The DD5V1 is Daniel Defense’s first foray into the .308 Win. world. This direct-impingement carbine feels deceptively light. After removing my sample rifle from its hard shipping case and checking to be sure the action was clear, the first thing I noticed upon shouldering was the gun’s excellent balance. I would have sworn this was an 18-inch, pencil-barreled, 7-pound, large-receiver AR, but it was actually a 16-inch gun with a medium-weight barrel, tipping the scales at just more than 8 pounds. Part of the DD5V1’s excellent feel comes from a small-outer-diameter, lightweight, 15-inch freefloat fore-end. The barrel, as well, is just about the perfect contour for a rifle this size—balancing the needed heft for stiffness and heat dissipation with natural “pointability.”

The handguard accepts KeyMod rails and accessories, but is topped with a machined-in, full-length Picatinny rail. The fore-end’s rear reveals the first major departure from what we are used to seeing on modern ARs. Instead of a barrel nut, Daniel Defense uses a proprietary upper receiver and handguard that attaches from front to rear via four bolts. The handguard and receiver sandwich a star-shaped flange that is actually part of the barrel extension. The through-bolts hold the flange (and therefore the barrel) in place so long as they are tight. My test rifle’s screws were a little loose to my way of thinking. The included manual did not indicate any torque setting for these screws, and the protected bolt heads would be tricky to get at with a torque wrench anyway. I used a simple Allen key to snug them up a bit before shooting. I checked with a company representative and was told to take it “a quarter-turn past hand tight.” Freefloat tube removal is easy after unscrewing those bolts. The barrel on my test sample was very tight to the receiver and does not appear to be intended as a switch-barrel system beyond what is normal for the AR family. The barrel extension’s large flange is there mainly to provide more surface area and a much more positive lockup between receiver, barrel and fore-end.

Read the rest of the Daniel Defense DD5V1 Rifle review over at Shooting Illustrated here.

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