The 1-Gun Solution

The Daniel Defense DD5V1 Provides
.308 Insurance For Perilous Times
; .

Around the turn of the latest century, Marty Daniels started a small company to produce the sorts of tactical rifle accessories he wanted but could not find. What began in a tiny corner of another business has since grown tremendously. Daniel Defense produces the forearm rail systems currently used by the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). They are also the sole supplier for rail systems for the L85 bullpup Infantry rifle used by the British Ministry of Defense (MOD).

Daniel Defense is one of five companies on the planet equipped to make cold hammer forged rifle barrels. With the addition of a second hammer forge machine in 2014, Daniel Defense can now produce 14,000 barrels per month. Daniel Defense was recognized by Inc. 500/5000 Magazine as one of the fastest growing private companies in America. That’s not bad for a tiny outfit birthed in the corner of a workshop.

Daniel Defense gained a bit of notoriety a few years back when they attempted to buy advertising space during the Super Bowl. Apparently the NFL’s reputation as an organization of manly men was somewhat overstated, as they refused to run an ad for a gun company. I am reticent to use the term “spineless pansies” myself, but I would not object if others did.

I needed a tricked-out black rifle because there is no better tool with which to defend my castle. I had to have a powerful handgun to keep the family safe on the road. Then came the precision rifles, pocket guns, competition pistols, NFA pieces and collectible iron.

But what if you really could only have one? It’s not like the government could take them away without fomenting a second civil war, but what if there was an economic downturn in the family? What if you had to thin the herd to pay for diapers or rent? If the exigencies of life demanded that you cull down to a single gun, what might be the one perfect all-around utility firearm?


Origin Of The Species

Way back in 1956 Eugene Stoner’s Space Age wondergun was chambered in 7.62x51mm from the very beginning. The original AR10 was plastic and aluminum and so far ahead of its time it put many conventional folks off. However, the jungle war in Vietnam coupled with a comparable helping of skillful marketing and raw unfiltered luck conspired to scale the gun down to 5.56mm, selling a zillion copies. The subsequent M16 is the longest serving military rifle in American history. Now that ranges in Afghanistan and Iraq frequently reach out beyond what the 5.56mm is capable of servicing, the big-bore AR10 is making a comeback.

Up until recently, Daniel Defense focused solely on 5.56mm AR’s. Nowadays, however, they are applying their legendary penchant for quality to a full-sized .30-caliber AR rifle called the DD5V1. The result is pretty darn cool.


The buttstock offers a textured overlay for your cheek and an
oversized triggerguard for use with gloves. Brownells’ new 7.62
magazines ride in the flared mag well.

The Gun

If you are savvy enough to be reading this magazine, you know how an AR runs. I’ll spare you the details. Everything about the DD5V1 is just slightly scaled up over a comparable 5.56mm AR15. The receivers are billet cut and will still be rendering superb service for your great-grandchildren.

The KeyMod forearm rail is topped with numbered Picatinny slots; the upper receiver is railed for optics. The charging handle sports a cool spring-loaded ball bearing detent to keep it closed, along with oversized ears so there are no latches with which to contend. The collapsible stock sports multiple positions for accommodating body armor or variously statured shooters.

The pistol grip is ergonomic, proprietary and nearly square to the bore axis for proper manipulation with the elbow tucked. The fire selector is bilateral as are the bolt and magazine releases, and the flash suppressor / muzzlebrake is a Daniel Defense original design called the Superior Suppression Device. The trigger is a superb Geissele SSA 2-Stage with a predictable 2.5-pound take-up as well as a crisp 2-pound break for a total pull weight of 4.5 pounds. All up, the rifle weighs 8.3 pounds empty.

The integral machined triggerguard is oversized to accommodate gloves, and the magazine well is flared for quick use with SR-25-type magazines. Its bolt carrier group is designed with an enlarged cam pin and enhanced extractor geometry. There are two redundant ejectors for utterly flawless reliability.

The 16-inch cold hammer-forged barrel mounts to the receiver via the most intriguing proprietary mounting system. Four heavy Allen-head bolts connect the handguard linearly to the upper receiver such that it eschews a conventional barrel nut. A mid-length gas system is hidden underneath the handguard and the barrel is fully free-floated. The end result is sleek, rigid, lightweight and lethal.


The Key Mod fore-end runs nearly to the muzzle and has a rail
section for its entire length. The flash suppressor / muzzlebrake is
an original Daniel Defense design called the Superior Suppression Device.

The proprietary 4-bolt attachment of the Key Mod fore-end is secure
and allows the fore-end to be free-floated. The scope is mounted in the
Burris P.E.P.R. 34mm mount allows great flexibility in positioning the scope.


A modern black rifle looks naked without some proper glass. Burris has produced high-grade riflescopes for as long as I can recall. The XTR II is a 2-10x42mm variable power precision riflescope built around a 34mm tube. This particular model comes with an illuminated first focal plane MOA reticle, ultra-high performance glass and index-matched multi-coated lenses. The scope’s click adjustments are tuned to its reticle, and it sports true zero-stop adjustment knobs. The wide-bodied tube sucks in light better than a black hole.

For easy access, the focus knob is oriented on the left side without looking away from the scope, and the optic comes with nice flip-up scope caps. The Burris P.E.P.R. mount allows up to 2 inches of forward positioning for optimal eye relief and is available for both smooth and rail-topped versions. It is designed to optimize field-of-view atop AR rifles. The Burris XTR II on a P.E.P.R. is a robust, combat-ready optic.

Brownells sent us their newest magazines; they offer everything you might need to feed your shooting addiction.


The bolt and carrier have an oversized cam pin, enhanced extractor
geometry and dual ejectors. The charging handle dispenses with a
conventional latch and uses a simpler ball detent to stay closed.


Mix all this together and you get a remarkably versatile working firearm. The DD5V1 carbine is almost as short, handy and lightweight as its 5.56mm brethren, yet remains markedly more powerful. Unlike its .22-caliber counterpart, the DD5V1 is proof against most any North American game animals as well.

With appropriate ammunition, the 5.56mm round can be devastating, but it doesn’t have quite the downrange horsepower to drop a whitetail deer reliably. By contrast, the 7.62x51mm /.308 is arguably the most reliable deer cartridge around. For survival or hunting applications, the Daniel Defense DD5V1 is perfect.

For defensive uses around the home, that .30-caliber bullet means not having to say you’re sorry in any language. This supple rifle maneuvers indoors and inside a vehicle almost as well as its small-caliber counterpart. The heavy .30-caliber ball round renders splendid penetration if the threat is in a vehicle or behind light barrier material. Excessive penetration is always a consideration where there might be friendlies on the other side of a wall but, to be honest, I wouldn’t trust wallboard to protect my children if the weapon was a pellet gun. Hardware particulars are never a substitute for situational awareness and an appreciation for what is behind your target.

The combination of the top-end Burris tactical riflescope really does optimize the capabilities of this fine firearm. The wide adjustment range of the reticle and light-grabbing glass allows the sight to be effective in bright sunlight as well as dim twilight. So long as I did my part, I could drop my rounds in place out as far as my range allowed. With the magnification screwed down to 2X and the reticle illuminated, the Burris XTR II made for a decent both-eyes-open close-combat optic as well.


In Will’s test, a variety of ammo was fired at 100 meters. All these brands
shot extremely well, with the HSM as the solid standout in the DD5V1.
Photo: Sarah Dabbs.

This tiny little 5-shot cloverleaf at 100 meters was delivered by
the DD5V1 using HSM Match ammo and may be the best group
Will has ever fired through a .30-caliber rifle. Photo: Sarah Dabbs

Practical Tactical

You can drag any piece of high-speed iron out to the range, burn a few rounds and wax poetic regarding its salient attributes. However, when I was a soldier, our weapons were literally our constant companions. I live on a rural farm nowadays and like to tote a gun around between shooting sessions to see how it would work if I really lived with it.

The DD5V1 is bulkier than a 5.56mm AR but not by too much. On a proper sling, the DD5V1 can hang across your back or underneath your arm with little more trouble than its smaller brother. Ammo is heavier, but I honestly can’t fathom any possible Real World scenario requiring more than three magazines at a sitting. We live in the greatest, securest country the world has ever seen and most of us will not be humping Hindu Kush with our weapons. With one magazine in the rifle and two on my vest, I would feel ready for literally any unpleasant thing my little world might have to offer.

Muzzle blast and recoil are indeed spunkier than your smaller AR, and the price you pay for packing serious downrange thump. I could double tap targets up close and transition to long-range engagements in less time than it takes to describe, thanks to the utility of the Burris scope and spot-on Daniel Defense ergonomics. A properly tricked-out DD5V1 is light and handy enough to run indoors while remaining tack-driving accurate out to the limits of the cartridge. The Brownells magazines ran well, but they did fail to lock the bolt open on the last round fired fairly frequently.

Why This Rifle?

The .30-caliber 7.62x51mm round is a workhorse and everything about this rifle is state-of-the-art. When launched through the Daniel Defense DD5V1, the heavy .308 will reliably do the deed at any range, from contact out to 1,000 meters in the hands of a seasoned shooter. This rig will put venison on your table, drop the zombies with aplomb and dissuade inquisitive grizzlies that might have the poor judgment to invade your space. It will also shut down any bipedal predator, whether he is in a vehicle or on foot, out in the open or behind light cover. The new DD5V1 takes everything righteous and wholesome about 5.56mm rifles and supercharges it with enough horsepower to really reach out and touch something. If life went sideways and you really could only have one, the new Daniel Defense DD5V1 offers a little bit of everything for any range.

Brownells, 200 South Front Street, Montezuma, Iowa 50171, (800) 741-0015,, Federal Cartridge Co., 900 Ehlen Drive, Anoka, MN 55303, (800) 322-2342,, Gorilla Ammunition, 3895 39th Square, Vero Beach, FL 32960, (772) 766-5805,, The Hunting Shack, Inc., 4406 Rathbun Lane, Stevensville, MT 59870, (800) 856-2857,, Winchester Ammunition, 600 Powder Mill Road, East Alton, IL 62024, (618) 258-2000,

Maker: Daniel Defense

Action: Direct gas impingement, semi-auto, Caliber: 7.62x51mm/.308 Winchester, Capacity: 20, Barrel Length: 16 inches, Overall Length: 33-3/8 inches (collapsed), 37 inches extended, Weight: 8.3 pounds, Magazine: Magpul PMAG 20-round box

XTR II 2-10x42mm
Maker: Burris Company

Magnification: 2X, 10X, Objective Diameter: 42mm, Eye Relief: 4.25 inches (2X) to 3.5 inches (10X), Internal Adj. Range: 90 MOA elevation, 55 MOA windage at 100 yards, Click Value: 1/4 MOA, Tube Diameter: 34mm,
Weight: 22.7 ounces, Overall Length: 13.5 inches,
Reticles: SCR MOA

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.308 Factory Ammo Performance
Load Velocity Group Size
(brand, bullet weight, type) (fps) (inches)
Federal American Eagle 150 FMJBT 2,639 2
SM 168 HPBT Match 2,375 0.65
Federal 175 Sierra MatchKing 2,478 11
Gorilla Ammunition 175 MatchKing 2,350 1.25
Winchester 147 FMJ Ball 2,661 1.6
Winchester 168 MatchKing 2,550 1.15

Notes: Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph ( set 10 feet from muzzle.
Accuracy is the product of best 4 of 5 shots at 100 meters fired prone off a bipod.
FMJBT: Full Metal Jacket Boattail; HPBT: Hollowpoint Boattail.