MP168 ready for duty with Horus Vision Talon optic, OSTI AN/PVS-22 NVS, SureFireM900 vertical foregrip/weaponlight and Laser Devices DBAL-A2.
There’s an old saying the there is nothing new under the sun and in the world of firearms, that is generally true, especially with AR-type rifles and carbines now that everyone with a machine shop seems to be producing. But occasionally something comes along that is different from the rest of the pack. Next Generation Arms has entered the burgeoning market with an AR-type rifle that is unique in several ways. There are three versions of Next Generation’s rifles and carbines: the JC 382 Patrol; the JC 382 Tactical and the subject of this evaluation, the MP168 SPC (Special Purpose Carbine).
Externally, the most obvious difference between the MP168 and others is the ARMS (Atlantic Research Marketing Systems) upper receiver that features an uninterrupted full-length MIL-STD-1913 top rail and shorter at the handguard sides and bottom, plus free-floating the barrel, enabling mounting accessories without affecting the rifle’s zero. The MP168’s 14.5-inch Noveske barrel, featuring a 1-in-7-inch twist, is ceramic plated along its entire length for rigidity and heat dissipation. The irremovable proprietary ceramic plating fully permeates the barrel and is so effective at dissipating heat that an operator could fire an entire magazine on full-auto and just a few minutes after shooting, the rifle is cool enough to put away.
Meanwhile, the ceramic means the weapon is impervious to any corrosion-—even salt water. While several companies offer excellent aftermarket ceramic coatings that can be applied at home to any firearm, Next Generation Arms uses a process pioneered for the aerospace industry. Because the Next Generation Arms process actually penetrates the substrate of the material it is applied to, it is not possible to remove it without actually removing the metal itself.
The MP168 Picatinny rail forend offers users expansive sections of rail for hanging accessories and attaching optics.
The test rifle also came equipped with a Primary Weapons Systems FSC556 flash suppressor/compensator, one of the most effective devices available. Fit and finish of the MP168 are excellent. We were particularly impressed with the mating of the upper and lower receivers, which exhibited absolutely no “play” whatsoever. Next Generation’s MP168 is one of the best-assembled AR-type rifles we have ever seen, as each rifle is hand-fitted before it leaves the factory. But quality is only the beginning, unlike most other ARs, the MP168 runs without lubrication of any kind.
The changes that allow the MP168 to run without lubrication are a ceramic plated bolt carrier and bolt coupled with ceramic on the receiver’s interior and on the charging handle. Nothing sticks to either surface and they are self lubricating. The bolt carrier, designed by Signature Manufacturing of Merriam, Kansas, has been modified for increased reliability and accuracy. The bolt carrier surfaces that ride on the upper receiver are somewhat larger than conventional ones, while maintaining recesses to accommodate any fouling that might accumulate.
The chamber, barrel locking lugs and interior are also ceramic plated, which enhances reliability. As a top-end AR-type rifle, the MP168 has virtually all the options to make the rifle as close to perfection as possible. Our test rifle had a non-adjustable Next Generation single-stage LE Tactical trigger that broke at precisely 3.5 pounds with zero creep or backlash. The lower receiver, designed by KNS Precision, features stainless steel anti-rotational hammer and trigger pins, helping to maintain the MP168’s supreme accuracy.