In the last several months, I’ve been testing the DPMS Lo-Pro Classic .223 Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) at the Kayaderosseras Fish and Game Club and several other area ranges, and I noticed I wasn’t the only one there with this type of gun.
During these shoots, I took the opportunity to talk with others about choosing this type of gun. Many were first-time owners, and amazingly, it was the “first” gun for some of them. Interestingly, they all refer to these guns as ARs, which technically they are, but I’m quick to explain that this does not stand for “assault” or “automatic” rifle, but rather refers only to the original maker of the Armalite AR-10 and AR-15 rifles. The design rights were sold to Colt firearms in 1959.
The new and more accurate name coined by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is MSR, and these rifles are not automatic rifles, they are semi-automatic, which means the trigger must be pulled before every round can fire. Unfortunately, those opposed to guns continually and incorrectly refer to them as “assault” or “automatic” rifles.
One of the questions I asked these “new” shooters is, “Why an MSR” instead of a regular rifle? Three out of 10 answered, “Why not?” They all agreed the guns are fun to shoot, and I agree. I also found a majority of these new gun owners were in the mid-20-30 age range. I have a theory on why this new interest has proliferated.
It’s not scientific, just my opinion based on several instances I’ve witnessed. One is that the MSR is appearing a lot on TV and in the movies.
Another good example happened in my own home when a visiting 9-year-old looked into my gun cabinet and asked me: “Is that an AR-15 in 5.56 mm?” He then proceeded to ask other knowledgeable questions about some of my other guns, and followed with, “They’re all unloaded, aren’t they?” Where did he get all this information and gun knowledge? The answer — video games. Obviously, his dad had worked with him because he knew all the rules of safe gun handling.
What I found out from many of the older group of shooters that had just purchased an MSR is that they were very surprised with the accuracy. I was also surprised when I first fired a .308 Remington R-25 MSR, and shot a three-shot group measuring less than a half-inch at 50 yards, and again at 100 yards.
One MSR feature I really like is the trigger handgrip. It’s similar to that of a .45-caliber handgun. It allows the shooter to apply back pressure to pull the gun into the shoulder for a steadier hold, which really can’t be done with the foregrip of a regular rifle. This grip also puts the trigger finger on the same horizontal plane as the trigger, giving the shooter a perfect straight-back pull. Other design features included in my Lo-Pro that add to its accuracy are the bull chromemoly barrel with a 1x9 twist and a weight of 7.75 pounds. How accurate? Using the Remington 55-grain, pointed soft-point ammunition, I found the results the same with this gun as with the .308, a grouping less than a half-inch at 100 yards, shooting from a bench rest.
In 2010, the NSSF conducted a survey on the purchase of MSR guns. Here are some of the more interesting things they discovered.
Seventy-five percent purchased .223/5.56 caliber guns, eight out of 10 bought them new, and 60 percent said they own more than one. In my range visits, I noticed those with two guns or more were all the same .223/5.56 caliber, the only difference was the brands. Interestingly, 71 percent of these guns were scoped, and the rest used red dots. However, the survey also indicated that those who selected a scope were from the “older” generation — that’s me. Red dots are fine, but as a hunter, I prefer a scope with magnifying powers that allow me to shoot a better group, especially out to 100 yards or more, whether it’s just at a target or an animal. I don’t like the phrase “close enough” when it comes to sighting in a firearm.
Overall, eight out of 10 said the No. 1 reason for buying an MSR was recreational shooting. Twenty-five percent shot more than 1,000 rounds annually. The No. 2 reason (seven out of 10) was home protection, No. 3 (six out of 10) was varmint shooting. My preference would be a short-barreled, 20-gauge pump, like my 20-inch barrel Browning BPS. There’s something about the noise of a pump shotgun being chambered that bad guys don’t like.
HUNTING WITH AN MSR
Unfortunately, the survey didn’t say how many big-game hunters are using an MSR. I really enjoyed hunting with the .308 and was quite pleased with the Remington R-25 with the Konus Scope and the wallop I put on a bear with the Hornady Superperformance 150-grain bullet. And on that hunt, the gun, scope and I all spent six nine-hour days sitting in the pouring rain.
If you haven’t shot one of these guns, at least go into a gun shop and shoulder one. You might be surprised at how well it fits, and there’s still plenty of time to tell Santa.