[SHOT 2016] Daniel Defense’s Lightweight 7.62

Earlier this year, Daniel Defense announced their new entry into the thirty-caliber AR-15 market: The DD5V1, a lightweight, direct impingement 7.62x51mm/.308 Winchester rifle using a shortened rear receiver with a dedicated bolt and bolt carrier for the .308 cartridge family. Daniel Defense was present at the SHOT Show Industry Day At The Range 2016, along with their DD5V1, and TFB got behind the trigger.


My initial impressions are positive. The rifle is light and well-balanced, like one would expect of a member of the AR family, and recoil was not more than I expected for a gun of this type (though it certainly won’t be winning any awards in that respect). With a mounted 1-6 power Trijicon VCOG, the rifle shot very well, though the targets were not very far, and the rifle supported by a bipod on the bench. The VCOG is a great choice for a rifle of this type, with a clear, crisp reticle and an excellent magnification range for multi-purpose shooting.


Daniel Defense claims the rifle weighs 8.3 lbs unloaded, which seems very reasonable to me. Had I not known that figure ahead of time, I would have actually guessed even less than that, as with the bipod and optic, it still felt lighter than I expected.

Thanks to Edward O. for his help with the photography.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • JumpIf NotZero

    Shortened rear receiver?

    So this uses a non-standard (non-DPMS and non-SR25 style) AR-10 carrier?

    Is it sized like AR-10 or more like the DPMS Gen2?

    • ostiariusalpha

      Just judging from how far back the extension bridge sits on the lower receiver, I can’t see that this rifle is any shorter than the other pre-Gen II guns. DD may have trimmed some weight here & there, but that doesn’t make it shorter. Nate needs to explain this better; and that Jesus hair also.

      • I can easily explain the Jesus hair: I haven’t cut it.

  • Evan

    This thing is just for Daniel Defense fanboys. It offers nothing that any other AR10 pattern rifles doesn’t, and the MSRP is like $2900. There is literally no reason to buy this over a SCAR17, it’s worse in every conceivable way and just as expensive.

    The only positive I have to say is at least they left the forward assist.

    • Robert Powell

      It’s for the guy who wants something else and already has a SCAR 17. Nothing wrong with that!

      • Robert Powell

        I don’t know if it’s worse. Just different

        • Evan

          OK, maybe not worse in EVERY way – the SCAR does take hideously expensive proprietary magazines. It’s worse in every OTHER way though.

          • CommonSense23

            I am curious what makes you think this is worse than a SCAR?

          • Evan

            Well, first, it’s an AR10, which is a weapon that has had a consistently bad reputation for a reason. It’s DGI instead of piston, has the silly Keymod foreend as opposed to the SCAR’s integral rails…the SCAR brought something new to the game. This does not. It’s the same mediocre platform done by a different company. I’ve never been overly enamoured of Daniel Defense either. Yeah, their guns are good for what they are, but what they are isn’t particularly innovative or exciting. When they make something with a piston, I’ll take a look. Until then? Meh. The only DGI AR I’m even remotely interested in is the FN clone of their M16, and that’s only because I carried an FN M16 in combat. I wasn’t impressed with it then, but hey, nostalgia and all that.

          • CommonSense23

            So why did the JSOC units never adopt the SCAR. Why did they stick with the mediocre AR design for their 7.62 needs. Why is SOCOM been moving from the MK20 back to the M110 then? And you think adding a OP Rod to a gun makes the AR design better?

          • Evan

            JSOC never adopted the SCAR16, they did the SCAR17. The M110 has a horrible reputation in the field from everyone I know who’s ever used it; everyone I know who has used the M110 begged for the M14s back. Most of the reluctance of the military to ditch DGI has been due to budgetary restrictions; the powers that be have decided that the improvement isn’t worth the cost of buying all new rifles. However, you ought to notice that the Marine Corps’ M27 IAR is a (piston) HK 416. I also know that SEALs largely use the piston HK rifles as well. Blowing heat and carbon into moving parts of a rifle is an inherently bad idea. Stoner himself admitted that it was a cost-cutting measure, and not a more effective design.

          • CommonSense23

            JSOC never adopted the SCAR platform. SOCOM did, but JSOC. And currently a good bit of SOCOM is trying to get back to the M110. As for the MK16 versus the M4, that wasn’t a monetary decision, that performance issue. The vast majority of the SEALs don’t use HK rifles. And the JSOC portion is moving away soon from them. Going back to a DI AR10. And Stoner never said that. Not sure where you are getting that from.

          • Evan

            The only AR10 platform rifle that has ever been used by the US Military is the SR25/M110s, which are widely loathed by troops. While you seem to think continued usage of the inferior DGI system is performance based, this is entirely false. The reason US troops at all still use the mediocre M16/M4 rifles over a piston alternative is that the powers that be determined that the increase in performance of the piston rifles was not sufficient to justify the expenditure.

            The fact of the matter is that DGI is a grossly flawed system. I used an M16A4 in combat, it was at best minimally acceptable for the task. This is a widely if not universally held opinion among those of us who have actually had to bet our lives on a fundamentally flawed rifle. The best proof of the utter inferiority of DGI is the fact that virtually zero rifles designed since the AR series have utilized it. Every major rifle platform designed since the AR has used a gas piston. Virtually every other feature of the AR platform has been copied repeatedly. Saying that the US military hasn’t adopted a new rifle in the era of sequestration and an openly unfriendly administration does nothing to show the superiority of a deeply flawed design. “It’s good enough for now, and cheaper than the alternative” does not mean “it’s the best option”.

          • CommonSense23

            First my background includes being issued the SCAR platfom. I also got to evaluate the MOD1s. Also been trained as armorer. And worked with the JSOC units a good bit. Curious what your actual background to be making these opinions
            Again the MK16 had funding. Rangers even started to field them. It was pulled cause it did not outperform the M4. It performed worse. It wasn’t a funding issue. It was a performance issue. You know why the DI system is not more copied. Cause its harder to make and perfect than a traditional op rod system. Thats Eugene Stoners own opinion right there. SOCOM agrees with that. Its why you didn’t see the HK416 replace the M4 in SOCOM. It wasn’t outperforming the gun. And it had its negatives.
            How much did you get taught to maintain your rifle?

          • Evan

            I was a Marine, we’re taught to maintain our rifles meticulously. I’m not saying I didn’t make it work, I’m saying I would’ve killed for just about any alternative. The M16 I was issued was minimally acceptable, that’s not good enough in the field. Maybe it’s fine if you’re sitting in the armory refusing to hand out CLP and complaining about how the rifle I just turned in has a barely visible speck of dust on the sling swivel, but not in the field.

            There’s no way you actually believe that nonsense about DGI being harder to make. People build DGI rifles in their living rooms every day; besides, you have companies like FN who build massive amounts of DGI junk for military contracts and still design their own piston rifles instead of a new DGI one.

            A friend of mine from college was an army Ranger. He told me the only problem with the SCAR was guys complaining because it was different, he said in his experience it was better than the M4. My experience with the SCAR is far more limited, and I’ve never shot the 5.56 version, but I’m a big fan of the SCAR 17, and have yet to see or even hear of any problems with it aside from people not liking the stock.

          • CommonSense23

            So you maintained your rifles meticulously? So how often/what round count did you replace your action spring? Change your gas rings? What round count did you replace your bolt? Or did you just really keep it clean?
            ” People build DGI rifles in their living rooms every”. This tells me you really don’t grasp the concept we are talking about. People assemble parts that have already been designed and tested. Not the same thing. The easy to design part is evident with the 416 vs MK18. It was easier and quicker for HK to throw a op rod on a 10 inch upper than play around with the gas system like Crane did. The MK18 outperforms the 416, but the 416 did come out first. So guess its got that going for it.
            As for your Ranger buddy. Well if complaining about the MK16cause it different includes a far worse malfunction rate, guns going down hard, and stupid reciprocating charging handle. He would be right on that. Again SOCOM dumped them for a reason.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Evan is that guy that loves quad rails and hates the internal piston, and he without an ounce of shame puts words in Eugene Stoner’s mouth that he never said. I don’t think you’re going to get through to him, but I admire that you are trying.

          • Oh look, this crap again.

          • TJbrena

            “I also got to evaluate the MOD1s”

            What are the differences between the Mk 16 Mod 0 and Mod 1? Anything visually distinct, anything taken from the FNAC that FN entered into the IC competition, or is it externally identical? When did the Mod 1 enter service?

            Also, you’ve claimed that SOF are using AR-10 pattern weapons. What guns specifically?

            I’m not casting doubt on your assertions, just curious about the details.

          • CommonSense23

            Never even touched a MK16. Those never got off the ground except in the 75 and a couple small fielding in certain units. Did a evaluation on the MK17/20 MOD 1s and they are not fielded. The biggest point was FN getting rid of the reciprocating charging handle.

          • FightFireJay

            For every argument you make, there is a counter argument.
            – DGI is lighter, less moving parts, and easier on carriers
            – Keymod allows a more comfortable grip, lighter forend, direct attachment of many accessories, and removable rails anywhere you want.
            – I’ve never been enamored with FN, even when I carried an M-249 SAW, made by them. But hey, nostalgia.

            Also, how are piston guns “particularly innovative”? M1 Garand, M14/M1A, M1 Carbine, Mini14/30, SKS, STG44, AK47, AK74, RPK, and how many old semi-auto hunting rifles and shotguns?

            Don’t like it? Grow up and move on, stop crapping on someone elses dream.

          • AK™

            cant unsee the ugg boot stock on the SCAR-H.

          • Evan

            Yeah, but if you ever shoot it instead of just commenting on how the stock looks, you’d likely be impressed. I was.

          • FightFireJay

            Don’t forget the short handguard and “hideous” looks.

      • Evan

        Then get a SIG, or a Ruger, or an FAL, or an M14. They’re all cheaper than this monstrosity. Or if price isn’t an issue, go with a REPR or an HK MR762. Gas impingement isn’t a great system for 5.56, it’s worse for the big rounds. Plus it has that stupid Keymod fad, which I despise. People will still buy this, but I sure as hell won’t.

        • Robert Powell

          Haha. I respect your opinion. In general I haven’t been all that excited about any AR chambered in .308. I’ve had several other “battle” rifles in the caliber including at least two you mentioned. I just felt the time was right for me to give one a go and so far I haven’t been disappointed in the DD. It’s well balanced, has a great trigger, and is more than sufficiently accurate. It is expensive but I paid at least $500 less than for a SCAR 17 and is at least a thousand less than an HK MR762. But to each their own.

        • iksnilol

          Eh, I kinda like Keymod. Sure, it looks like industrial shelving but it does the same thing as the bulky picatinny rails while being like ten times lighter.

          • Evan

            I prefer rails. Universal, something substantial to hold on to (I hate skinny foreends), and the difference in weight isn’t enough to make up for those advantages.

  • Scott Wagner

    It’s a damn shamed they took so long to bring something to market in .308. This has some very serious “too little, too late” vibes to it.

  • Nate H

    Yawn. Another AR variant. Even from Daniel Defense, it’s still just a rehash of something that’s been around for the better part of 50 years. I’ve never shot one, but I honestly can’t see how anyone can justify that much money for an AR. I bought my RRA for 800 bucks and it hits the steel every time I pull the trigger. Which is two stage. And not gritty at all. Meh.

    • Technically, 7.62 ARs have been around for exactly 60 years…

      • Nate H

        I was gonna say 60 years, but I didn’t research that and I didn’t wanna be that jackass.. Guess that didn’t work out for me hehe.

    • FightFireJay

      “I’ve never shot one, but…”
      You should have stopped there.

      I own RRA as well. In no way, except value, are they the equal of Daniel Defense.

      • Nate H

        Nah. They’re pretty to look at, but it’s still just GD AR15. My RRA is capable of 1MOA or better, why spend all the extra money on a DDM? No thanks, you spend yours on that rifle, I’ll spend mine on all the ammo that could afford.

  • OCD_Weaponry

    I am increasingly more partial to lighter weight guns due to the fact that the older I get the more I feel like a weakling.

  • Leigh Rich

    LOL…Heizer Defense Pocket AK and Pocket “Sniper” .308 Due Soon Lighter and smaller.