'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

16 February 2014

DPMS 3G2 Evaluation

I've now had the chance to shoot this rifle a bit and have run 2 matches with it. So far I am very much in love with the gun. Lu is too but more on that later. 

For those who missed my first post here's the DPMS description:
Following in the tradition of the successful DPMS 3G1, the 3G2 offers accuracy and versatility in a shorter, lighter package. A 16” stainless lightweight barrel with Miculek compensator provides quick handling and shot placement. The full length M111 handguard allows for the placement of back-up sights either on the top rail or on a 45-degree angle for rapid close-range target acquisition. Ergo grip and Magpul STR stock round out this range-ready carbine.

5.56 NATO (also .223) caliber
7.1 pounds
37.5 inches (with extended stock)
16 inch 1 in 9 twist barrel
Forged 7075 T6 A3 upper receiver
Forged 7075 T6 lower receiver
DPMS 2 Stage trigger
DPMS M111 free float modular handguard
BCM charging handle
Magpul Gen II MBUIS offset iron sights
Miculek Compensator
Magpul STR adjustable stock
Cost $1100 out the door
Sight Vortex Viper PST 1x4
Scope mount Burris P.E.P.R.
Cost $600 out the door.
Total rifle package $1700

Initial impression is that's it's just flat out a gorgeous rifle. I like the mix of features and the way the handguard fits the barrel. Everything flows nicely resulting in a very handsome package. The MBUIS sights tuck in nicely, ready to flip up should the need arise. The cantilever mount puts the scope in exactly the right place with adjustments to get on zero taking up essentially none of the optic's internal adjustments. It fits both Lu and me very well (think Frick and Frack). Compared to my Budget Bushmaster the DPMS wins hands down. Not even close. ERGO grip, BCM charging handle, Vortex Viper PST 1x4 optic and a cheap nylon sling round out the package. I had my RS2 on it but Rifleslinger tells me he's got a tactical one in the works so I took it off for the nonce. I'll buy one as soon as it's available but for now this will do. Maybe I can be a beta tester (he asked hopefully)? The quality of parts, materials and build are unmistakable and excellent.

A closer look at those MBUIS back up iron sights. They're mostly plastic so how they'll hold up is anyone's guess but as is they work extremely well. I shot them today and was able to ring 16"x18" steel plates out to 100 yards with ease. I put Lu on them and she was just as accurate once she got used to them and the offset position. It is a little weird at first. They're firmly mounted to the forearm and fold down out of the way for storage.

The ERGO grip. I don't have a lot of experience beyond A2 grips but I like it. Easy on my strong hand middle finger. Feels pretty good to the hand. I'd like to experiment a little here but I'm completely happy with this grip. Soft without being mushy. Firm enough for a good grip.

The Magpul STR stock. I am honestly not a huge fan of collapsible stocks. The more things you have that can fail the more chances you have that something will fail. Usually at the worst time. In that vein I tend toward Fixed stocks. I like the STR, don't get me wrong here, but I'll probably eventually replace it with something like the Ace Skeletonized stock. That's not set in stone however and while I'm deciding the STR will do nicely. It is actually pretty comfy. It's wide enough to get a good cheek weld. It adjusts positively and has a lock (I'm pointing at it in the pic) that really firms it up. Very little movement when it's locked down. Lu is a big fan. For a collapsible it's a good one. Much better than those el cheapos you find on so many mid priced carbines. It even has storage. It hasn't yet caught on my clothing and shoulders quickly. If I was stuck with it forever I'd be satisfied.

Miculek Compensator. I installed one on the budget Bushmaster as much for cost as anything else. I have since discovered that I (inadvertently or not) did good on that selection. It just works. It's tunable but other than positioning it for right handed recoil (turned slightly to the right) I haven't touched either of them. I'm sure you can get better comps out there but for the money the Miculek is darned hard to beat. I'll be leaving this one alone. It really lightens the recoil and keeps the muzzle (and your sights) on target for fast follow up shots and quick splits. Important in both the competition and self defense arenas.

A closer look at the barrel. You can just see the low profile gas block behind the forearm. The barrel steps down from medium weight to light weight in 3 steps. The mid size is under the gas block. The  light weight barrel ahead of the gas block makes the rifle swing very quickly and keeps the overall weight down. In comparison to the Budget Bushmaster the DPMS is noticeably lighter. Lu loves the weight (are you noticing a theme here?). The DPMS M111 forearm is free floating and has a whole bunch of attachment points for accessory rails for just about anything you can think of to add to the rifle. Aluminum, it's flex free and the smooth sides (I haven't added any rails to it as of yet) make for a comfortable forward grip. Nearly perfect in my opinion.

The DPMS 3G2 has their own 2 stage trigger. It is not top of the line for 3 Gun but I do think it's more than adequate for a defense carbine. Perhaps ideal. Here's my thoughts on triggers. None of my guns (now or ever will) have a "competition only" trigger. That is a trigger that is suitable for competition but borderline or outright unsuitable for daily or duty carry. There's a really fine line there, one I'll approach but will not cross. 2 pound triggers on a rifle are fine for a competition only gun but, as I said, all of my guns are subject to multiple duties. For that reason I'll do lighter triggers without resorting to 'breathe on it and it'll go bang' switches. I don't have a trigger gauge but my experienced finger says this one is in the 4.5 pound range. That's about as light as I'm willing to go. Much better than a stock battle trigger (in the 7.5 pound range) but entirely reasonable on a rifle I may have to tote and bang around in a loaded condition. You may disagree but for me this trigger is probably as good a balance as I could hope for. Compared side by side to the Budget Bushmaster the trigger is noticeably lighter and crisper without any fear of inadvertently lighting off of a round. It is not 3 Gun only perfect like JP, Hiperfire and others but for me it's exactly what I want. I will not change it though I will change the Budget Bushmaster to something close.

Nothing exceptional about the bolt. Just a standard Milspec piece, nitride coated and entirely unremarkable. It works very well and is getting better as I shoot the gun in. I have a couple hundred rounds through it since the last cleaning and the bolt will snap forward in the BCG with a flip of the wrist easy as pie. I did it when I took it out for this picture, dirty and all.

All that's well and good but how does it shoot? I've shot 2 matches with it recently and it performed as well as I could run it. I had one instance where my scope turrets turned without me knowing it which caused me no end of troubles hitting the 180 yard steel but I fixed it on the next stage and it ran fine. The next match I shot the same steel and I rang them one shot per. I have a 225 yard zero on the rifle which means than for most targets between point blank and 300 yards I can center hold (compensating for mechanical offset of course). I took it out and shot this target at 100 yards today. In the interest of looking good I held at 6 o'clock on the target to get center hits. The difference is 4 inches high at that range. On normal sized targets I'd aim center of mass and get good hits. But for head shots you must know your mechanical offset and ballistics holdover for various ranges. For my zero 100 yards is pretty much max ord (highest elevation during flight).

This was fired standing in a pit with a sandbag rest for the forearm. Not quite a bench but better than shooting offhand. That one at the top is a called flyer. I missed timed my heart beat and shot on the uptick. The other 4 are a 1 inch group centered around the bull. With the flyer it's 2 inches. Rifleslinger has more thoughts on group shooting over at his place. I highly recommend going over and perusing his offerings. The man is chock full of really good thoughts, ideas and information. For my purposes a one inch 4 shot group is entirely satisfactory and shows the rifle's capabilities if not the rifleman's. I think it's capable of better from a bench. I was also able to ring the gongs out to 300 yards with center holds with ease. That's a 16 inch carbine with a lightweight barrel and a 4 power optic. Ammunition was 5.56, 55 grain FMJ loaded to near XM193 specs by Western Arms and Ammo. They're a very good ammunition maker and distributor BTW. The owner has become a good friend and he supports the 2A and shooting sports with his time and money.

The free float forearm is something new to me but I am now convinced it's an absolute necessity for accurate and consistent distance shooting. Say, anything 100 yards and further. Take a look at this string I shot as part of a post on optics I'm putting together. This was shot with the Budget Bushmaster which has a non free floated, medium weight, 16 inch barrel. This was the third 5 shot string and you can see the vertical stringing typical for non free floated carbine barrels. As the barrel heats up point of impact changes and tends to move up and down. The DPMS was dead on all day. I'll be modifying the BB with a free float soonest. Look for a post on that down the road. I think the BB can get close to being a 1 MOA rifle, at least out to 300 yards or so. For consistent accuracy a free float is the only way to go and the 3G2's is excellent.

My bottom line for this gun was that it had to pull double duty. It had to be an excellent competition rifle while still being able to serve as a self defense gun. And it had to do both or either with equal competence. I think it passed both marks with flying colors. There are absolutely better 3 Guns on the market. Likewise there are rifles better suited for the rigors of combat. But there are very few that are equally at home in both venues and can operate at the high tempos both demand. With a few additions I can hang as many accessories on it as I desire (and my Tactical Timmy side will allow). Stripped down to the essentials it is a rifle that, in more competent hands than I, is capable of winning 3 Gun matches. It has run without a hiccup for more than a thousand rounds so far and with minimal fussing or cleaning. It's price is comparable to most any mid line carbine but with a host of excellent features. What more could anyone ask?

I have about a thousand rounds through it so far and have yet to have a failure of any kind. It just runs and runs and runs. Doesn't seem to care about ammo though I have yet to try steel cased. I love my chambers so that may never happen. I do tend to keep my guns kinda clean and sorta well lubed but for Sunday's range session I left it dirty and gunked up. No issues of any kind. I may let it go for a bit and see what happens. Then again, seeing as how I'm mostly shooting in competitions at the moment and I want to win, I may not take the chance. We'll see. I'm also going to load up some 62 grainers (and maybe as heavy as 69) and see how they perform in the 1x9 twist barrel.

I mentioned Lu a few times. She shot the DPMS yesterday along side the Budget Bushmaster. She loved the DPMS, especially with the Vortex Optic. She shot it like a champ, including the offset irons. So much so that it's been decided. Instead of passing along the BB to her I'll be keeping and modifying it as a backup for me (and truck gun) and we'll be purchasing a new 3G2 for Lu. She's really getting into AR shooting and after a range session with the DPMS she's certain. If I don't buy her one of her very own she'll be taking mine. I'm a giver but not that much of one! Its light, accurate, comfortable and dependable. 

I'm now of the opinion that a 3 Gun capable rifle can make for an excellent self defense gun. They have many of the same capabilities and strengths. Good accuracy, quality components, dead nuts dependability and shooting comfort. Just be careful of the features you get, especially rails and triggers. In my humble opinion the DPMS succeeds on both fronts. If I need a rifle for any kind of serious duty it's the first one I'll reach for. Long term testing is ongoing but I'm now able to concentrate more on improving my shooting skills and less on the shortcomings of my rifle. That is very much a goodness thing.

I can't think of a better recommendation for a rifle than that I'm confident enough in it to arm my wife with one. I really like my new DPMS 3G2!

FCC weasel words (and aren't we all just sick and tired of this?). I bought this rifle with my very own money, even after some folks recommended against it. This was a bit of a leap in the dark for me. Car Guy and a buddy who is a very good 3 Gunner both said go for it so I did but nothing was certain beforehand. DPMS doesn't know or (probably) care that I bought it and love it. They certainly don't know or (probably) care that I wrote about it. And no one, especially DPMS, suggested or paid for a single word I wrote. It's all just my opinion and I am still free to express it. YMMV.


Monkeywrangler said...

But, but Six, it's not a Tier 1 Uber-rifle. Therefore it can't be any good! (jk!)

SO good of you to test out Lu's new 3G2 rifle, Six. Just make sure you clean it up nicely for her afterwards, OK? Let's face it, my friend, you're running the Budget Bushie from here on out. If you're nice enough to her, maybe Lu will let you buy another 3G2 some day!


Rev. Paul said...

Looks good, sounds great, and shoots well - a win!

Six said...

And don't think the Tier 1 guys are letting me forget that for a second MW. I'm beginning to think there's a lot of potty trauma in some of their childhoods.

I know. We're negotiating terms for me to borrow it for matches now. We're at dusting but I put my foot down on the maid's uniform!!

Agreed Rev. I am a happy man :)

Old NFO said...

Nice report, and if YOU are happy, screwem with their fancy rifles... :-) Of course Lu will 'maybe' loan it to you time to time... :-D

Brighid said...

+1 Rev Paul, oh and +1 for Lu.

Murphy's Law said...

What works for you works for you. Sounds like you've got a good tool there. May it give you high scores and keep you safe for many years to come.

Six said...

Thanks NFO. Yep, I'm a happy guy though I would be happier if my better half would cast her covetous eyes somewhere else!

Thank you Brighid!

I think so ML. Time will tell long term but for the nonce it's a very competent tool. And in our line competence is the final word.