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.
The MP168 comes equipped with just about every custom feature the tactical AR user could ask for, beginning with a 6-position collapsible stock that is not only is fully adjustable over a range of 6 positions, but also has a broad cheekrest that is adjustable for height—a critical feature when using optics. The stock also features a rubber buttpad that ensures a stable rest against the user’s shoulder “pocket” and a storage compartment for small items. The MP168 pistol grip accommodates just about any size hands and includes a storage compartment.
We added a The Buttonsling takes its name from the “button” on the back plate that allows the sling to be removed and replaced. Like most single point slings, the Buttonsling positions the carbine straight down and in the center of the shooter’s body, allowing a quick transition to the pistol. If it is necessary to remove and install an AR drive spring tube, a special wrench is needed and there are small parts and springs in the lower receiver that can become lost or damaged when removing and replacing the tube and back plate, so unless one is familiar with this process, a technical manual is recommended.
The Ceraplating completely permeates the barrel,not only dissipating heat but repelling all types of corrosion–even salt water.
Shooting the MP168 exceeded our expectations – the rifle ran with total reliability and excellent accuracy using Black Hills 77-grain HPBT, the Remington 69-grain HPBT, and Wolf 62 FMJ.
The MP168 breaks new ground in the world of AR-type rifles that are otherwise so similar that even experts cannot tell the difference between one and another without close inspection. Its innovative ceramic plated components significantly advances the state-of-the-art in AR-type firearms and not only adds flexibility to the overall system, but improves both reliability and maintainability over any of its conventional competitors. No rifle is totally maintenance free, but the MP168 is about as close as it comes.
The MP168’s innovations are among the most significant developments in AR type rifles since they were originally designed over 40 years ago. The AR user seeking a carbine that is totally reliable and about as close to maintenance free as possible should take a very close look at Next Generation Arms’ MP168.
MP168 ready for duty with Horus Vision Talon optic, OSTI AN/PVS-22 NVS, SureFireM900 vertical…
by Cory Trapp / Apr 1, 2010