“Wheels are in motion, Mike. As discussed, we plan on sending you a Delta 5 PRO w/ an 18” 6.5 Creedmoor barrel.” So responded Daniel Defense’s Law Enforcement Sales Manager to my question about what rifle they were sending for a review, and for me to use during a sniper school being held at The Range at Camp David near Edgefield, South Carolina.
Daniel Defense announced their newest Delta 5 bolt gun model last year, the Delta 5 Pro chassis rifle. It was aimed squarely at precision and long range shooters. The Delta 5 Pro comes chambered in 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win. The original models give you your choice of 20″, 24″ and 26″ barrel lengths.
The Delta 5 Pro was designed with Precision Rifle Series competitors and LE/MIL applications in mind. Requests for a shorter barrel option, particularly by LE groups, are why I had to add ‘Prototype’ to the title of this review. Again to quote DD: “Our reason for offering a shorter (18″) barrel is market demand in the MIL/LE space. The MIL/LE team has demonstrated the Delta 5 Pro to numerous agencies across the country and the number one request has been shorter barrels than available in our current offerings.”
The reason these customers — as opposed to PRS competitors — wanted the option of a shorter barrel is simple. “Ease of transportation and concealability. Engagement distances have really driven the demand for shorter barrels. In the LE space, there really isn’t a need for a 24″ or 26” 6.5CM.”
The 18″ Delta 5 Pro won’t be available to the general public until later in the year and 6.5 Creedmoor will be the only 18″ barrel offered, at least for now. So with those caveats, on with the review….
“Guaranteed to Shoot 0.5 MOA or Better”
That’s the accuracy guarantee Daniel Defense provides with every Delta 5 Pro rifle. I will go through all the data later, but Daniel Defense designed the Delta 5 Pro to be an out-of-the-box, PRS competition-ready rifle that falls somewhere between basic, entry level models and custom builds.
Spoiler alert: the rifle I tested consistently produced sub-.5 MOA groups. The group pictured here was a 5-shot group shot at 100-yards from the prone position. Daniel Defense isn’t making a false claim about accuracy.
Muzzle Brake and Interchangeable Barrel
A Daniel Defense-manufactured, cold hammer-forged, threaded, stainless steel barrel and an Area 419 Hellfire Muzzle Brake come standard on the Delta 5 Pro (See TTAG article on a visit to the Daniel Defense Factory for more details of the Daniel Defense manufacturing process.) The barrel features a thin-film Cerakote finish to protect against wear and tear and rust.
The makers of the Area 419 brake claim it reduces recoil by ~50% in a 6.5 Creedmoor caliber rifle. I can attest to the fact that both muzzle rise and recoil were almost nonexistent in range sessions and Sniper School training during which I, and others, fired 240 rounds from a variety of positions. You’ll have no trouble staying on the rifle and tracking your shots onto the target.
The 18″ barrel was noticeably more manageable and less cumbersome relative to the 24″ Delta 5 I reviewed previously. That isn’t surprising, but the Delta 5 Pro 18″ model was also easier to handle than the 20″-barreled DD5. I can understand why LE agencies requested the barrel length of 18″.
The barrel is end-user replaceable (see this video). Swapping out barrels requires a minimum of tools and can be done in just a few minutes. Daniel Defense made this possible to accommodate not only the replacement of barrels worn out through PRS-levels of firing, but also to allow the end-user to change calibers for different shooting applications.
Again, Daniel Defense only plans to offer the 18″ barrel in 6.5 Creedmoor.
The manufacturing of Daniel Defense rails occurs in-house, using aircraft grade 6061-T6 aluminum. The Delta 5 Pro comes equipped with a rail with plenty of M-LOK attachment points at a variety of angles as well as a full 10 QD sling mounting points.
The rail has been scallop cut to allow mounting even large-objective scopes at a lower bore height. This Delta 5 Pro 18″ came with a Kahles K525i 5-25 x 56 optic pre-mounted. I did not have to raise either the butt or cheek riser to extreme height (see below) to get a clear view through this 56mm objective scope.
The scalloped cutout in the chassis allows you to mount scopes lower over the bore, even those with large objective lenses such as this 5-25 x 56.
The Picatinny Scope Base comes standard with 20 MOA / 5.8 MRAD of elevation adjustment.
The Delta 5 Pro has the integral (to the chassis), Arca Swiss Lock that runs the full length of the rail for mounting bipods and other accessories.
The scalloped edge of the Arca rail may look sharp, but in practice, it’s very comfortable.
Action, Bolt, Trigger and Pistol Grip
A stainless steel action with an integral recoil lug forms the basis of the Delta 5 Pro chassis. It’s a three-lug bolt with a 60-degree throw for faster cycling and firing. Another unique aspect for the Delta 5 and Delta 5 Pro is the floating bolt head. This design offers a significant advantage for a shooter. Specifically, the bolt head will always center when locked in place behind the barrel.
The Delta 5 Pro bolt head will always equalize between the lug abutments. That makes it impossible for the bolt head to align the cartridge off-axis in the chamber. A removable, 5/16 – 24″ threaded, knob completes the bolt assembly.
The Delta 5 comes with an adjustable single stage, Timney Elite Hunter trigger with a two-position safety. The crisp Elite Hunter trigger can be adjusted to break at anywhere from 1.5 to 4.5 pounds of pull weight.
The Delta 5 Pro has an AR-15 pistol grip with both right- and left-handed thumb rests. Some might consider an AR-15 pistol grip an odd choice for a precision rifle set-up. The good news is the grip is detachable thus allowing the end user to substitute an aftermarket version if they can’t come to grips with the AR-15 angle handle.
A 10-round PMAG AICS short action magazine comes standard with the Delta 5 Pro.
Infinitely Adjustable Buttstock
Daniel defense manufactures the Delta 5 Pro stock – like their other stocks – from carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer. The stock on this rifle is almost infinitely configurable, with tool-less adjustability.
The following photo shows each of the knobs used to adjust the 1) height of the butt (knob at far left), 2) length of pull (releasing the next two knobs to the right and rotating the wheel between them), and 3) height of the cheek riser (upper, larger knob).
There are set screws on the other side of the stock that secure the cheek riser height – so I guess if you want to do that, you will need one tool.
It was easy to quickly adjust the stock, giving me the best, most repeatable, comfortable shouldering and eye relief when firing from a prone position. Once I secured the knobs finger-tight I didn’t experience any slop or creep in the settings.
My classmates and instructors at the Sniper School also noted the ease of adjustments. I was able to return the stock and cheek piece to ‘my’ settings quickly after loaning the rifle to some of the other shooters.
Accuracy at 100-400 yards
The first shooting session with the Delta 5 Pro occurred at the Elbert County Gun Club rifle range. As usual, I fired at targets located at 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards. From the bench, I used my normal setup: sandbags supporting the forearm and an Armageddon Gear Waxed Canvas Optimized Game Changer support bag for the butt of the rifle.
The ammo used was Hornady’s 140 grain ELD Match ammunition used for both the range session and the Sniper School.
Every Daniel Defense firearm I have fired has produced excellent accuracy. The Delta 5 Pro 18″ was no different. The following graph summarizes the results from all distance and rest combinations.
As expected, the prone position provided the greatest accuracy, with all groups less than or equal to 0.5 MOA. However, even the relatively less stable bench rest resulted in groups lower than 1 MOA at all distances, including a sub-0.5 MOA group at 100 yards. These results gave me confidence to move onto the next, more challenging, portion of the review at the Sniper School.
In order to rigorously test the Delta 5 Pro for its raison d’être — long-range shooting — I shot at the longest distances available to me, as far as 800 yards. I also asked each of the other seven course participants, the two instructors, and The Range at Camp David’s owner to have a go at the rifle at distances of anywhere from 500 to 800 yards.
We fed a total of 240 rounds (including another 60 rounds at my gun club) through the Delta 5 Pro 18″ barrel during the process
Let’s start with a demonstration of accuracy. The following photo comes from a Longshot LR-3 video. The five-shot group on the left-hand IPSC silhouette (66 IPSC: 20″ x 12″) was my group from a prone position at 800 yards.
If I hadn’t yanked one left or failed to read that the right-to-left wind had decreased for that shot (more likely), the group would have been ~5 inches and sub-0.6MOA. Still, the Delta 5 Pro proved to be very accurate in everyone’s hands including better, more experienced shooters than me.
Not surprisingly, our two instructors, Tommy Goodson…
…and Chris Walker, obtained the expected sub-0.5MOA results out to the longest distances.
Chris and Tommy also commented on the ease of handling of the rifle due to the 18″ barrel. Both work in law enforcement now, with Tommy having also served in the military in a sniper team and confirmed the frequent desire for shorter barrels in those situations.
The Delta 5 Pro rifles are meant to be competition-ready on day one. This 18″ model falls under the same category, just in a slightly more compact form. It’s a comfortable, configurable, accurate rifle that’s made to reach out and touch targets at the farthest distances. And it does that quite well.
Specifications: Daniel Defense Delta 5 Pro Chassis Rifle
Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
Action Type: Bolt
Capacity: Rifle comes with a 10-round PMAG AICS Short Action magazine
Overall Length: 39.5″
Barrel: Cold hammer forged, Cerakoted, threaded, stainless steel
Barrel Length: 18″
Weight: 13 lbs without riflescope, 15.4 lbs with Kahles K525i 5-25 x 56
Stock: Toolless, Fully-Adjustable Buttstock (length, pitch, height) and cheek riser
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and appearance: * * * *
It looks like a chassis rifle. It’s built for performance and it looks like what it is, a 1000-yard rifle.
Ergonomics: * * * * *
When a rifle weighs over 15 pounds with the scope, I notice that I’m lifting it. Also, when I’m using it for a Sniper Course where I’m forced to slide it into tight niches and positions that are either too low or too high for my body size, I notice its weight. However, that weight is right in line with other rifles in this class. The almost infinitely adjustable stock means you won’t have a problem configuring it for comfortable shooting.
Reliability: * * * *
It’s a bolt action rifle so it’s reliable, but with the following caveat. On the first day of the Sniper School we experienced a lack of consistent extraction with trouble on about one out of very five shots fired. That night, we lubricated the bolt and chamber. We had no further issues during the remaining ~180 rounds fired in the course.
Accuracy: * * * * *
Accuracy at distances from 100 to 800 yards was as advertised…sub-0.5 MOA. Several other shooters and I achieved that degree of accuracy with standard factory loads, albeit some of the most accurate factory ammunition out there…mostly Hornady 140 grain ELD Match. I have to assume that loading your own would only improve on our results.
Overall: * * * * 1/2
The Delta 5 Pro 18″ prototype is a well-designed, accurate rifle. It’s meant to be ready to go, right out of the box. Daniel Defense intends their Delta 5 Pro models to be out-of-the-box PRS and MIL/LE long-range competitive rifles, and this 18″ model is no different. Every one of the data sets collected supports that claim.
Mike Arnold writes for a number of outlets; you can find links to other articles here.
[All photos courtesy of Mike Arnold.]