There are 3-gun games and precision rifle games, but somewhere in the middle are a few outlaw matches that combine both. Sometimes called DMR, sometimes called Gas Gun or accurized AR matches, these gun games involve a somewhat accurate semi-auto rifle and targets from up close to 800 yards. Generally, the intent is to go fast and be accurate, rewarding the fastest shooter who gets the hits required. With the nature of going fast and shooting semi-auto rifles, it’s not the one-shot per score like traditional precision rifle games. Because these events are generally in a cross-over community of shooters, there aren’t a lot of them…yet.
Enter the Panteo DMR match held in early June 2020. This was an inaugural DMR match at the Panteo range facility, run by a guy who teaches people how to do this stuff for real, Christopher Roberts. The intent of the match was exactly as others of this type have done, go fast and be accurate while having fun. The Panteo range is outside Columbia, SC, about a 3-hour drive for me.
The divisions for this event were broken down by scope, leaving the rest open to experiment or configure your guns as you’d like. This was a smart way to encourage guys to come out, instead of making a big list of requirements to try to fit your guns into one category or another. I like keeping high-level rules that don’t nit-pick, and then let shooters figure out their own way to solve shooting problems.
Regular Guy: up to 4x magnification, 3200 fps max.
Designated Marksman: up to 8x variable OR up to 10x fixed magnification, 3200 fps max.
Sniper: Anything goes, 3200 fps max.
Guns & Gear
I chose to shoot the Designated Marksman division to give my Nightforce ATACR 1-8x a workout. The advertised max would be 600 yards for the match, which is perfect for this type of optic. My rifle of choice was a home-brewed .22 Grendel wildcat. The rifle was built as an ultra-gamer gas gun, optimized around sending 75-80gr projectiles really fast. I went with a mild load that sends Hornady 75gr ELD-M projectiles at 3,000 fps. For stages that needed it, I used an MDT Ckye-Pod bipod. On the forend is an ESC Dynamics Giddings Equalizer Skid Pad, offering some cushion and widening the forend for placement on barricades and such.
Normally this rifle has a SilencerCo Saker 556K on the front, but I ran just the ASR brake for the match. Without knowing what kind of positions, ports, etc we might have to be in and out of, the 22″ barrel was already pretty long.
My pistol of choice for the event was my newish Staccato P in 9mm. I’ve been a Glock guy for longer than I can remember, but this was a COVID purchase to play with. This match would be it’s first match (you can read a whole lot more about my 2011 journey starting here.)
The rest of my kit was pretty straightforward, running an HSGI Operator belt with a Safariland ALS holster, plus some Taco pouches for magazines. For a rear bag, I brought along my trusty Armageddon Gear Gamechanger with GitLite fill.
Before the match I made sure I had a solid zero and was able to confirm drop data to 800 yards. The beautiful thing about the .22 Grendel is the speed coupled with the high BC 75gr ELD make it a laser-beam inside 800 yards. On the day of the match, I got up a little too early, grabbed a lot of coffee and made the ride to the range.
Sign-up was straightforward, followed by a safety and match brief at 8:30am. Local rules forced us to wait until 9am to start, but everyone was on-line and waiting for that. I was on squad 5 with some of America’s heroes for the day.
Round Count: 10 Rifle, 16 Pistol
Rifle Target Distances: 25-30 yards
Par Time: 60 Seconds
Shooter starts with both guns having mags loaded on empty chambers, standing at the entrance to the bay. Upon start, run approx. 20-25 yards to the rifle shooting box. Engage 5x F-type paper targets for 2 hits each. Unload rifle and place on the table, then run to pistol box 1. At box 1, engage 4 steel plates for 2-hits each. Then move to box 2 and engage the dueling tree and plate rack.
I ran into the rifle position and slid a little while charging short stroking the gun, necessitating a full cycle of the rifle. I took an extra shot on two targets that felt low, but after looking at the targets at the end I didn’t need them…however my call of low shots proved the hits were indeed low on the target. The first set of pistol plates were 15-20 yards away and took a few extra shots, but I went 1-for-1 on the rest. My time was 41.00 seconds.
Round Count: 15 Rifle, 5 Pistol
Rifle Target Distances: 200-225 yards
Par Time: 90 seconds
Shooter starts with the rifle having a mag loaded, empty chamber and slung, and a fully loaded and holstered pistol. Upon signal, draw and engage 5x plates and then ditch an unloaded pistol into the dump bucket. Then with your rifle engage a series of plates at approximately 200 yards. There were four targets of different shapes and sizes, plus a large square “confirmation/reset” plate separate from the others. The shooter started with the confirmation plate, then moved to target 1 in the sequence, then confirmation plate, then target 2, etc. The total engagements ultimately ended as C-1-C-2-C-3-C-4-C-3-C-2-C-1-C with confirmation shots starting and ending the rifle sequence.
I maybe fired one extra shot on pistol steel, then dropped into the prone position to engage with the rifle. I didn’t miss a shot on rifle steel but had one round that needed to be cycled out mid-string. Aside from that this was a fun stage that made you think about how you wanted to position yourself to allow for frequent but precise target transitions. My time to complete was 36.18 seconds.
Round Count: 8 Rifle, 5 Pistol
Rifle Target Distances: 300, 400, 550, 600 yards
Par Time: 90 seconds
Shooter began at the fence behind the firing line (about 7-8 yards) with a mag in but empty chamber pistol. On the buzzer, run into position, draw and cycle slide before engaging two close targets until you get two hits each, then to a 100-yd IPSC plate for 1-hit with the pistol. Shooter then unloaded the pistol and placed into the dump bucket before switching to rifle. Next load/charge the rifle and engage the four rifle targets from the barrel laying on it’s side. Once engaged with 1-hit each, move to the taller/standing barrel and re-engage the same targets.
During this run I either had a bad mag or the gun needed an adjustment to the gas system, because it was short stroking the ammo. I had just come off of Stage 2 without issue. I worked through the issue, just charging each for each shot regardless and fought through it. For the follow on stages I opened up my adjustable gas block a couple clicks and used a different magazine without issue. My time was 66 seconds.
Round Count: 6 Rifle, 5 Pistol
Rifle Target Distances: 300, 400 yards
Par Time: 90 seconds
Shooter started about 8-10 yards behind the barricade. Upon the start signal, advance to the barricade and engage five steel plates at about 10-12 yards. Then shooter unloaded the pistol and placed it into the dump bucket.
From there, any three positions on the barricade could be used to engage the 300, then 400 yard targets. My first position was on the left side, since I placed my Gamechanger there to shoot the pistol, saving time fumbling with the bag. The other two positions were low kneeling/crouching positions off the right side. I may have fired one extra shot at the 400 yard target, but ended with a 41.32 second run.
Round Count: 8 Rifle, 5 Pistol
Rifle Target Distances: 500 and 600 yards
Par Time: 90 seconds
Engage 5 pistol plates from a draw, then unload and abandon the pistol into a dump bucket. Assume a prone position to engage the 500 yard and then 600 yard plates with 2x hits each. Once done, move to the elevated platform and repeat the engagement sequence.
This was out first stage of the day, and I started a little rough with the pistol which I’ll blame on the coffee, burning more than a couple rounds on one of the plates. Once I got to the rifle, I calmed down and made some good hits. My shooting time was 41.91 on this stage.
Other Notes & Final Thoughts
One thing is certain, I really enjoy shooting precision gas guns. At this match I thought the stages were well thought-out, and while they might appear simple they were a good blended test of skills in running a gas gun under speed. It’s pretty easy to hose targets inside 200 yards, but owning the mid-range showcases someone’s rifle skills in my opinion. Being able to make good shots and quickly (even with some make-up shots) out to 6-800 yards makes someone quite dangerous with a rifle. This event was a good test of that.
My .22 Grendel performed well for reaching targets. The extra speed made hold-overs minimal, with the most I had to hold being 3 Mils of elevation for the 600 yard shots. Additionally, the speed and BC made wind holds laughable. On one stage it looked like I might need to hold left (which a .223 certainly did), but I held left and missed left so center shots were it for the rest of the day.
The time plus scoring worked well, encouraging to go fast with unlimited rounds to hit the target. There were plenty of DNFs on the stages, so I wouldn’t see a reason to change that. The par times helped keep things moving along, being a hard stop if you hadn’t finished engaging all of the targets. For a 1-day match, being done by lunch time was nice. For once the Mrs. was surprised that I was home early from a day of shooting!
When scores were tallied up, I had shot a clean match (engaging and neutralizing every target) and in the shortest amount of time. Many thanks to Christopher Roberts, Brad Amick/Amick’s Guns, the Panteo crew and the RO’s for helping make this match happen. If you’d like to see more of these type matches, get the word out!