Diplopoint DM4 by Cuan Robinson: South Africa’s own AR-15… 20 000 shots fired and still going strong

The AR-15 rifle platform requires little introduction. Designed and built by ArmaLite (AR) in 1956, the patent was sold to Colt in 1959.

In 1963, the US Military, looking to replace their standard issue US Garand M1 with a more modern design, selected Colt’s lighter, more compact, selective-fire carbine designated the M16, the emphasis being on higher firepower, reliability, ergonomics and ease of use. Shortly thereafter, the M16 became the US Military’s standard issue rifle, firing the 5.56 NATO Ball Round, typically from an all-steel 20-round magazine. It served in the Vietnam War and almost every conflict since.

As the Springfield M1903, Enfield M1917 bolt-action rifles and later the M1 Garand semi-auto paved the way and solidified the popularity of the .30-06 Springfield cartridge as a sporting round, the success of the M16 lead to the AR-15’s popularity in the civilian market.

Eugene Stoner’s patent on the AR-15 gas operating system expired in 1977, and manufacturers the world over began capitalizing on the AR platform, either in its entirety or by manufacturing parts and accessories (OEM), catapulting the AR pattern to iconic status.

In South Africa it was no different: Diplopoint Manufacturing introduced the locally assembled DM4. The brainchild of Gareth de Nysschen, Managing Director of Dave Sheer Guns and Diplopoint, the first DM series was launched in September 2015.

Assembled in Gauteng, the lowers are imported from two manufacturers in the US and one in Taiwan. The uppers are imported from Taiwan. Both uppers and lowers are machined from 75-70 billets. The CNC machining I witnessed on several new uppers was first class.

Musgrave in Ermelo supplies the barrels, made to Diplopoint’s specifications. Barrels are machined from EN19T bar steel and button-rifled. The 5.56mm barrels have a sensible 1 in 9 inch twist rate, which should stabilize bullets from 55 grains to the longer 70 grainers for shooters wanting further downrange stability. Incidentally, this is the same versatile twist rate I selected for my own .223 Rem sporting rifle. Chambers are verified with go and no-go gauges and all rifles are test-fired for functioning before given the green light.

Uppers, lowers and barrels are anodised black and there are factory cerakote options available, more about that later.

Magnum received two such rifles for evaluation, one a 14.5-inch carbine variant with an A-Post front sight and 6 position telescopic stock, the other with a floated 16-inch barrel, round Key Mod fore-end and fixed skeletonised stock.

DM4 rifles use Stoner’s original gas operation direct impingement system (there’s a long-stroke piston-driven model available too) and the test models are chambered to accept both the .223 Rem and 5.56mm NATO rounds.

Magnum usually receives new products for testing; however, these test rifles are from the original batch launched in 2015, each rifle having fired in excess of 20 000 rounds with the same barrel!

Read the full article in the October 2018 issue of Magnum.

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