One Cool Cat

Looking for a precision long-range semiauto? DPMS Panther Arms has just the rifle for you.

The LR-260 series is just one example of DPMS's Long Range lineup, an accurate series of rifles that began with the .308 and is now available in several chamberings.

With all the AR-15s on the market, sometimes it's hard to know where to start. One I'd recommend looking at is DPMS Panther Arms, which offers a wide array of both rifles and parts.


The man behind the company is an avid hunter and hardcore shooter named Randy Luth. A straight-talking man who's both intelligent and to the point, Luth has hunted around the world with his company's rifles. He's also a big supporter of the shooting sports, donating gun prizes to matches such as the Maine State High Power Championship.


During a visit to DPMS, I had the chance to speak with many of his employees. Chatting with them as they turned parts into Panther rifles, it was obvious they were both firearms enthusiasts and very proud of the rifles they produced.

And what a line they build. Models range from selective fire seven-inch barreled Kitty-Kats to heavy barrel competition guns. AR-15 calibers include .204 Ruger, .223 Remington, 5.56x45, 6.8x43 SPC and 7.62x39.


DPMS also offers a line of larger AR-10 Long Range rifles in a wide array of configurations and calibers. Models include carbines, rifles, heavy barrel competition/varmint rigs and dedicated tactical rifles. Chamberings include .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, .308 Winchester, .300 Remington Short Action Ultra Mag, .338 Federal and the brand new 6.5mm Creedmoor.

The Long Range series is built on a lower receiver machined from 6061 T6 bar stock. The receivers are then assembled using a standard AR-15 fire control group, pistol grip and buffer tube/stock assembly. The use of standard AR-15 components not only reduces production costs but also ensures spares are readily available. As to be expected, though, some parts are unique to the rifle. These include the pivot pin/takedown pins, buffer and buffer spring.

Mated to the lower is an extruded upper receiver manufactured from 6066 T6 aluminum. A flattop design, this thick-walled receiver easily facilitates the mounting of optics via a MIL-STD 1913 rail. Both the upper and lower are stainless steel bead blasted, hard coat anodized and Teflon-coated matte black.

Inside the upper receiver rides a beefy bolt carrier machined from 8629 steel. This is heat treated to the same specifications as a military M16 carrier then chrome plated and fitted with a solid firing pin retainer. A standard AR-15 gas key is mounted to the top of the carrier. The bolt is heat treated, phosphated and a chrome-plated firing pin is fitted to the assembly.

The charging handle is the same contour as an AR-15 unit but approximately two inches longer. Depending upon caliber, a variety of barrel profiles and handguards is available.

While .308 Winchester is the classic chambering for AR-10 rifles, there are others available. One in particular, the .260 Remington, has recently been growing in popularity among long-range shooters. A .308 Winchester case necked down to 6.5mm (.264 inch), the .260 Remington has proven to be a spectacular long-range cartridge.

Although 6.5mm cartridges in general never seem to catch on in the U.S., and the .260 Remington has received little attention from hunters, it's simply too good of a cartridge to die. Long-range shooters have taken to it due to its flat trajectory and reduced wind drift when loaded with sleek, high BC match bullets.

When compared to its parent, the .260 Remington easily bests the .308 Winchester at extended distances without the barrel burning disadvantages of larger rounds like the 6.5-.284. Basically the .260 Remington is an excellent cartridge for use at long range and especially well-suited for use in a rifle like DPMS's Long Range.

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SPECIFICATIONS

DPMS LR-260H

Type:AR-style semiauto centerfire
Caliber:.260 Rem.
Magazine:steel 4, 10 or 19-round
Barrel:20-in. stainless; 6-groove with 1:7.5 twist
Finish:black Teflon
Upper Receiver:A3 style flattop
Overall Length:39.6 in.
Weight:10.65 lb.
Stock:standard A2 black Zytel with trapdoor assembly
Handguards:standard-length ribbed free-float tube
Sights:none
Price:$1,199
Manufacturer:DPMS Panther Arms, dpmsinc.com , 320-258-4448

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ACCURACY RESULTS:

DPMS LR-260H

.260 Remington Bullet Weight (gr.) Muzzle Velocity (fps) 300- Yard Group Size (in.)
Lapua Scenar handload1232,7602.6
Federal Ballistic Tip1202,8102.9
Federal GameKing1402,6084.0
Notes: Groups are an average of four five-shot groups fired from a bipod at 300 yards. Velocity was measured 12 feet from the muzzle with an Oehler 35P at an ambient temperature of 45 degrees at 300 feet above sea level.

Currently DPMS offers three models in .260 Remington: the LR-260, LR-260H and LR-260L. The LR-260 is a heavy barrel model fitted with a 24-inch stainless steel match tube measuring .92 inch at the muzzle. It tips the scales at a hefty 111⁄4 pounds.

The LR-260H sports a lighter 20-inch chrome moly barrel with a 1:7.5 twist and a free-floating aluminum handguard. Unlike the LR-260, the LR-260H is fitted with a Panther flash suppressor. A shell deflector and forward assist are standard, along with a flattop receiver and A2 buttstock. Weight is a handier 10.6 pounds, and overall length is just 39.6 inches.

The last model is DPMS's new LR-260L which is fitted with a lightweight 18-inch barrel with integral compensator, carbon fiber handguard, skeletonized stock and lightweight upper receiver. Intended for hunting, this model weighs only 8.6 pounds.

Of these three models the LR-260H is perhaps of the most interest to LE and tactical shooters. It's fairly compact, and the 20-inch barrel offers a good compromise of performance for realistic engagement distances.

The H model can easily hit 13 pounds after you add a scope, bipod and sling. Due to this, the rifle is plenty stable for precision shots at extended distances.

I recently had a chance to test the LR-260H and was impressed by both its accuracy (300-yard results are reported in the accompanying chart) and mild recoil. Magazines load easily, rounds chamber smoothly, and the rifle's trigger was quite acceptable. Put the crosshairs on a steel silhouette and squeeze the trigger. The gun spits an empty case and you hear a bullet slap steel. Follow-up shots are also extremely fast, thanks in part to the cartridge's mild recoil. Accuracy with suitable handloads is excellent.

During a recent conversation with a friend who works for a government agency that will remain nameless, we got on the subject of semiauto sniper rifles. He remarked that his team had some Knight Armament SR-25s but that they had recently purchased some DPMSs, and they were just as accurate and reliable.

I also found it interesting that Jordan's elite 61 Special Reconnaissance Regiment fields DPMS sniper rifles along with its high-end Sako TRG bolt guns.

If you're interested in a capable semiauto tactical rifle for long-range use, I highly recommend taking a look at a DPMS LR-260H chambered in .260 Remington. The price is a reasonable $1,199.

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