CMMG Dissent 5.56 Pistol

Introduction

I recently wrote a review of the CMMG Banshee, and I was very impressed with nearly everything about it. So I decided I wanted to try another gun from CMMG, and reached out to see if I could get my hands on one of their Dissent pistols. After some waiting, I was happy to see the little CMMG box show up at my desk.

The CMMG Dissent

The Dissent is not your typical AR-15 type pistol, it utilizes CMMG’s buffer-less compact action. This means that it doesn’t need the bulky buffer tube that comes standard with most AR-15 patterned rifles. The compact action instead utilizes a dual spring pack that runs right above the bolt carrier itself, it carries in between the spring set a rubberized stop if the carrier should reach a full stroke to the rear. The two uneven spring guide-rods are keyed into a steel boss at the back of the upper receiver, but remain independent of the receiver itself. The front of the two springs are captured in a T-shaped housing that appears to be part of the bolt carrier itself.
From there the Dissent is almost the same as a standard AR, using what appears to be a standard bolt, cam pin and firing pin parts. I say almost because there are a few other differences.

Because the spring assembly sits where the charging handle would normally be, they had to move the charging system to the front of the action instead. There is a steel charging block that rides in a groove inside the handguard at twelve o’clock, the charging handle itself slides in from the side of the handguard and rides in its own grove from there. A claw is attached to the front of the charging handle to keep it from reciprocating, and as far as I can tell it is reversible to either side of the handguard but requiring you to purchase a right-sided charging handle. The charging block only pushes on the bolt carrier when pulled to the rear, but remains captured during the cycling of the bolt carrier.
The Dissent is available in 5.56, 300blk, and 5.7.

Initial impressions

As I pulled the gun from its packaging I have to say I was impressed. The Dissent came to me in a handsome charcoal green Cerakote sporting CMMG’s muzzle device and a pair of Pmags. The buffer tube hole at the back of the lower receiver had been covered by a vertical pic rail, to allow for a brace or stock installation should you choose to be infringed upon by the NFA.
The Dissent comes standard with a Trigger Tech AR-D two stage trigger which was crisp as the air on a December morning. I found myself triggering the gun over and over in anticipation of shooting it. Fairly standard controls, with a 45 degree safety and ambidextrous mag release buttons. I found the left side mag button to be a little close to the bolt release for my taste, it seemed like it might be too easy to drop the mag when your trying to drop the bolt. But we’ll see about that at the range.

SPECIFICATIONS

Caliber 5.56
Capacity 30 round P-Mag
Weight 4.8 lbs
Length 14.7 inches
Barrel Twist 1:7
Barrel Length 6.5 inches
Operating System Compact Action Direct impingement
Muzzle Threads ½ x 28
Trigger Trigger Tech AR-D

PROS & CONS

PROS
  • No buffer tube required
  • Picatinny rail for easy stock or arm brace installation
  • High quality upper and lower with flawless union
  • Fantastic Trigger Tech trigger from the factory
  • Very reliable functioning operating system
CONS
  • Must purchase separate charging handle to run on right side of firearm
  • Awkward shooting without a buttstock or arm brace

FIRST RANGE OUTING WITH THE DISSENT

I was excited to get the Dissent out into the open where I could shoot it. It was a beautiful winter afternoon, with temps in the teens. Not exactly a perfect day, but close to it. I did nothing to the gun as far as lubrication or anything like that. We just started loading P-mags and went to it.

My very first impression was, how am I supposed to shoot this thing? AR pistols are small enough that you can shoot them like a pistol, but it feels awkward and silly to me. So we tried several different ways of holding the gun and ended up with one hand on the pistol grip and the other on the magwell or handguard area.

I had mounted my US Optics TSR 1X red dot for a sight, and lucky for me, it was near perfectly zeroed at about fifty yards. We went through several magazines of American Eagle 55 grain ball ammunition, and the DIssent kept plugging away.

Most things inside 50 yards seemed fairly easy to hit, I’m sure it would be useful at further distances, but something was going to need to change first. It was difficult for a guy who mainly shoots precision rifles to properly steady the rifle without having a rear point to anchor to the shoulder.

This is certainly not the fault of the Dissent, just something I’m not used to. Before testing any accuracy with the gun, I wanted to get a proper brace or buttstock to shoot it right.

Even so, we had a great time shooting the little charcoal green pistol. At no time during testing did the firearm show any malfunctions or issues, and it was fun to shoot.

I decided to throw a suppressor on the gun as well, to see how it did as a host. I had my Yankee Hill Machine Turbo 556 suppressor handy and spun it on after removing the CMMG muzzle device.

The Dissent doesn’t have an adjustable gas block, but it didn’t seem to matter. It kept banging along, suppressed, which was obviously more pleasant for the user. Slightly more noticeable gas was felt for the shooter, but not something I would be too concerned about.

RELIABILITY

The Dissent showed no malfunctions during my testing. It was using P-mags, metal GI mags, and an assortment of ammunition. Besides the American Eagle 55 grain ammo, we also shot some Frontier 55 grain hollow point ammunition and a handful of others that had collected in the bottom of my range bucket.

The seven-twist barrel of the dissent also had no trouble shooting some 75-grain loads that worked without problems.

ACCURACY

The short stiff barrel of the Dissent worked great for keeping shots consistent. Once a brace was added, I found it was easy to keep groups under 2 MOA at one hundred yards.

As the Dissent is more configured as a personal defense weapon (PDW) or something of a short sporting arm, I found this level of accuracy to be perfectly acceptable.

OVERALL FEEL

The Dissent definitely feels like a quality-made firearm, as with other CMMG firearms I have shot before this one. The fit and finish are top-notch, as are the CMMG furniture and accessories that come with it.

Everything from the Cerakote finish to the engraving looks very well done and justifies the rifle’s price point.

THE BUFFERLESS OPERATING SYSTEM

The best feature of the Dissent is its bufferless operating system. It utilizes two springs and guide-rods that are housed above the bolt carrier in the upper receiver. They are captured at the rear with an aluminum block and pass through a T-shaped boss on top of the bolt carrier.

This design allows the Dissent to be more compact than its buffered competitors.

FORWARD CHARGING HANDLE

The charging handle for the Dissent is mounted in the handguard in front of the upper receiver. There is a steel charging block that slides in its own keyed slot of the handguard, and the charging handle slides in from the side. The whole assembly can be drawn to the rear by the left hand to operate the action.

The charging block isn’t attached to the bolt carrier itself. It simply pushes back on the front of the carrier. This makes the charging handle non-reciprocating, for which the engineers at CMMG added a claw capture to the front of the charging handle to keep it in place.

The forward charging handle makes a lot of sense for a gun like this; having the traditional top-rear of the upper receiver charging handle would be very awkward.

The only downside I can see is that the charging handle isn’t reversible, it can be switched to the right side of the gun, but that requires purchasing an additional right-side charging handle.

STOCK/BRACE PIC RAIL MOUNT

Since the Dissent has no buffer tube, CMMG has installed a vertical pic rail in place of the buffer tube to add either a sling mount, arm brace, or a stock.

I tried mounting an arm brace from a Sig MCX Rattler that I had, but it wouldn’t slide over the Picatinny rail section. The only option I found worked was one clamped over the pic rail.

TRIGGER

The Trigger Tech AR-D trigger was a fantastic addition to the Dissent. It had a very clean pull and crisp break. The reset felt slightly different than I expected, but I wasn’t sure if that was by design or simply my lack of familiarity with it. Regardless, it is a fantastic component of the gun.

BACK TO THE RANGE

After installing an arm brace, I wanted to further test the Dissent and see how much better I could do. Additional accuracy testing proved the rifle to be very capable of 1-2 MOA depending on ammunition type. And I felt much more comfortable with the gun, shooting it as a rifle vs. a pistol.

The very short Dissent is extremely agile when moving through a course of fire. The short length makes the rifle quick to get on target and easy to maneuver. In my opinion, the addition of a suppressor is almost a requirement, as the gun is so short that one can easily get the support hand into the extremely dangerous muzzle area. Adding a suppressor greatly reduces the likelihood of your fingers’ proximity to gas and bullets being expelled from the muzzle.

I found myself really appreciating the enlarged magazine release buttons on the Dissent. They did make it easy to perform reloads quickly. The bolt release did end up being a touch obscured for my taste. After reloading, it took a little bit more attention than normal to ensure the bolt release was depressed acutely.

I was again impressed with the trigger, as I always have been with Trigger Tech products. It made a significant improvement, in my opinion, in my ability to accurately shoot the Dissent.

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AMMO USED

The Majority of ammunition used for this review was American Eagle 55 grain ball ammo. There was a significant amount of the Frontier 55 HP and PMC X Tac ammunition. But from what I witnessed with the Dissent, I would feel confident shooting most any ammunition.

 

CONCLUSION

I’ve said it already, the CMMG Dissent is a great option if you are looking to SBR or quasi-SBR an AR-15 type rifle. If you enjoy shooting AR pistols then I figure you can certainly do that with this one too. The gun works perfectly either way, and it is compatible with all the best options for either direction.

For me it is an excellent option with flawless function and a well executed design. CMMG has obviously put a lot of thought into their design, and added quality accessories to go along with it. Little things like their 60/90 degree safety that allow you to adjust the throw to your liking bring great value to the Dissent and other CMMG products as well.

If you are in the market for an AR pistol, do NOT overlook the Dissent, or at minimum look at it and the other pistol offerings from CMMG as they are hard to pass up.

-CBM

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