So I ended up with a Designated Marksman Rifle, even though I am not a designated marksman, nor am I likely to be one unless we get very far into World War III. The MSRP for the SIG 716 DMR is $2,970. This is a lot of money, and puts it in the top rank of ARs, or PARs, or whatever you want to call them.
And so, let us see what’s good and bad about it, starting with the bad.
It’s heavy—over 12 pounds with a full magazine and a suitable scope and Picatinny rings.
That’s the end of the bad list. The weight, however, makes it easy to hold steady and recover quickly between shots. Recoil is almost nil because of the weight, the gas piston, and the buffer.
Now for the good stuff.
It’s one of the most reliable rifles I’ve ever shot, regardless of action type. I think the only AR that did as well was a Steyr AUG. I’ve had something like 300 rounds of ammo through it—all sorts, all prices, military and civilian—and it has belched politely and digested everything with nary a hitch.
Lots of goodies. SIG has been very generous with the add-ons. It comes with two MAGPUL 20-round magazines, which is nice, but I would want a minimum of five or six. They don’t cost a lot. The grip is a MAGPUL Miad with three interchangeable backstrips, and a storage compartment that holds an oil bottle, which you should fill with BreakFree CLP, not oil. The oil bottle is extremely cool. There is a very good, very complete field cleaning kit, in its own nylon carrier.
The buttstock is a MAGPUL PRS, which is adjustable for pull length and height, and has an extra, thicker, recoil pad included. There are QD sling swivel sockets all over the rifle, and the sling that you get to plug into them is nylon, 1.25 inches wide, and obviously a good one, although I’m not a fan of nylon slings because while they’re indestructible, they’re also slippery.
The handguard has a main rail and several others on the sides and bottom. It’s a big bastard, and in order to compensate for its godless bulk, I got a MAGPUL vertical grip, but be advised, as they say: Unless you have huge hands, you won’t be able to use the trendy and high-speed thumb-break technique with it. That handguard is still too big.
The iron sights consist of a front post with wings that adjusts for elevation, and a windage-adjustable rear peep that pivots between a ghost ring and a more or less standard aperture. They attach and detach in seconds, fold down when not in use, and are tough enough to take a slide down an Afghan mountainside (See Lone Survivor) without damage.
Accuracy. I’ve never fired an AR, including the expensive ones, that lived up to its accuracy guarantee. My rifle came through with a target printout that looked like it came from a Doppler radar setup. It was five shots at 100 meters, not yards, into .57 inch, Lapua 185-grain bullets. SIG, I understand, fires its test groups from a fixture that eliminates human error.
I can’t get anything this exalted. My best, most consistent five-shot groups run 1.25 inches at 100 yards. I get this with Lake City XM118 sniper rounds, loaded with Sierra MatchKing 175-grain bullets. One of the reasons I chose this ammo is because you can buy it in 100- and 500-round lots at reasonable prices from ammunitiondepot.com (who are very nice and very efficient) so I don’t have to handload. Enough is enough. I’ve spent the whole spring and summer pumping a loading press.
The other thing I can tell you is that, at 100 yards, you can shoot almost any bullet weight or type and it will get you into a 3-inch circle around what we used to call our Battle Sight Zero. I’d as soon have that capability as .57-inch groups.
The 18-inch barrel costs you very little velocity. The government spec for the XM118 ammo is 2,570 fps, and that’s exactly what I’ve chronographed out of a 24-inch barrel. Fired from the SIG, I get 2,490 fps. I don’t intend to lose any sleep over this. Because of the bullet’s high weight and BC, it doesn’t drop much in any event.
What use is such a rifle? It’s way too heavy to hunt with, so about all I’ll ever do with it is shoot recreationally. And, of course, I get a huge kick out of machines that work flawlessly no matter what they are.
And there is this: I take a certain simple joy in knowing how many people would prefer that I not be able to own an AR and that I can own it nonetheless.
As my former battalion commander, LTC Charles Brauer, Inf/USAR, used to say, “They can kiss my royal American ass.”