DPMS Prairie Panther 223 Remington Semi-Auto Hunting Rifles


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

February 4th, 2011


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DPMS Prairie Panther rifles.



Blackened stainless barrel is fluted and free-floated.





Ejection port cover and case deflector (top), forward assist (bottom).





Enlarged trigger guard.



Twenty-round magazine.



Sling attachment loops.



Flattop receiver with Picatinny rail.



Tac-Latch charging handle.



3Bucc Brass Catcher.





The AR-15 style of rifle is the most popular type of rifle in the US right now. While the rifles have been popular for many years, the political climate in the nation has increased sales of AR rifles dramatically over the past couple of years. While many shooters think of the AR as a fighting rifle only, an area in which the design excels, the AR platform also makes for a superb hunting rifle. On a prairie dog shoot last summer, I found that my Bushmaster Varminter made for an ideal rifle for such shooting, enabling me to get on target quickly, see the impact of the shot through the scope, and to move to another target without removing my cheek from the buttstock. An accurate AR is very easy to shoot, and very easy to shoot well. The design is exceedingly user-friendly, the rifle is comfortable to hold, and the recoil is straight-back for quick and easy target acquisition. In my opinion, for dogs out to 400 yards, I prefer a good, accurate AR to anything else.

Another area of hunting in which the AR rifle excels is in predator hunting. The AR design lends itself well to the kind of hunting where a log range shot at a wary fox might be needed, while being very capable at repeat shots on a running coyote as well. For a quick follow-up shot, nothing is quite as qualified for that job as a good, accurate AR style rifle.

I have used DPMS rifles for many years now, and own several of them. They are, without exception, extremely reliable, and capable of long range accuracy when properly configured. I have a couple of DPMS rifles that are set up for fighting, but I also have a couple that are exceptionally accurate for long range shooting. My 308 DPMS Panther LRT-SASS is the most accurate rifle that I have ever fired, of any caliber, clustering Buffalo Bore Sniper ammo into one slightly ragged hole at 200 yards, and I have a witness to that fact.

Here we are looking at two new DPMS rifles that are identical, except for the pattern of the camouflage finish. These new hunting rifles are called the Prairie Panther, and are available finished in a durable water-dipped camouflage in either the Mossy Oak Brush or King’s Desert Shadow pattern. Both rifles are very good-looking, with their contrasting matte-black controls, bolt carrier, barrel, magazines, and other small parts. The Prairie Panther comes with two twenty-round magazines, which are my preference for hunting. The thirty-round magazines are too long for shooting from a bench or from prone, without using a high rested position. The Prairie panther wears a twenty-inch long blackened stainless fluted barrel which is heavy, but not excessively so. The rifle is still portable without a wheeled carriage, weighing in at six pounds, fourteen ounces without magazine. Some “varmint rifles” are just too heavy, wearing a barrel better suited for a benchrest competition, but the Prairie Panther is built for comfortable carry, while still wearing a rigid barrel. The barrel is free-floated within the carbon-fiber smooth hand guard. The Prairie panther has all the desired features of a good fighting AR, such as a forward assist, dust cover, extended “tac-latch” charging handle, and an empty case deflector. The upper receiver is of the A3 flattop style, making for easy attachment of a scope or other optical sight.

As should any hunting rifle, the Prairie Panther is equipped with sling attachment loops, and a nylon sling is also included with the rifle, as well as a cleaning kit, the two magazines mentioned above, instructions, and a hard case.

For accuracy testing, I mounted my mule, the Leupold Mark 4 8.5 to 25 power target scope using an ArmaLite one-piece mount. Accuracy testing was done at 100 yards, with the results shown in the chart below. Group sizes are the average of three-shot groups at that distance. Group sizes are listed in inches. Velocity testing was done with the chronograph set twelve feet from the muzzle at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, approximately. Temperatures hovered around the twenty-seven degree Fahrenheit mark during all velocity testing. Velocity readings are the average of several shots fired, and the results are listed in the chart below. Velocity readings are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are listed in grains. FMJ is a full metal jacket bullet. HP is hollowpoint. SRT is a load using specialized bullets as loaded into ammo produced by Extreme Shock Ammunition. TSX is a Barnes Triple Shock homogenous copper hollowpoint bullet. The handload listed uses the TSX bullet with 24.5 grains of Ramshot TAC powder, a Remington small rifle primer, and Winchester commercial .223 Remington cases.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity Accuracy
Hand Load TSX 62 2855 0.875"
Winchester USA FMJ 62 2960 0.750"
Buffalo Bore HP 77 2786 0.375"
Extreme Shock SRT 55 2656 0.890"
Black Hills HP 69 2739 0.625"
Wolf Gold HP 75 2588 1.120"

As can be seen in the chart above, accuracy was superb! I am continuously impressed with the Buffalo Bore Sniper ammunition. Some folks state that it takes a one-in-seven inch twist to stabilize the 77 grain Sierra bullet, but the one-in-eight twist of the button-rifled barrel of this DPMS does exceptionally well with that ammunition. I also have a one-in-nine twist Bushmaster twenty-four inch rifle that does very well with the Buffalo Bore 77 grain load.

Many styles of AR-15 rifles are available, and most buyers end up with an M-4 style with sixteen inch barrel, bayonet lug, railed hand guard, and a flash suppressor. That is a very good choice for close-range fighting, but a rifle such as the Prairie Panther is much better suited for an all-around AR. The longer barrel gives more velocity, and the flattop upper receiver makes mounting a scope very easy. If needed, the hunting scope can be removed and a close-range optical sight, such as a Trijicon Reflex, can be attached in a few seconds. Railed hand guards are okay, but I prefer the handling characteristics and comfort of a smooth hand guard. I do not hang a lot of equipment onto my rifles, and have never once yet needed a bayonet. Those features are fine, if that is what you want, but I prefer the simplicity and accuracy of an AR that is set up like the Prairie Panther. I like the excellent trigger. A good trigger is important for accurate shooting. I detest a seven or eight pound trigger on a hunting rifle. The Prairie Panther trigger releases crisply, and the pull weight measures just under four pounds on the rifles shown here. I like the smooth, free-float carbon-fiber hand guard. The buttstock is skeletonized for some reason. I don’t know why, and prefer a solid buttstock myself, but I suppose that it was done for some reason. It might save an ounce or two of weight, but I would rather retain the storage capability of a standard A2 style buttstock. The camouflage is very nicely done. It looks great, and seems to be very durable. Both patterns are well-executed and effective.

An AR rifle like the Prairie Panther can do double duty as a fighting rifle better than an M-4 style can double as an accurate hunting rifle. The Prairie Panther is wonderfully accurate, easy to use, and light enough to carry afield all day. It is as suitable for home defense as it is for shooting prairie dogs at 400 yards. There are many variations of the AR-15 rifle on the market today, and they are fine weapons. I own several, but if I had to pare down to just one AR-15, I would keep a good, accurate, reliable hunting style AR, like one of these new Prairie Panther rifles from DPMS.

Check out the new Prairie Panther rifles online at www.dpmsinc.com.

To order DPMS rifles online, go to www.lowpriceguns.com.

To order the excellent Buffalo Bore Sniper ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com.

To order the specialized Extreme Shock premium ammo, go to www.extremeshockusa.net.

Jeff Quinn

NOTE: All load data posted on this web site are for educational purposes only. Neither the author nor GunBlast.com assume any responsibility for the use or misuse of this data. The data indicated were arrived at using specialized equipment under conditions not necessarily comparable to those encountered by the potential user of this data.  Always use data from respected loading manuals and begin working up loads at least 10% below the loads indicated in the source manual. 

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Mossy Oak Brush camo (left), King's Desert Shadow camo (right).



King's Desert Shadow camo pattern.



Mossy Oak Brush camo pattern.



Two-stage trigger / hammer group.



Bolt and carrier.



Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x scope in ArmaLite one-piece mount was used for accuracy testing.



Best accuracy was obtained using Buffalo Bore Sniper ammunition. Three-shot 100-yard group measures 0.375".