with Armalite, Knights Armament and DPMS pattern .308s”

JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube JPHG3-1M-RC Review (16)What do we make of this marketing-speak?
A few design points stick out:

  • Easy alignment of the handguard to the rest of the rifle
  • Flexible configuration, allowing accessories to be added as needed with common hardware
  • Compatible with AR15 and AR10 systems

What they don’t mention: Weight! The JP MK III modular Hand Guard with Rapid Configuration Tube has ZERO rails attached from the factory, making it comparatively light. Rail sections or other accessories can be added, as needed to any of the numerous connection points lined up every 45 degrees radially around the handguard (10-32 tapped holes).

That all sounds nice, but does it work well? For this we did extensive testing.

How we tested

JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube JPHG3-1M-RC Review shootingAR-15 build:

The entire Gear Report team have shot the Gibbz Arms G4 Side Charging upper build using the JP MK III Hand Guard with Rapid Configuration Tube, most in a broad range of scenarios using various optics, ammunition types and other accessories (benches, rests, bipod, etc.). We shot standing, sitting and prone, still and moving, with magnified and unmagnified optics, with heavy and light projectiles, in warm and cool weather, rain and shine, rapid and slow – controlled fire… and even at night, specifically so we could see what kind of fireball the R&J Firearms Muzzle Brake produced.

Build details:

Gibbz Arms side charging upper JP Enterprises R&J Firearms Bear Creek ArsenalGibbz Arms G4 Side Charge upper, Left handed:

*Video* Here is a quick look at both of our Gibbz G4 based builds and some dusk shooting we did shortly after completing the builds. Gotta love the fireballs shooting out of the R&JFirearms muzzle brakes!

How did the JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid with Configuration Tube  perform?

JP_Enterprises_GibbzArms_ohuhu_pro_mag_Bear_Creek_Arsenal (44)In all cases he JP MK III Hand Guard with Rapid Configuration Tube earned high marks for fit, finish and feel. The features I liked the most in use:

  • Light weight: I don’t feel that I need a Creatine/Protein shake in preparation for a trip to the range. Even with the diamond fluted Bear Creek Arsenal 16″ heavy barrel this build didn’t feel any heavier than a standard 16″ AR. Weight is reduced via 4 rows of 0.65″ circular holes and 3 rows of 0.7″ x 0.37″ oblong holes all running most of the length of the handguard. A big bonus of the holes is that they allow easy access to the adjustable gas block without removing the handguard.
  • Grip feel: With the old quad rails one might argue that there was too much grip. As folks transitioned to non-railed tubes the opposite is often true… sections of the handguard with too little grip. The JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard with Rapid Configuration Tube had a modest knurled pattern covering all but the most forward and aft inch of the tube. With knurling it can be challenging to find the right depth of knurl that is not too abrasive or too slick. JP did a fine job settling on a knurled pattern that, combined with the strategically paced cut-outs, provides significant purchase on the handguard… without threat of losing a finger or significant bleeding.
  • JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube JPHG3-1M-RC Review free floatTrue free floated: Some handguards try to give the illusion of free floating hiding the gas block under, but in contact with the handguard. Or, they may be initially free floated, but with insufficient support at the barrel nut to resist deformation under use. The upper wearing the JP MK III Hand Guard with Rapid Configuration Tube has been tossed around and abused by a testing team hell bent on revealing any weakness in the parts, yet remains intact and looking nearly as good as when installed. We paired this handguard with JP’s adjustable low profile gas black, which has plenty of clearance.
  • Easy accessories: JP supplied the following accessories for evaluation along with the handguard and gas block. The first 2 attach via screws that pass through the threaded holes in the handguard and into a support block that comes with the accessory. The Front Sight rail attaches only with screws, as there is not sufficient space between the gas block and the handguard for a support block.
    • JPHG-SM Single Point Sling Attachment
    • JPHGS Sling Stud with Backer Plate (used to mount our Ohuhu 6-Inch to 9-Inch Adjustable Bipod)
    • JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube JPHG3-1M-RC Review (5)JPTR-S Mil-Std-1913 Accessory Rail
    • JPTR-FS Front Sight Mil-STD-1913 Accessory Rail

I have to admit to being a bit intimidated by the redesigned barrel nut assembly. The lengthy and detailed installation instructions nearly caused a panic attack (the anti-“read the direction” gene is strong with me), but proved to be well written and far simpler than I had initially anticipated.

And although we have not yet used this feature, the JP MK III Hand Guard system is modular, so the user can swap any of 15 different handguards, ranging from 7″ to 17.25″ onto the installed barrel nut, depending on their intended use.

Anything we don’t like?

As an ethical review site we often feel compelled to find SOMETHING that we don’t like about every product that we review. To this end I have to admit to having a little trouble aligning the support block inside the handguard with the Accessory Rail. Sure, it only took about 3 minutes to install the rail, and my previously mentioned aversion to reading directions may have contributed to the time in this installation… but hey, neither I nor the rest of the Gear Report team have reported anything else that we were less than pleased with.

JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube JPHG3-1M-RC Review JP adjustable gas blockI suppose that we should also note that this is not a bargain basement priced part. At $224.95 the JP Enterprises JP MK III 12.5″ Rapid Configuration Tube handguard (JPHG3-1M-RC) the almost as much as the SCCY CPX-2 pistol we reviewed a couple of months ago. However, I respect that JP doesn’t care that his products cost more than some other options. His goal, as he quite eloquently told me when we spoke a few months ago as we prepared to review the JP Armageddon Gear Roller Trigger in a JP-15 AR lower receiver, is to make the best products for the AR15, not the cheapest.

Aesthetics

As with the Unique-ARs Jax pattern handguard from our other Gibbz Arms G4 Side Charge upper build, I was pleasantly surprised to find that JP MK III Hand Guard with Rapid Configuration Tube really contributed to the looks of the completed rifle. As a hard-core competition products manufacturer JP is known for functionally high performance parts. Turns out their hand guard looks pretty nice also. Since we hid a diamond fluted Bear Creek Arsenal 16″ heavy barrel under the handguard all of the weight saving cut-outs provide a great window to the interesting barrel underneath.

JP Enterprises JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube JPHG3-1M-RC Review JP logoOverall

To me, while a handguard must be durable and functional, the true test of a handguard is how it feels in your hand while maneuvering and shooting. The JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube is just the right diameter for my hands, and combination of knurled texture and the rows of holes along the length of the tube provide just the right amount of grip, even with sweaty hands. We found this to be another example of why JP Enterprises as a stellar reputation in the industry.

Gear Score
Gearswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The JP MK III Hand Guard Rapid Configuration Tube was relatively easy to install, feels great in the hands and has held up to considerable abuse. We strongly recommend it to anyone that needs their AR to perform.

 

Gallery of JP Enterprises JP MK III 12.5″ Rapid Configuration Tube handguard (JPHG3-1M-RC) images:

About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits.

A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps http://MGECOM.com acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management.

Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.