Reviews Rifles

Looking Back: Daniel Defense DD5 V1 Mil Spec +

2020 has limited my opportunities to try out and write about new firearm experiences, so instead I'm writing about firearms I've tried in the past and haven't written about. Here is a bit about the Daniel Defense DD5 V1 (an AR-10).

Along with the COVID stay-at-home orders and the ammunition shortage this year, I had less opportunities to get my hands on and try different guns for the first time. It’s a bit of a bummer because I really enjoy shooting firearms I’ve never handled before and writing about them. The silver lining, I suppose, is that I have more time to reflect on firearms I’ve handled in the past and share my thoughts on them.

A few years back, shortly after becoming interested in shooting rifles and before getting into hunting, I got my hands on a Daniel Defense DD5 V1. This was about a year after I got my hands on a Daniel Defense DDM4 V11. I still didn’t know a lot about rifles and even less about the AR platform, but that didn’t stop me from impulsively picking up the DD5 as the gun collection was budding.

If I recall correctly, included with the purchase of a Daniel Defense DD5 V1 was:

  • A nice Daniel Defense plastic rifle case (that is useless after attaching accessories to the DD5 because it’s dimensions are too small for anything other than the rifle),
  • a manual,
  • a Magpul PMAG 20-round magazine,
  • a convex shaped buttpad (the rifle has a concave shaped pad attached to the buttstock),
  • large handles to allow customization of the ambidextrous charging handle,
  • the rifle itself,
  • and most likely a chamber flag and cable lock (I can’t recall clearly).

Similar to most other rifles I’ve purchased, it’s not range ready out of the box due to the lack of an optic or iron sights. It’s kind of a shame that unless one has a spare scope and mount (or iron sights) laying around to reuse, one is forced to spend extra cash to finish getting a rifle range ready. Especially after spending around $3,000 the rifle. Alas, I’ve found this to be typical and perhaps for the best since most factory included and mounted scopes are generally trash.

I picked up the “Mil Spec +” variant of the DD5 V1 which has a bronze/brown finish which I like very much. I can’t recall if there were any other differences between this variant and the standard DD5 V1. I should also note that V1 is now out of production and has been replaced by the DD5 V3. There are other variants available offering a couple of different barrel lengths for each of the following cartridges: 7.62x51mm / .308 Winchester, 6.5mm Creedmoor, and .260 Remington.

From front to back, the DD5 V1 comes equipped with a Daniel Defense Superior Suppression Device. It’s a nice looking flash suppressor. I can’t speak to how well it actually reduces flash signature since I have not had the opportunity to shoot this rifle in low light conditions. So all I can say is that it looks nice. Daniel Defense mentions that it is manufactured from 17-4 PH stainless steel and finished with a salt bath nitride. Whether that is good or bad is also beyond me, but it might mean something to somebody.

The barrel is 16″ long with a strength-to-weight profile with a 1:11″ twist with an intermediate gas system and the muzzle is threaded (5/8 x 24 TPI). It is cold hammer forged Daniel Defense proprietary steel that has been chrome lined and coated in mil-spec heavy phosphate. I suppose that makes it good, but again I don’t know much about steel and coatings. What I can say about the barrel is that it is precise enough for me. With the right ammo, I’ve shot some really tight groups with this rifle at ranges out to 250 yards. I’m certain this rifle can sling projectiles from the 7.62x51mm (and .308 Winchester) cartridges it is chambered for much further, I just haven’t had the opportunity to do so. I will also mention the V3 and newer variants come with a user-adjustable gas block.

Surrounding the barrel is a 15″ free float handguard rail with a full length Picatinny rail at the 12 o’clock position and is ready to accept Keymod attachments in the 1, 3, 6, 9, and 11 o’clock positions. The rail is manufactured from CNC machined 6061.T6 aluminum and attached to the upper receiver using Daniel Defense’s proprietary 4-bolt connection system. All of the newer versions for this rifle use the M-LOK attachment system in all positions with the exception of the 12 o’clock position which is still a full length Picatinny rail.

The DD5 uses a DLC-coated bolt carrier group and is equipped with a forward assist (that I’ve never used).

The DD5 comes with a customizable ambidextrous charging handle. Out of the box the charging handle is configured with the short latch handles. I’ve reconfigured it with the included large latch handles which make the operation of the charging handle much easier when a large magnified optic is attached (like the Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20×50 I attached to the DD5). The down side to the large latch handles is they can dig into the chest when the rifle is slung in the front and can be uncomfortable.

The buttstock is the standard Daniel Defense glass filled polymer buttstock with “Soft Touch” over-molding. This stock is adjustable and very comfortable to use. The stock offers a quick detach point on both sides. An additional quick detach point is available on the receiver end plate. Unfortunately, the hand guard does not have any quick detach points. That can be remedied by picking and installing your preferred Keymod QD sling mount – like the BCM Keymod QD sling mount I installed.

The controls on the DD5 are fully ambidextrous. There is a 90º throw giggle switch (safety selector) on both sides. Magazine release, bolt release, and bolt catch controls are also available on both sides of the rifle. These ambidextrous controls make this rifle a great option for lefty shooters since all of the controls can be operated by any shooter with breaking the grip on the standard Daniel Defense pistol grip.

Now let me tell you about the trigger. Daniel Defense threw a Geissele SSA two-stage trigger which, in my opinion, is out of this world. It is hands down one of the best triggers I’ve handled on an AR platform rifle. There is very little take up on the trigger before hitting the wall which is followed by a light and crisp break. The reset is nice and short. There may be better triggers out there for AR platform rifles, I just haven’t found a better one yet.

As I mentioned, I picked up this rifle before I knew too much about rifles in general and even less about AR platform rifles. While I didn’t know much about what I was doing with it, I still spent many days at the shooting range with it while learning about shooting rifles and rifle ballistics as I started stretching it’s legs beyond a 100 yards. This rifle also accompanied me on my second and third deer hunts.

As I look back on my experience with this rifle and tell you all about it, I wonder why it hasn’t seen as much range time recently as it used to. That’s easy to answer since my two favorite activities with rifles are long distance target shooting and hunting, both of which are activities that I prefer to use bolt action rifles for. I’ve been recently reading and learning about the Army’s compact semi-automatic sniper system (or CSASS) and have been toying with the idea of outfitting this rifle in a similar fashion as it would make a great platform for hog hunting with night vision. Perhaps, I will attempt something like that in future and, if I do, write about it.


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