“You’re going to have a lot of fun with that pistol!” Those were the first words out of my friend Tom, owner of Shooters Den, when I lifted the Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW from its shipping case. I replied, “Yes, yes, I am…”
When I spoke with Daniel Defense about reviewing one of their firearms, I asked for their long-range, semi-automatic rifle, the DD5 V4. But they told me, “Our emphasis right now is getting the word out about our PDW.” It didn’t take much convincing to get me to give one a try.
Though DD also agreed to send me a DD5 rifle, the die was cast for me to also get my hands on their new — just released at the SHOT Show in January — DDM4 PDW.
Daniel Defense is making the DDM4 PDW in two configurations, both chambered in 300 Blackout; a SBR and this pistol version with a brace. Both have cold hammer-forged 1:7 barrels that are ideal for use either with or without a suppressor.
My first impressions of this ultra-compact personal defense weapon was “man, it’s tiny…and way-cool!”
With a barrel length and OAL of only 7″ and 20.75″, respectively, and an unloaded weight of 5.7 lbs, this is an extremely compact package that carries comfortably in a backpack for transport to the range. It would also make an awfully good truck gun, too.
The compact DDM4 PDW pistol with arm brace is a compact, lightweight and versatile little weapon that works well in a wide variety of situations.
Daniel Defense equips the DDM4 PDW with a number of upgraded features like Daniel’s ambidextrous GRIP-N-RIP charging handle which is designed for shooting with a suppressor.
The GRIP-N-RIP has gas ports cut in to redirect gasses away from the shooter’s face.
The DDM4 PPW also features an ambidextrous fire control switch and an over-sized bolt release. The magwell is flared and the lower features a QD swivel point attachment for a sling.
Other features of note include a Daniel Defense-made linear compensator that directs the blast from that short barrel forward and away from the operator.
There’s a CNC-machined 6-inch version of Daniel’s MFR XL free-floated aluminum hand guard with plenty of M-LOK connection space.
Daniel Defense also includes a SLR M-LOK MOD2 hand stop that keeps the shooter’s forward hand away from the muzzle end of that short, seven-inch barrel.
The DDM4 PDW comes standard with a Maxim Defense CQB Pistol Brace that, when extended, adds an additional four inches to the pistol’s overall length beyond the end of the buffer tube.
With the Maxim brace fully extended, the DDM4 PDW is still only about 21 inches in overall length making it easily portable or stowed away in a trunk.
The DDM4 PDW ships with one standard 30-round Magpul AR 300 PMAG. I tested the DDM4 PDW with a Vortex SPARC AR Red Dot optic.
The Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW is, well, a personal defense weapon. That means it’s intended to be used as a home defense gun or a firearm you can stow in your trunk and use at close ranges to protect yourself and your family. But man, it’s also a hoot to shoot at the range.
While it’s light and easy to transition from target to target, just as you’d expect, I was amazed at the accuracy I got out of this pistol, even with subsonic loads.
Here’s another of my targets — this time a 20-shot group fired from the same rest at 50-yards — proving that in addition to a good self-defense tool, the Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW is a shooter as well.
Being a PDW 50-yards or more isn’t the range at which this firearm is intended to be used, but this is no ‘spray-and-pray’ weapon. If the DDM4 PDW is needed for personal defense, it will provide the operator with the comfort of knowing it’s not only reliable but also very accurate.
If all you ever do is take the DDM4 PDW out to the range – which I sincerely hope is the case – it’s plenty of fun.
In this age where so many are trying to heap shame on those who love guns, we gun owners may sometimes forget why we love them so much. Maybe what we forget, and seem apologetic for sometimes, is that shooting firearms is just plain fun.
The Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW is a light, compact, maneuverable firearm that’s ideally designed as a versatile personal defense weapon. It would also terrorize feral hog populations should that be an issue where you live. But maybe best of all, it’s all kinds of fun to shoot.
Specifications: Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW
Caliber: 300 Blackout
Barrel Length: 7″ (1:7 twist for compatibility with sub- and supersonic loads)
Barrel Material: 4150 chrome moly vanadium steel, cold hammer forged
Overall Length: 20 3/4″ – 24 3/4″
Weight: 5.7 lbs
Muzzle Device: Linear compensator
Capacity: One Magpul 30-round AR 300 B GEN M3 PMAG included
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style * * * *
I’m definitely a traditionalist in that I love beautiful wood stocks and blued finishes on my firearms. This AR-pattern pistol is all machined aluminum, bristly Picatinny rails and MLOK slots. But with its short barrel and adjustable-length arm brace, the DDM4 PDW is a cool looking firearm…as cool as an AR pistol can be.
Fit and Finish: * * * * *
The parts of the DDM5 PDW show no signs of rough edges, machining marks or slop. Part joins are smooth and even and the coatings — whether on the cold hammer forged barrel or the machined aluminum upper and lower — are glass-smooth. Exactly as you’d want in a firearm at this price point.
Ergonomics * * * * *
At 5.7 pounds unloaded and an overall length as short as of 20 3/4″, this pistol is incredibly maneuverable and easy to handle. The ambidextrous controls and adjustable brace allow the operator to fire the weapon from a variety of positions, making it comfortable and fast to transition between targets.
Accuracy * * * * *
Accuracy at the range was surprisingly good from a short-barreled pistol, much better than expected for this type of firearm at distances beyond those at which a personal defense weapon is intended to be used.
Reliability: * * * * *
Not a single mechanical issue. With its pistol-length gas system, there were no failures to feed, extract or eject no matter the ammo tested.
Overall * * * * *
I challenged the Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW to perform in situations well outside of its raison d’être and it performed flawlessly. It’s not inexpensive, but the pistol’s compact, lightweight design and quality construction make in an excellent home defense or trunk gun option. When I expressed my surprise to a fellow-shooter at how well and accurately the PDW was performing, he stated flatly, “It’s what you expect from Daniel Defense.” Enough said.
Mike Arnold writes for a number of outlets; links to other articles can be found here.
[All photos and video courtesy of Frances and Mike Arnold.]
I like this a lot, and would gladly pay the asking price if I had money coming out of every orifice and price wasn’t an issue. DDs are well made.
However, I built three PSA ARs – including a configuration identical to the one in this article, including accessories – for the same $$ sum as just one of these DDs. And they all perform just fine for me.
I see DD as being a Ferrari of the gun world. Very well built, and lovely to look at. If you can cough/barf/fart up the money, go for it and enjoy. But even though PSAs are like the Hondas of the gun world, they do what they need to do just fine, and cost a whole lot less.
I’m glad for the article, though. Always fun to look at what’s out there.
I have to agree with you I own several PSA’s they all work just fine. If I was going to put that kind of money in a gun it would look a lot nicer than a DD. Thinking something more along the lines of a rifle or shotgun with nice walnut stock etc. Not something anodized or Ceracoted.
Build one yourself for a whole lot less $.
“Build one yourself for a whole lot less $.”
You obviously didn’t read what he just wrote, Andy :
“However, I built three PSA ARs – including a configuration identical to the one in this article, including accessories – for the same $$ sum as just one of these DDs. And they all perform just fine for me.”
Nearly two grand for a pistol that wouldn’t even be able to shoot across my back yard. Drop the price by $1,000 and add options for a 10.5-14″ barrel and it would be more in-line with the market.
That has to be one big backyard. Take a picture.
300+ meter hay field, 550+ if I wanted to perch up in my neighbors hay field but that puts me in view of the freeway and I don’t like that. Its unwanted attention.
I agree-a 10-14.5 inch barrel would definitely increase my interest in this as a pistol caliber
Uh, it is a pistol designed for personal defense, not a hunting or sniper rifle.
There’s plenty of top-end 1911s designed for SD that cost as much or more.
Over-priced and paying for a name. You can get into a Springfield Saint Victor in 300 blk, change the butt stock yourself to the and put a Radian Raptor SD changing handle on it (for supressors) and save a $800-$900 dollars and have a nice set up. Although that Maxim CQB forearm brace is slick, it’s heavy and rather expensive. I went with the SB Tactical SBA3 because it’s MUCH lighter than the extendable metal ones on the market and not just a little, that Maxim CQB weights in at 18.59 oz where my SB3 weighs 6.75 oz and is more than half the cost.
Yea, those Maxim PDW braces look cool AF, but they are expensive, heavy and clunky. A SBA3 or SBA4 is a much better brace in almost every way. Unless you absolutely need something that is a few inches shorter. But even then I’d rather have a traditional brace with a Law Tactical folder.
My Saint came with the non-adjustable SB tactical SBX-K I considered the Maxim and the SBPDW but the price and weight, mostly the weight was the determining factor. The SBPDW is 18 oz! All those ounces add up fast. I have an Aimpoint T1 on mine and a Surefire weapon light. Optics and a light are extremely important. A heavy-ass Maxim WAS NOT. Realistically, I’m getting nothing for all that extra weight and cost.
I don’t need length, I want short and tight.
At least DD never gave money to politicians, trying to earn a carve out for themselves, while throwing everyone else under the bus.
@ Jeff the Griz
I knew someone would bring that stuff up. I was ready for it. I don’t give a f—– . It’s inconsequential. Would you buy a very rare Russian type 1 AK47 for a good price? Hell yes you would. What about a Poly Tech Chinese AK? Anyone with a brain would. But wait just a damn second, we are talking about China and Russia! Nobody would not buy a rare gun at a good price because of the country of origin. Same goes for the politics of a gun manufacturer. When it comes to making a gun purchase, I’m not going to consider the politics of the corporation, I’m not buying that, I’m buying a gun.
All you did was churn out a talking point. I could listen to democrats do that all day long or watch CNN .
I’m a Democrat, and so far, the only people pushing talking points here are republicans who watch Fox news. Just saying….
“In this age where so many are trying to heap shame on those who love guns, we gun owners may sometimes forget why we love them so much.”
Not this guy. Pretty sure that is a major motivation for me.
Id like to see an article where one of these Gucci guns is compared to its budget counterpoint. Like above comments I too have a similar build for a third the cost and put 3,500 trouble free rounds through it last year between plinking and taking courses with it.
I have no doubt the folks employed by and assembling for these Gucci brands are better at their jobs on average than those working at higher volume lower priced fronts but if we assume skill parity do the components themselves justify the markup? DD isn’t machining all their own parts, are they? They have to source from somewhere and chances are good that source is supplying plenty of other builders.
I’m sure the DD weapon is a nice weapon, no doubt, but not for double the price for a high middle ground weapon. Hell, just what are we going to do with it to justify that? I can see carrying a top of the line daily carry for $1,000 as opposed to a 400-600 carry gun but for a 300 blk out AR pistol? Come on!
That being said, I’m a firm believer in buying what you want, not what you need, although do we REALLY need an AR 300 blk out pistol? Probably not but let’s put that aside for now. Say we are going to buy one no matter what, there’s not a damn thing wrong with buying what you WANT. I do it all the time. Cost many times is secondary to want. I research what I’m looking for, then what I want, evaluate what I’m getting for what price, then make a purchase. If a person can afford an AR 300 pistol for a grand, they can probably afford one for 2K also …..as long as the significant other doesn’t find out.
“DD isn’t machining all their own parts, are they? ”
They do. Uppers, lowers, BCGs, some stock and some small parts. I don’t know about the barrels and the handguards. That’s one big difference between guns like DD makes and other budget guns. The budget guns are parts guns, the same kinds of things you just build at home. The higher-end manufacturers actually do make their parts in-house. Some companies, like LaRue Tactical, take that to extremes, making their own barrels, as well as injection molded stocks and other parts as well. That doesn’t always make economic sense for the manufacturer, but some still do it. I know for a fact that LaRue’s guns, at over $2k street price, have a margin so low that if it weren’t for their small product sales, they’d go under.
Here’s some reviews of different AR15 platforms on this site.
If you’d like to compare budget to high end guns, back to back, flip through the reviews. Sometimes high end guns add up, sometimes not, and sometimes it makes no difference for the user. Sometimes you really just don’t need the bumps in reliability, accuracy, or other factors pricier guns give you. But some people do.
I remember being proud of a lower priced 1911 and showing it off to Dave Dawson of Dawson Precision. I think I had something like 3,000 rounds through it. He effectively said “great kid, call me when you have 30,000”. To him, if a pistol couldn’t make it to 50,000 rounds without issues, it wasn’t worth having, because he’d hit that in less than 2 years. I wasn’t there…yet.
The cool thing about DD’s CHF barrels is that the extension is forged as an integral part of the barrel, not screwed on like everyone else.
Personally I think the PDW is over priced for what it is. But to be fair I’m basing that on MSRP, I haven’t looked for it’s actual sale price. Overall DD guns aren’t cheap, but if you shop around for a deal they aren’t unreasonable for what you get. The quality is definitely there.
Great answer as usual, Mr. Taylor. The barrels and handguards are as well. If I could figure out how to add an image to this answer, I would paste in a photo of the board that describes the cold-hammer forging and other steps in barrel formation.
I’ll be writing up an article on the factory tour I took yesterday with more details about DD. I guess I should have written ‘spoiler alert’ before writing this about the barrels and handguards!
Nice gun, and a real nice range.
I like how they carved out ‘steps’ for each distance.
It sure must be nice to have the land for a range like that…
The last two times my bud and I went to the range, he took his 16″ AR, built by LE, with an ACOG. I took my DD, mid-length, with an Eotech & Magnifier and DD pistol with 10.5″ bbl, with an Aimpoint Pro. We did not shoot over 100 yards.
The mid-length printed paper better at 100. He was no match for either DD – accuracy, FTE/FTF, trigger reset, etc – and he used my lead sled. Neither one of us are considered a marksman, but the superior platform was evident. All that said, any weapon system is sufficient if you can hit where you are aiming.
Nagel’s Gun in San Antonio Texas is asking $3,999.00 for this gun. Why? The price here is $1,935.00. Fact: The fact is that price gouging is a crime, whether is in guns, medicines, food, etc… with the excuse that it’s the pandemic causing our price to go up. I appreciate that Daniel Defense sticks to their prices not matter what. I am on the waiting list to get this weapon. It will be my first Daniel Defense. Thanks….
Inspired from the tv series Yellowstone, this Kelly Reilly Blue Coat is poncho-style outerwear. Kelly Reilly portrayed the role of Beth Dutton, daughter of John Dutton in the series.
Where I live it’s illegal to build guns, so this one is going to work just right for me. Anyway, I wouldn’t build my own gun as I wouldn’t build my own car or parachute. As for the price, I’ve seen people throw their money into less important stuff. ‘Nuff said.