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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have never been too interested in ARs, however I have a few hundred each military and commercial .223s. I have been considering an AR and like the apparent quality of Rock River. I have run across a DPMS (panther, I think) flat top and in seemingly nice condition, no blue thinning at least, that I can buy from a pawn shop rather cheap. I guess i need guidance as this is out of my field of knowledge and experience. In the grand scheme of things how does this brand rate? Please give me your input-good, bad, or ugly. Price is important, but not enough of a factor, if the quality is not there. Thanks and good day, Jack
 

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Jack, I know a couple of local fellas with DPMS bare bones models. They are happy campers.

The base models come w/o sights, or a forward bolt assist. While researching the .308 ARs I found some complaints about the DPMS by folks that claim to put LOTS of rounds through them. I also found that the RRAs are praised highly and run like a sewing machine.

Jon
 

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Jack, DPMS is towards the bottom end of the quality scale, but not horrible. What are your needs for this rifle? If it's just going to be a range blaster/fun gun, AR-15 quality doesn't really matter very much, and a DPMS should do you as well as anything.

There is a definite difference between something like a BCM, a Colt, a Sabre Defence, etc. and a DPMS (we'll neglect mentioning the really high end builders such as Noveske, LaRue, etc., as they're not in my budget and probably not in yours). BCM really does a good job trying to replicate the QC of Colt and such. All the testing is similar, Paul (the owner) even sources his major parts from the same companies that supply the military, such as FNH, Colt, etc. They need a minimum level of reliability that the budget companies like DPMS just can't worry about at their price points. The BCMs and Colts and similar are still built to a price, just like DPMS, but there are some minimal things they do that the budget rifles don't.

For instance, the barrel steel is a biggie. Marlin even used to advertise heavily that they were using the best steel in their barrels. With the BCM or other higher quality rifles, you're getting a very specific barrel steel composition that is chosen for strength and longevity. The DPMS is less impressive...but hey, it's still steel good enough for a rifle barrel.

Then there are things like the way the gas key is attached to the bolt carrier. For supreme reliability you want the screws holding it into place staked into place in a very specific way (a tool is available to do this, it's called a MOACKs tool). RRA and (I think) DPMS don't do it right...lock tite is all that holds that critical part in place. It might work for a while, but if it fails, the rifle will become an expensive club, and will not work until you repair it...probably not even field-repairable. Or you might see some budget rifles that do not have chrome lined chambers. This is something we learned in Vietnam...for ultimate reliability in this rifle you really need a chrome lined chamber. You also see differences in the QC for items such as bolts and small parts. Even the RRA small parts, which are okay, don't match up to the Colt small parts. The last two RRA small parts kits I bought had some defects, and were generally a little on the sloppy side. The Colt parts, in comparison, are nigh prefect.

On the other hand, things like chrome lined chambers and bores, you might not actually want, if you're just using it as a range queen, or are even thinking about using it for competitive shooting. You'll generally have a little more accuracy potential from a well manufactured unlined barrel. I don't know much about the DPMS barrels' accuracy.

And if you never plan to put more than couple thousand rounds down the tube, or give it any serious use like 3-gun stuff, the other stuff isn't much of an issue. And if the stuff does break, it can always be replaced with better stuff later.

Again, it all comes down to what you want. These rifles are all built to a price point, you get what you pay for. But they're modular, and are very easy to work on and upgrade.

The one AR-15 I settled on after trying out a number of different configurations, and probably won't ever get rid of, is one I built myself with a 20" BCM flattop upper half, Kaiser Defense lower receiver (made by Spikes Tactical, they use different suppliers), A2 fixed buttstock, Daniel Defense A1.5 rear sight, BCM Gunfighter charging handle, B.A.D. ambi safety, Norgon ambi catch (I'm left handed), Magpul MIAD grip, Magpul trigger guard, Colt small parts, and Geissele SSA trigger. I switched to this one from a 16" BCM middy. Never a single jam or issue with either, and they've both been surprisingly accurate with the heavy OTM bullet loads I favor. I haven't taken any pics of it in a long time, but here it is right after I built it the first time around, before swapping out absolutely everything except for the lower ;D

 

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Jack, for what it's worth my brother in law has a dpms that I have shot .5 inch groups with bulk ammo,however his has a colt match barrel and he bought it used so I don't know if it's factory.The dpms has never jammed and we shoot as many as 2 to 3 hundred at a time and is as accurate as my bushmaster varminter with most loads Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I intend to use whatever .223 I end up with as a utility hunting/varmint/plinker/and perhaps defense rifle. I am also seriously considering a bolt gun, (I am under no illusions of heading to the hills and surviving if SHTF. I'm past 70 and as soon as the pharmacies and my medecine supply is gone, so am I.) I like good quality, but this one would need only to work good. My rifles are mostly pre safety Marlins, several FN made Brownings, A Shiloh, Blaser, and a pre war model 70 to name a few. As you can tell, I do like the better stuff. My friend who did as you did, matakix, offered to build me one for parts cost, but he had a stroke and has not rehabbed to the point where he can do so soon.

I thank each of you for your input. As stated ARs are not my thing, but i did question the DPMS quality. I do not want to waste my money, even at 400 + tax. Sometimes a good deal JUST AN"T.

thanks again and good day. I think I will go work on putting some spot light options on my Mule for hog hunting. Jack
 

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I have a DMPS
It is my first AR type rifle.
I like it !!
I have only put about 100 rounds threw it and no problems
I have not had the chance to take it out to the range for a test drive yet.
I will be going very soon.
 

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Jack, those are pretty much the same purposes I have my AR-15 for. Something to tote around with me when I'm back in South Carolina walking around in the woods when it's not deer season to blast coyotes with and such, range work, and defensive use. I placed a little greater emphasis on defensive use, perhaps, as I initially bought it for my dad and it was going to be his only rifle, so I wanted it as bomb-proof as I could get it. But he ended up buying his own rifle before I could finish building it (it was going to be a surprise). Hehe, I had been working on him for years trying to convince him to get a rifle.

I found this very illuminating post by DPMS, while searching around:

http://www.ar15.com/mobile/topic.html?b=2&f=30&t=201191

Doesn't look bad at all. From what your needs sound like, it might be worth considering.

Do give it a good, thorough look-over before you do buy it, though.

If you can field strip the rifle and take a peek at the bolt carrier (only takes like 10 seconds), you can check that the gas key screws are properly staked like the photos in the linked thread. It'd also be a good idea to inspect the bolt itself and make sure it has no cracks or broken lugs or anything.

Switch the safety back and forth a couple times and make sure that it has smooth engagement and disengagement, and that the detents hold it into place in each position fairly well (if you need to replace this part, it's cheap and no biggie, but if it's not right you could use it as a bargaining point).

Check that the safety works, when off it should drop the hammer, when on it should restrain the trigger.

Check the mag catch and magazine function if possible. Do you plan to use USGI (aluminum) magazines or PMags? If you plan to use PMags you might want to see if you can get your hands on one to check fit and function for. Sometimes the magazine well dimensions or mag catch might be a little off on various makes of AR-15s, but all should at least work with the USGI mags.

Check the bolt movement by lowering the bolt with the bolt release and cycling it a few times with the charging handle. Does all feel smooth? Is there any binding?

Inspect the hammer and trigger pins on the lower receiver (don't remove them, just look at how they fit in the receiver holes, they're the two holes above the trigger area in the following drawing). Try to wiggle them around a little from both sides. Are they very loose, or is the fit reasonably tight? Ideally you don't want too loose of a fit, here.



Inspect the front sight assembly. Try to wiggle it side to side, front to back. Is it loose at all? Does the fit to the barrel appear to be good? You want this to be rock-solid tight. Is it canted significantly one way or another, or close to straight up relative to the receiver?

Inspect the flash hider. Does it look straight, concentric to the bore?

Inspect the buttstock. Can you turn it with hand strength, by grabbing it by the butt and trying to rotate it along the axis of the bore? If so that's not a good sign.

Check the weight of the rifle in your hands. Some AR-15s have very heavy barrels, others have very light barrels, and everything in between. This will affect the balance, handling, and carryability. A very heavy barrel is good for competitive shooting, mag dumps, and full-auto fire, but isn't that great for a field rifle.

If all of those test alright, it might not be a bad choice. Throw in a couple spare parts to carry around with you as backups in case something goes wrong and you'll be good to go:

Spare firing pin: http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/Firing-Pin-AR15-p/firing pin ar15.htm
Spare bolt (whenever they're back in stock, BCM has email alerts): http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/BCM-AR15-Bolt-Assembly-MPI-p/bcm bolt assemly mp.htm

Maybe add a MagPul MIAD (adjustable, about $30) or MOE (nonadjustable, about $20) grip (BCM and Brownells have 'em), and get the optional core that stores the bolt and firing pin for you:
http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=26689/Product/AR_15_M16_MIAD_trade__GRIP_CORES

Keep it lubed with SLiP 2000:
http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/SLiP-2000-EWL-p/slip2000 60320.htm
http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=41759/Product/SLIP_2000_LUBRICANT

A bolt action wouldn't be a bad choice, either. I keep eyeing those CZ 527s, they're made both right and left handed...

http://www.marlinowners.com/forums/index.php/topic,88120.0.html

I have a CZ 452 American (.22LR) that I picked up fairly recently that is just amazing and is fast becoming one of my favorite rifles to shoot at the range. And it sounds like those .223 CZs are every bit as good. Then of course there are also always Savages, and Winchester (c/o FN-Herstal) is back in action producing M70s in Columbia, South Carolina (only right handed versions), etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
miatakix. Thanks for the in depth discussion of how to look over a used AR. I have no experience with the AR, but I came up with a can of GI in bandileers and stripper clips (LC 55 grain) as well as a cse of commercial stuff, I have a TC carbine and it may be all I really need. I once had a Remington 740 pump that was a sub moa shooter that I foolishly traded for something that I really "needed" on that day. I always thought the 740 was overly large for the caliber. This is my experience with that caliber. I too keep looking at the little CZs. I will be back home on Tuesday and will go back and look the DPMS over again. The shop doesn't do retail firearms sales and I get to do a little cherry picking in between the wholesale buyers apperances. It is likely still there, I can tell you that there are no iron sights and the handguard is one of those that has four rails milled in and it is about as big around as a #2 can of vegetables. It will have to go! Thanks, Jack
 

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My pleasure, Jack. Sounds cool. Yeah, you might try out the new Magpul MOE handguards if you go with that rifle, I've been meaning to try out a pair on my rifle, I've heard good things, and am completely happy with all my other Magpul purchases.

Watch for pressure signs with that GI ammo if you fire it in anything but an AR-15 with a 5.56 chamber (both 5.56 and .223 chambers exist in ARs, as well as the .223 Wylde chamber which is sort of a hybrid...5.56 chambers tend to be a little more generous such that the actual pressure experienced by the rifle is lower than it would otherwise be in a tight .223 chamber). Milsurp 5.56 ammo tends to run hotter than civilian .223 ammo, the pressure spec is a good deal higher. A lot of civilian firearms can handle the hot stuff, it just depends on how loose or tight the chamber is, and otherwise how strong the firearm is.
 

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Dpms lr308

I know this is an old thread but thought I would post my experience with DPMS. I purchased a DPMS Oracle 308 about 4 months ago when it was on sale at Cabellas. I have fired about 250 rounds through the gun and have had zero issues with it. I mounted a Nikon 3-9 BDC recticle scope on it and it shots decent groups at 100 and 200 yards. I don't remember exactly how tight the groups were but I was happy with them and felt I would be leathel with a 200 yard shot at a deer, unfortunatly I never got a shot with the 308, I did take a 9 point at 50 yards with my old 30-30 though when one day I felt sorry for it and took it out of the gun safe for old times sake. I have read a lot of reviews on DPMS guns, most are favorable, some not most that are not are from people who shot thousands of rounds and take the black rifle thing to an extreme, nothing wrong with that, I just bought mine for a post appocolyptic or zombie situation, or fun on the range.:)
 

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My DPMS is a LR260 with a Magpul stock and fluted barrel. I am very happy with it after several hundred rounds thru it. It's accuracy exceeds my capability. In one of our fun matches (300, 600 and 800 yards) it beat out a 6mm benchrest rifle and the Savage 308 that they are using in 1000 yard matches.
 

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DPMS like most don't build their gun in whole. LAR Manufacturing builds their lowers. The "beloved" Rock River receivers are made by CMT(Continental Machine & Tool).
 

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I have never owned a factory built DPMS rifle, but in each of the 5 rifles I have built I used DPMS lower and upper recievers and small parts kits. On 2 of them I used DPMS barrels and they were both very accurate. I've never had negative issues with any of the DPMS parts. I do reccomend using a better trigger though.
 
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