Before 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:
Detachable box magazine
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 REVIEW
1 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.
3 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).
2 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).
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.
The Daniel Defense Delta 5 rifle is a swing and a miss for a precision bolt action rifle.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Hammer forged barrel
Bolt that binds
Poor designed comb
Too expensive for production class PSR
Binding bolt, broken bolt-handles, and safety recalls for fire control parts breaking under normal use.
If you already own the Daniel Defense Delta 5 or are looking to get one, there’s some items I recommend you get with your gun. Some of which you might already have, but if you don’t then, now’s the time to grab them.
Also, there are some options to upgrade your Daniel Defense Delta 5. Here is a quick list of standard upgrades you should think about:
Best Scopes for the Daniel Defense Delta 5
If you own a rifle of any kind, you know that you can only do so much with iron sights. I personally like to challenge myself with iron sights, but I am still limited on distance because of accuracy. So what that means is, a scope is not only a good idea, but a must have in order to fully maximize your firearm. Something important about scopes is, you get what you pay for. If you get a scope on a budget, you can expect that type of result. So do yourself a favor, save up a little more to get one that is higher quality, and in the end you will be glad you did.
As I mentioned above you get what you pay for with scopes. The NightForce is my Editors Choice due to the fact that it has incredible vision with the quality of the lenses, along with the ability to perfectly adjust the MOA. There is a reason Nightforce is a top scope.. CHECK AMAZON PRICE
If you want to extend your effective shooting range (like me) at distances where bullet drop and wind drift become super important, take a peek at the Viper HS LR riflescope. The LR stands for long range — and its true. CHECK AMAZON PRICE
Best Scopes for the Daniel Defense Delta 5
If you plan on taking your Delta 5 out (whether to the range or for sport), I can guarantee you’re going to want a sling. Just carrying my own firearm by hand gets old, real quick. I always grab a good sling, and after a long hunt, my body thanks me.
This sling is my Editors Choice and a favorite for me, and that goes for just about every long gun I own. It’s lightweight, sturdy, and it’s got padding in all the right places. I love that it has an extra-wide strap to prevent the sling from digging into my shoulder when going on longer treks. CHECK IT OUT ON AMAZON
Another ASR (Advanced Sniper Rifle) of its Class to Check Out
As you can tell by the grade, the Daniel Defense was not highly favored. But, I know some of you love it. Still, there are some of you on the hunt for a new rifle, in hopes it could help take your game to new heights. Read below about a review we did on an amazing rifle, it scored a really good grade and we highly recommend it.
The Barrett MRAD is a heavy-duty precision bolt-action rifle that can change calibers easily from 6.5 Creedmoor up to 338 Lapua. This setup is very similar to an AR-15’s barrel/bolt system where the head-space is already set and assembled and doesn’t require gunsmith assistance or chamber gauges. READ MORE HERE
How To Care For Your Daniel Defense DELTA 5
It’s one thing to own a rifle. It’s an entirely different thing altogether to take care of it with pride. If you want your rifle to last, you need to know how to take them down and do basic cleaning and maintenance. Below is our favorite cleaning kit. Here is a great video on what the Delta 5 is all about.