Anderson Manufacturing has been upping its game lately. Once known as one of, if not the cheapest AR maker on the scene, they have branched out to new product lines and noticeably improved their quality control. I recently reviewed their A4 Short Rifle, essentially an M-16A4 clone but with an 18” barrel. Well, that kind of design aesthetic has continued and they now make a “true” Dissipator. Is there such a thing as a “true” dissipator, and why would you want one? Let’s find out.
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Disclosures are essential in every review, and they should be done at the outset so they are kept in mind as the audience reads. This is my second review of an Anderson product. The A4 Short Rifle was surprisingly good and is much better than the Anderson products I have owned in years past. I do have a personal friend at Anderson who coordinated this review. I have publicly and viciously meme’d companies whose products I like and use, and written unfavorable reviews of products despite an existing relationship with the company, so take that for what it is worth.
The Dissipator is a bit of an anachronism today. It (sort of) derives from the first attempt at an M-16 carbine, the Colt 605. It was essentially an M-16 with the barrel chopped back to the front sight tower. But that was not where the term Dissipator originated. As Hop covered in his video review of this gun, Bushmaster seems to be the first to have called a gun a Dissipator. That rifle did not have the rifle-length gas system of the 605, though. It used a carbine gas system hidden under rifle handguards.
Anderson calls this rifle a dissipator as well, but it is different. It has a rifle-length gas system and front sight on a 16-inch barrel. That returns to the Colt 605 layout, but is it truly a Dissipator? Maybe. Maybe not. But Anderson calls it a Dissipator and that is good enough for me.
Anderson’s return to a Dissipator was a surprise. Luke and Hop got their hands on the new Dissipator before me and they had a lot of good things to say. I was quite excited for this one to arrive to see what I thought of it.
I have spent a ton of time with the FN Collector Series M-16A4, and 20-inch AR-15s in general. This Dissipator is both familiar and yet different. You can dig into the specs like barrel material and what kind of steel the BCG is made from on the spec sheet. The feature that matters most to me is how this one feels.
By my scale, the Dissipator weighs in at 6 pounds 13 ounces. That’s a little more than half a pound lighter than a full A2 or A4 rifle. The stock, handguard, and sight radius all feel very familiar. But the shorter barrel provides that carbine front-end feel. However, the fixed stock and long handguards feel more rigid and put together than a budget AR with the 7-inch handguards and a rattling M4 stock.
On The Range
I always like to try out a wide range of magazines to make sure there are no surprises. Over the course of this review, I used:
- DuraMag Aluminum (20 and 30)
- DuraMag Steel (20 and 30)
- Okay Industries Surefeed E2
- E-Lander Steel
- Colt 20
- Lancer L5 AWM
- Magpul PMAG M3
- FAB Defense Ultimag
- Israeli Orlite
- Hera H3
All of the magazines worked fine and dropped free. They also locked back at the appropriate times.
The recoil is very soft. I have not disassembled the barrel assembly to measure the gas port (FSB taper pins can be a real pain) but it must be decently large because it cycles reliably. The rifle-length gas system also results in lower port pressures than a carbine or mid-gas setup. It is smooth, and it is soft. And, topping it off, the rifle buffer and recoil spring simply work better than a carbine unit.
I fired several groups to get an idea of the accuracy potential. 55-grain ammo like PMC Bronze shoots a little over 4 MOA. Match-grade ammo like Hornady Frontier 75-grain BTHP and my hand-loaded 77-grain Sierra MatchKings shoot around 3 MOA. A free-float handguard and nicer trigger might improve those results though. While it does run awesome, it is not a match rifle. If you want to shoot CMP matches or shoot prairie dogs, this is not the right tool for the job.
Suppressor Host Performance
I also wanted to see how the Dissipator ran with a suppressor. This unique gas system/barrel length combo is not one that we see too often. I am happy to report that it feels like it was made for silencer use. I used both the SilencerCo Velos and Omega 300. With the Velos I used an ASR mount, and on the Omega 300, I mounted it with a Griffin Armament A2 adapter. The short dwell time and the long gas system seemed to reduce the amount of gas to the face compared to other 16-inch AR-15s.
What Is It For?
The best use case for the Dissipator is as a general duty rifle. It’s not a match rifle. It’s not an ultralight or ultra-short design. But it is an all-arounder. This could be a great ranch gun, a usable suppressor host with retro vibes, or a very solid starter AR.
I tried several different optics configurations, and they all worked for different things. Iron sights with a red dot was my favorite. The fixed FSB is pleading for a fixed rear sight. I was sorely tempted to cut down an A4 carry handle into a rear sight, but I have not taken that plunge yet.
I also tried a few magnified scopes, mostly during the accuracy testing portion. An LPVO works well for a generalist gun like this. I also ran the Leupold Mk5HD 2-10×30 (mostly for the lulz) but that was not a great fit on a 3 MOA gun.
The Anderson Dissipator is a blast to shoot. I unabashedly love it. I have more expensive ARs, and I have more accurate ARs, but the Dissipator is unique. The 16-inch barrel with rifle gas is a great suppressor host, and it works with the rifle buffer to provide an incredibly smooth gun. Anderson Manufacturing is continuing its recent winning streak with this gun. It feels far more expensive than it is. If you have always wanted a dissipator, or are looking for a first AR, or perhaps you just want something different and fun that won’t break the bank, go check out the Anderson Dissipator.
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