All Business, No Flash—DPMS Sportical AR-15

DPMS Sportical AR-15 Right profile

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.

Achieving one-inch groups at 100 yards is no hard feat for the Sportical
Achieving one-inch groups at 100 yards should be no hard feat for the DPMS Sportical

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.

DPMS Sportical AR-15 Right profile
This carbine might just be the most simplistic, straight forward AR on the market. A lightweight barrel, adjustable stock, and a slick sided low profile upper make this rifle the perfect choice for the recreational shooter on a budget.

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.

DPMS Sportical
Action Semi-automatic
Caliber .223 Rem/5.56 NATO
Barrel 16-inch lightweight 4140 chromemoly extruded 7029
Twist Rate 1:9
Overall Length 32.5 inches collapsed, 36.5 inches extended
Weight Unloaded 6.3 lbs.
Sights T6 slick-sided flattop
Grip Black polymer
Magazine 30 rounds
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.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (15)

  1. Last summer I bought a dpms spotical.308…nice firearm. I since order 2 magazines for my fire arm on December 7. They promptly charged me the processing fee and sent me a confirmation with a note that it may take longer than usual to complete my order because they were moving. After several emails months later i finally cancelled my order in May and asked for my processing fee back since it was apparent they weren’t going to fill my order. 2 weeks later and still I have no response. I would not recommend anything from dpms.

  2. I took a lot of time and handled a TON of ARs before deciding on the Sportical. I’m old so no military duty will be seen with it, but I could confidently hand it to somebody going off to a fight. This little rascal is wearing iron sights for me and a 1600 lumen flashlight for night stuff. It eats EVERYTHING I feed it and it goes where I point it consistently. It even shoots my reloads without issues. Since I have a target .308 for fancy work accuracy is not an issue, however 25ç groups at 75 meters is common. I wish they’d make this in a AR10 platform!

  3. Love my DPMS AR-15, change the trigger ! I changed to a combat Spikes trigger with a JP low spring kit ($61.00) Like an very high end trigger now, went from 9-9.5 lb. pull to about 5 lb.

  4. Several years ago, after being introduced to my LEO AR15, I bought my wife a DPMS Oracle and ‘pinked it out’.. No complaints yet.

  5. Don’t get hung up on twist.
    I have 7, 8 & 9 – I even have an old 180 w/ 1-12! – they all shoot well. My best shooter is a loose fit Layke w/ 1-9. It shouldn’t shoot as well as it does, but it is a <MOA shooter w/ all weights (55 thru 77).
    So there's my .02 cents . . .

  6. I have always wanted a .308 rifle in an AR “tactical” configuration. I was at a local gun show and happened upon the DPMS LR-308 rifle. I decided it was the rife I was looking for, and it was for the right price, too. I mounted an inexpensive scope on it and went to the range to see how it performed. I shot it from the standing position and was pleasantly surprised at its’ accuracy. Also, the recoil and the muzzle noise was minimal. I am very pleased with the DPMS LR-308 rifle and would recommend it to any target shooter.

  7. i have an ar-15 DPMS PANTHER and i love it. i have only had it about four months and i have shot it quite a lot. i reload a lot and i have never been interested in an ar but some of my friends had talked about them so much that i decided to purchase one.i enjoy reloading and believe me i am glad i do reload. this gun can shoot a lot of ammo. i have shot all kinds of ammo through it with not any malfunctions at all. easy to clean and get ready to shoot again. i will buy another DPMS soon.i really like this rifle.

  8. Love mine, picked it up for $450. Put a quad rail on it and a decent scope with a red dot. It’s been running fine with the 100 pack of Federal and the Perfecta ammo, no hiccups in about 300-400 rounds so far. Cleaning is a non-issue, I always clean after each outing at the range. For a budget AR, it’s been great!

  9. I have owned one of these for several years and I have no complaints. I added iron sights and replaced the forward grip with one that has Picatinny rails, but otherwise left it alone. I shoot all brands of .223 and 5.56 and once in a while, the steel-cased ammo will hang up, but only when the feed port starts getting dirty. Plus, it’s surprisingly accurate: I can hit a 10″ steel plate at 75 yards about 4 out of 5 shots with iron sights, so I’m not complaining. A moving target might be a different story, though.

  10. great gun, I’m not a big time shooter and didn’t really wanna spent over $1000 for an AR15 but I wanted to see what all the hype was about with these guns, so I purchased one of the DPMS sporticals with the 30rd mag, I’ve only ran about 100 rounds through it so far but not a single hiccup and it’s very accurate, it feels really well built, easy to field strip and clean and one of my most fun guns to shoot, I didn’t like the hand guard so I added a quad rail and vertical grip to aid in my comfort plus switched out the pistol grip for a more ergonomic grip, the hand guard had a small amount of twist to it and I didn’t care much for that, it felt to me like something was about to fall apart LOL the quad rail is very solid and just looks more tacticool too, plus it adds rails for accessories such as the light and vertical grip I added to mine…..I was considering building my on AR but even with using an 80% lower, I really couldn’t find parts as inexpensive as just buying this AR, I’m 100% extremely happy with this rifle

  11. I bought an earlier iteration of this rifle a few years ago. It was essentially the same rifle on the surface (no dust cover or forward assist, integral rail) with a solid AR-15 stock and a bull barrel for varmint shooting with no flash suppressor.

    I’ve had extraction issues with a couple of DPMS MSRs in the past, a Panther and this one. I’ve corrected the problem by installing Buffer Technologies reinforced extractor springs and rubber bushing sets that gave the extractor more pressure for a better grip.

    Not complaining, and I’m sure DPMS has made improvements since I bought both of mine, but they still don’t reach the reliability of my M&P.

  12. Impressive but I would be hesitant to spend my money on anything slower than a 1-8 twist. No reason to pass up being able to fire more diverse ammo as opposed to having to stay within restrictions.

    1. GRA,

      The 1:9 twist rate is more forgiving for guys running a .22 conversion kit through their rifle, which is not uncommon with these lower end platforms. It’s one reason to pick up a cheap AR on the side — makes a good plinking and training rifle for the youngsters, and .22 makes that even more affordable. Abysmal consistency w/ anything under 40 grains past about 50 meters even at 1:9, but it’s still good for certain types of inexpensive, educational fun.

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