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Normally when people bring up .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO caliber AR-15 pattern rifles, I shrug my shoulders, shake my head, and simply say they are not for me. I’ve shot most and been left with a bad taste in my mouth by some of them. So I just keep my comments to myself. When I heard that Daniel Defense was going to be throwing their name in the hat, I figured it might actually pan out. It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a fan-boy when it comes to Daniel Defense. So when the news broke that DD would be building an AR10 form the ground up, I signed up.
Daniel Defense doesn’t produce sub-par firearms. They wouldn’t release rifles that are half-baked or poorly designed. I felt confident that the DD5V1 could be the first .308/7.62 AR to truly break the heavy weight mold and address the platform’s shortcomings and issues with reliability. We will get into the facts of that later in the review so keep reading.
I’ve had the gun on the range for the better part of two months now. I’ve done everything from accuracy tests to CQB drills and the DD5V1 did exceptionally well. Better than its competition? I’d say yes. By much? That is debatable. But in my testing, I found the gun to be one hell of a contender. If you are looking for a precision rifle that can also function as a battle rifle, I’d suggest you check out the DD5V1.
- Caliber: 7.62 x 51mm / .308 Winchester
- Gas System: Mid-length
- Weight: 8.3 lbs.
- Barrel Length: 16”
- Length: 33 3/8″ – 37″
- Magazine: Magpul PMAG 20-Round
The DD5V1 was designed to be the best .308 AR on the market. It is designed to be light, accurate, and (most importantly) reliable. The gun has ambidextrous controls. It weighs in well under 9 pounds. The big question for a lot of you reading this will be price. The DD5V1 has an MSRP of $2899. Daniel Defense guns are hardly the most expensive, but they’re not the cheapest either–which brings us to the question of value. Do you get what you pay for with the DD5V1? If it is like the rest of the DD rifles I’ve shot, the answer is an unequivocal yes.
The DD5V1 is Built around a CNC machined 7075–T6 aluminum receiver-set. This gun has a different set of components than the standard AR-15. It has an integrated trigger guard, ambidextrous controls, over-sized mag-well and a monolithic hand-guard that set this gun apart from the crowd.
Another notable difference from most .308/7.62 rifles in this style on the market is the use of a 16-inch barrel and low profile hand-guard. It shaves a little bit of weight off of the front end while only sacrificing around 100fps in velocity. In my testing I found it to actually shoot better than most of the standard 18-20inch barreled variety.
Looking at the furniture of the DD5V1, you can immediately see it is designed for comfort as well as customization. Starting at the back we have the Daniel defense club foot stock with an over-molded check rest. The club style stock design allows the shooter to wrap their hand around the front of the rifle and keep it steady and tight to their shoulder during prone or supported shooting. The stock is adjustable and locks in tight to the buffer tube. One of my favorite features is the over-molded check rest which creates an oddly soft connection between the rifle and the shooter. The stock adds a lot of comfort to the shooting experience, no mater the conditions or situation.
Next we have the standard issue Daniel defense over-molded pistol grip. Following suit with the stock, it is made of polymer and has a rubber section for added comfort and grip. The angle of the grip and the bulge of the pistol grip allow for more leverage than a standard grip and make firing with out the support hand much easier. Though it appears to be the same as the previous DD pistol grips, this one is just a bit different as it doesn’t have an integral trigger guard, but this is actually an improvement as the trigger guard is built into the receiver of the DD5V1.
Moving forward on the gun you’ll find an unconventional method for attaching a hand-guard and barrel to the receiver. DD has moved away from the standard barrel nut and clamp style hand-guard. Instead, the DD5V1 uses a 4 bolt locking system. It works by running the bolts through the hand-guard, then through the barrel flange, and then lastly into the receiver. It adds a new level of strength as well as a slight reduction in weight.
Lastly you will notice the thin Key-Mod hand-guard. Running the full length of the barrel, it offers mounting positions for accessories in all possible locations. Beyond its mounting capabilities it also does a great job of keeping the heat away from your hand as you fire the gun.
Shooting the DD5V1
Shooting the DD5V1 is a lot like shooting an AR-15. The weight is very close, the length is very close, and the ergonomics are nearly identical. The only noticeable difference in the shooting experience is the amount of recoil and noise. I’m not saying the DD is uncontrollable or uncomfortable to shoot. I’m just making note that it is an .308 and you will be experiencing more noise and recoil than found with an AR-15.
Now that I’ve made my disclaimer lets move on. The DD5V1 is an accurate rifle, as .308/7.62 AR-15 pattern rifles go. With this grade of ammo, under these shooting conditions, I found that the rifle is at least as precise a shooter as am I. The 2 stage Geissele trigger is easy to shoot well, and I was able to produce sub 1 inch groups at 100 yards shooting ZQI M80 ball ammunition. When the planets weren’t perfectly aligned, I was still able to shoot sub 2 inch groups. This may not seem impressive to some, but for those who have tried to shoot tight groups with a semi automatic rifle, you will understand that this is actually quite remarkable–especially with ZQI M80 ball. With tuned hand loads or Hornady high end target or hunting ammo, I think you could dial this gun into much better.
Moving away from the accuracy based shooting and stepping inside of the 50-meter mark, the DD5 continued to impress. The gun stops promptly when moving from target to target. Looking down the scope, you can easily hold the rifle on target and make clean and precise shots. A lot of this is due to the short barrel and reduced weight up front. Beyond its handling characteristics, the gun shoots quickly. Oddly enough, a shorter barrel should make for more of an unruly rifle however the DD5s muzzle break flash hider tames recoil and helps keep the gun horizontal. Follow up shots are easy to make quickly, and easy to keep on target.
Running the gun
The DD5V1 is a lot like other AR-15 style rifles in this caliber on the market in that it uses the ubiquitous SR25 pattern magazines, AR-15 stocks and grips, and can utilize most accessories designed for the AR-15. This gun comes dressed in Daniel Defenses rubber over molded furniture and Key mod hand-guard. The furniture is very comfortable and the hand-guard makes adding accessories as easy as turning a few screws. But these are things you’d expect from a DD.
The real selling points are the extras–the beveled magazine well, milled trigger guards, ambidextrous controls, and a ball detent charging handle. DD brings some of the nicer qualities found in other rifles and hammers them into one package. At the end of the day, the DD5 just does it better. From the ease of loading mags to the convenient and efficient controls, the DDV51 will spoil you.
In the end
In an effort to wrap this up, I want to make it clear that I have never found a .308 battle rifle that I’d consider putting in my personal collection of go-to guns. Everything from the bullpups to the traditional AR-10 and subsequent .308/7.62 copies, to oddball guns like the FAL and CETME pattern guns. They all had some feature or flaw that was a turn off, or they were too heavy to be practical. I’ve had to be content with a two gun solution. A bolt gun in .308 or similar for accuracy and distance, and a 5.56 for close work.
Has the Daniel Defense DD5V1 changed my mind? Without a doubt! It is clearly the newest and greatest iteration of the platform and will undoubtedly make all other big .308s look that much worse by comparison. But for me and everybody else, it comes at a pretty hefty price tag. Retailing for $2899, this gun is bound to break the bank. However, if you require a 308 chambering and a semi-automatic firearm, then there is no better option on the market to this date.