Gun Review: DPMS GII Compact Hunter

DPMS, purchased by Remington about a decade ago, is one of the largest manufacturers of AR-15 and AR-10 rifles in the world. They’ve developed the DPMS GII as the ultimate evolution of the .308 Modern Sporting Rifle; smaller, lighter, and more reliable than AR-10s of the past. TTAG snagged this Compact Hunter model and put it through its paces.

This lightweight (6.9 pounds) .308 is barely larger than a typical 5.56 AR-15. It features a 16″ fluted barrel with a midlength gas system, carbon fiber free-float handguard, Hogue grip, DPMS two stage trigger, and B5 SOPMOD stock.

Size and weight are impressive for an “AR-10,” as is the price. Full MSRP is $1,599 and they can be found at retail for a few bucks north of $1,200.

The GII is available in eight configurations, but the real beauty is between the barrel and the buffer tube and is shared by all. DPMS pared down the size of the AR-10 receivers until they were as close to that of the AR-15’s as possible. Furthermore, they’ve integrated quite a lot of parts compatibility: the GII uses AR-15 handguards, AR-15 forward assists, AR-15 trigger geometry, the AR-15-standard optics height, AR-15 receiver pins, and standard gas tube lengths.

End-to-end, the receiver set is only a half inch longer than that of an AR-15. Much of which, of course, can be attributed to the necessarily longer magazine well.

A new bolt geometry and reduced-mass, forged, monolithic carrier allow the use of a smaller barrel extension while apparently providing “superior lockup and strength.” In turn, this barely-wider-than-a-5.56-carrier allows for a reduced receiver diameter.

In addition to the geometry changes, the bolt saw other, meaningful upgrades as well. DPMS chose an undisclosed new steel alloy for the extractor — something “nearly impervious to breaking” — and replaced the short metal coil spring of old with a patent-pending elastomer extractor spring.

Dual ejectors mean less spring spring fatigue plus offer duplicity. After all, one is none, right? Another benefit of dual ejectors on an AR-10 is less case damage, as a typical, single ejector tends to leave a noticeable dent in the case head. Reloaders are sure to appreciate this.

While a typical AR, whether -15 or -10, has feed ramps cut into the aluminum upper receiver, the GII employs a steel insert. This selective use of steel reinforcement enabled the size reduction at the front of the receiver and, ultimately, that AR-15 handguard compatibility.

Although they look like machined-from-billet receivers due to the unique, non-Mil-spec aesthetics, the GII’s upper and lower are, in fact, forged from 7075 aluminum and Type 3 anodized then Teflon coated. An enlarged trigger guard is integral to the forging, which looks good as well as offers additional receiver stiffness.

Other, notable receiver tweaks are a flared magazine well with front serrations, enlarged ejection port, redesigned brass deflector and magazine release guarding, and a fully captured dust cover pin.

Plus, a profanity-free bolt catch pin system should you decide to remove and replace the perfectly functional factory unit.

Unfortunately for me, the Hunter models (as well as the bull barrel flavor) culminate in a bare muzzle; a target crown with no threads. Though I appreciate the simplicity of this and the nice aesthetic, it’s 2017, dammit, and I want a threaded muzzle. Forget the flash hider or muzzle brake, just ship it threaded 5/8-24 with a thread protector installed, please.

Running about $110 when purchased on its own, the DPMS two stage trigger is a huge upgrade over a Mil-spec/parts kit unit.

It may not look like anything special from the outside with its standard-looking trigger shoe, but their two stage job provides a clean, target-style trigger pull with a hunting-appropriate five pound break.

On the range, all of the GII’s engineering results in a rifle that feels and handles like an AR-15 instead of an AR-10. From dimensions to balance to ergonomics to heft, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re holding a .223 in your hands. Eyes closed, it’s an AR-15 carbine.

Of course, you’ll remember it’s actually a .308 as soon as you fire it. While smooth and well-tuned and generally comfortable to shoot, there’s no mistaking the fact that the GII Compact Hunter is a 6.9-lb, target-crowned rifle firing .308. Twice the muzzle energy and three times the projectile mass in a rifle zero times heavier, and it’s the shooter who soaks up that extra recoil.

Plus, WHUMP. There’s something to say about the satisfying, low-pitched boom of a .308 in comparison to the snappy crack of the little ol’ .223/5.56. It’s this dog vs. this dog. On a 16-inch barrel, this difference is amplified even further.

Breaking that decent trigger’s wall delights the senses with a simultaneous thump of pressure wave, a baritone bark, a strong shove of recoil, and maybe a small fireball out the business end. The DMPS GII Compact Hunter is a fun rifle to shoot, and each break of the trigger leaves no question that work is being done downrange.

Getting down to brass tacks, I shot accuracy groups with a smattering of ammo and what I felt was an appropriate optic for the rifle, the Primary Arms 1-8x with ACSS reticle. Considering the ranges the GII Compact Hunter is likely to be shot at, the ability to quickly transition between red-dot-like zero magnification with illuminated reticle and eight times magnification with an extremely easy to use, range-finding BDC reticle all in a 16 ounce package makes a lot of sense.

That said, I’m sure my groups would have tightened up a bit with the additional precision afforded by the higher zoom level of my accuracy testing go-to, the SIG TANGO6 5-30×56. C’est la vie.

Creedmoor Ammo’s 168 grain Sierra MatchKing loads hovered around one-minute, five-shot groups, but I feel this ammo-rifle combo is capable of better. I need that crutch of higher zoom.

Federal Gold Medal 175 grain, too, turned in one-minute groups. Again, it’s possible a 1″ spread was the best I could do with 8x zoom and that chevron-shaped reticle.

Federal’s TRU Tactical Ballistic Tip is a 168 grain law enforcement ammo that I somehow got my hands on. It shot more like 1.4 MOA.

Freedom Munitions Boar Buster is an appropriate ammunition choice for the GII Hunter. It fires a 168 grain Nosler Bonded Performance soft point bullet. The bullet’s exposed lead meplat (nose) isn’t ideal for accuracy or aerodynamics, but it’s sure effective on game. Groups of about 2.3 MOA will get the job done within a couple hundred yards on deer, pigs, and the like.

Finally, late last winter I picked up 960 rounds of MEN from 1800GunsAndAmmo due to its low cost. Made in Germany for military use, the 147 grain 7.62×51 NATO FMJ gun food is loaded in perfectly nice, reloadable brass cases and is great for running semi-autos or for bolt gun practice and rough sight-in. Standard deviations of like 30 fps won’t win any records, but the ~3.5 MOA and better (down to 1.4 MOA) groups it shot out of GII are still usable.

Overall, the GII Compact Hunter with its 16″ barrel, compact size, and light weight is still a 1-minute .308 at worse and, more likely, an easily sub-minute gun with good ammo and either a better shooter or a scope with more magnification and a more precise reticle. The trigger, scope height, and everything else are ready to make it happen.

While there is plenty of talk about some brands suffering quality control issues after being purchased by a much larger corporation, this DPMS GII Compact Hunter seems to have experienced none of this sort of thing whatsoever. In every way, it’s a very high quality rifle.

Machining, fit, and finish were all on par with or above my expectations at this price point. All parts look and feel of quality and, despite the relative light weight, the GII also feels really solid. This is a workhorse of a gun that does exactly what it was designed to do and looks good doing it.

Specifications: DPMS GII Compact Hunter

Caliber: .308
Barrel Length: 16″ w/ midlength gas system
Barrel Type: 416 stainless steel, Teflon coated, 1:10 twist, target crown
Receivers: forged 7075 T6 Level 3 anodized, Teflon coated
Overall Length: 32.5″ to 36″
Stock: B5 Systems SOPMOD
Grip: Hogue overmold
Handguard: carbon fiber free-float
Sights: none
Trigger: DPMS Two Stage
Weight: 6.9 lbs
MSRP: $1,599

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * *
The GII ran strongly and smoothly right out of the box and never suffered a hiccup. This is apparently DPMS’ most durable, reliable AR-10 design ever and I don’t see a reason to doubt that.

Accuracy * * * *
I do believe this is a solidly sub-MOA gun (even if I was shooting it at a minute given how I set it up), which is above-average accuracy for a 16″ .308 gas gun that can be had for a hair over $1,200.

Ergonomics * * * * *
As AR-10s go, the size, weight, and overall ergos of the GII series is top notch.

On The Range * * * *
Give me a threaded muzzle and a tunable gas block so I can shoot it suppressed, and we’ll discuss five stars here. Otherwise, the compact size and light weight are advantages on one hand (maneuverability and “ruck factor”) and disadvantages on the other (recoil). A good trigger, proper scope height, and the GII’s smooth, reliable function and decent accuracy help make for a good time on the range.

Overall * * * * 1/2
I try to avoid half stars but there are a couple small features that feel, to me, like they’re missing from this otherwise extremely solid rifle. Namely, the simple addition of a threaded muzzle would open up a world of possibilities, and given the size and chambering of the GII Compact Hunter I’d like provisions for adding forwards rails for night vision and/or a light. I suppose that’s why they also make the GII Recon, though.

comments

  1. avatar Blake says:

    Interesting. Do they use the shortened buffer typical of DPMS rifles?

    I remember when I built my AR-10 with a carbine stock I had to use the slightly longer Vltor A5 buffer tube to accommodate a full sized buffer.

    I went that route because the general consensus on AR10 forums was the shortened buffer caused more wear on DPMS-patterned rifles.

  2. avatar rdsii64 says:

    The barrels use a proprietary extension. Because of this, there is no aftermarket barrel support and DPMS won’t sell you a replacement barrel. In contrast the Savage MSR10 hunter is the same size and the barrel uses a STANDARD extension and comes with a factory adjustable gas block. With the MSR10 hunter, I can swap barrels when I shoot out the factory one. I really wanted to like the DMS GII because it less expensive than the MSR from Savage even if it didn’t come with an adjustable gas block. Until the DPMS GII gets aftermarket barrel support I won’t buy one.

    1. avatar Ebby123 says:

      This has actually changed fairly recently. DPMS now licenses out their barrel extensions, so the aftermarket should soon catch up! =)

    2. avatar that guy says:

      DPMS sell’s every part of the rifle directly except the lower receiver. Call them.

  3. avatar Vhyrus says:

    I bought an 18 inch AR-10 with M-LOK free float rail for $600 from Palmetto State last month. Shot a whole 2 gun match last weekend with only 1 malfunction. Mine came with a threaded barrel, and as an added bonus wasn’t built by Remington.

  4. avatar Stereodude says:

    That MEN ammo is supposed to be high quality 7.62×51 FMJ ball. Surprising to see that it shot so poorly out of the GII.

    1. avatar Nigel the Expat says:

      Agreed. The MEN and DAG surplus that I have is impressively accurate for surplus x51. Out of both my bolt guns and my DPMS pattern 308.

    2. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      It’s clean and it runs great, but velocity deviation is high. At least in a 16″ barrel it is. I’ve chronographed it through a 16″ .308 bolt gun and a 16″ AR-10 and got SDs of 30 to 36 fps. How much that affects accuracy will depend a lot on the specific rifle and the range to the target. It’s possible that, in a 20″ or longer barrel, the SD would actually tighten up appreciably. Actually, when another TTAG writer chronographed it (I gave him a box from my same order) in his 24″ barrel bolt gun, he saw an SD of 9.9 and shot significantly tighter groups. I may be outside of its intended use by putting it through a 16″ bbl.

      1. avatar DJ says:

        Safe to say it’s not intended to be shot out of a 16″ barrel, since it was made for use in a G3. 🙂

        Nice review. I want one.

  5. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

    AR15 handguard compatibility is a big deal. I just finished a 308 build and handguards are a real PIA.

  6. avatar strych9 says:

    I’ve become an accuracy snob.

    When this rifle shoots consistent cloverleafs and/or keyholes all day then it might be worth the price.

  7. avatar Mark N. says:

    AM I reading this correctly, that there is no parts compatibility with other AR10 bolt, BCG, buffer, upper, or barrel? Kind of limitsone’s options.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      A lot of that parts compatibility has been switched from that of AR-10 over to AR-15, though, which greatly increases options.

  8. avatar former water walker says:

    Well that’s interesting. I found one NIB “buy now” on Gunbroker for 899. I can’t get past the Remington connection…

  9. avatar Cliff H says:

    Toss in a free bump-fire and I might consider it. But then it does not appear to be designed for anything but slow-fire Fudd-thumping.

    On second thought, I’ll stick with my Norinco M1A for now.

  10. avatar duroSIG556R says:

    I’ll stick with the tried and true SW M&P 10. I do enjoy options though.

  11. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    This actually seems innovative. Chalk up yet another upper variant for DPMS-10 platform guns. I wish they’d make their damn minds up but at least this time they have a reason.

  12. avatar joetast says:

    You had me right up to elastomer. Firearms industry seems to be making 20-30 year life span guns.

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