Range Report: The Just Right Carbine — Pistol Caliber Carbines

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms, Range Reports

The pistol-caliber carbine enjoys a long and storied history. The Winchester lever action and Colt Single Action Army combination started the ball rolling. Today, the modern self-loading carbine is the popular option.

JRC rifle with scope right profile

The Just Right Carbine is well designed and offers a formidable home protection firearm.

There are three types of pistol caliber carbines. The first are civilian versions of military sub-machineguns. They are heavy for the cartridge, and they had to be to remain controllable in fully automatic fire. The second type is a conversion of the AR-15 rifle to pistol caliber cartridges.

Third, and in my opinion the most useful, are the purpose-designed pistol-caliber carbines. The Just Right Carbine—the JR in the rest of this story—has the appearance of the AR-15 in some ways, but it is a purpose-designed pistol caliber carbine. For those wishing to own a relatively light, handy, fun carbine, the JR is a good choice.

Hornady XTP bullets from pristine to fully upset.

Performance of a quality jacketed bullet such as the Hornady XTP is enhanced by the high velocity of a carbine barrel versus a handgun barrel.

The Just Right Carbine (JRC) is available in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP calibers. I chose the .45 ACP because I have ammo and plenty of brass for handloading. It is interesting that the JR may be changed from one caliber to the other relatively easily.

The JR uses a simple blowback action. The bolt is held forward by spring pressure until the bullet exits the barrel. Pressure abates and the bolt flies to the rear. A heavy buffer takes the shock out of firing. The spent cartridge case is ejected, and as the bolt flies forward, another cartridge is stripped from the magazine and into the chamber.

The JR will accept AR-15 type stocks and forends, an important consideration. There is also a Mil-Spec rail for mounting weapons lights and lasers. While the carbine was serviceable as issued, it is easy to accessorize. It isn’t supplied with any type of sights. The test gun was fitted with a Tasco Red Dot for evaluation purposes.

Close up of the bolt assembly on the JRC rifle

In this illustration the bolt has been manually locked to the rear, an option for a carbine that does not lock open on the last shot.

The JR carbine uses Glock Model 21 .45 caliber magazines. The JR features a magazine release on the left side of the receiver, rather than the right hand release of the Colt AR-15. This is fine in practice and easy enough to get used to. I do not choose to compare the JR carbine to a full-power service rifle but rather choose to let it stand on its own merits as a service-grade pistol caliber carbine.

To make the JR carbine ready to fire, insert a loaded magazine and rack the bolt to load a cartridge. The safety is moved to the fire position. On my example, the trigger broke at a relatively clean 7 pounds. The bolt carries the extractor; however, the ejector is part of the dust cover. This dust cover may be changed to the right or left side in order to facilitate a change for left handed shooters.

The bolt handle may also be switched for left hand operation. The bolt doesn’t have a hold open device on the last shot but may be manually locked in place by placing the handle into a slot in the receiver. At this point I have test fired the JR carbine to a good extent. I have fired the JR carbine with a variety of loads, including handloads, factory ball ammunition, hollow points and a single +P load.

3 Hornady .45 ACP shells

Note excess pressure signs on +P cartridge case primer, above. Blowback actions are not the place to be hot rodding the .45 ACP!

A caution, although the rifle performed well with the Hornady +P 220-grain Flex Lock, there were excess pressure signs with some loads. It is a rule of thumb that we do not use +P loads in blow back operated firearms. Just the same, there was no danger; it simply seems such loads would batter the rifle. This load breaks about 1050 fps from a 5-inch barrel Colt Government Model. The carbine exhibited well over 1150 fps. This is a useful amount of increase.

The majority of the loads fired were 230-grain full metal jacketed—the traditional .45 ACP ‘hardball’ loading. With all loads, including the Hornady 200-grain XTP, accuracy was good and the powder burn was complete. I also fired mostly standard pressure 230-grain JHP loads, all with good to excellent results. The Just Right carbine feeds good quality handloads as well. I had on hand a quantity using the Hornady 185-grain XTP. Loaded over Winchester 231 powder, these loads exhibited a velocity of over 1,300 fps from the Just Right Carbine.

As for accuracy, the Just Right carbine is more accurate than the majority of handguns. And that accuracy is much easier for an occasional shooter to demonstrate with the carbine than a handgun. An average of five-shot groups, at 25 yards, from a solid bench rest position, gave good carbine-style groups. It wasn’t unusual to break 1.5 inches for five shots. A few went into even smaller groups, including the handload. The Hornady FTX Critical Defense load also proved reliable and accurate.

Bob Campbell holding the JR carbine

The Just Right carbine handles quickly.

It is a simple matter to adjust the red dot to zero-in the rifle. For short-range use, the fast 185-grain load is ideal. For longer range, the heavier pistol bullet holds its velocity better, and I would go with the 200-grain XTP or the 230-grain XTP. Remember, standard pressure loads become +P or great in velocity compared to pistol ballistics. Accuracy was consistent from load to load.

The JR carbine is a friendly rifle to fire. The adjustable stock seems to lend itself well to all shooters. I think that the rifle is a great choice for moving young shooters from the .22 to a centerfire without the muzzle blast, kick and expense of a centerfire rifle. All in all, this is an enjoyable rifle that seems well made of good material.

Author’s Note

During the course of a long-term evaluation of several rifles, we suffered a problem with a JRC that demanded a return to the factory- and service was good and thorough. It happens sometimes and JRC stands by its product.

JRC rifle left profile black

The JRC .45 is a compact rifle for field use.

Specifications

Caliber: .45 ACP
Action type: Blowback-operated, semi-automatic carbine
Receiver: Anodized aluminum
Finish: Black oxide
Barrel: 16″ 4140 Steel
Rifling: Six-groove, 1:16″ RH twist
Sights: None
Trigger: Single-stage 7 -lb., 1-oz. pull
Handguard: Aluminum quad-rail
Stock: AR-type collapsible
Magazine: Glock detachable-box
Overall Length: Buttstock extended 34 1⁄2″; collapsed, 311⁄4″
Weight: 7 pounds
Manufacturer: Just Right Carbines, P.O. Box 430, Canandaigua, NY 14424; (585) 396-1551

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell


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Comments (48)

  • rt66paul

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    I agree totally. While a Hi Point is not a gun to put 50,000 rounds through, the guarentee will fix those problems. The gun is American made, and does what it is suppossed to do. While many people do not still drive Pintos and Mavericks, there is a market for the cheap point A to point B vehicles. As long as they start up, have seatbelts, capacity for a radio and (for me) air conditioning, they can fit the bill. Hi Point pistols will not stovepipe more oftern than any other semi(ours never has) and alway goe BOOM, in a good way. Yes, it feels top heavy, but I think that non gun people are more accurate with them than lighter pistols.
    I only have experiance with one Hi Point rifle, but it was fine. Like I said, it is not a special target shooter or even a good copy of an old rifle. The one I shot was accurate and always went boom, in a good way.
    These days, it is hard to get that type reliability for low cast. Hi Point is that product.

    Reply

  • StanSki

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    I’ve owned a Hi-Point 995 since 2007 and fired thousands of rounds through it. It was very affordable new and it is an accurate gun to shoot. My wife loves it. We set up some helium balloons on strings at the 100 yard berm and she took the 995 and cleared every single one of those waving colored rubber gasbags without wasting one round.

    About a year ago, i did start to get some failure to feed problems one day but couldn’t nail down the cause. I called Beemiller (Hi-Point’s parent co.) and they said to send it in. I did and when I got it back 2 weeks later I found that they had pretty much rebuilt the internals on the gun. For free. It was like giving me a whole new gun, which I appreciate very much.

    I see lots of people slag on Hi-Points, which is unfortunate. IMO they are accurate, affordable firearms from a company with excellent service. I own higher dollar arms from Ruger, Bersa, Savage, and Remington, but I got lucky over the years to afford those. The Hi-Point was my first and has served me well this whole time. In dollars and SENSE, it is a super bargain.

    Reply

    • Dragon

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      I basically agree with your thoughts and comments concerning Hi-Point firearms. While they are not as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as other, more expensive pieces, they do get the job done for what they are designed to do.

      As an aside, I have an old M995 Hi-Point carbine that I purchased over twenty years ago, and one of the improvements I have made to it is to restock it. ATI produces and markets a very attractive polymer stock for the 995, that results in the carbine looking like a close relative of the Beretta CX4 carbine. The stock is simple to install, and should an old model 995 (like mine) require an extra part to make the magazine release compatible with the new stock, ATI will furnish one at no charge.

      Reply

  • Texsputin

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    I would certainly have liked to know the problem which necessitated the return of the JRC to the factory (as referenced below). I feel that without the inclusion of this information the article is incomplete.

    “During the course of a long-term evaluation of several rifles, we suffered a problem with a JRC that demanded a return to the factory-…..”

    Reply

  • hey

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    I wonder how much does it cost do buy each caliber conversion kit? I would be more interest in a AR- pistol, that is where the advantage of shooting handgun calibers is. The 5.56 from a 10″ barrel is making more noise than damage. I do want think about the cost of shooting .300 blackout that another AR pistol manufacture makes. What I would like to see is a AR chambered for is the M-30 carbine round at 25 cents a round and the ballistics for a mid to close range, you can’t beet it. Does anyone disagree?

    Reply

  • ReelConquest

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    I would say its a matter of preference, junk or something that will last a lifetime if its maintained.

    Reply

  • Matt

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    I purchased the .45acp jrc and have had nothing but feeding issues. The platform is nice but performance is terrible. I tried many factory glock magazines and all jammed up and/or misfed causing the projectile to compress into the brass about 1/4″-1/2″. Kinda scary. After 2 gunsmiths and several hundred rounds with multiple tear down and clearing, getting ready to send back and hope they honor it. Mech tech makes a much better combination unit for glock .45. Way better!!

    Reply

  • Hide Behind

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    I’ll stick to my Camp 9’s and 45’s which cost less than half of this new carbine.
    All the Camps recieved buffers and springs only, the buffers are a must have.
    Only complaints agaist camps is when breakdown for cleaning, having a small compressor or canned air in portable tanks is great aid.
    Never used +P in any Camp as feel new or reloaded to factory rounds have suffecient power.
    New carbine but a costly toy for those with extra bread.
    Hi Points are great pistop calibers weapons and at a cost of 2 Hi Points in two different cals why screw around changing cals at added expence With this new toy?

    Reply

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