Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DPMS Oracle AR15 Kit Review

DPMS Oracle AR15 Kit Review
There is a reason Legos, Tinker Toys, and Erector Sets are so popular, at some point everyone wants to assemble their own toys and for big boy toys earning your stripes means assembling your own AR15. One of the all time most popular choices is the $489.99 DPMS Oracle AR-15 kit due to the price, weight, and performance of this great DIY AR15 kit.

Now a Remington Corporate company, DPMS is of course famous for accurate high value 
AR15 rifles and their most popular rifle of all time has been the simple and light Oracle.  It was inevitable that the most popular DPMS AR15 in the line up would end up as a kit.  The Oracle kit comes with everything you need to assemble your AR15 minus a stripped lower receiver. Since the lower receiver is the only thing that is serialized and requires you to go through your local gun dealer for an FFL transfer, the Oracle kit can be shipped via UPS right to your doorstep.  I purchased a stripped Mega Arms Billet GTR-S3 lower via Mega Arms and my local FFL dealer to complete the build.

Like all DPMS products, the fit and finish is great and I was happy to see that all of the parts were packaged well and arrived scratch free to my door.  We all take a deep breath when kits are involved because there is usually that once damn piece that that was left out to complete the build.  This was not the case with the DPMS kit, all the parts were there and were all quality pieces.  The dirty secret in the AR industry is that most manufacturers use the DPMS lower receiver parts kits so chances are high you have already used these parts on a rifle.  All good quality parts.

Assembling a DIY AR15 from a kit is not an especially difficult task and can take as little as 90 minutes for the first time builder.  I found my DPMS Oracle kit build a fun rewarding experience which educated me on all the parts of the AR15 and of course those couple hours had me feeling like a kid again putting together Legos.  Aside from the fun project perspective AR kits are also an inexpensive alternative to buying an AR-15.  The Oracle kit will set you back just under $500 and a even with my jaw dropping $200 billet Mega Arms receiver my build was still $100+ under the cost of most complete rifles.  With a less expensive standard forged $120 receiver you could easily be under $620 for the entire build.  Another reason people like a kit is the option to upgrade from the beginning.  I took the opportunity to add Phase 5 Tactical's ambi-bolt release & Revo revolving sling mount and a Hogue grip, but upgrade options are almost limitless.

A set of punches, a no-mar hammer, screwdriver, Crescent wrench, lock-tite, and some sythetic grease and a good strap wrench is a minimum requirements for assembling the 
DPMs Oracle kit.  Attaching the barrel to assure proper barrel and gas tube alignment is without a doubt the most difficult part of assembly for the home assembler.  A barrel and Castle nut wrench will help considerably or another option is DPMS’s own $30 DPMS combo AR15 wrench which will also provides a flash hider wrench in the tool... spend the money on this tool, it will be worth it's weight in gold for this assembly and used going forward on all your ARs. Most of the other AR parts do not need anything other than a set of punchs to install.

To start the DPMS Oracle kit, take a look at my video at the end of this review. That video will walk you through the entire build however if you want detailed instructions see this link on AR15 for a step by step process. A couple tips are to pick up a DPMS combo tool, use a block of wood that will fit in the magazine well to support the rifle while torquing down the barrel, and to assure the taper spring is used in the trigger assembly and not for the bolt release.

The Oracle kit when assembled Including your own stripped receiver will weight in at a feathery 6.2 lbs and points quickly when running drills.  The extremely light weight has always been one of the big draws to the Oracle rifles. I have heard more than a few people note they use the Oracle for extended week long tactical training due the fatigue reduction of not having to carry an extra lb of weight.  What makes the kit light weight is the "pencil profile" 1:9 twist 5.56 barrel.  Take it from me after the third day (9-hours) of active dry fire drills in the hot sun and any gun starts to feel like a giant lead weight so lighter is better.

The DPMS Oracle kit is designed and sold as a basic rifle and features a standard grip, non-heat shielded forend, and flat-top receiver ready for your choice of optice.  The Oracle can be an iron sighted gun however with the low-profile front gas block a special tall expensive front picatinny sight is required.  The rifle is better suited for a simple no-nonsense optic such as an EOTECH 912 or Bushnell TRS-25 which will both offer plenty of durability.  For my testing I used an EOTECH 912 which provided fast target acquisition from target to target.

The DPMs Oracle kit is a standard basic 1:9 5.56 Nato 16” barrel light weight M-4/AR-15 format rifle with forward assist (noting many rifles in this price range omit the forward assist). The kit includes a standard properly staked bolt/carrier group assembled from the factory, upper receiver, barrel, flash hider assembled charging handle, trigger and lower receiver parts kit, grip, non-heat shielded forend, Pardue 6-position stock and all the other bits and pieces to complete the assembly. Definitely the most notable features are the optic ready Flat-Top receiver and the light weight “pencil” barrel.  Premium upgrades like sights, a chrome bolt and carrier, T-Markings on the receiver are absent, but what do you expect for a $500 kit. With the exception of the optics, Hogue grip and Phase 5 Tactical Ambi-Bolt Release & Revo Sling swivel, everything else pictured was included with the DPMS Oracle rifle kit.

The first magazine fired completely however the bolt did not hold open. After the first magazine, everything broke, the bolt held back and functioning was flawless.  Although certainly not a brutal test, I ran a little over 500 rounds through the gun the first day out, and then another 200 round of standard Wolf ammo on another trip to the range without any hickups, failure to feeds or failure to extracts. Great functioning little gun.
DPMS has had a long standing reputation for delivering very accurate value based guns and the DPMS Oracle kit is no exception.  I have heard extraordinary claims of 100 yard ½” groups with the $500 Oracle kit. Every rifle shoots differently and the Oracle was still a good shooting rifle, but far from those claims.  I tried a wide variety of loads using a 1-4X Trijicon scope and was able to manage the below 5 shot 100 yard groups. The disadvantage to the lighter weight barrel is that it does heat up quick and accuracy does start to suffer as the heat goes up.  To combat this I counted to ten between each shot and waited for the gun to cool before moving to the next test.

  • HORNADY 75GR MATCH - 1.58"
  • HORNADY 60GR TAP PFD - 1.28"
  • HORNADY 55GR TAP PFD - 1.12"
  • Winchester USA FMJ 62GR FMJ - 1.21"
  • Winchester USA FMJ 55GR - 1.38"
  • WOLF FMJ 62GR = 1.85”
  • WINCHESTER PDX1 60GR = 1.17”
  • FEDERAL MATCH 69GR = 1.07”
DPMS often offers this great little Oracle kit on special as was the situation when I purchased this kit.Sign up for the DPMS newsletter and get notified of specials and you might be able to save a few bucks off the normal price as well as be notified of any DPMS specials and offers.  DPMS will also notify you of some fun events such as a HUGE zombie shooting event up in Minnesota each year. I hear is a total blast. Basically run a speed shooting course and hit as many Zombie targets as possible.  It all looks like great fun.  

Take a peak at my AR assembly video to understand the process of assembly, tricks, and tips to making your AR15 DPMS Oracle kit build easy and simple. I do recommend purchasing the DPMS AR15 combo wrench as it will alleviate much frustration during the barrel assembly process.

The DPMS Oracle hit is a really nice light weight gun.  Both myself and Mrs. Pandemic like the rifle because it is light and easily maneuverable and has been pulled into home defense duty a couple times when we have been awoken by bumps in the night.  The DPMS Oracle kit was a blast to put together, has been really fun to shoot, and has proven to be an accurate fun and dependable carbine... even if I was the one who put it together.  

Lite contour 16" barrel with single rail gas block
1-9 Twist
Chambered in 5.56x45mm
A3 Upper Receiver
DPMS GlacierGuard Handguards
Kits do not include Cleaning Kit, Magazines or sling.
Kit is Unassembled Parts.
Retail $489.99 (Street around $399.99)

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