The catalyst for Founder & Executive Chairman Marty Daniel’s dedication to succeed may have begun when he flunked out of the engineering program at Georgia Southern University— twice. After the second time, the university sent him a letter summarily stating, “Don’t come back.”
This turning point prompted a new approach to life and business for Marty: one of total domination. It would not be enough to simply go back to school and graduate; Marty needed to excel and dominate. He did so by making the Dean’s List and, in 1985, graduating with an electrical engineering degree from the same university that sent him packing. Today, Marty sits on Georgia Southern Engineering School’s board of advisors, and in 2014 he worked with then Governor Nathan Deal to establish the school’s Manufacturing Engineering Degree Program.
Daniel Overhead Door & Fireplace
After graduating from college, Marty’s entrepreneurial spirit led him into business for himself. Daniel Overhead Door & Fireplace, located in Garden City, Georgia, would eventually become the original home for Daniel Defense. What started out as a single metal cabinet with two doors eventually turned into 1,600 square feet of manufacturing space across the street. Growth became a cornerstone of Marty’s business vision and continues to be to this day.
Golf Game Sucked
Daniel Defense got its start because Marty’s golf game sucked. He would spend most of his free time unwinding on the golf course, until the day a friend invited him to shoot his AR. That invitation proved to be a golden opportunity, as Marty had been looking for a recreational outlet to deal with the stress of being a business owner and had a strong desire to work in a field he was truly passionate about. He found a path to fulfilling both of these goals that day at the range. Every shot he fired filled him with a satisfaction he’d never before experienced. Marty would purchase his first AR this same year.
Big Hole Upper
Once bitten by the shooting bug, Marty spent most of his spare time behind a rifle. The more he shot, the more he recognized the need for a flattop upper receiver. This led him to design the “Big Hole Upper.” Marty found a local machine shop to manufacture a run of 100 of his unique uppers and kept four for himself. He then set up a website, which he used to sell the remaining 96.
Ask Me About My Sling Loop
In 2001, Marty attended the Knob Creek machine gun shoot in West Point, Kentucky, where he displayed his first sling loop. His unique design repositioned how a web sling attaches to a rifle. Rather than threading the front and rear swivels, Marty’s design utilized a simple end plate he engineered in his free time. It changed the idea that a sling had to be mounted at the front and rear of an AR, instead placing the sling attachment point at the rear of a receiver, secured by a castle nut or fixed A2 stock. One side of the sling attachment features a loop to thread a web sling through, making it an option for users of single- and three-point sling systems.
A Handwritten Inventory List
This is the first-ever Daniel Defense inventory list, handwritten. Today, Daniel Defense’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility relies on a comprehensive ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution to run like clockwork.
A Reliable Rail for the M4
Continually considering new ways to enhance an AR, Marty dedicated himself to making the AR platform more functional and more intuitive to use. He set out to replace the ribbed two-piece handguard with one that allowed shooters to attach accessories, such as lights, lasers, and bipods. In 2002, Marty learned that his 12-inch rail systems had made their way onto the competition and designated marksman rifles used by the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) at Fort Benning, Georgia. The USAMU would continue to rely on Marty’s first rail system until 2009.
Betting the Farm (RIS II)
In January of 2003, Marty participated in the company’s first SHOT Show, the firearm industry’s largest trade show, where manufacturers come together to introduce and promote their wares. There, in his 10x10 booth, representatives of the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division approached Marty to develop and submit a forend rail system for an upcoming contract solicitation issued by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM). In order to raise the necessary funds required to participate in the solicitation, Marty approached his father, who decided to support his son’s vision by literally betting the farm.
The fourth-generation family farm was used as collateral to acquire a $250,000 loan. That money allowed Daniel Defense to purchase the materials, equipment, and inventory to create a rail for the M4. Still a small business, in 2003 Daniel Defense went toe-to-toe with every major defense-industry manufacturer for the SOCOM contract. Marty developed and submitted prototypes, relying on sales of the original M4 rail system and sling loops to carry the company through 2004, when the contract was awarded to Daniel Defense, the lone David amongst a slew of Goliath competitors.
2005 - 2006
Awarded the SOCOM Contract for the RIS II
Daniel Defense once again emerged as the victor of the competition for this SOCOM contract in 2005. In 2006, Daniel Defense delivered the first RIS II forends to SOCOM, right on schedule.
The First CNC Machine
Marty Daniel purchased the first high-tech CNC (computer numerical control) machine for Daniel Defense. Initially used for prototypes, as well as production of the Omega X and L85 Rail Systems, the original HAAS Vf4 is still in use today.
2007 - 2008
Making a Play for the L85 Rail
In 2007, Marty learned of a design solicitation in the works by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to update the standard-issue SA80/L85A1 infantry rifle. He wasted no time going to work designing and prototyping a system for the L85 based on measurements taken from a rare U.S. sample in private possession. Because no other manufacturers had convenient access to this rifle, Marty’s company had a distinctive edge. In 2008, Daniel Defense won the UK solicitation and began immediate production and on-time delivery of L85 rails.
The Company’s First Firearm (DDM4)
While still in the Garden City facility, Marty’s team of engineers designed the first-ever Daniel Defense firearm: the DDM4 (Later referred to as the V1). The original Daniel Defense rifle had a 16” barrel, Mil-Spec upper and lower receiver, and the Omega X 12.0 FSP rail system with the signature rail section that extends beyond the forged front sight base with bayonet lug. This firearm also has a standard A2 Birdcage flash hider, A1.5 Fixed Rear Sight, A2 pistol grip, Mil-Spec receiver extension, and a Magpul buttstock.
The Black Creek Facility Opens
As quickly as the company was growing, it needed a new facility that could keep pace. Daniel Defense began operations in their 38,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art Black Creek manufacturing facility in early 2009.
Cold Hammer Forged Barrels
Let’s Make it Ourselves
With the new facility came new capabilities. Marty made a significant investment when he purchased a hammer forge machine to manufacture barrels for Daniel Defense and, ironically, even some of his competitors. Marty Daniel owned one of only a few hammer forge machines in the U.S. at that time and increased his output by purchasing a second machine a few years later. Making the barrels himself got Marty to set his sights on making everything for the AR platform in-house and then assemble these parts around the finest barrels available.
In 2010, Daniel Defense branched out into the hunting market under the brand name Ambush Firearms. The first Ambush Firearms featured a 16” lightweight profile barrel chambered in 6.8 SPC and had a modular handguard with shotgun-inspired hand grip that offered a touch of familiarity to hunters. In 2015, Ambush Firearms was consolidated into Daniel Defense, and “Ambush” became the company’s premium hunting line.
South Carolina Expansion
Daniel Defense’s growth remained on a linear path rather than the traditional bell curve of most businesses. So much so that, in 2011, the company added a 90,000 sq. ft. facility in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Operations commenced in June of 2012. This facility remained in operation until October 2017, when the company consolidated all of its facilities at its new location in Black Creek.
The INC. 5000
Daniel Defense was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States for three consecutive years (2012, 2013, 2014). This prestigious recognition came at a time when the company experienced 1000% growth over a 10-year period.
Introduction of the Integrally Suppressed Weapon System (ISR)
Marty Daniel decided to enter the suppressor business and recognize the pending success of the .300 Blackout cartridge. He did so with the release of a brand-new platform: the first Integrally Suppressed Weapon System, the DD ISR. This new platform, chambered for .300 Blackout, was unveiled at the 2013 SHOT Show.
The Daniel Defense MK12 marked the introduction of the rare Cold Hammer Forged stainless steel barrel. Even though the barrel and gas block were built to NSWC Crane specifications, Daniel put its own spin on this legendary platform by building it around an 18” barrel, MK12 gas block, DDM4 Rail 12.0 and Geissele Super Semi-automatic (SSA) trigger.
Daniel Defense Furniture
Throughout the evolution of Daniel Defense firearms, Marty Daniel has always found new ways to innovate and replace purchased parts with DD products. Such was the case in 2014, when the company introduced its own line of furniture, including buttstocks, pistol grips, and vertical grips. Every rifle sold today is assembled with this premium line of furniture.
Two years in the making, in 2015, Daniel Defense introduced its first AR-10 platform: the DD5V1. Marty insisted on throwing every bit of the company’s world-renowned expertise, know-how, and experience at the project to create a whole new evolution of this weapon. The groundbreaking DD5 stood alone from all other platforms, with innovative advances in materials, coatings, and performance-driven design. It continues to set a new standard in a 7.62mm rifle.
“You might think we’re a 150-year-old company, but in reality, we’re only 15 years old,” Marty Daniel said in 2016. This was the theme for the year as the company celebrated its successful journey of the past decade and a half. To commemorate the milestone, a limited-edition anniversary rifle was designed based on the original Daniel Defense DDM4V1. This special-edition firearm included a 14.5” M4-profile barrel, Daniel Defense Tornado Cerakote, Marty Daniel’s silver-inlay signature, and a custom-finished Geissele SSA trigger.
Wouldn’t You Rather be Holding 32 DDs?
Daniel Defense applied the same innovation it used on its rails and weapon systems to its new magazine: the DD Magazine. Once again, the company pushed the status quo by adding to the traditional 30-round magazine’s capacity. This groundbreaking magazine delivered durability, reliability, and an additional two rounds.
The DD WAVE Crashes the Suppressor Party
Marty inspired his design engineering team to develop a suppressor of superior quality and performance. Since the weakest parts of most suppressors are the welds, The DD WAVE utilizes DMLS technology, a process also known as 3-D printing, which uses no welds. After a long development process to get things just right, the product was introduced in April 2017 to consumers at the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Atlanta.
A New, New Manufacturing Facility
In autumn of 2017, construction of Daniel Defense’s new 300,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art manufacturing facility was completed. Phase I consisted of 232,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space and 68,000 sq. ft. of office space. Operations from the two previous facilities, Black Creek and Ridgeland, South Carolina, consolidated under one roof in Georgia.
A Different Kind of Bolt Gun
At SHOT Show 2019, Daniel Defense introduced the DELTA 5 world-class bolt action rifle. Combining the modularity of our AR platform with the custom features the best shooters want right out of the box, the DELTA 5 brings the Daniel Defense brand to a whole new group of shooters.
At SHOT Show 2020, Daniel Defense expanded its product offering with the introduction of the DDM4 PDW AR pistol and SBR. Compact and easy to transport, the DDM4 PDW can be relied upon for home and personal defense.
“I believe our new DDM4 PDW is the absolute best gun you can buy to protect your family. And protecting our families is the most important thing any of us can ever do. It’s accurate, easy to shoot, and compact. I couldn’t be any prouder of this groundbreaking product,” said Daniel Defense Founder & Executive Chairman Marty Daniel. Built with the same legendary quality as their longer, larger kin, the DDM4 PDW pistol and SBR get the job done with their accuracy, reliability and durability and feature our 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Delta 5 Pro
In the fall of 2020, the company expanded its bolt action rifle line with the introduction of the DELTA 5 PRO. Featuring an innovative chassis design, this rifle comes guaranteed to shoot sub half MOA. “We believe this is the most accurate production rifle in the world. If you are new to long range shooting and just want to have fun with your friends, it will make it easier for you to get on target faster. If you’re more experienced and compete in PRS matches, it is a gun you won’t outgrow given the rich feature set it comes with right out of the box,” said Daniel Defense Founder & Executive Chairman Marty Daniel.
20 Years of Manufacturing Freedom
To celebrate our journey, and to show our appreciation to all of our loyal customers and supporters who’ve come along with us, we launched our Manufacturing Freedom 20th Anniversary Sweepstakes consisting of 20 firearm giveaways—one for each year we’ve been in business. “We're extremely proud of the growth we have been able to achieve over the last twenty years and have our employees, distributor and retailer partners, and most importantly our consumers to thank,” said Daniel Defense Founder & Executive Chairman Marty Daniel. “We would not be where we are today without the support and enthusiasm of our customers so to thank them for their continued support, we have decided to 'give away the catalog'. By the end of the year, we will be giving away one (1) of almost every firearm we make."
Suppressors Making the Right Kind of Noise
In October 2022, Daniel Defense introduced the DANIEL SOUNDGUARD Powered by KGM Suppressor line which utilized cutting-edge gas-flow dynamics that eliminated over-gassing and direct gas forward, substantially decreasing the amount of blowback. The line launched with the DANIEL SOUNDGUARD SG-556, DANIEL SOUNDGUARD SG-30 and DANIEL SOUNDGUARD SG-30TI.
“Through years of working with multiple military/law enforcement agencies – as well as consumers – our team pinpointed specific criteria for this family of suppressors,” said Marty Daniel, Founder & Executive Chairman. “In addition to the obvious, sound reduction, limiting the amount of toxic gasses, reducing muzzle flash and accuracy were all critical.”
At the 2022 SHOT Show, the company announced an expansion to its AR-15 rifle line with the introduction of both the DD4 RIII and M4A1 RIII. Both models feature a fully ambidextrous lower that allows both left- and right-handed shooters to operate the bolt catch, safety selector, and magazine release without having to move or remove their dominant hand from the rifle’s grip. The RIII's feature the new RIS III rail system, modeled after the proven RIS II developed for SOCOM, but now in M-LOK for extreme durability with less weight. They also feature the same hardcore 6-Bolt, Bolt-Up System, and two-part free-float design that never makes contact with the barrel - not even with an M203 grenade launcher installed - so barrel harmonics and accuracy are not affected.