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DPMS Panther AR15 modification

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Poetheraven1, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. Poetheraven1

    Poetheraven1 Member

    Hi all. I recently aquired a DPMS AR-15 panther 5.56/.223 rifle. I'd like to know if the parts on it can be replaced to make it look like a USGI M16a1. Right now, the hardguard is different, and the front sight is different. Is it possible to replace the parts on the DPMS to make it look like an M-16a1 configurated weapon? Of course, without any Machine gun parts, i.e. selector and accessories. I was looking it over, and I'm not sure I can get the proper handguards and if I can, would they fit. Also, the front sight on the DMPS is totally different, and is mounted to a railing instead of directly on the barrel. As you may have noticed, I'm really new at the gun modification business. Although I carried an M-16a1 in Vietnam, other than using it and cleaning it, I'm pretty unfamiliar with replacing stuff, but my goal is to obtain weapons that I carried in the Military, or make modifications to civilian equivalents to make them resemble them. I also have an M1A that I have made some changes to, by adding the standard M14 flash suppressor and bayonette lug. I may at some time, purchase an M14 stock, but am still a little undecided as the M1A and M14 stock look the same except for the cutout for the selector. I also own an M-1 Garand, which doesn't require any changes. Its the same as the one I took basic training with. I still need to come up with an M1 carbine, and a USGI (preferrably Colt) M1911A1 .45 which I also carried at times in the military. Anyway, right now, I am working on my DPMS AR-15. Any help? Regards, Bill
  2. Davek1977

    Davek1977 Well-Known Member

    I cant think f a single law you'd violate doing such a thing.
  3. MrCleanOK

    MrCleanOK Well-Known Member

    If you aren't in a hurry to do it, now might be a good time to sell what you have (prices are currently inflated, but are starting to come back down), and carefully select parts to build what you want in the future, when prices and availability are more reasonable. If you want to build a historically correct M16A1, it's going to be easier to start from scratch.

    There is a lot of good information to be found in this forum:
  4. henschman

    henschman Well-Known Member

    I think the easiest way to get what you want would be to just sell the DPMS and use the money to buy an old Colt SP-1, which is pretty much just a semi auto M-16A1. All ARs are highly inflated in price right now, and buyers aren't too discriminating on what make or model. The flat tops with all the rails are in more demand than the old fixed carry handle models, and 16" barrels are more in demand than the old 20" ones, like an A1 has. This means you could probably make enough off your DPMS that you wouldn't have to pay too much more to get an old Colt.

    You could build your current rifle into an A1 configuration, but if you wanted it to be as close as possible, you would have to change out, at a minimum, the upper receiver, the barrel, the stock, the handguards, and the front sight base. If your DPMS is a 16", you would also need to change out the gas tube, and if its got a collapsible stock instead of fixed, you will need to change out the buffer and buffer tube too, in order to install a fixed A1 stock.

    To complicate things, AR parts are extremely hard to find right now, so it would be a real chore to track down all the stuff you would need. By contrast, I have been seeing plenty of SP-1s at gun shows. In fact, here is one on Gunbroker right now for $1595 buy it now: http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=332279405. You could probably get pretty close to that for your DPMS if you wanted to.
  5. ErikO

    ErikO Well-Known Member

    A2 uppers (stripped) are out there, most folks swapped to the 'A3' for additional optics choices.
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

  7. Poetheraven1

    Poetheraven1 Member

    OK, what are the shell deflector and forward assist? what do they look like? looking at my rifle, other than the front hand grips and front sight, I see little difference.

    P.S. I might not know much about the lingo, or even the higher echelon maintenance, but if I don't do it myself, then I'll never learn. I want to make whatever modifications I can myself, rather than buy one someone else has worked on. I wasn't an armorer in the military, but do know how to field strip military weapons I carried, but the DPMS is a little different, thus my desire to replace what I can to make it look like what I carried.

    Attached Files:

  8. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Well-Known Member

    To have a true semi-auto M16A1 replica, you're going to have to replace the entire upper and the pistol grip. If you just want it to look like an M16A1 at a glance, you could get away with running your detachable carry handle on it & swapping out the barrel, handguards, front sight and flash hider.

    You could also get real creative and have a truncated-looking A1 copy by installing a low profile gas block on your barrel, then figuring out how to attach an A1 front sight base further down your barrel with the use of shims & set screws. Other than that, it'd be some shortening of the A1 handguards, which has been done:


    The Colt SP-1 is the true semi-auto M16A1, and has the 20" pencil barrel, 3-prong flash hider, fixed elevation rear sight, no forward assist or deflector, and the ubiquitous scalloped triangle handguards.

    Look at the right side of your receiver and the right side of the one in the picture below. You'll be able to see what the forward assist and case deflector protruding on yours are, as they're absent on the M16A1/SP-1:


    All you'll need to do the necessary parts swapping is an armorer's wrench, a vise, a small hammer, a punch set and a (usually) 3/4"(19mm) wrench to remove the flash hider. Vise blocks are nice, but I've built and rebuilt many AR uppers using pine blocks to secure the receiver.

    That said, nostalgia is about the only thing the SP-1 has going for it, IMO. I much prefer modernized ARs with free floated handguards, collapsible stocks, etc. If I had your rifle, I'd put a rifle length free float quad rail on it, and ditch the A2 stock in favor of a 6-position tube with a Magpul CTR or ACS-L stock.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  9. MrCleanOK

    MrCleanOK Well-Known Member

    To the untrained eye, the rifle you have may look very similar to an M16A1, but they are actually very different. My recommendation is still to sell what you have and buy what you want (a Colt SP-1). The only parts of your current rifle useful for an M16A1 reproduction are the lower receiver and lower parts kit. The buttstock, pistol grip, and entire upper receiver group are wrong.

    This isn't an issue of just swapping out a few parts. To make your current rifle into an M16A1 replica, the only original parts you would be left with is the lower receiver and lower parts kit.
  10. Mobuck

    Mobuck member

    You would have to swap most everything except the lower receiver and internal parts. Even the buttstock is different. I'd sure like to swap you an A1 upper for your DPMS but even then, you'd still need a triangle handguard and I don't have an A1 butt on hand.
  11. Poetheraven1

    Poetheraven1 Member

    I just measured my barrel and it came out to 17 3/4". That was from the face of the bolt with the firing pin retracted to the end of the flash supressor. Not sure if I measured it correctly, but that's what I come up with. I am assuming that the upper receiver is the part that has the barrel, bolt, sights, etc. removed the upper portion of the rifle by pressing in on two pins, and the entire top section came off. Is what you are telling me is that I can only use the part that holds the magazine, trigger housing, and pistol grip? Now I replaced the telescoping stock with a fixed stock (as indicated in the pictures I've provided). Can't I use the fixed stock I have, or is this not in keeping with the M16 theme I'm lookiing for? Also, what portion of the rifle do I need to go to an FFL dealer to obtain, the part with the barrel or the part with the trigger and magazine....Why can't I just get a triangular handguard to replace the one currently on the AR. Won't it fit? looking at the rifle, the most difficult part looks to be just getting and replacing the front sight. If I'm oversimplifying, and the parts won't fit, then I need to save up for the parts I need. I was looking around, and an A1 upper seems to be just about the most expensive part of the rifle. Looking into the trigger section, the hammer looks different than the one I remember from my M16 army days. Is that what makes it a legal semi-automatic? Does the A1 upper come with the rear sight and carrying handle? I had to buy the one I have extra, as my AR came fully stripped with no front sight or carry handle. I am guessing that the carry handle and rear sight and carry handle will also not fit on an A1 upper, so if I get an A1 upper, would I have to buy the handle and sight separately, or do the come as one unit? I have a hard time looking for AR15 stuff, because there are sooooo many CO2, Airsoft, and other things that try to make you think they are an AR15, but really aren't. As far as I can tell, most of them are just glorified BB guns or pellet guns. Frustrating.....
  12. MrCleanOK

    MrCleanOK Well-Known Member

    You included the flash suppressor in your measurement. Since the flash suppressor (the thing on the end of the muzzle) isn't permanently attached, it doesn't count towards the barrel length. Your rifle has what is nominally referred to as a 16" barrel. The M16A1 has a 20" barrel with a different contour (it's skinnier).

    The whole assembly (barrel, bolt carrier group, sights, etc.) is called the upper receiver group. The receiver itself is just the aluminum forging that holds everything.

    That aluminum forging is called the lower reciever. And yes, if you want a truly authentic M16A1 replica, that lower reciever and the small parts inside of it are about all that is worth keeping if you insist on keeping some part of this rifle.

    The fixed stock that you installed is the A2 style buttstock. It's longer than the A1 style buttstock on the M16A1. Your DPMS also uses a different style pistol grip.

    The lower receiver is the part that needs to go through an FFL.

    Triangular M16A1 handguards won't fit. Your rifle has a carbine length gas system, versus the M16's rifle length gas system. The handguards for a carbine are much shorter than those for a rifle.

    To build an M16A1, you need a different upper receiver, and a different barrel assembly (the barrel, flash hider, front sight/gas block, and gas tube). You can't make it an M16A1 just by changing the sight or gas block.

    The trigger group in your M16A1 was different because of the automatic function. The trigger group in your DPMS is semi-auto only. Your M16 had a different style hammer, and an auto sear (which isn't in a semi-auto AR-15).

    An A1 upper reciever has an integrated carry handle and rear sight that is adjustable for windage only.

    I google searched "how to build an AR-15", and three out of the first four results would be very helpful to help you understand what goes into building or changing parts on an AR-15, and how the parts work together.

  13. MrCleanOK

    MrCleanOK Well-Known Member

    If you wanted to convert what you currently have into an M16A4 replica, these are the parts you would need, and at a very minimum the gas block would need to be installed by a qualified gunsmith that is experienced with AR-15s.

    Front Sight Base
    Taper pins
    Gas tube and roll pin
    Two-piece plastic handguards
    Issued railed handguard
    A2 flash hider
    Crush washer

    To convert what you have into an M16A1 replica, you'd need all of that plus:
    Lightweight barrel instead of standard contour.
    3-prong flash hider instead of A2 style.
    A1 upper receiver.
    A1 style pistol grip.
    A1 style buttstock.

    There are also specialized tools for assembling AR-15 upper receivers. Depending on what tools you already have, you could spend anywhere from $50 to much, much more to do the work yourself.
  14. Poetheraven1

    Poetheraven1 Member

    The information you have provided is really great. For a novice, like me, it is very informative and I can understand everything you were telling me. I'm not interested in making an M16A4. The weapon I carried in Vietnam 67-68 was the M16A1...I was fortunate enough not to have gotten one of the first production M16's, and I really liked my weapon for its firepower, and range. That's why I would like an AR as close to my M16A1 as I can get. Unfortunately, I've found a number of sites that were advertising complete M16A1 uppers, but everyone had already been sold. I guess they don't last long. I was also unable to find the type of 20" barrel you suggested available. I only have the AR15 combo tool that I used to replace the butt Stock. It would be fun to try to put one together, but, not being an armorer or gunsmith, I might not have the expertise or tools needed, that's why I was looking for an M16A1 complete upper Assembly. It would be awful to try and put something together myself, and wind up ruining it. We have a gun show in April (if Feinstein and her anti-gun group don't spoil it). Hopefully, I might be able to find what I want there. The california law against flash suppressors and bayonette lugs was allowed to expire a couple of years ago, so its legal to have them now. That's why I added the flash suppressor w/bayonette lug to my M1A.
    Anyway, thanks so much for the information guys. I now have the information if not the knowledge, to accomplish what I want to do.
  15. Outlaw Man

    Outlaw Man Well-Known Member

    I just recently finished converting my Bushmaster into one of those "at a glance" replicas. I'm sure I was out more money, but I liked the rifle and wanted to stick with it. I changed nearly every part, though. Seems like I spent around $500-600.
  16. MrCleanOK

    MrCleanOK Well-Known Member

    Best of luck to you, Poetheraven1. The gun market is insane right now, so finding specific parts is extremely difficult at the moment. I can only imagine that finding a niche item like an SP-1 upper receiver is even more difficult.
  17. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Well-Known Member

    A few years ago, complete A1 uppers were being liquidated for about $400. They were gone in weeks.

    If it's the functionality you're after, a more modern 20" A2, A3 or A4 upper will give you that, and more. The A1 is obsolete for a reason, so unless you're stuck on the aesthetics, the newer configurations are better.

    If you just really like the triangle handguards, those can be installed on any 20" upper that has A2 handguards or drop in rails very easily (might require a different front retainer; round retainers won't work with A1 handguards).

    There are carbine length triangle handguards that will work on your existing rifle, too. But your 16" rifle will never have the ballistics of a 20" gun. It'll run ~150-200 FPS slower with any given load.
  18. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    It's also a question, do you want to make it REALLY authentic with A-1 rifling and shoot 55-gr bullets?
  19. Poetheraven1

    Poetheraven1 Member

    Well, I've been searching on the web for M16A1 uppers, including kits, etc. I found a complete kit for an M16A2 upper assembly. What's the difference between the A1 and A2? I can see in the picture that the hand guard doesn't look like the triangular one I'm used, is that the only difference?
  20. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    When they switched to the A2, they started using a different, heavier barrel. It also has a tighter rate of twist in the rifling to shoot heavier bullets, this is why it went from a 300-yard rifle to a 5-600 yard rifle. If you get the modern, heavier barrel with the tighter rifling, it can still shot any kind of ammo. But the classic, Vietnam-era A-1 barrel is thinner in appearance.

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