Airing out history Part 3
Springfield Armory M1 vs. Crosman DPMS M16
By Dennis Adler
A test of equals that are not quite equal can be a bit lopsided, but if we discount the select-fire feature of the DPMS Panther SBR, it looses one of its two advantages over the M1 Carbine. The other inequality is that the DPMS .223-sized magazine can hold dual CO2 cartridges to give the gun its higher velocity and the power to shoot on full auto. Keeping the selector on semi-auto makes the playing field look pretty level (even if the guns look nothing alike).
The M1 Carbine’s magazine has a locking follower which makes pouring BBs into the loading channel very easy. The DPMS takes things one step further with a dedicated speed loader that locks the follower down and has a pour spout that fits directly over the large beveled loading port. I’m not a big fan of speed loaders since they so easily jam up. The large follower tab on the DPMS is easy to hold down and with the beveled loading port you can literally pour BBs right into the magazine. The DPMS has a BB capacity of 25 rounds (which on full auto disappears quickly) while the M1 Carbine mag holds 15 BBs. Their centerfire counterparts have capacities with standard magazines, of 30 rounds, and 15 rounds, respectively, so the M1 is right on the money and the DPMS five short. (There are also 30-round magazines for the WWII .30 carbine caliber M1 Carbine and M1A1 Paratrooper models but not for the Springfield CO2 model.)
Another interesting difference is the ease of loading the magazines into the guns. The M1 Carbine is almost fumble proof but it is a small magazine going into a small opening in the bottom of the receiver. You don’t want to ding up the wood, so it takes a beat to rotate the gun over and make sure you line it up. The DPMS M16-style magazine is much quicker to load into the large lower receiver, which is wider and flared. Even if you fumble, there’s no harm done, other than lost time, but practice makes perfect when it comes to loading these guns. Spare magazines are already available for both the M1 and DPMS.
I had already done a velocity check with the Springfield Armory M1 Carbine in my original Airgun Experience review (where it averaged 397 fps) and I was going to reuse that figure, but since I am stacking it head-to-head with the DPMS, I thought I might as well run the M1 through the chronograph a second time using Umarex Precision steel BBs for the test.
The Air Venturi Springfield Armory M1 Carbine clocked an average velocity of 396 fps for 10 rounds. Now, the Crosman DPMS Panther, with two CO2 cartridges, clocked an average of 419 fps, with a high of 427 fps and a low of 418 fps. That’s good news for shooting longer distances like 10 meters. The bad news is that the trigger pull on the DPMS is a heavy 10 pounds, 6 ounces average. AR platform standards for trigger pull range from 5.5 pounds to 9.5 pounds. That’s a big spread with 5.5 pounds being the minimum standard and 9.6 pounds the maximum standard. There are more trigger kits for ARs than you can count, but at 10 pounds, 6 ounces, the DPMS CO2 model has a pretty heavy trigger. It is, however, a very consistent, single stage trigger and as you pull through, about one third of the way, there is a definite felt and audible click, then heavy pull through to fire. It isn’t progressive (stacking) it is just a long, hard, single stage pull that has almost no change from shot to shot. This is firing single action. On full auto there are two distinctive clicks as you pull through, then the same resistance and pull through to auto fire that allows you to easily shoot short bursts, release, and fire again with absolute consistency. It is heavy, but nonetheless a very good trigger for this type of blowback action, select-fire air rifle. Trigger pull for the Springfield M1 Carbine tested at a light 4 pounds, 6.4 ounces average, with light stacking, a take up of 0.25 inches and quick reset, which makes it a light enough trigger for consistent shots and considerably easier than the DPMS fired semi-auto.
Sights and accuracy downrange
Since this is my first time shooting the DPMS and it has a shorter barrel than the M1 Carbine, I’m going to start at 21 feet. At that distance my first 10-shot group with the sights as set right out of the box, and the front sight centered in the bullseye, made a big red splash which measured 1.18 inches with a best 5-shot group at 0.875 inches. I put up another target and moved back to 10 meters, placing 10 rounds into 1.5 inches a little high and left with a good 5-shot group in the read measuring 0.687 inches. I shot one more from the HySkore bench rest and that put 10 shots into 1.375 inches, thanks to one flyer to the left, which ruined an otherwise tight group that would have measured exactly 1-inch center-to-center, with a best 5-shots tightly packed into 0.55 inches. Using optics and shooting off a benchrest, I think this gun could group 10 shots well under an inch. (We’ll have to see).
My first tests with the Springfield Armory M1 Carbine had given me a best 10-shot group measuring 0.56 inches with either seven or eight rounds inside one ragged hole measuring 0.437 inches, though the group was a little high and left of POA. To wrap up the comparison, I ran one more test off the bench with the M1 Carbine (first time since switching the action to the hardwood stock), which gave me 10 shots, still a little left and high, but grouped at 0.937 inches with a best 5-shot overlapping group at 0.56 inches.
Both guns with iron sights shoot within a fraction of an inch of each other and while the triggers are very different in feel, take up, and pull weight, neither rifle really has a significant advantage over the other beyond capacity and the option of adding optics. The generation gap between these two designs is still the generation to which they most appeal. As for me, I like wood. Enough said.
A word about safety
Blowback action air rifles provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.