Gun Review Daniel Defense MK18 lead
Gun Review: Daniel Defense's MK18 5.56mm

Gun Review: Daniel Defense’s MK18 5.56mm

Daniel Defense's SOCOM-born short-barrel MK18 rifle with “Mil-Spec+” upgrades is ready for today’s warfare!

I have been a fan of Daniel Defense rifles for several years. I’ve been fortunate to tour the company’s production and assembly plants in both Georgia and South Carolina. The history of the company is quite remarkable. Marty Daniel started it all with one product: a sling adaptor. Daniel Defense went on to design a Rail Interface System (RIS) handguard to meet a request from U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). More than 10 years later, Daniel Defense is still delivering RIS II rails to USSOCOM and other military units.

Daniel Defense’s slogan is “Stronger, Lighter, Better.” So, just how tough are Daniel Defense rifles? If you visit the company’s website or surf the net, you have probably seen the torture test video ( In the video, Larry Vickers takes a DDM4 carbine and buries it, sinks it, shoots it, runs it over, blows it up and drops it from a helicopter. After each evolution, the rifle was fired to test its accuracy and reliability. The results speak for themselves: Each time the rifle kept on running.

RELATED: Daniel Defense DDM4v7, MK12, V9 and MK18- New for 2014 |VIDEO

Daniel Defense has built a reputation for being completely committed to quality. To that end, Daniel Defense manufactures nearly every component of its rifles in-house. This not only includes the barrels, the upper and lower receivers, bolts and fire control parts, but it also extends to the pins and detents. In addition, the company provides OEM parts to several other well-known manufacturers.

A quality barrel is at the foundation of every Daniel Defense rifle. All of its mil-spec barrels are cold-hammer forged through intense hydraulic pressure that is applied at opposing angles by carbide-steel hammers. During the hammering process, a mandrel is inserted into the bore. The hammers shape the barrel’s chamber, lands and grooves around the mandrel, creating a defect-free bore and a consistent chamber. Every barrel is magnetic-particle (MP) tested to ensure that there are no hidden flaws or fractures. In fact, Daniel Defense is one of only two U.S. companies that produce hammer-forged barrels, with the other being FNH USA.

Daniel Defense offers a wide selection of M4 rifles with pistol-, carbine- or mid-length gas systems. Being a fan of short-barreled rifles (SBRs), I was attracted to the company’s updated MK18. The MK18 is a clone of the carbine used by USSOCOM, and it features a 10.3-inch barrel. While the company offers select-fire rifles to government agencies, my test rifle was an NFA-approved semi-automatic. This allows the MK18 to be sold to any qualified buyer through the customer’s local FFL /SOT dealer.

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