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Reviews : Arsenal

Daniel Defense M4 Carbine

This new AR-style firearm is a smooth shooter with a custom look and feel.

October 30, 2009  |  by Scott Smith - Also by this author

Setting Your Sights

Completing the rifle is the backup sight. At first I wondered why a fixed, detachable rear sight was used. I asked the guys at Daniel Defense why a fixed sight and not a flip-up? Simple answer: Larry Vickers thought a fixed sight should be on a fighting rifle. For those who don't know, the guy is a retired real deal Army Delta Operator.

The fixed sight co-witnesses with most red dot optics. Should the sight fail, you are still ready to keep fighting with the iron sights and nothing has to be moved. If you are going to mount a magnifying optic, an ACOG, or variable power combat optic, then install a folding rear (it is not an option from Daniel Defense, but Brownells can fix you right up).

Range Testing

My initial impression of the Daniel Defense M4 was simply that it was cool. I know, how professional? But I liked it. Once I got it out to the range and found that out of the box it was a shooter. I was doubly impressed.

My ammunition used to shake down the DDM4 included the previously mentioned Black Hills 60-grain V-Max, 77-grain HPBT from Atlanta Arms (which is the Army AMU load), 62-grain FMJs from Wolf Ammo, and 60-grain TAP from Hornady. The DDM4 showed no preference to bullet weight, bullet style, or manufacturer; it simply shot them all well.

I mounted Bushnell's TRS-25 1X on an A.R.M.S. 17DR Throw Lever Dovetail Rail Mount and 22M68 Full Spacer. This combination put the micro red dot in perfect alignment with the iron sights.

Once the TRS-25 was zeroed, I wanted to see how well the DDM4 would shoot at 100 yards. It did not let me down and was shooting tight five- and 10-round clusters off my "official" bench rest (aka my Eagle Industries range bag). The size of the groups was less than an inch for 10 shots and a half-inch for five shots. This was repeatable with all of the test ammunition.

Choosing Magazines

The DDM4 ships with one Magpul PMag. As I didn't want to be reloading one magazine all day, I packed up Lancer's translucent L5 magazines. Lancer is a fairly new company, but it is quickly developing a following.

The magazines are approved by the National Tactical Officers Association, and after using them I understand why. They are easy to load and easy to take apart for cleaning, provided you use Lancer's magazine tool. You can even install different color magazine pads (flat dark earth, olive green, and pink). Black is standard.

I also used Lancer's Magazine Cinch. Like the magazines, it's constructed of polymer to reduce weight while remaining durable. This cinch works well on other magazines as well.

After loading the Lancer L5s with a mixed bag of ammunition, I went to work making once-fired brass. I quickly saw why the Lancer L5s are liked; you can visually check your ammo supply, they function flawlessly, and they're about half the weight of metallic magazines.

I fired more than 500 rounds of ammunition through the DDM4 using the supplied Magpul PMag and the Lancer L5 magazines. The DDM4 didn't have any hiccups or issues with either magazine, nor did it miss a beat with any of the test ammunition.

The Daniel Defense M4 is ready for duty right out of the box. If you are looking for a carbine you will have for years to come, give this one a look. If you choose this rifle for duty, you too will have a fine piece of equipment.

Scott Smith is a former federal police officer for the Department of Veteran's Affairs and a contributing editor to POLICE.

Visit Daniel Defense Online

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Phil Whitson @ 5/8/2012 9:29 AM

Scott....I really enjoyed reading your evaluation of the DDM4, as I am waiting for mine to arrive. It was very informative. I knew the firearm was of excellent quality but I had no idea of the small, attention-to-detail attributes the M4 possesses. Thank for a great, and detailed review. I'm even more excited now.

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