A Simple Blowback 9mm Carbine
By Holt Bodinson
It never fails. Navigating through the SHOT Show, you turn a corner and suddenly you’re face-to-face with a product you didn’t know existed. Unplanned discoveries are what make the show so interesting and alluring.
JARD was a familiar name to me as the source of great aftermarket triggers but turning a corner and running into the genius behind JARD, Dean Van Marel, was an unexpected pleasure, looking at his new exhibit was a revelation. Not only was JARD making triggers, but the company had branched out to build a whole family of stylized firearms. On exhibit were hunting rifles, chassis rifles, rimfire and centerfire AR’s and AR pistols and JARD bullpups in 12 gauge, .50 BMG, .223, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .22 LR. It was a remarkable collection of distinctive designs with every component, including barrels, being made totally in-house. As Van Marel observed, when you own a complete machine shop, you’re limited only by your imagination.
I suspect firearm designers in every country have experimented, one time or another, with the concept of the bullpup design. The bullpup does make a lot of sense. By virtually eliminating the buttstock and replacing it with the receiver itself, the design immediately shrinks the overall length of a rifle or carbine by at least 7 to 10 inches.
Looking at the military application of bullpups, three combat proven designs immediately come to mind: Austria’s Steyr 5.56mm AUG (Armee Universal Gewehr), the French 5.56mm FAMAS (Manufacture Nationale d’Armes de St. Etienne) and the British 5.56mm L85A1. Given today’s highly mobile, mechanized style of combat in which you often find yourself cramped inside a combat vehicle, boat or chopper and loaded down with body armor, ammunition, grenades and whatnot, a compact weapon is a distinct advantage. It’s no accident the bob-tailed, telescoping-stocked M4 has emerged as the primary shoulder arm of our troops and many of our allies.
The JARD bullpup would make a great home-defense gun, car gun and family plinker.
Equally interesting is the spillover of the military bullpup into the civilian market with models like the semi-automatic versions of the IWI Tavor, FN PS90, and Steyr AUG, but they’re a pricey bunch and that’s where JARD has an advantage.
To keep the cost of his pistol caliber, Model J68 bullpups around $900, Van Marel decided to simplify the level of machining required for the body of the bullpup by forming the chassis from sheet steel. The plain, sheet metal body of the JARD bullpup, which is available in black or tan finishes, gives it a very modernistic, functional and cool look. Van Marel calls it his “clam shell” design because by flipping one lever, the bullpup can be immediately separated into three major components, the upper, lower and blowback-type breechblock. It’s a remarkable design in that regard, reminding me of the UZI, and well worth your time watching the split-second disassembly process on the Model J68 video posted on JARD’s website.
Looking more closely at the J68, it’s compact and handy! With its 17-inch, free-floated barrel, the overall length of the J68 is only 26-1/4 inches. The J68 is completely ambidextrous. The non-reciprocating charging handle can be operated from either side. An M1/M14-type blade safety is integrated into the front of the triggerguard.
The magazine latch is operable by either hand, and speaking of magazines, the J68 is designed to accept GLOCK magazines. Spitting out cases at the bottom of the receiver, even the ejection port is designed to facilitate ambidextrous operation.
The top of the chassis features a full length Picatinny rail for mounting either open or optical sights. For mounting a variety of accessories, the chassis is machined with M-LOK compatible slots. An additional option for the J68 is the barrel which can be factory threaded 1/2-28 and fitted with either a thread protector or a breaching-style muzzlebrake.
The challenge in any bullpup design is the trigger. How do you mechanically link a forward mounted trigger to a rear mounted sear and still maintain a crisp, light trigger pull? Over the years, there have been all sorts of wild and wooly solutions to the problem using wire cables and oddly bent rods. Having built their reputation on fine aftermarket triggers, JARD met the bullpup trigger challenge and came up with a linkage design yielding a crisp 3-1/2 pound pull as measured on my Lyman electronic scale.
The bullpup (above) proved to be inherently accurate with the right ammunition
at 50 yards using a Bushnell 1x28mm Red Dot sight.
Rather square and boxcar-ish, the JARD is really quite simple, ingenious and
comfortable to shoot. Using Glock magazines simplifies things even further.
How does the J68 handle and shoot? With a length of only 26-1/4 inches and a weight of 7-1/2 pounds, the bullpup is an exceedingly stable shooting platform which just settles there between your hands. It’s a joy to shoot offhand, particularly with its light JARD trigger. The inline stock and muzzlebrake virtually eliminate muzzle flip in 9mm, and in 9mm Luger, the JARD just screamed for a red dot optic so I mounted one of my favorites—the Bushnell Trophy 1x28mm. Loading up six different loads in Glock magazines with the help of Caldwell’s neat Universal Pistol Loader, it was off to the range.
The Arizona desert was sizzling hot so I kept groups limited to 3 shots. The J68 fed, fired, extracted and ejected perfectly. The only problem I experienced was with Federal’s Champion brand of aluminum cased, 115-grain FMJ ammunition. Because it’s inexpensive and very accurate, I shoot a ton of it, but in the J68, I experienced pierced primers and set it aside. My shooting results at 50 yards were as follows:
CorBon’s 90-grain +P loading, rated at 1,500 fps in pistol length barrels, has always proven to be fabulously accurate. The JARD J68 proved just how accurate it really can be at extended distances.
Overall, JARD’s J68 bullpup is an outstanding example of the breed. It’s fun to shoot and inherently accurate. Nicely machined and put together, it would make a great home gun, a great car gun and a great family plinker.
3149 Nest Ave.,
Sheldon, IA 51201,
ACTION TYPE: Blowback semi auto,
CALIBER: 9mm (tested), .40 S&W, .45 ACP,
CAPACITY: 17 or 33 (Glock magazines),
BARREL LENGTH: 17 inches,
OVERALL LENGTH: 26-1/4 inches,
WEIGHT: 7-1/2 pounds (9mm),
FINISH: Black or tan,
SIGHTS: None, Picatinny rail provided,