Daniel Defense is a well-known producer of top-tier firearms, but the company spawned from humble beginnings. What began as a small business producing innovative gun parts quickly grew into full firearms productions of high-end AR-15s. A couple of SOCOM contracts along the way, smart reinvestment back into the company, and the Georgia-based industry leader made a name for itself in a crowded field where it’s challenging to stand out.
Just one of their offerings, the DDM4 V7 -- an M-LOK railed version of a rifle that came out around 2016 -- is the topic of this review. I will warn you, this is not an inexpensive rifle, but it’s worth your attention.
Beauty and the Beast
When I pulled the DDM4 V7 out of the Daniel Defense gun case, I was already anticipating good things. I am often a sucker for a pretty face, and the V7 does not disappoint. The rifle is aesthetically appealing. The thin-profiled handguard with abundant M-LOK, the signature Daniel Defense curved stock and grip, and even the included vertical foregrip feature an over-molded rubber texture that has more in common with an all-terrain tire. It was clear Daniel Defense has given a great deal of consideration to the main places the shooter will interact with their firearms.
Past the initial blush, the function of the rifle became my concern. I was determined to learn what this rifle might be capable of offering. Thankfully, Daniel Defense was kind enough to send a couple of their 32-round magazines out for testing as well.
By the Numbers
Out of the box, the DDM4 V7 has a 16-inch barrel that is cold-hammer-forged, phosphate-coated, and chrome-lined with a 1-in-7 twist. Daniel Defense provides its own proprietary flash suppressor on the end of the muzzle, and there is a 15-inch MFR handguard with M-LOK all around that covers the whole affair. Quick detach spots abound on the rail, which has Picatinny on top and underneath, and a mid-length gas system supports the function of the action.
The upper is CNC machined, 7075 T6 Aluminum, with Type III hard coat anodizing. It includes a forward assist and a polymer dust cover that is lighter and holds its shape better. I always thought this was a minor area that could be improved, so bravo to DD. Within the heart of the beast is a bolt carrier group made of 8620 steel with a phosphate finish. It features a full-auto profile and a well-staked gas key. The charging handle was my only source of disappointment, being essentially Mil-spec, though admittedly, this is a personal preference.
The lower is also forged 7075 T6 aluminum and has a flared magwell, which is a nice touch, as well as a QD under the castle nut. The grip and stock are made of glass-filled polymer with a rubber over-molding. The stock runs on a six-position buffer tube and has a good angle for snugging into the shoulder. The grip has a slightly more vertical angle and was comfortable to use. The whole rifle weighed in at just over 6-pounds before anything was added. The V7 does not come with sights of any kind.
Having an outstanding rifle, I was not about to mount a subpar optic to test it out. I contacted NightForce, and they provided an NX8 1-8x24 LPVO, a truly impressively compact optic, just barely longer than the receiver on the V7. Equipped with a red dot, the scope functions as an RDS with true 1x magnification and has a first focal plane reticle (MOA) that increases in size as the magnification increases—something these aging eyes greatly appreciate. The unit only weighed 17-ounces. I mounted this scope to the rifle and took 500 rounds of Wolf 5.56x45mm ammo to the range to see what the pair might accomplish.
Stand and Deliver
Using a CTK Precision Bench Rest, I settled in at the range to see what accuracy might be expected. Granted, 55-grain Wolf is not exactly match-grade accuracy ammunition, but I was happy to have it in the current shortage we are experiencing. At 25-yards, I put three rounds in the same hole during the zeroing process and was encouraged. At 50-yards, the groups averaged a half-inch. When I reached out to 100-yards, my accuracy expanded quite a bit. The smallest group was 1.2-inches, but the average was around 2-inches. I attributed these results in part to the ammo and was impressed.
I then ran a magazine drill with several different brands. Everything fed reliably, and I had no failures whatsoever. Notably, I filled the Daniel Defense brand, 32-round magazines to the brim, and stuffed them into the mag well with the bolt closed. I liked the texture on the outside and noted the yellow follower for visual confirmation of empty. The magazine seated easily, and I was able to charge up the gun for the next series of tests. This is not something I take for granted as these tolerances are often why people run 28 rounds in their 30-round magazines.
The impression I came away with was the rifle felt like it was built for me. Those places where I came into contact most with the gun were comfortable, and my skin hung on to the over-molded rubber. The trigger felt like Mil-spec +, measured at an average of 6- pounds, broke cleanly, and had a resounding reset.
The Finer Things
Some will undoubtedly balk at the $1,729 MSRP of the V7. To them, I would argue that quality comes with its own rewards. As is, you do not need to upgrade anything as you may on a less expensive gun. Adding a quality optic, like the NightForce NX8, is not necessary, but suggested. The resulting package will definitely satisfy you whether you’re a weekend shooter or a competition shooter. If you only plan to purchase one AR-15, you can’t go wrong with the DDM4 V7 from Daniel Defense.