I enlisted in the U.S. Army when I was 17, and I can say with confidence that I received good training in the six years I served. However, after attending the FAST Carbine course at The Site Firearms Training Center, what I received in the military doesn’t compare to the quality one-on-one training a small class gives you with highly dedicated instructors.
It’s not that the army has poor instructors or courses, but when you only have one or two days to get an entire company (about 120 soldiers) through new training, things can slip through the cracks. At The Site, classes are kept small, so the instructors catch the little things, and one can leave with confidence that they’ve gained world-class training and experience with their firearm.
For the course, I took a JP Enterprises’ GMR-15 with a Trijicon MRO Green Dot along with 1,000 rounds of Federal Premium Syntech 9mm ammunition. While the GMR-15 is one of the more popular guns in the Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC) Division of the USPSA, I wanted to see how practical it could be for home defense and general use.
In preparation for the class, I contacted John Paul, the “JP” in JP Enterprises, and caught a glimpse of the passion and drive that goes into every JP gun. Spoiler alert — this gun is amazing.
One of the most distinctive aspects of the GMR-15 is its three-port Competition compensator. To call it aggressive is an understatement, especially for a 9mm. Imagine the already low recoil of a 9mm carbine and reduce it even more. This translates to fast sight recovery and quicker follow-up shots along with better target transitions.
Upon first inspection, it appeared the barrel is one solid piece with the compensator milled directly into the barrel. This is only an illusion as the compensator is pinned to the 14.5-inch barrel and then milled down to give it a seamless appearance, a touch that distinguishes JP guns from others.
Working down the cryogenically treated barrel, one can see the JP thermal dissipater. Available in multiple colors, the multi-finned dissipater is a distinctive red color and creates seven times more surface area on the barrel to shed heat greater than fluting. We ran our guns hard at The Site, yet I could grab the barrel at any point and it was merely warm.
I asked Paul about the advantages of the heat dissipater; the reasons went beyond just being a heat sink.
“Along with the cryogenic treatment, the dissipater provides predictable cold-bore shots, no thermal drift and ridiculous barrel life,” said Paul. He indicated this barrel could shoot over 100,000 rounds easily, far more than most shooters will ever shoot in their lifetime.
This GMR-15 uses the JP PSC-17 upper receiver, which is machined from 7075-T6 billet aluminum. It features an exaggerated brass deflector and is compatible with Glock 17/19 magazines. Its most distinctive feature, however, is the nonreciprocating side-charging handle.
I didn’t realize how much I needed side-charging handles on my ARs until I used the GMR-15. The biggest advantage it gives is the ability to charge your AR without removing your cheekweld. This means you can clear jams and charge the gun all while staying on target.
“People don’t understand how effective the side-charging handle is,” said Paul. “The way to use it is to approach it from underneath, which allows you to quickly utilize it with much more leverage than a top-charging handle.”
In case you need to mortar your gun because of a stuck case, the leverage provided by the side-charging handle is more effective and won’t bend the way a top charger can.
Another effective use of the side charger is with subsonic ammunition. Some 9mm subsonic ammo won’t cycle in a carbine, but the side charger essentially gives you the capabilities of a very fast, straight-pull manual carbine.
At The Site, the side-charging handle greatly increased my speed during several drills, and I never had to remove my cheekweld or go off target. Side-charging handles can be an expensive upgrade, but they are worth the price on an AR for any caliber.
Bells and Whistles
The JP Enterprises GMR-15 has a Raptor-LT top-charging handle and an ambi safety selector. This model came with a red JP Handguard Brace and an extended magazine release. The flared magwell provided lightning fast reloads. I used Blackpoint Tactical mag holsters for the G17 mags I brought, and they worked great for the extensive reloading drills we practiced during the course. A Hogue overmolded stock and pistol grip complete the external parts of the gun.
Internally, the JP Silent Captured Spring delivers that custom feel that comes with JP guns. It is dead silent and buttery smooth. Combined with the JP 9mm AR EnhancedBolt Assembly, the GMR-15 has a very short stroke for faster firing, yet it is very reliable. I put over a thousand rounds through the gun at The Site without a single issue, but I suppose that is expected with JP guns.
This GMR-15 has a standard JP trigger, but upgrades are available. They are hardly necessary, though. The trigger is extremely smooth and breaks cleanly with an almost unnoticeable reset. Adjustable from 3.5 to 4 pounds, it is ideal for both competition and home defense.
Many gun owners will drop thousands on a rifle and optic, but they will balk at spending a few hundred dollars on a shooting course. A firearm is an extension of yourself, so if you don’t know how to use it effectively, it can fail you when you need it most.
Located near Mt. Carrol, Illinois, The Site spans 129 acres and boasts multiple pistol, shotgun and carbine ranges, a 600-yard known and unknown distance range, a heated outdoor range and a 2,700-square-foot live-fire shoot house, all run by former U.S. Navy SEAL and long-range guru Jim Kauber.
The FAST Carbine class is the introductory course that covers the basics of operating an AR and is a prerequisite before taking their advanced carbine courses. For those who are former military or think they know the basics already, this course refines your skills. I walked away with greater confidence in my abilities and knowing that I will excel in any future carbine course.
The Site definitely challenged not only me but the carbine/optic pairing I brought. Both provided flawless operation and took away any worry I may have had in my gear so I could concentrate on the class.
The Trijicon MRO Green Dot is ideal for use on the JP Enterprises GMR-15. I could hit steel consistently out to 200 yards, and target transitions were quick and smooth. Truthfully, the gun is more accurate than me.
The GMR-15 loved the Federal Syntech ammunition I fed it, which is ideal for both competition and practice. I also shot two new 9mm lines of Norma ammunition. Their 9mm Envy is a standard full-metal-jacket (FMJ) bullet and shot similar to other brands of FMJ. Their Hexagon 9mm ammo is marketed as an upgraded FMJ bullet, and it shot the best out of the GMR-15. One doesn’t usually consider looking for “precision” 9mm ammunition, but that is what the GMR-15 deserves.
Designed for competition, I learned at The Site that the GMR-15 is just as capable holding down the fort for home defense. If you already shoot a Glock, you can have one ammunition and magazine type for two guns. There wasn’t a single drill during the FAST Carine course the GMR-15 didn’t excel in, and it has some of the best ergonomics of any AR-15.
Someday, I’m going to return to The Site to attend their Fighting Carbine course, and I want to return with the GMR-15.