Rifle Review, Initial Impressions: DPMS A-15


We'd like to introduce our friend Mike, who brings Kit Up! this guest post. Now, you know how we  link words for certain readers, like this: (grunts, sometimes)? It's for guys like him. We were as surprised as you will be by how articulate he is for a grunt, which is one of the reasons we used to go support single dancing moms with him.  Please give him a read and extend a proper welcome. He is neither a hippie nor a sissy, nor has he ever gone so far into the cave to find his power animal that he failed to come back out.

Kit Up! A new California compliant A-15 from DPMS















The DPMS A-15: First Review

I recently purchased a DPMS A-15 in cal. 223 from a local gun shop in Northern California and took it to the range to break it in. These are my initial observations.

I originally went in looking for an AR from a different manufacturer [than DPMS], but unfortunately the one the store stocked in my price range didn’t have the features I wanted (a forward assist and an ejection port cover). My ultimate goal was to get an M4 military style rifle like the type I carried in Iraq; the DPMS had those features and was affordable. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about DPMS rifles, aside from knowing an Army buddy who likes their lowers. After examining the rifle, including breaking it down and a function check, I filled out the paperwork, paid for my new weapon, and went home to wait the required 10 days. (Note: all photos courtesy of Boom Operator Ryan.)

The Rifle and First Impressions 

My A-15 has a 16” chrome-moly barrel with a “cut out” for attaching an M203, a six position collapsible stock, and an A3 upper receiver with removable carrying handle and A2 style hand guards. DPMS coats its rifles with a Teflon hard finish and mine came from the factory and gun store without a scratch. The rifle came with its own case, albeit not a very durable one, and included a 10 round magazine, sling, a 25 meter zeroing target, the normal literature and a sticker. Awesome!

Now, as I reside in ‘The Peoples Republic of California,’ I have to adhere to certain firearms laws – specifically the 16” barrel length and the use of a tool to remove the magazine from the weapon (also called a ‘Bullet Button’). After having used an M16 series weapon with a normal magazine release for longer than some of the younger Soldiers in my unit have been alive, manipulating the California compliant DPMS involved a bit of a learning curve. The final constraint is the limit of 10 rounds in the magazine, but like the bullet button one can be dealt with.

So far the only modifications I’ve made are adding a Magpul MOE trigger guard and an ASAP sling adaptor. I may dress it up with a rail system, optics later. The rifle is well constructed, solid and feels good in my hands. Since it’s a brand new, it’s still tight, the edges are still ‘sharp’, but everything moves freely. It reminds me of when I had my brand new M4 issued to me.

I was looking forward to putting some rounds down range.











Range Going Hot

My friends Doc and Boom Operator Ryan planned conduct a zero range for my new rifle.  However a storm was due to arrive on the designated day, and I scrambled to get everyone together before it began to snow. Doc was busy but Ryan was free, so we headed up the hill. It wasn’t as well-planned as we’d originally hoped, but we still managed to put a couple hundred rounds down range to get a feel for the weapon.

Once site, we set up a few gallon milk and juice jugs filled with water, paced off 25 meters, did a final weapons check and got down to shooting. All with a wall of dark grey clouds approaching from the west.

I fired from standing, kneeling, and prone supported and unsupported.  At 25 meters, with battle site zero and no adjustments, the rifle fired a little low However after finding the point of aim I was popping milk jugs and splattered a large grapefruit left on the range in a spectacular manner [Note: in some places shooters prefer to engage old refrigerators and dishwashers dropped seemingly from the sky into the middle of nowhere – true story. We know. We’re from the MidSouth. Duo]

The recoil was smooth and there was no play between the upper and lower receiver that one occasionally finds in older used ARs.  Trigger pull and reset felt the same as my issued weapon. After some slow careful shots to feel the weapon out I tried some ‘rapid’ fire to see if any cycling issues cropped up, and none did.   The weapon fired 200+ rounds without a single malfunction – by no means a definitive stress test, but a good start. With storm clouds overhead, wind picking up and temperatures dropping, Ryan and I policed the range and called it a day.

Final Thoughts

To quote Emil Antonowsky from 1987s ‘Robocop,’ “I LIKE IT!” My DPMS A-15 is exactly what I was looking for in an AR platform and was the right price. I recommend it, and offer only two (correctible) cons if pressed: 1) the buffer tube is not MilSpec, and  2) there is a prominent ridge that encompasses the forward end of the rear stock that dug into my cheek when firing, This too can be replaced, but it would be nice if the lip wasn’t quite as aggressive.

Stay tuned as I’ll post a progress report with more tales from the range. And if you’re a DPMS user, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


About the author: Mike Durand is a U.S. Army Infantry combat veteran of Iraq with over 15 years of service. During his off time he partakes in such manly activities as enjoying the outdoors, target shooting, reading a vast array of suitably impressive topics, military history and of course sipping a good stiff drink while wearing a smoking jacket with his loyal Irish wolfhound at his feet. Actually most of that isn't true at all. He lives and writes in California with his wife, one year old daughter and four cats. He writes as his kid, pregnant wife and duties allow.

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