U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com) Daniel Defense has established itself as a major player in America’s booming gun manufacturer market, garnering a solid reputation as well as lucrative military contracts. All this was done in the span of only two decades, a relatively short time considering the age of other popular manufacturers. At the 2020 SHOT Show, Daniel Defense announced a new addition to their line-up, the DDM4-PDW. Designed as a compact variant of their DDM4 series of AR’s, the DDM4-PDW takes advantage of the short-barrel-friendly ballistics of the .300 AAC Blackout cartridge.
Let’s take a look at the DDM4-PDW’s tech specs as provided by Daniel Defense before diving into unboxing and range reports.
- LOWER RECEIVER: Mil-Spec with Enhanced Flared Magazine Well and Rear Receiver QD Swivel Attachment Point. CNC Machined of 7075-T6 Aluminum
- UPPER RECEIVER: Mil-Spec with Indexing Marks and M4 Feed Ramps. CNC Machined of 7075-T6 Aluminum
- BARREL: Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel, Cold Hammer Forged, 1:7 Twist, 7″ S2W Profile, Chrome Lined, Mil-Spec Heavy Phosphate Coated, and HP/MPI Tested
- GAS SYSTEM: Low Profile Gas Block CNC Machined of 4140 hardened steel with Mil-Spec Heavy Phosphate Coating, Pistol Length, Direct Impingement
- MUZZLE DEVICE: Daniel Defense Linear Compensator, 17-4 PH Stainless Steel, Salt Bath Nitride Finished
- BOLT CARRIER GROUP: M16 Profile, Mil-Spec MP Tested, Chrome Lined, Properly Staked Gas Key
- BUFFER: Maxim Defense Enhanced Buffer System
- HANDGUARD: MFR XL 6.0 M-LOK, CNC Machined of 6061-T6 Aluminum, Type III Hard Coat Anodized
- CHARGING HANDLE: GRIP-N-RIP Charging Handle, Body CNC Machined of 7075-T6 Aluminum, Handles & Latch CNC Machined of 6061-T6 Aluminum, Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Roll Pins, Type III Hard Coat Anodized
- BRACE: Maxim Defense CQB Pistol Brace
- PISTOL GRIP: Daniel Defense Pistol Grip, Glass Filled Polymer with Soft Touch Overmolding
- Made in the USA
Out of the box, the DDM4-PDW (pistol braced version) gives a strong first impression. Starting with the basics you’d expect from any decent AR, this gun shows great parts fitment and is clear of obvious tooling marks. The receivers fit together tightly, without any slop. Basic boxes checked.
Moving up, I ran some dry-fire and weapons manipulation drills. The bolt carrier group slides back and forth as if on wheels. Brand new this gun feels like it’s broken-in. This charging handle is one of my favorites already, drawing favorable comparisons to the Radian Raptor ambi handle. The over-molded pistol grip is comfortable, a nice bonus. The linear compensator is great on the 7″ barrel, keeping the exaggerated bark to a dull roar.
While the Maxim PDW stock/braces are among the most durable out there, they do lack in one feature that I consider to be a near necessity: the ability to extend the stock/brace without depressing the release latch. CMMG has this feature on one of their stocks (called “grip-n-rip”, not to be confused with the charging handle on this gun with the same name). Q has this feature on their honey Badger stock/braces as well, and I’ve used it long enough to feel like I don’t want to do without it for a home defense gun. A small quibble in the big picture, and one some shooters will disagree with me on, especially since the Maxim brace gives the best
cheek weld, I mean shooting position from any of the PDW braces I’ve seen.
The included finger stop is also a near necessity and a welcome addition to the DDM4-PDW. With a 6″ forend, there’s not a lot of real estate to grab onto and the hand stop gives the shooter a consistent hold with the support hand, and well as a safety-check before a finger heads past the firing line, so to speak.
Summer break is always a tough time to get some shooting done, with so few good ranges nearby and so many people busy with them. To get some time alone I was forced to visit a couple short ranges to get groups done with this gun (and a pair of others). I started off with a quick zero on the attached Trijicon ACOG. I brought out some Federal 120gr Power-Shok rounds, as well as a bundle of Magtech 200gr subsonic rounds.
I’ve spoken on the Federal cartridge before, and used it very successfully in hunting. I reluctantly mention the Magtech subsonic loading now, because as soon as word gets out it is going to be even tougher to find than it already is. Magtech is making one of the best subsonic loadings for the .300 Blk, with regards to accuracy and reliability. Being a FMJ round it isn’t optimized for hunting, but runs great even in my picky rifles that are tuned for suppressed supersonic. Don’t sleep on Magtech if you haven’t heard of them, this stuff is awesome!
Back to the range. The Federal 120gr averaged a little under 2 MOA, which is pretty par for how the round performs in most of my rifles. Magtech’s subsonic FMJ grouped closer to 1 MOA, excluding a couple of fliers caused by sweat dripping into my eyes. 100°+ isn’t optimal for shooting! If I were to pick one thing that could improve the groups, it would be the trigger. It’s great for combat shooting, which this gun is set up for, but not as great for tight groups. The trigger is a bit heavy but has a clean enough break. If you’re shooting for a hit/miss, the hammer drops right when you want it to.
After moving to another range site (at higher elevation), I worked some CQB drills on a mini-IDPA steel plate at 25 yards. The DDM4-PDW really showed off as a well-balanced and deftly-set up little PDW. This is exactly the kind of gun I want to pull out when something bad goes bump in the night, or from behind the seat when a 4-legged tasty target of opportunity presents itself.
It’s easy to get excited about shooting a new gun. As a professional reviewer, that sheen wears off pretty quickly. When I say that the Daniel Defense DDM4-PDW is one of the nicest AR’s I’ve shot in the last 4 years, that puts it atop a pile of many dozens from major manufacturers. I’ll be getting the DDM4-PDW out to a longer range soon, I’m really looking forward to grouping at 100 yards and running a couple more ammo types through this gun. In the meantime, I wanted to drop off this quick (1000 word) heads-up as to what Daniel Defense is bringing to the table with their instant classic, the DDM4-PDW. This gun runs $1865 and has financing available. Check it out!
About Rex Nanorum
Rex Nanorum is an Alaskan Expatriate living in Oregon with his wife and kids. Growing up on commercial fishing vessels, he found his next adventure with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt. After 5 tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, he adventured about the west coast becoming a commercial fisheries and salvage SCUBA diver, rated helicopter pilot instructor (CFII) and personal trainer, before becoming a gear reviewer and writer.”