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Reviews : Arsenal

DPMS Panther Arms Panther 16-Inch AP4 Post Ban

This inexpensive AR-15 makes a great patrol rifle.

March 01, 2005  |  by Dave Douglas

Features and Details

The Panther Arms 16-inch AP4 Post Ban gun with Miculek Comp is one of the better all-around rifle caliber carbines available for law enforcement operations.

Here’s why.

It’s built tough. For example, the lower and upper receivers are forged from 7075-T6 aircraft aluminum that is hard anodized to military specifications and then Teflon coated in matte black.

It’s also adaptable. The gun comes in an A-3 flattop configuration, including a detachable carry handle. This configuration gives you the option of mounting either one-to-one or magnification optics. By detaching the carry handle and mounting optics on the Picatinny 1913 mil-spec rail you keep the line of sight much closer to the line of the bore, which lessens parallax problems for shots made from both longer and shorter distances.

It also has some very nice features. The upper receiver is equipped with a metal dust cover. A shell deflector keeps the ejected cartridges from smacking you in the forehead or ending up down the front of your shirt and causing the infamous “hot brass” dance. And DPMS includes a round forward assist on the right side of the gun to help you clear a tight round or some sort of debris that is keeping the gun out of battery.

Smooth Operator

Sometimes it’s the attention to the little things that makes a great gun. Case in point, DPMS put a lot of thought into the bolt and carrier on the Panther Arms AR-15.

You can have a great sighting system; diamond-hard and tank-tough receivers; barrels capable of knocking a gnat off a pin at 300 paces; but if the bolt and carrier are so-so you won’t be able to hit anything. DPMS uses 8620 steel for the bolt carrier and chrome plates it to military specification for toughness. The bolt is also 8620 steel that’s heat treated and plated to mil-spec. These are by definition little details, but they pay off big in accuracy, reliability, and longevity.

The 4140 Chrome-Moly steel 16-inch barrel is configured to the AP4 contour. DPMS button rifles the barrel for a good, clean cut of the lans and grooves. It is a six-groove, right-handed twist at a one-in-nine rate. The barrel is finished with manganese phosphate, a treatment that is commonly called “parkerizing.”

Compensation and Control

At the business end of this AR-15’s barrel sits one of the most efficient compensators I’ve ever used, the Miculek compensator.

It would be a gross understatement to say that Jerry Miculek is a world-class shooter. He holds more world records than I can list. And his invention, the Miculek compensator, was driven by necessity. In this case the necessity was that Miculek was being paid to compete in rifle competitions for DPMS team, and he needed a rifle with less muzzle jump.

The Miculek compensator is amazing. There is no muzzle jump at all, which means that follow-up shots can be made easier, faster, and much more accurately. An additional benefit to the design is there is little or no ground blowback when shooting from the prone position. The only drawback here is that it makes the gun very loud. But, then again, most compensators are loud.

And we really need to have a little perspective here and remember that loud is a relative thing. This is a rifle, and it fires rifle caliber ammunition. Rifles are all loud unless you are using a suppressor.

Trust me, if you use the AR in law enforcement work as it is intended, as a stand-off perimeter weapon, you’ll love the Miculek compensator. It truly enhances a shooter’s ability to accurately place follow-up shots. That’s a good thing, a real good thing.

Shooting the Panther

After a short break-in period of about 100 rounds with frequent cleaning, I have put approximately 5,000 rounds of Federal XM193 ammunition through my test DPMS rifle without the slightest problem. It should be noted that I clean this rifle after every 500 rounds.

With thousands of rounds downrange, I can tell you the following about the Panther 16-inch AP4 Post Ban. It consistently shoots under one minute of angle; the trigger breaks crisply at six pounds; and follow-up shots are easy and accurate thanks to the Miculek comp.

For a price of $899 full retail (your agency can probably negotiate a discount) with cleaning kit and hard case, you just cannot ask for any rifle to be better than the DPMS Panther 16-inch AP4 Post Ban gun with Miculek comp. This inexpensive AR-15 is accurate, reliable, and easy to use.

Sgt. Dave Douglas is the rangemaster of the San Diego Police Department and a veteran law enforcement officer.

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Comments (1)

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John Creveling @ 7/30/2012 8:05 PM

Well I bought the AP4 sight unseen because I thought after the Col. shooting California would jump all over the ARs. Hasn't happened yet. I knew the DPMS was well built but its great to have Sgt. Douglas give it a thumbs up. I am looking forward to picking it up (after the 10 day waiting period) and putting a lot of lead downrange. Thanks to Sgt. Douglas for a through review.

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