Picking the Right DD® for you
Often times choosing the rifle that is right for you can be a confusing ordeal. Between barrel profiles, rail attachment compatibility, gas systems, color, caliber, and muzzle devices - making a decision for yourself isn’t as straightforward as you wish it was.
The basics of the AR
The AR Platform is divided into 2 basic buckets, the AR-15 and the AR-10. The AR-15 operates, for the most part on the ubiquitous NATO Standard 5.56mm/.223 caliber round. An AR-15 lower, thanks to size compatibility, can also use the 300 Blackout round, but we’ll discuss that a little later.
The AR-10 operates on a range of what is considered larger calibers. This can range from the very popular 6.5mm Creedmoor to the NATO standard 7.62mm/.308. We won't get too deep into the different ballistic performances, but check out this article if you want to. What’s important is to understand AR-15 is considered a more versatile, widely used caliber rifle vs. the AR-10’s larger caliber uses.
First off, what’s most important to you?
It seems like a simple question, but ultimately it’s the first step in understanding what is best for you, as the future owner of a pristine Daniel Defense rifle. So think about it and decide, what matters most.
|Accuracy & Barrel Length?||Usage (Simple target shooting or serious hunting)?|
|Color or Aesthetics?|
Need a little help deciding? Answer a few questions and we'll see which rifle might work for you:
Understanding the calibers available to you
We’ll tackle calibers first since we’ve sort of primed that discussion. The most ubiquitous of calibers, for good reason, are what’s referred to as “Small NATO” 5.56mm (.223 caliber) and “Large NATO” 7.62mm (.308 caliber). The “NATO” designation used simply means that NATO has set out guidelines for the standardization of its ammunition, and these 2 are on that list, making the ammunition widely available for purchase.
You primarily only have 2 options in the AR-15 platform to choose from, 5.56mm or 300 Blackout. The standard 5.56mm round is great out to 300 yards, and with the right rifle setup and practice, that distance can be stretched to 500 yards. The largest discrepancy between the 300 Blackout and 5.56 is that the former, having a larger diameter projectile, carries more energy at closer ranges. If you need more knockdown power at closer ranges, look into it. But if you’re mainly target shooting, the further you go, the more the 5.56 outperforms the 300 Blackout. Often times 300 Blackout is a popular choice for use on the ranch, where you need to control predatory animals or feral populations.
If a larger caliber is your choice, the AR-10 is a bit trickier, as there are a few more options. These options are far harder to differentiate, check out this article for a deeper dive. The .308/7.62mm round is your standard large caliber round. Overall it has great ballistic stats and is considered to be the “tried and true” round. It’s readily available at most retailers, delivers more energy on the target, and many rifle platforms are chambered in it. The 6.5 Creedmoor is an evolutionary round seeking to address some of the shortcomings of the 7.62. It (overall) has a flatter trajectory, higher muzzle velocity, and significantly less recoil for the shooter. The .260 Remington is a classic all-around hunting caliber, with ballistic performance closer to the 6.5 Creedmoor.
Accuracy & Barrel Length
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a given that everyone wants an accurate rifle right? Of course, but there are many factors when thinking about accuracy that can make an accurate rifle, VERY accurate. First off, barrel length is a large part of the equation – the longer the bullet is in the barrel and taking advantage of the expanding gas, the faster it exits the barrel. The faster it exits, the flatter the trajectory the bullet will have, as well as how much outside factors such as wind or gravity will impact the bullet’s path.
Often with different barrel lengths, you will see rifles equipped with differing gas systems. Common systems are “Carbine”, “Rifle” and “Mid-Length.” The difference in these systems is where they are positioned along the barrel. A Carbine gas system is often found on shorter barrels and is closest to the base of the barrel. The Rifle gas system is placed closer to the end of the barrel. While Mid-length is somewhere in between.
What does this all mean? It means that each gas system bleeds off the hot gasses used to cycle the bolt at different times – Carbine earlier, Rifle later. This impacts the performance of the rifle. There is no “right” answer for the gas system, as each has pros and cons. Carbine length is very common and can lead to more all-around good performance. Mid-length and Rifle gas systems can lead to ever-so-slightly lighter recoil and a more pleasant shooting experience.
The difference to the average shooter can be minimal, that’s why, as the operator, you have to ask yourself “HOW accurate would I like to be? Then decide if you want to go with all-around rifle performance or higher accuracy.
Rifle Length - Gas Block positioned closer to the end.
Mid Length - Gas block positioned closer to the receiver.
Carbine Length - Gas block positioned closest to the receiver.
Many times this one factor can very significantly narrow down your choices. If you’re in the market for a very specific item versus an all-around rifle, chances are you already have a good idea of what your options are.
The Range Rifle
Sometimes it’s just this simple: “I want a rifle I will enjoy shooting.” By enjoy you mean that the rifle will perform well in all categories, situations, and distances. Its weight is acceptable, the barrel isn’t cumbersome, it’s plenty accurate for 100-yard practice sessions, and the recoil is comfortable enough to shoot it all day if you wanted to.
The Performance Rifle
When accuracy is of utmost importance. You’ll want to focus more on barrel length and gas system, sacrificing weight or maneuverability. Caliber will also matter greatly to you, as often you may need to perform 500 yards and beyond, necessitating a step up to a larger caliber AR-10.
Whether it’s a long-distance opportunity at larger game or a closer encounter with a pest, what you are hunting can make a big difference. The AR-10 platform excels with many different caliber options for long-distance shots. Alternately, the AR-15 offers a couple of caliber options that are perfect for hunting smaller game or problematic feral populations.
The AR15 is a popular rifle to own and exercise your rights protected under the Second Amendment. Many firearm owners will purchase a rifle simply for the peace of mind, knowing it's there, securely stored in their safe.
Last but certainly not least. Color is oftentimes a secondary consideration, but it can be what makes the firearm truly feel like yours, so it can’t be overlooked. If you’re looking for an all-around rifle that has plenty of color options, the DDM4 V7 is perfect. For a higher-performing rifle, the DDM4 V7 Pro also has a few color options to make your firearm stand out.