Although a relatively young company (founded in 2000), Daniel Defense has amassed a loyal following of enthusiasts for its DDM4 AR-pattern carbines, rail systems and accessories, racking up government contracts (both domestic and international) and 200- to 300-percent yearly growth. Recently, Tactical Life had an opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at the company.
Located in rural Georgia, the Daniel Defense Georgia facility measures in at 37,000 square feet. Walking in, I was greeted by Jay Duncan, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, who was to take me on my tour. As he was leading me to the manufacturing floor, he let me in on some new and significant news. “We are expanding our manufacturing capabilities and capacities by purchasing a new facility just across the border in South Carolina. This real estate acquisition will allow us to continue to grow our business and bring even more of the manufacturing processes in house to improve lead times and quality,” he said. The facility, which measures in at 90,000 square feet and will generate 100 new jobs, will be used for barrel finishing and parts anodizing, to name just a few of its new tasks.
Before any CNC machine is turned on, Daniel Defense engineers completely design their products in the 3D world of computer software. This cuts down on “teething” issues during development and streamlines the entire process.
As we began our tour, Jay took me step-by-step through all of the manufacturing and quality control steps the company employs. From conceptualization on a computer screen to R&D to manufacture to final assembly, I was saw all the steps firsthand. While on the manufacturing floor, I was able to see rail systems being made for the UK Ministry of Defence contracts for the SA80/L85 as well as the company’s amazing cold hammer forging machinery (see video). Interestingly, the hammer forging machinery requires its own floating foundation, as the vibration would eventually tear up the building’s regular foundation. I realized I could feel when the machine turned on, even when I was off the manufacturing floor.
The cold hammer forging machine is a sight to behold. It is set on its own floating foundation so it will not damage the foundation of the rest of the building.
Starting from raw steel (far left), barrels are turned down for uniformity (center) and then cold hammer forged into shape (right). As the barrel emerges, it features a perfectly formed chamber and clean rifling.
What struck me most about the facility was not only the cutting-edge CNC machinery, 3D computer programming, and general all-around advanced technology, but also how craftsmanship (dare I say, “old fashioned”?) plays such a significant part. These systems, from the second metal and aluminum hit the CNC machinery to the final assembly process, are given untold amounts of attention to ensure that they live up to the stringent quality standards for which Daniel Defense is known.
At the end of my tour, Jay and I headed back up to one of the meeting rooms and went over their current product line as well as some exciting new products that are in the works. Some were not a big surprise to me from what I knew of the company, while a few others he mentioned nearly floored me. Although I cannot go into details right now, keep an eye out in future issues of our magazines as well as www.tactical-life.com for more information when these can go public!