THE ULTIMATE “BLACK GUN” BIG-GAME RIFLE
THE BIG GAME RIG WAS A HIT
The 2008 Soldier of Fortune elk hunt had its first purpose-built black gun big game rifle. Although I didn’t kill an elk with it, the black gun big game rig garnered lots of attention from the other hunters in camp.
DPMS provided their Panther Arms Long Range (LR) 30S rifle chambered in .300 Remington Short Action Ultra Magnum (SAUM). Trijicon contributed their TR22-2AccuPoint scope in 2.5–10X56,mil-dot crosshair, in amber color (look for scope details in a SOF Proving Ground article in the near future). Trijicon also sent their Tri-Power Atlantic Research Marketing System (A.R.M.S.) TX-10, 30mmthrow lever-actuated quick attach/detach scope mounts. The Special Operations Patrol (SOP) sling was provided by Specter and made carrying the rifle a pleasure compared to the conventional sling supplied with it. Remington supplied two types of .300 SAUM ammo (150- and 180-grain Core-Lokt) that performed flawlessly.
The complete rig is 39.6 inches long and weighs 14 lbs loaded with five rounds (four in the magazine and one in the pipe) – light weight it is not; but the Specter combat sling made the weight a non-issue as I could let the rifle hang and have both hands free. I used a home-made Osage orange shooting stick that I carry constantly in all terrain. I use it to shoot from and as a monopod for my Steiner 15x80 Senator binoculars. DPMS provides a nylon strap sling with the rifle, but I did not use it as the hands-free option was far superior.
I assembled the rifle, scope and sling combination at my kitchen table with no special tools other than a small level and laser boresighter. The whole assembly process took about an hour and a half. Then I sighted the rifle in and went through the process of conditioning the barrel (recommended by DPMS), which was 25 rounds through a cold barrel with cleanings in between. It was a chore, but paid off when I fired the rifle from the prone and standing, using my shooting stick, at a standard military steel silhouette placed 257 yards down range. The six five-shot groups all averaged two inches or less. The ballistic tables provided by Remington for the two bullet weights were essential to help me figure the correlation between the trajectories and using the mil-dot reticle for hold-over. I did not use the mil-dot system to judge range, as I use a laser range finder. I always range various landmarks in my kill zone, so when that elusive elk walks by one of my known distance landmarks, I know how much to hold over from my range firing calculations, which I record on an index card and tape to the butt stock.
A FINE BLACK GUN
The Panther LR30S rifle is a fine example of American rifle-making. Sure it is a black gun built to resemble the venerableM16/AR15. But the workmanship, fit and finish are excellent in all aspects. It fits together perfectly with no toolmarks, burrs or sharp points anywhere.
It has the 20-inch fluted, stainless steel bull barrel (button-rifled, six grooves with a 1x10 right-hand twist), fitted with vented aluminum free-float tube hand guards. The upper receiver is flat-top, thick-walled, extruded from 6066-T6 aluminum that is hard-coat anodized to mil-spec and Teflon-coated black. It is a right-hand “no-snag” design with smooth sides, no dust cover, no cartridge case deflector or bolt forward assist. The flat-top upper receiver has a seven-inch long, MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail mount that provides plenty of space to move the Trijicon AccuPoint scope back and forth to get the perfect eye relief. The lower receiver is milled from a solid billet of 6061-T6 anodized to mil-spec and Teflon-coated black.
The lower receiver has the standard AR-15 trigger group with the usual amount of creep and then breaks cleanly and consistently at seven pounds. Better trigger assemblies are available from DPMS for the match shooter or sniper. The lower receiver has the same trigger guard, safety, magazine and bolt release as do standard AR15 lowers. The butt stock is skeletonized and made of black Zytel. The rifle is gas-operated, with a rotating bolt just like all theM16/AR15 rifles. The notable differences are the larger size and more robust construction of the bolt, carrier assembly, and buffer spring to handle the recoil and pressure of the .300 Remington SAUM cartridge.
Remington’s own data shows the .300 Remington SAUM with a 180-grain Premier Core-Lokt bullet burns down range at 2960 fps with 3501 ft lbs of muzzle energy. When compared to the standard Remington .300 Win Mag round with the same 180-grain Premier Core-Lokt bullet, the .300 Remington SAUM produces nearly identical performance in a shorter overall cartridge length and weight.
BECOMING A COLLECTOR’S ITEM
Now for the other shoe to drop (bad news). After all the shooting, fitting, fussing, and lugging this fine rifle all around Wapiti Peak, hunting those damn elusive elk, it seems DPMS has discontinued the rifle in .300 Remington SAUM cartridge. DPMS will still honor existing orders until filled and will service the existing stock of rifles. If you have one and use it a lot, I suggest you contact DPMS and get yourself a small bench stock of bolt and carrier parts (extractor) that wear out after several hundred heavy rounds. It seems this rifle was a poor seller and it did not help that the .300 Remington SAUM cartridge never did catch fire.
This rifle may be gone and may become an odd collector gun—who can predict the future. What I do know is that the gun I tested and hunted with is a fine rig, especially when equipped with the AccuPoint scope and Specter sling. DPMS is a fine company and they stand behind their products. Business is business; I only wonder if anyone has seriously looked at this rifle as a sniper rifle for our military and police departments. It sure beats the existing crop of .308 rifles (auto and bolt) our lads are using. That leads to very different discussions for the pros from Dover; it’s probably worth serious investigation. A .30 caliber match round from this rifle will leave a definite slap mark on any sniper’s target at ranges well past the typical .308. With this rifle you barely feel the recoil compared to a bolt gun. So when the mainstream media ask a sniper, “What did you feel when you shot the poor unemployed and misunderstood native” you caught emplacing an IED at 800 yards, our sniper will have to come up with a better answer than “recoil,” because there’s not much of that with this rifle. For what it is worth, in this economy you can do your part and buy American with a clear conscience, as all the components of this black gun big game rig are American-made.
Points of Contact:
DPMS Firearms, LLC
3312 12th Street SE
St.Cloud, MN 56304
Phone (320) 258-4448
Fax (320) 258-4449
Remington Arms Company, Inc.
870 Remington Drive
P.O. Box 700
Madison, NC 27025-0700
1107 East Douglas Avenue
Visalia, California 93292
49385 Shafer Avenue
P.O. Box 930059
Wixom, MI 48393 USA
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