I recently wrote a review of the CMMG Banshee, and I was very impressed with nearly everything about it. 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 Dissent is not your typical AR pistol, it uses 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 uses a dual spring pack that runs right above the bolt carrier itself. It carries a rubberized stop between the spring set in case the carrier reaches 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 fronts 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 the 12 o’clock position. 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 would require 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.
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 TriggerTech AR-D two-stage trigger, which was as crisp as the air on a December morning. I found myself triggering the gun over and over in anticipation of shooting it.
It sports 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 you’re trying to drop the bolt. But we’ll see about that at the range.
I’m not a huge fan of AR pistols, I guess I’m more of an SBR kind of guy. But I do enjoy shouldering pistol braces in a mocking fashion so they can take less satisfaction in the trampling of my rights. That said, to properly enjoy this gun, and use it as intended, a brace or stock would be desirable.
Before heading out, I grabbed a couple of good optics to run on the gun, a US Optics TSR-1X red dot and a US Optics TS-8X variable for the longer work.
The first time I took the Dissent out for a range trip, it was on a freezing cold November morning. I’d brought along some American Eagle 55-grain ball ammo to run through the Dissent, as well as a few magazines and my YHM Turbo 5.56 suppressor to see how the Dissent faired as a suppressor host.
At first, I felt like a dog with roller skates on. You can obviously hold the pistol as you would any other, but it just feels so out of place and awkward. I ended up holding the gun by the pistol grip and the support hand under the magwell or handguard, it was awkward, to say the least. I knew I was going to need either an arm brace or just a real stock to install on this little gun. That wasn’t going to stop me from having a good time on the first trip though. Lucky for me, my TSR-1X was almost dead-centered upon installation, so there was no need for further zeroing.
The Dissent was very soft shooting, which should come as no surprise. The light recoil of the 5.56 cartridge is only further reduced by the 6.5-inch barrel of the gun. The CMMG muzzle device doesn’t appear to be designed to seriously reduce recoil, it seems more focused on reducing muzzle flash, which is a real issue with such a short barrel.
The pistol ran great in the below-freezing temps as I familiarized myself with its functions. It turned out the bolt catch being so close to the mag release wasn’t such a big deal. The trigger, on the other hand, turned out to be quite a big deal. As usual, TriggerTech knocked it out of the park with this model, and it made an excellent complement to the pistol.
Getting in Some Quiet Time
With little left to function test, I decided I’d save my ears the trouble and see how the Dissent handled hosting a suppressor. I removed the CMMG muzzle device and threaded on my YHM suppressor mount. With the zip of the ratchet complete, I reloaded the gun and went back to my awkward two-grip stance.
The Dissent continued plowing through magazines full of ammunition, seemingly oblivious to the added back pressure of the suppressor. Though I didn’t seem to notice at first, it was only after a deliberate effort to pay attention, but it was a bit smelly during strings of fire. That’s certainly not meant to be a strike against the Dissent, as I’ve shot few rifles that didn’t produce back pressure when suppressed.
Pros and Cons
This should be pretty easy, you may have already picked up on my disdain for shooting AR pistols without a buttstock. That said, it is a relatively easy fix. There is a great selection of arm braces and buttstocks you can add to this pistol to realize what it should be, and CMMG has a great selection of them right on their website.
I’m digging deep here but I think a suppressor is an absolute must with this thing. It is so short that without a suppressor it is far too easy to get your fingers dangerously close to the muzzle, particularly when performing a hasty reload.
I’m no engineer, but I wish they could have found a way to simply flip the charging handle over to run it on the opposite side of the handguard, it seems just a bit silly to have to purchase additional charging handles for sixty bucks just to swap sides.
Now for the good part, I love the way this little rifle hums along. It functioned flawlessly for the duration of my testing, and it just kept going regardless of magazines, ammo, or conditions. Suppressed or unsuppressed, it was as cool as a cucumber and plenty accurate for an AR pistol of this type.
The finish of the gun was excellent. It looks just like it shoots, immaculate. I wasn’t sure about the charcoal-green Cerakote when I first saw it, but it has grown quite a bit on me. Everything from the fine machine work and design lines all the way down to the very convenient accessories and 60/90 safety made this thing an outstanding starting point for a world-class SBR.
Flawless and reliable function
Shoots suppressed with no issues
Awesome stock trigger
This needs a pistol brace, why not ship a version with it already installed?
Very short barrel, be careful
Wish there was a way to flip the existing charging handle without having to pay an extra $60
I’ve taken this AR pistol out several times now, and I can tell you it is a solid buy in my opinion. Whether you plan to keep it as a pistol or something more, I don’t think you will be let down. The folks at CMMG have definitely put some good work into the Dissent.