AR-15 rifles are amazing. They are highly modular. Easy to learn. Widely available. Extremely effective for a lot of applications. They are also a lot of fun. Frankly, they are a staple for gun owners today. The Daniel Defense DDM4 V11 is a prime example of an excellent premium AR-15 rifle. I’ve had quite a bit of exposure to this rifle and will attempt my first combined review including my first impressions and what I think of it many rounds later.
If memory serves me right, purchasing the Daniel Defense DDM4 V11 includes:
- A nice plastic rifle case (that is useless after mounting an optic on the rifle),
- a manual,
- the rifle itself,
- it likely included a chamber flag and a lock, but I can’t completely recall.
While the DDM4 V11 is an excellent rifle (which I will get into), it isn’t quite range ready as it doesn’t offer any sights out of the box. This forces the purchaser to pony up some more money on top of the $1,729 MSRP to be able to make this rifle functional and range ready. This is typical for rifles at this price point and it can be remedied by purchasing and installing a scope, a red dot, some iron sights, or some combination thereof. In my case, I topped it off initially with a Burris Fullfield TAC30 tactical kit.
I’m going to attempt something different for a “first impressions” review and talk about the rifle from muzzle to butt while sprinkling in my opinion here and there.
At the muzzle, the barrel is crowned with a Daniel Defense flash suppressor which looks very similar to a bird cage device. I don’t really have an opinion on it, but will mention that I plan on replacing it with a SilencerCo muzzle break that will allow a SilencerCo Omega 300 can to be quickly attached.
The barrel is a cold forged 16″ chrome moly vanadium steel barrel that has been chrome lined and coated with a mil-spec heavy phosphate. To be honest, I have no idea what that means. What I can tell you is that it is a very accurate barrel that I expect to last a long time. I’ve shot many nice groups with this barrel at distances up to 200 yards. I haven’t measured the size of the groups it shoots since precision shooting isn’t an application I’ve attempted with this rifle. I will say that I haven’t struggled to place multiple accurate hits on any targets I’ve taken aim at.
The rifle uses a mid-length gas system. I wish I could provide some deep insight into how good or bad this is. However, I’m not an expert on that. As a layman, I will share that every single time I’ve shot this in a training course I get a comment from the instructor about “how amazingly well this rifle is gassed”. The comments stems from a very consistent ejection pattern. In addition to that I’ll say that I’ve never had a malfunction with this rifle which I suspect the gas system contributes to.
I get a lot of crap about the 15″ Keymod handguard. Personally, I don’t mind it. The accessories I’ve attached to it have stayed in place and have given me no issues while I have run this rifle. However, I’ve read several reports with evidence pointing to MLOK being superior. Those reports have way more clout than I do, as such, I suggest opting for DDM4 V7 which is the exact same rifle with an MLOK handguard. I’m not going to get into the MLOK vs Keymod debate in this article. Given what I know now I would opt for MLOK over Keymod today and I didn’t have a preference when I picked up this DDM4 rifle.
Daniel Defense points out the bolt carrier group has a M16 profile, Mil-spec MP tested, chrome lined, properly staked gas key bolt carrier group. This another one of those things that I know nothing about so I won’t pretend to speak to it’s awesomeness, or lack thereof. All I can say is that in the thousands of rounds I’ve put through this rifle I haven’t had any issues.
I’ve had a few folks mention how “cheap” the polymer dust cover looks. Frankly, I could care less about it. It works. It keeps the dust out when it’s closed and opens reliably. I’ve yet to have a problem with it. While it may look “cheap” to some, I don’t expect much from dust covers other than basic function.
Moving on to the lower receiver, which is a mil-spec receiver with an enhanced flared magazine well. It’s a solid lower. Mag changes are effortless and it just works. Some folks complain that the receiver isn’t truly mil-spec because it has a built in trigger guard that can’t be swapped out. While true, the trigger guard works just fine even when shooting this rifle with gloves on.
The controls and trigger are what one would expect from a typical AR-15. There is nothing fancy here to look at. With the DDM4’s premium price point, I think ambidextrous controls would have been a nice and welcome touch.
The buttstock and pistol grip are the typical Daniel Defense furniture. Personal preference plays a large role on these items. However, I really dig the furniture. The grip is grippy and comfortable. The stock doesn’t leave much to be desired. They both work for just about all applications. I have struggled a bit with the buttstock when shouldering the DDM4 rifle when wearing a plate carrier. However, that is largely due to my instinct to shoulder the rifle directly on the shoulder. Collapsing the buttstock and shouldering the rifle to the plate carrier works well.
I’ve really enjoyed the built-in quick detach (QD) points on the stock and the handguard. They are well placed and make attaching a two point sling trivial. A third QD attachment point is available on the back of the lower receiver (under the buffer tube) suitable for attaching a single point sling.
I’ve had the opportunity to run this rifle hard in a training course. I’ve also used it recreationally and put it through its paces during practice as a home defense rifle. Bottom line is this rifle runs reliably, it’s accurate, and is an absolute pleasure to run. With the right aiming system, I have absolutely no reservations in recommending this rifle to anyone looking for a top-shelf AR-15 for any suitable AR-15 rifle application. It’s simply amazing.