With so many manufacturers making ARs, it is sometimes difficult for a LE officer to find—on ever-limited dollars—the perfect AR for themselves. And in these economic times, the “perfect AR” for LEOs is the one that offers reliability at a price that doesn’t scare your wallet out of your pants.
The overwhelming majority of ARs offered on the market today are built from numerous companies all sourcing parts from only three or four primary manufacturers. And many of those companies are all selling ARs with their name on them, but almost all use the same parts made in the same place to build slight variations of essentially the same rifle. Many “AR manufacturers” are really “AR parts assemblers.”
When I consider spending my own money for an AR, I look first to companies who manufacture their own components. Any company that takes enough pride in their product to bring production in-house is a company that passes my initial selection to get my money. Parts assemblers are at the mercy of their suppliers when it comes to availability and quality control. While an AR might have “Company X” stamped on the side, that doesn’t mean they really make it.
A company like Daniel Defense, however, takes enough pride in ownership that they were willing to bring production of almost all components in-house to guarantee that they really are turning out a quality product that stands out against the competition. This is why I tell friends of mine that a Daniel Defense AR is an AR that they should own.
Daniel Defense makes their own barrels, upper receivers, lower receivers, receiver extensions, bolt carriers, bolts, carrier keys, gas tubes, etc. They even went so far as to produce their own lower parts kits composed of the trigger assembly and a bunch of tiny parts and pins. When a company is willing to produce their own pins for their rifles, it’s a safe bet that they’re obsessed with turning out a quality rifle.
The AR shooting community is not without its idiosyncrasies. A lot of AR shooters tend to be in the younger demographic in the shooting community and many are veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan or both. Law enforcement officers are also well represented in the AR owners’ ranks. A lot of AR shooters are also new shooters with limited experience. Many frequent the plethora of internet gun forums to share their passion with like-minded shooters from around the world.
No matter who you are, the most important questions to ask yourself before buying a new AR are: “Whose rifle should I purchase and how am I going to use it?” We’re an opinionated bunch of shooters, so advice made available to anyone considering purchasing a new AR is often varied, earnest and sometimes contradictory. First, choose a company that makes as much of their rifle as possible. As mentioned above, the pride of ownership that a company like Daniel Defense takes to produce their gun in-house bodes well for prospective buyers. The next step is to carefully consider the intended use of the rifle. With the exception of extremely mission-specific uses, the overwhelming majority of shooters will be well served with choosing a rifle like the Daniel Defense M4 XV EZ.