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The 5.11 ABR Rifle: Does this gear match my pants? (3 of 3)

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Photos by Shinnosuke Tanaka and special thanks to Daniel Bales of LMS Defense: continued from Part Two.

5.11 Tactical had humble beginnings as a clothing line developed by mountain climber Royal Robbins in 1968. Since then the Modesto, California-based company has grown into a tactical apparel powerhouse manufacturing clothes, holsters, packs, knives and high end, limited editions firearms like the Always Be Ready rifle and pistol they released a couple years ago.


So what in the name of John Moses Browning was a clothing and apparel company doing making guns?

The connection is not that new. Oliver Winchester owned a shirt company in the 19th Century and hired gunsmith Benjamin Henry (inventor of the Henry Rifle) as the factory's foreman before he began manufacturing lever-action rifles. From the late 19th century to the 1980s American clothing retailers such as Sears and J.C. Penny had companies such as Savage, Stevens, Mossberg, Winchester and others manufacture shotguns and rifles bearing their company logos as well. Those firearms were mostly dressed-down base models with the company name struck on the barrel or the receiver and were geared toward the casual sportsman as opposed to true firearm enthusiasts.

It's the exact opposite of what 5.11 is doing.


First of all, they are not building these firearms, but rather had them built to demanding specifications. Those specs were based on input from in-house training staff and experts as well as feedback from the customer base that ultimately puts such tools to the test day-in and day-out.


With an AR-15 carbine by JP Rifles , 5.11 went beyond simply slapping their logo on a couple of second or third string stock firearms, these rifles have more custom touches and upgrades on them than a case of 5.11 Tactical Vests have pockets.


When we first heard of it, our initial thought was that it was being designed for competition or use in three-gun events but after receiving the carbine for evaluation, we realized that it was designed with a completely different purpose in mind.


JP Rifles has a storied history when it comes to building precision-grade AR-15s. We first heard of the company over 20 years ago when they were among the first to offer a “flat-top” upper receiver and a free floated barrel. We were frankly astonished to find, after giving the 5.11 ABR rifle a thorough “once-over”, that this was no target rifle designed for competition shooting. It was a hardcore rifle intended for use in the field.


The first thing you'll notice, if you are able to borrow one or find one of the few that have reemerged onto the market, is the rifle’s coating in Storm Grey Cerakote. The color brings to mind old school military rifles in that dull grey phosphate coating of yester year without the feeling of a bead blast that gets scratched when you look at it too closely. This color may just be the Coyote Tan of the next 10 years.


Once you get past that, you notice that the rifle is decked out in custom features galore.  The fit and finish is second to none and she’s ready to run right out of the box.

The full length aluminum hand guard is of the key-mod type with 2” rail sections installed at the 3 O’clock and 9 O’clock positions and a 4” rail at the 6 O’clock position.


The brake is a JP compact tactical comp with a persuader front end. Strike bezels on muzzle brakes and compensators such as this can be effective in CQB and riot control as the shooter need only jab with the rifle to assure compliance if needed.


The pistol grip is a Hogue rubberized grip and the butt stock is a Tactical Intent TI-7 with storage compartments for batteries. Back up iron sights are match grade as is the 3 pound trigger.


We shot the rifle using the existing iron sights for a single ragged hole at 100 yards with Freedom Munitions 55 grain 223  ammunition. This particular rifle would be best suited with a quality tactical scope in the role of a Designated Marksman Rifle or Special Purpose Rifle or for whacking coyotes on the back 40. Yet its 16” barrel would make it a serious contender as an entry carbine for a SWAT team, too.


While many of us are iron sights guys, we managed to run a Steiner M5Xi 1-5x24mm Military Riflescope on the Always Be Ready Carbine. The scope features a 30mm tube and what is known as a 5.56mm Rapid dot reticle. The illuminated, glass etched reticle is designed to provide a means to determine both bullet drop plus measurement capability regardless of day or night lighting conditions and is shock proof to 900 G's. The 5X magnification setting is truly useable as is the built in illumination with 4 day-time and 7 night-time settings. Our good friend, Daniel Bales of LMS Defense ran it out much farther with the Steiner and walked away impressed. (Note: MSRP on this optic is $2,599.99.)


After what has been close to three decades of shooting, building, repairing, buying and selling M16s and AR-15s in every configuration under the sun; the JP rifle made us fall in love with the platform all over again.

The 5.11 ABR Rifle

Make and model: JP-15 Always Be Ready Edition Rifle

Caliber: 5.56 NATO

Barrel length: 16″

Overall length: 37”

Magazine capacity: 30

Weight unloaded: 7.5 lbs

MSRP: $2499

URL: http://


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