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Preview – DPMS Gen II

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Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

Sometimes, Manufacturers Get it Exactly Right. Sometimes, Not So Much…

The DPMS Gen II was introduced at the end of 2013 to great fanfare, showcasing the efforts of DPMS engineers to create a .308 AR lighter and more compact than anything then on the market. Members of the gun writing community gushed over its diminutive dimensions and numerous improvements, much of which was well-deserved. This being a DPMS, the price-to-performance ratio was pretty decent also. When we got to handle one at a pre-launch press event, its advantages over existing designs were notable, but there was a niggling feeling that at least one model was missing from the lineup, and others could be improved. So we set about doing just that.

The DPMS Gen II was to serve as our three-gun rifle for the He-Man Nationals at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. For this event, we’d be ditching our usual go-faster Open Division gear and going old-school, with a 7.62 NATO battle rifle, a 12-gauge pump gun, and a .45 ACP pistol. We examined a triumvirate of high-end .308s in RECOIL issue 19, but with price tags nudging three grand in some cases, we wanted this one to fit into a beer budget. With the DPMS Gen II being available for a street price of about 1,100 bucks, it seemed like a good place to start.


Choices, Choices

Before we commence hacking on a perfectly good rifle or two, let’s consider our objectives and compare those to the guns we have to work with. The finished product should be accurate, function reliably with a wide variety of ammunition, handle quickly on fast-paced courses of fire, and produce a soft recoil impulse — the limiting factor on follow-up shots is how quickly the sights can be reacquired, so keeping the muzzle on target is critical. Currently, there’s nothing in the Gen II lineup that fits the bill. Now, if Remington Outdoor Company would like to hire us on a consultancy basis to improve its product line, that could no doubt be arranged for a reasonable fee, or they could divert nine bucks from George Kollitides’ generous severance package and buy a copy of RECOIL.

Looking at the 2015 DPMS catalog, three possibilities stand out as contenders for our pre-op base rifle, the Bruce to our Caitlin if you will. There’s the 16-inch barreled AP4 carbine, the 20-inch barreled Hunter model, and the Recon, which also comes with a 16-inch tube. Let’s kick the tires and peer under the hood to find out what improvements all three have over previous iterations of the AR-10.

The first thing you’ll notice is that receiver dimensions have been shrunk — the Gen II is only a ½-inch longer than its ubiquitous 5.56 baby brother. This reduction in size extends also to the bolt carrier, which is barely larger than the one found in an AR-15, despite it holding a full-sized bolt with radiused locking lugs. Usually the math goes something like this, “bolt carrier – reciprocating mass = less perceived recoil.” The bolt itself features an improved extractor powered by an elastomer “spring” borrowed from the automotive industry and twin ejectors kick out the empties through an enlarged ejection port for improved reliability. A reduced diameter barrel extension means AR-15-sized handguards can be used with only minor changes. Feeding reliability is improved by means of a replaceable steel feed ramp.



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