All business, no flash—if that sounds suspiciously like cheap you would be wrong! Budget friendly is a better description—the DPMS Sportical is certainly priced to allow you to splurge on accessories without breaking the budget. DPMS prioritized quality when designing the Sportical. Note that I said quality and not features. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Having built more than a few ARs, I can easily attest to the ease of spending more on furniture than a quality AR—especially when you consider optics.
Receiving a new rifle for testing and review is both exciting and anxiety inducing. I do not worry so much about the performance—that is out of my control—but about my budget. If I like it too much, I am more likely to return a check than the gun and that can be dangerous.
I was not concerned that budget would become an issue. There are no two ways about it—The DPMS Sportical is a price point offering. DPMS looked for ways to cut the costs, keep the quality and eliminate features that do not matter to the majority of the target audience.
I have been party to numerous conversations that ended abruptly when discussing features on an AR-15. There are purists who would not own an AR without a particular feature. I get it, but that is not the market as a whole. I too wish every one of my ARs was topped with a piston driven upper, but I like many classic guns and simply can’t afford a garage full of Ferraris or a safe full of piston-driven ARs. Either way, the explosion in popularity of modern sporting arms over the last decade has been a boon for manufacturers and supporters of the Second Amendment.
Speaking of luxury cars, just like cars, you can have too much gun. You wouldn’t teach a teenager how to drive in a Ferrari—it is too much car. Likewise, a top of the line AR will have more features than the new shooter knows how to use. It is intimidating. Even for an experienced shooter, simplicity has advantages; I do not need all of the bells and whistles—or the cost—for many of my guns.
The typical scenario goes something like this: Buy a new AR; take off everything I do not want; buy new accessories; rebuild the whole gun. That is the fun of the modern sporting rifle—the build. The DPMS Sportical will accept just about any MIL-SPEC accessory I can think of and the civilian market can legally own. At first glance, you’ll notice two notable omissions on the Sportical. To cut costs, DPMS left the dust cover and forward assist off the design table. The Sportical was not made for work in the Sandbox or anywhere else in the military world, so a dust cover is not an issue. The Sportical will never be a primary carry-on-patrol gun. The forward assist is handy, but so seldom used. If they even know it exists, many shooters do not think to use or know when to use the forward assist, so no major loss.
So far, I have told you what the Sportical is not. Now, here is why you need a Sportical.
DPMS designed the Sportical to be a workhorse. I am happy to report that it did not disappoint on or off the range. The Sportical does not have the iconic carry handle, which was a wise design choice given the popularity of optics and back-up iron sights (BUIS). On the range, the Sportical was hungry and ate a steady diet of .223 Remington ammo in all forms—both the cheap and expensive stuff—without so much as a hiccup.
The flattop design makes mounting your optic of choice quick and easy. Pick your poison. Are you looking to go to the top and mount one of Trijicon’s ACOGs or perhaps something from Leupold? A Bushnell red dot or your favorite EOTech? It does not matter. You could even go to the less expensive end of the spectrum and make it a complete beater gun for the truck with a $50 optic. The gun will still perform! One of the reasons the optics mount so easily is the flattop design and railed gas block.
|Caliber||.223 Rem/5.56 NATO|
|Barrel||16-inch lightweight 4140 chromemoly extruded 7029|
|Overall Length||32.5 inches collapsed, 36.5 inches extended|
|Weight Unloaded||6.3 lbs.|
|Sights||T6 slick-sided flattop|
|Features||Pardus stock, Glacier handguard, A2 pistol grip, A2 birdcage flash hider|
All totaled, the Sportical will run the ammunition and engage targets at any common distance without an issue. It may shoot groups slightly larger than MOA (Minute of Angle) but does a fine job at MOM (Minute of Man). The lack of a chrome-lined barrel and bolt carrier will mean little more attention during the cleaning process, but that is a minor inconvenience at most.
I tested the Sportical in temperatures hovering just above zero—before adding the wind chill factor—in Central Illinois. At 100 yards, I could bang the 8-inch metal gong every shot off hand—despite my teeth chattering and knees knocking from the elements. However, the weather did not allow me the chance to perform a shooting test from the bench for MOA accuracy, but the Sportical is not a bench rest gun anyway. It is a plinker, hunter and self-defense rifle every day of the week!
Do you own or have you been considering a DPMS rifle? Share your thoughts on the Sportical in the comment section.
Growing up in Pennsylvanias game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Daves writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersens Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersens Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!
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