Gun Review: Daniel Defense DELTA 5 Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

My first exposure to a Daniel Defense DELTA 5 rifle was at the recent Government Training Institute – Legion Precision Rifle Course (see my reviews for Day 1 and Day 2 of the course). Joe Marler, priorly of the USMC and now Daniel Defense’s Law Enforcement Sales Manager, used a DELTA 5 in .308 for the GTI course.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

Joe Marler of Daniel Defense firing a .308 DELTA 5 at a recent GTI Precision Rifle course – Photo courtesy David Young

I had only a brief, pre-course, glance at Joe’s DELTA 5, but I noticed later that the rifle seemed to be performing well – in terms of accuracy and handling – when someone, who knew the rifle, was firing it.

During the course, Joe and I chatted about a possible review of a DELTA 5, and in the end I got my hands on a DELTA 5 chambered to 6.5 Creedmoor.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

The modularity of the DELTA 5 reminds me a bit of Blaser R8 rifles. In the case of the DELTA 5, the modularity is reflective of the AR platform.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

To me, however, the biggest benefit of the DELTA 5 being based on an AR bauplan is the fully-adjustable stock. The stock on the review rifle came already set for a previous shooter, but I didn’t need to adjust it at all.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

I’ll discuss this more later, but my wife Frances – who is a tall woman with long arms – also fired the rifle, and we did not need to make major adjustments for her either. But the wide range of configurations available should accommodate the body shape and size of virtually any shooter.

The DELTA 5 comes equipped with a Picatinny rail with 20 MOA of elevation.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

The rifle came with a Kahles K525i 5-26×56 riflescope already mounted.

The DELTA 5 comes standard with a 5-shot AICS style short action magazine.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

But everyone knows that a larger magazine makes for cooler photos, so Joe provided me with a 10-round magazine as well. I admit that I never used the higher-capacity magazine at the range, but it is more photogenic.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

 

Again, reflective of the AR-based design are the 12 MAGPUL M-LOK attachment points along the underside of the stock – 11 on the forend and one under the butt (far right in the photo). The DELTA 5 also has three QD sling attachment points.

That synthetic stock features aluminum pillar bedding for the action and a free-floated barrel.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

The DELTA 5 also comes standard with a threaded muzzle for suppressor attachment, as well as a thread protector. The rifle sent to me for review came equipped with an Area 419 Hellfire Self-Timing Muzzle Break.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

The DELTA 5’s cold hammer forged barrel comes threaded for a suppressor.

Daniel Defense also mounted an Atlas bipod to a DD Picatinny rail section on the forend.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

Range Testing

The ammunition chosen for the DELTA 5 analysis was Hornady‘s 140-grain ELD Match. Because we were going to be asking the rifle and ammunition to hit targets located at distances of 100-700+ yards, we also carried along a LabRadar, Vortex Fury HD 5000 Laser Rangefinding Binocular, Vortex Razor HD 22-48×65 (Angled) Spotting Scope, Kestrel 5700 Elite Meter With Applied Ballistics and an Armageddon Waxed Canvas Optimized Game Changer Support Bag.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

We would zero the DELTA 5 at 100 yards.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

I was able to get .75 MOA results from the DELTA 5 shooting Hornady’s 140 gr. ELD Match ammo.

While sighting-in the DELTA 5, we also took velocity readings with the LabRadar . . .

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

…to get the most accurate ballistic solutions for the longer range shots.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

Once the velocity and distance data were available, I set up ballistic solutions using the Kestrel LiNK ballistic app ranging from 300 – 715 yards.

Shooting the DELTA 5

When Frances and I headed to the range, the plan was for me to be the shooter and Frances the photographer/videographer. Once we arrived and I started working with the DELTA 5, I realized that it would be a great first-centerfire-rifle experience for her.

To clarify, Frances had fired .22 rimfire rifles at paper targets and metal cans. She had never before fired a centerfire rifle, and obviously had never fired a rifle of any kind at targets located further than 20-yards or so away.

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

Here are the notes I jotted down concerning the accuracy of the DELTA 5:

  1. 200 yards – my one shot dead center
  2. 200 yards – Frances fired three shots which were also near the target center
  3. 300 yards – I fired three shots, all near center hold
  4. 300 yards – Frances fired two shots, slightly to right of center hold
  5. 400 yards – I was only shooter all three shots bordering or in 2-inch red circle
  6. 500 yards – I shot, 4 hits, 1 miss
  7. 600 yards – my 3-shot group was sub-MOA, left of red circle
  8. 600 yards – Frances hit nearer to center hold than I did with all three of her shots
  9. 700 yards – my 3-shot group to right of red circle
  10. 700 yards – Frances hit the metal target 3 out of 4 shots
  11. 715 yards – my 3 shots were sub-MOA
  12. 715-yards – the last two shots fired were Frances’, and she crushed it!

daniel defense delta 5 rifle

The last two shots of the day fired by Frances – distance, 715 yards.

Conclusions

I am going to let Frances’ experience, performance and comments provide most of the feedback concerning the overall performance of the Daniel Defense DELTA 5 Rifle.

 

As stated above, this was Frances’ first time shooting a centerfire rifle. After repeatedly calling ‘impact!’ as she fired at increasingly distant targets, I asked what she was experiencing from the rifle, riflescope and rest.

Her answers were very insightful, because they weren’t coated with an ‘I know what I am doing’ attitude. She stated that she was amazed at how light the recoil was. In fact, she turned to me and grinned and asked why I came home with a bruise after a recent course at the Government Training Institute…

She went on to say that it was amazing how clear the small targets were in the riflescope, even when they were as far away as 715 yards.

We were both extremely impressed by the DELTA 5’s performance. We consistently connected on our shots at distances out past 700 yards (I missed one at 500 yards and she missed one at 700 yards).

Those results speak for themselves. The DELTA 5 (paired with the Hornady ammunition) was extremely accurate at the long-distances for which it was designed.

Daniel Defense claims the DELTA 5 is capable of .5 MOA performance. If you’re someone who loads their own ammunition for precision long range shooting, I have no doubt that’s true.

With apologies to Joe Marler and all the owners and staff at Daniel Defense, I’m more proud of Frances than I am of the DELTA 5.

 

Specifications: Daniel Defense DELTA 5 Rifle

Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
Magazine: One AICS 5-round magazine included
Overall Length: 44”
Barrel: User-interchangeable, cold hammer forged
Barrel Length: 24”
Barrel Twist: 1:8 RH
Muzzle Thread: 5/8” x 24 TPI with thread protector
Weight: 9.5 lb
Stock: Carbon fiber reinforced polymer
Cheek Riser: Adjustable for height, yaw and drift
Buttstock: Adjustable for length of pull and butt pad height
Attachmentss: 11 M-LOK, 3 QD
Bolt: Three-lug bolt with a 60 degree throw and floating bolt head
Bolt Knob: 5/16 – 24″ removable
Trigger: Adjustable, single-stage Timney Elite Hunter with two position safety (1.5 – 4 lbs)
Picatinny Rail: 6.25 inch, 20 MOA elevation
MSRP: $1,799 

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style * * * * 
The DELTA 5 looks sharp…as sharp as a synthetic stock bolt gun can look. I lines on both the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 model DELTA5 rifles with their carbon fiber reinforced polymer are pleasing enough.

Fit and Finish: * * * * *
The finish of the DELTA 5 is smooth, with none of the raised texture that I encountered in other carbon-fiber stocks. All of the metalwork was smooth and fitted tightly. The barrel features a Cerakoted finish that’s smooth and even. Both magazines slid into place with ease regardless of the attitude of the rifle, or which hand I was using.

Accuracy * * * * *
I don’t know if all DELTA 5s are this accurate, but this review rifle produced sub-sub-MOA groups for an experienced- and first-time shooter – all the way out to 715 yards. We’ll leave it at that.

Ergonomics * * * * *
At 9.5 pounds without a riflescope, the DELTA 5 is not designed to be lugged through the woods – at least not by me. But, that same 9.5 pounds provides excellent stability and extremely manageable recoil. The almost infinitely adjustable butt-stock and cheek-riser allow the shooter to fit the DELTA 5 to just about any body type. The rifle’s smooth action and “notched” 60-degree bolt knob were ideal for fast, easy cycling.

Reliability * * * * *
It’s a bolt gun. You’d expect there to be no issues and there weren’t any.

Overall * * * * *
The Daniel Defense DELTA 5 in 6.5 Creedmoor performed exceptionally well in the role for which it was designed – consistently striking targets at extreme distances. It did this both in the hands of a first-time centerfire shooter as well as those of an experienced shooter. The rifle’s design, including its adjustability and weight, provided stability and excellent ergonomics that helped both of us be consistent almost immediately.

 

 

Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of Mike and Frances Arnold.

Mike Arnold writes about firearms and hunting at his blog Mike Arnold, Outdoor Writer.

 

comments

  1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    715 yards sub MOA. Nice.

    I said it more than once I plan to stretch my legs this summer. 200 yards with a decent centerfire doesn’t even make me give wind consideration. I have a lot to learn.

    1. avatar WI Patriot says:

      You do realize that 715yds, sub moa is still almost 7in…

      1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

        Yeah. That’s still a great shot. My “nice” comment was directed towards the shooters. I’ve only shot further than 200 yards 3 times in my life. 1st time at a crow 426 yards, mini 14 hit a crow, 2nd time 225 yard heart shot on a deer with Howa .270, 3rd time 750 yards at Texas Firearms Festival 6.5 Creedmore I’ve hunted Michigan swamps my entire life, 100 yards is usually uncommon.
        You do realize that less than 18″ is still considered a man sized target. So even a 2 moa rifle would be deadly at that range+.

        1. avatar WI Patriot says:

          An 18″ target gets very small at 700yds…a 2moa rifle at 700yds leaves 2″ of margin on either side, not a lot of room for error…
          My best shots were taken from a H&K G3 in ’84(Germany, ReForGer ’84, German Infantry quals), 800 meters on iron sights, now days, I limit myself to 500 or less, even with my .308…

  2. avatar SkyMan77 says:

    First!!! DD is blossomed into the Honda of the Firearms industry IMHO. Looks promising…

    1. avatar SkyMan77 says:

      Has Blossomed…

  3. avatar billy-bob says:

    Moor Creed!

  4. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Not a bad price point really.

    Nice rifle.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      Serious rifles are usually 2-3 times this price. At 2016 Texas Firearms festival I shot 750 yards with a rifle that cost 5 times this, with fewer options.

      I’m shooting a stock Axis II that can shoot less than 1 moa at 100 yards with the cheap factory scope. My goal this summer is 500+ and increase as I improve over time.

      1. avatar SoCalJack says:

        I’m going to give percision shooting a try. Recently bought a Ruger American Hunter in 6.5 CM as an affordable entry point, for me anyways. It’s amazing there are sub moa rifles are under $600 and even more under $1k.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          “It’s amazing there are sub moa rifles are under $600 and even more under $1k.”

          This is how a drug habit starts too.

      2. avatar BOhio says:

        Jeff, I guess it depends on what your definition of ‘serious’ is. For the money you cite, I call that a serious case of delusion, unless you think the incremental performance is worth that egregious premium. Don’t let anybody else spend your money, and don’t let the tacticool crowd (e.g. the lewd, rude, and crude wannabes and posers on Snipers Hide) bully you into spending more than you need to. I set a range record (COF 200y – 1,000y) using a factory stock Rem 700 (I did adjust the original factory trigger myself, to 2.5 lbs) and a $250 scope, with a Crown Royal cloth bag filled with rice (figured in case I got stranded, ha ha, actually because it was lighter than sand for the volume) and a Harris bipod. All my gear cost about $1k. And I used my own handloads, in .308 Win.

        There were other competitors there who had gear that may have cost 4-5x more. And I hope they thought it was worth that, because they were good guys (mostly). After the match, a few of us hung around to shoot some groups, just for fun, at 1,000y (prone). Two groups, five shots each. My 1st group was about 6.75″, and the second about 9.25″.

        And I’m not a Jedi who can mind control his bullets, but I do have utmost faith in my gear and my trigger pulling. Unless it’s really windy, and then goodnight Irene. 🙂

        Like Jeff and GuyWithAGun suggest, you do NOT need the most expensive gear to win (or have fun). You need gear that’s good enough, and there are lots of options in 6.5CM and .308Win that will cost you under $1k for the rifle, and a $400 scope will be more than adequate. And a $100 Harris bipod.

        As for rice, I think I used Uncle Ben’s. (Earlier that morning of the record-setting match, I think I had Aunt Jemima syrup on my pancakes, with Land O’ Lakes butter — their original logo.)

        I might try one of these, but I’m really hoping to be disciplined enough to wait for the SIG Cross when it’s finally available. At 6.5 lbs and folding stock, I think it will be a winner, for about the same cost as the DD rifle reviewed above. Sure, a little more recoil, but 6.5CM isn’t much of a kicker. (Readers who avow that spending more is always worth it, can opt for ‘The Fix’ by Q…)

  5. avatar Dan says:

    What’s the best bolt action 6.5 Creedmoor for around $1000?

    1. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

      Ruger Precision if you are talking about target shooting. Most people put Vortex glass on for $700-1100 more.

      For just hunting the only thing I’ve shot 6.5 creedmoor was a Savage Axis. It wasn’t mine, but I’d guess that was around $350 and would be more than adequate unless you are into pretty wood furniture.

    2. avatar AGuyWithAGun says:

      I have a savage model 10 in an hs precision stock with a stock trigger, stock varmint barrel and a vortex strike eagle and I can put 5 rounds of hornaday eld match 147 grainers through the same hole at 100 yards and dial elevation and hit a 10″ target at 1000 on my first shot if there’s no wind. Cabellas had the most recent iteration of the gun in the same stock for 799 a few weeks ago. The optic can be had for 300. Add a Harris bipod and you’re at 1200 plus tax.

  6. avatar Sam Hill says:

    Nice looking rifle. Well written review. If I could justify the expense, it would be a cool toy. I don’t hunt, and if I need to defend anyone or me at that distance, the enemy has already won. I’m dead and there will be no sad singing.

  7. avatar Mike Oregon says:

    I have a Stag arms model 10L in 6.5Creedmoor with the 24″ heavy profile barrel. I’ve done several N.R.A. Hi Power 600 yard matches with it. Using Federal Premium with the 130gr. Berger open tip match I’ve consistently shot a 3″ average. The only down side is it’s heavy, like 14 pounds with scope, bi-pod and a mono -pod.

  8. avatar possum says:

    I got to shoot the 6.5 Creedmoore yesterday. If I were still hunting and this cartridge had been available this would have been a doosie of a caliber for me.. I wouldn’t want one that weighed ten pounds though.

  9. avatar Hoyden says:

    So I’m guessing you’d better be on your best behavior from 700 yards in when “she who must be appeased” is on overwatch??

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