You heard it here first – we were the first to break the news of the Daniel Defense Delta 5 rifle after we found an ad published by Daniel Defense in the SHOT show app.

We were SUPER excited to check it out at SHOT Show – Daniel Defense is known for making quality products.

Well, what did we think once we got our hands on one?   Well…. it’s the rifle that we wanted to like, but don’t.

Daniel Defense Delta 5

~$2,200

Reliability: D
Customization: B-
Accuracy: A
Ergonomics: C
Value: F

Final Grade: D

Delta 5 Rifle Background

Daniel Defense Delta 5 Bolt Action RifleBefore SHOT Show 2019, Daniel Defense released a video promoting (teasing) their new rifle.

It was clear that it was going to be a bolt-action rifle which was clearly a new offering for Daniel Defense but they didn’t show much of the rifle.

As we were planning for SHOT Show, we noticed an ad in the SHOT Show app for the rifle (ad pictured here) – we posted the first article about it and the rest of the blogs/industry started to follow suit.

We guessed (correctly) the following features:

  • User-changeable calibers/barrels
  • Detachable box magazine
  • Threaded barrel
  • Custom stock
  • Adjustable comb (cheek-piece)
  • Oversized/”tactical” bolt knob
  • M-Lok on the sides of the fore-end

But, the rest was a mystery until those that got advanced access (not us, and not likely to be us in the future after we’re honest about this rifle) started posting more.

 

 

Daniel Defense Delta 5 Features

R

User-Changeable Calibers

Unlike many other user-changeable calibers for bolt-action rifles, the barrels from Daniel Defense come with a barrel extension (like an AR-15) so that the headspace is set form the factory.

R

Hammer Forged Barrel

To most of the precision shooting world, this is not something to brag about – but Daniel Defense is very proud of using hammer forged barrels (and they even left the hammer marks on the barrel – we think it looks awesome)

R

Custom Rifle Stock

One thing we really like about the Delta Five rifle: a standard rifle stock! Pistol grip chassis are cool – but they aren’t always necessary (nor desired).

Delta 5 Review
  • BARREL: User-interchangeable, stainless steel cold hammer forged to contour
  • ACTION: Mechanically bedded stainless steel action with integral recoil lug
  • BOLT: Three-lug bolt with a 60 degree throw and floating bolt head
  • BOLT KNOB: 5/16 – 24″ removable bolt knob
  • TRIGGER: Adjustable single stage Timney Elite Hunter with two position safety (1.5 – 4 lbs)
  • PICATINNY SCOPE BASE: 20 MOA/ 5.8 MRAD of elevation with four #10-32 bolts
  • BOTTOM METAL: Integrated with pillars and barrier stop
  • ERGONOMIC STOCK: Constructed of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer
  • ADJUSTABLE CHEEK RISER: For preferred height, yaw, and drift
  • CONFIGURABLE BUTTSTOCK: Offers length of pull and butt pad height adjustments
  • ATTACHMENT: 11 total M-LOK points along forend with one point on bottom of buttstock
  • QUICK DETACH: Three M-LOK QD sling points
  • CAPACITY: Five round PMAG 5 7.62 AC – AICS Short Action magazine included

Delta 5 Review – Our Take

The Delta 5 could have been awesome.

In fact, the spec-sheet features make it seem like it should be awesome.

But….

The Daniel Defense Delta 5 rifle is a swing and a miss for a precision bolt action rifle.

delta 5 rifle review

We give it a grade of a C  Honestly, we wanted to go lower, but there’s quite a few good things about the rifle that kept the grade higher.  Unfortunately, those good ideas are put into a total package that just doesn’t work.

Let’s start with the positive:

What we liked about Daniel Defense’s new Delta 5:

The hammer forging marks look cool. Yep, that’s it – they look cool. We’ll discuss their choice to use a hammer forged barrel below.

The Delta 5 has a truly novel barrel change system. We guessed that it would have a barrel nut for user changeable barrels (like a Savage) but we didn’t know that they’d use a barrel extension. THIS PART IS REALLY NEAT!

The benefit is that the user doesn’t have to worry about setting the headspace – they can just install a new barrel and bolt and go. Also, they said that they’d license the design – smart. The bad news will be covered below.

We also like that they chose to use a standard rifle stock design instead of a pistol grip. However, it was executed poorly.

The rings/notches in the adjustable cheek piece (comb) are a nice touch – those things always seem to slip[ and fall and DD took that into consideration. Unfortunately, they designed the rifle with engineers and not shooters and missed something that makes the adjustable cheek piece a loser.

Accuracy – the rifle can shoot!  It is a very accurate rifle.

M-Lok attachment points were a nice touch.

Including a 20 MOA rail was also smart.

The lug design/orientation is pretty cool too! It gives a shorter bolt throw and they really thought about the bolt release and the third lug in the top of the action.

 

What we didn’t like about the Delta 5 Rifle:

Let’s get a big one out of the way…. it looks, well, weird. Are we wrong here? Doesn’t it just look….bad? (at least imbalanced?)

delta five review

Maybe we’re too critical here but this fits our general opinion of this rifle… it was so close to being great but it just ended up as a horse designed by a committee… a camel.

Daniel defense bolt action reviewThe stock doesn’t “feel right” and it has some weird angles/lines to it.  On a purely cosmetic level, there’s an ugly gap/line forward of the barrel nut. On a functional level, the groove for your firing hand thumb seems to be like a good idea/neat feature, until you realize that it negates the whole purpose (well, my whole purpose) for resting my thumb on the same side as my trigger finger: to not control the rifle.

They placed a groove that looks cool, but it makes a shelf that allows your thumb to grip/control the rifle (which is the whole thing you’re trying to avoid by putting your thumb there).

Ok, maybe I’m splitting hairs.

Daniel defense bolt action rifleThe BIG issue with the stock? They put a GIANT hole for a screw EXACTLY where my cheek bone rests on the rifle. Even just laying on the rifle (not shooting) makes it dig into/hurt my cheek.

Who thought this was a good idea?

Ok, I’m starting to wonder if I’m just being cranky? Maybe it’s because there’s so many potentially great things about this rifle that I’m just upset that they got so close but missed on the execution? Let me know in the comments!

One of my bigger pet peeves on a rifle (especially one that is supposed to be higher-end): the bolt binds!  Yes, the bolt sticks at full extension if you don’t push inward a bit as you run the bolt (many guns do this). But this bolt sticks/binds at every point along its travel that we tried. Seriously – I pushed the whole rifle forward on the shooting bench by pushing forward on the bolt knob as the bolt was halfway home. Even factory Remington 700s are smoother than this.

Next issue: the price. They told us that they are going after the PRS market. Well, if they looked into PRS, they’d know that there’s two major classes for non military calibers: one allows everything (high-end custom rifles will beat this hands down) and one allows production rifles as long as the MSRP is under $2,000.

Well, this would’ve made a potential option for some (don’t do it – a Tikka TAC A1 is WAYYYYYYYYYYY better than this) but Daniel Defense made it with an MSRP of $2,200 so it is too much for one class and not enough for the other. Ugh.

The user changeable barrel with a pre-set head-space is handy unless you want a specific chamber or to have custom dimensions. Again, neat for factory, but a miss for people that truly want accuracy.

The construction seems “cheap.” The stock leaves a lot to be desired for this price and we’ve heard reports of bolt-handles breaks (yes, breaking) because they chose to use metal injection molded (MIM) parts instead of stronger (but more expensive) machined parts.  We’ve been told that this is being fixed.

UPDATE: Daniel Defense has issued a safety recall for Delta 5 Rifles because the firing pin cross pin can break under normal use causing the rifle to fire on its own. It is not clear whether this was caused by using MIM parts or whether it was a design/engineering issue. If you have a rifle, PLEASE head this safety warning.

Next up: the hammer forged barrel.

It’s been well proven that hammer forged barrels are not the way to go if you’re looking for the best accuracy. This is especially true if they are looking at the PRS crowd (like they said they were).

On we go…

The trigger. This is just a personal gripe but I’m not a fan of Timney triggers. For my use Trigger Tech triggers are far superior.

The barrel nut. Honestly, who cares about the barrel nut. I bring it up because it might just show, in one picture, what I think about the Delta 5 rifle…. they had the chance to make it great and instead…meh.

 

Summary:

Maybe I’m just cranky, I’ll come back and read this later, and adjust my review of the Daniel Defense bolt gun.

But, some seriously cool ideas (pre-headspaced barrels, notched comb adjustment posts, etc.) seem like they flopped in a rifle that seems like it was designed at a conference table and not by an actual shooter.

For less money, you’d be much better off with a Tikka TAC A1.

The Delta 5 rifle has a lot of spec-sheet worthy features but it feels like a hunting rifle trying to be a PRS-style rifle in a clunky stock.

Delta 5 Rifle Pros and Cons

User changeable barrels

Adjustable stock with mounts

Adccurate!

Hammer forged barrel

Bolt that binds

Poor designed comb

Too expensive for production class PSR

Daniel defense delta 5 review

Daniel Defense Delta 5

Final Grade: D

Report card

Reliability Binding bolt, broken bolt-handles, and safety recalls for fire control parts breaking under normal use.

F

Accuracy Super accurate

A+

Customization Not much to say here.

B-

Value Much better available for less money.

F

Ergonomics Pot-hole where your cheek rests

C