Photo: Scott Smith
One thing I have noticed in my training with various agencies and at various training centers is that there are very few if any law enforcement agencies mounting M203 grenade launchers under their M4s. That means they don't need heavy-barreled military standard M4s. Yet they carry those heavy barrels anyway. Having a heavy barrel on a law enforcement carbine does nothing but add weight for no real reason. That's why I recently started looking for an M4 with a light contour barrel.
Just before last January's Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show I noticed Daniel Defense was offering an M4 with a lightweight barrel specifically for law enforcement. From the description on the company's Website, the Daniel Defense v5 Lightweight M4 carbine sounded like just what I was looking for.
The weight difference between the v5 Lightweight and a standard M4 was immediately noticeable, nearly 10 ounces. That's a lot of weight if you have to work an operation for hours. The standard M4 has a short carbine railed forearm compared to the 12-inch mid length of the v5 Lightweight.
Ready for Duty
Standard features on the v5 Lightweight include the Omega X Rail with low-profile rail covers, an A2 flash hider, a Magpul MOE buttstock and a Magpul 30-round P Mag, a Daniel Defense A2 pistol grip, a pinned low-profile gas block, and a vertical foregrip. The upper and lower receiver are military spec with an M4 feed ramp, an enhanced/flared magazine well, and an H buffer. The bolt group is military spec and properly staked so the carbine won't shoot loose and MP tested to ensure durability.
To me the most important feature of the v5 Lightweight is its chrome moly-vanadium steel barrel with a one-in-seven twist. The barrel is cold hammer forged to create a defect-free surface and is then chrome lined to enhance durability. It has been my experience that Daniel Defense's 16-inch barrels outperform 18-inch and 20-inch barrels from other manufacturers.
The v5 Lightweight is nearly perfect out of the box. But for my needs I did make four changes. First I added a Magpul MOE pistol grip as the A2-style grip with its finger groove doesn't fit me right. I also changed the MOE buttstock from black to flat desert earth to match my pistol grip. Then I added a Magpul quarter-inch riser to the MOE stock for a better cheek weld when using optics. Finally, I changed the A2 flash hider to a SureFire muzzle brake to allow me to use my SureFire Mini suppressor on the v5 Lightweight.
While I was modifying the carbine to suit my needs, I took time to wipe it down, run a lubed patch down the barrel, and lubricate the bolt, bolt carrier, buffer, and charging handle. Ensuring that these are all well lubricated makes an AR-style weapon run better. Contrary to what many of us were taught by Uncle Sam, a dry AR is not a happy AR; give it quality lubricant and it will run better.
Once the v5 Lightweight was cleaned and lubricated, it was time to head to the range. I chose a variety of ammunition with bullet weights of 62 grains to 77 grains from Black Hills, Atlanta Arms and Ammunition, and Prvi Partizan. I also decided to shoot my training load, which uses Ramshot Exterminator powder with Montana Gold 52-grain bullets. This variety covered the spectrum of quality duty and training ammunition.