Daniel Defense Delta 5 Review

Daniel Defense Delta 5 Review

Daniel Defense has blazed a new trail with its first-ever bolt-action rifle, the Daniel Defense Delta 5.

Loyal readers of Shooting Times have been reading about Daniel Defense’s excellent AR-type guns—both rifles and pistols—in these pages for several years, so you probably already associate great quality and precision accuracy with the company’s name. Well, now that reputation can be transferred to the world of bolt-action rifles because Daniel Defense’s new bolt-action Delta 5 rifle is impressive.

The Delta 5 combines an all-new action designed by Daniel Defense with an aluminum mini chassis, an adjustable buttstock, a detachable magazine, a Timney Elite Hunter trigger, and a cold-hammer-forged barrel. The rifle also has several unique characteristics, so let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/shootingtimes/content/photos/Daniel-Defense-Delta5-1.jpg
Daniel Defense makes its own barrels using a cold-hammer-forged process. The Delta 5 barrels are 20 inches or 24 inches long depending on the chambering. All Delta 5 muzzles are threaded for suppressors and come with thread protectors.

The Barrel

The Daniel Defense Delta 5 is chambered for 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08, and .308 Winchester. Interestingly, the rifle is a switch-barrel design, so you can order a complete rifle in any of the three chamberings and add barrels in the other calibers. The company says the extra barrels should be available to customers sometime this summer. I’ll get into the barrel-swapping procedure in a minute, but first let’s look at the barrel itself.

Our sample came with a 6.5 Creedmoor barrel installed, and we also received an extra .308 Winchester barrel. The Creedmoor tube is 24 inches long and has a rifling twist rate of 1:8. The .308 Win. barrel is 20 inches long and has a twist rate of 1:10. Both barrels have precision crowned muzzles, and the muzzles are threaded for suppressors. The barrels are stainless steel and cold hammer forged in Daniel Defense’s own barrelmaking facility.


//content.osgnetworks.tv/shootingtimes/content/photos/Daniel-Defense-Delta5-2.jpg
The rifle’s design allows users to quickly and easily change barrels by virtue of the barrel nut. Headspace is set at the factory, so no gauges are required.

The barrels are held into Daniel Defense’s proprietary action by a barrel nut. Headspace is set at the factory, so no gauges are needed when swapping barrels.


Speaking of swapping barrels, it’s very easy. In fact, the first thing I wanted to do was swap the 6.5 Creedmoor barrel for the .308 Win. barrel because I’m a little bored with the Creedmoor. I know plenty of readers think the 6.5 Creedmoor is the cat’s meow, and I acknowledge it’s a very good cartridge because I’ve fired a lot of rifles chambered for the popular round, but I was more interested in seeing how the .308 Win. would perform in the Delta 5, especially since I had received a box of the new composite-case True Velocity .308 ammunition prior to the rifle’s arrival. (You can read more about this unique ammo in this story.)


Swapping barrels involves removing the bolt, unscrewing two stock screws, lifting the barreled action out of the stock and mini chassis, unscrewing the barrel nut, removing the barrel, inserting the new barrel, installing the barrel nut that comes with the new barrel, securing the barreled action back into the stock, and inserting the bolt into the action. It’s as simple as it sounds, and the whole process takes very little time. For anyone wondering, the barrel-nut wrench comes with the rifle.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/shootingtimes/content/photos/Daniel-Defense-Delta5-3.jpg
Daniel Defense also makes its own action for the Delta 5. It has an enlarged ejection port, a two-piece bolt handle, and a Picatinny top rail.

The Action

The stainless-steel action is mechanically bedded in an aluminum mini chassis that mates with the rifle’s synthetic stock. Pillars are integrated as part of the bottom metal, and they allow metal-to-metal contact of the action to the mini chassis. The unique integral recoil lug is sandwiched between the action and the barrel, and the shoulder extends a full 360 degrees, providing a bedding surface for the scope mount base.

Speaking of the scope mount base, a 6.25-inch-long Picatinny rail is securely bolted to the top of the action with four #10-32 bolts. The rail has 14 cross-slots (every other one is numbered) and 20 MOA of elevation.


The receiver’s ejection port is large for snag-free ejection of fired cases, and the bolt body is 0.69 inch in diameter. It has a rotating bolthead with three locking lugs, and the locking lugs are 0.87 inch in diameter. The bolt has a Sako-style extractor and a plunger-type ejector. Bolt throw is 60 degrees, and the bolt-handle knob is removable.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/shootingtimes/content/photos/Daniel-Defense-Delta5-4.jpg
The Delta 5 accepts AICS short-action magazines. Our rifle came with one five-round Magpul PMAG.

The two-position safety is located at the right rear of the receiver. The bolt-release lever is located on the left side of the receiver, and it fits flush with the side of the receiver. Depressing it allows the bolt to slide smoothly out of the action with or without the safety engaged.

The action accepts AICS short-action magazines. The one that came with my rifle is made by Magpul and is marked 7.62x51. Its internal length measures 2.89 inches, so 6.5 Creedmoor rounds and .308 Win. fit nicely. The mag holds five rounds, and it functioned perfectly throughout my shooting session. By the way, the ambidextrous magazine release is cleverly located at the bottom of the trigger guard.


The Delta 5 comes with Timney’s Elite Hunter trigger that is adjustable from 1.4 to 4.5 pounds. My rifle’s trigger broke at a crisp, clean 4 pounds, 4 ounces of pull right out of the box.

That number is the average of 10 measurements with my RCBS trigger pull scale.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/shootingtimes/content/photos/Daniel-Defense-Delta5-5.jpg
Another proprietary component of the Delta 5 is the Daniel Defense carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer stock. It has an adjustable cheekpiece, and length of pull can be adjusted via extra shims.

The Stock

The carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer stock is Daniel Defense’s own design. It features a 1.13-inch-thick buttpad and a cheekpiece that can be adjusted for height and angle. As it came from the factory, length of pull measured 13.38 inches, but that can be adjusted by installing extra shims that come with the rifle.

The fore-end is configured to accept M-LOK accessories. There are 11 points to be exact, and there is one on the bottom of the buttstock, too. In addition, ambidextrous QD sling-attachment points are located on the fore-end and the buttstock.

The Scope

A precision rifle like the Delta 5 needs a precision scope, and I used a new VUDU 5-25X 50mm scope for this review. VUDU is a new line of riflescopes made by EOTech, so you know they are rugged and reliable. The VUDU 5-25X has EOTech’s EZ Check zero stop system, a 34mm main tube, and XC High-Density glass. The scope I used had an MD3 reticle located in the first focal plane, but you can have the Horus H59 reticle if you prefer. The illuminated reticle is powered by a CR2032 battery. The scope is 11.2 inches long and weighs 29.5 ounces. It is adjustable for parallax, and it is covered by EOTech’s Advantage Warranty. The MSRP starts at $2,099.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/shootingtimes/content/photos/Daniel-Defense-Delta5-6.jpg
Joel used a VUDU 5-25X 50mm riflescope for his shooting session. VUDU is a new line of riflescopes made by EOTech.

The Accuracy

With an empty weight of 8.9 pounds without a scope, the .308 Win. Delta 5 isn’t a lightweight, but it’s not horribly heavy, either. It is heavy enough to be very comfortable to shoot but not uncomfortable to tote afield. And the weight helped make the felt recoil hardly noticeable.

As for how the Delta 5 shot, well, it’s impressive. The 10 .308 Win. factory loads I fired averaged 0.83 inch. That’s for three, five-shot groups with each load fired from a sandbag benchrest at 100 yards.

I fired all loads on the same day, and the barrel was allowed to cool between each group. The bore was not cleaned until after all shooting was completed.

As you can see from the chart, the most accurate .308 Win. ammo was the 175-grain MatchKing load from True Velocity. It averaged 0.69 inch. This is unique ammunition, and one thing is certain: It was extremely accurate in the Daniel Defense Delta 5.

It was also very consistent, turning in single-digit velocity extreme spread and standard deviation figures.

I didn’t shoot any 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition in the switch-barrel Delta 5; however, Tom Beckstrand, who writes for our sister publication Guns & Ammo recently presented his shooting results with a Delta 5 chambered for 6.5 Creedmoor. As you can read in the March issue of G&A, he averaged 0.73 inch overall for five, five-shot groups with Federal Gold Medal Match 140-grain JHP, Hornady Match 140-grain ELD-M, and Winchester Match 140-grain JHP factory ammo. Clearly, the 6.5 Creedmoor Delta 5 is capable of top-drawer accuracy.

There aren’t too many things in life that are more fun than shooting an accurate rifle, so imagine the great time I had shooting the Delta 5. It is one of the most accurate rifles I have ever fired. Incredibly, my best five-shot group clustered all five shots in a ragged hole that I could almost cover with the casehead of a .308 Win. case. A five-shot group that small will brighten anybody’s day.

Recommended for You

Browning, Ruger, Brownells and more have new rifles from long-range precision rifles through cool autoloaders and lever actions to inline muzzleloaders this year. Rifles

22 New Rifles for 2019

Joseph von Benedikt

Browning, Ruger, Brownells and more have new rifles from long-range precision rifles through...

The newest version of Beretta's A400, the A400 Xtreme Plus, autoloader employs all the latest in high-tech shotgun evolution. Shotguns

Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus Shotgun Review

Steve Gash - February 01, 2019

The newest version of Beretta's A400, the A400 Xtreme Plus, autoloader employs all the latest...

Burris has expanded its top-of-the-line Veracity hunting riflescope line with new 2-10X 42mm and 3-15X 50mm RFP (rear focal plane) models. Optics

Burris Veracity RFP Riflescopes

Jake Edmondson - June 04, 2019

Burris has expanded its top-of-the-line Veracity hunting riflescope line with new 2-10X 42mm...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Considering how popular the .270 Winchester has become, it's a great mystery why more .270 caliber (6.8mm) rifle cartridges  have not been introduced. Ammo

5 Great .270 Rifle Cartridges

Layne Simpson - May 28, 2019

Considering how popular the .270 Winchester has become, it's a great mystery why more .270...

Is the SIG P320 modular pistol the best polymer-framed high-capacity sidearm ever designed? Handguns

SIG SAUER P320 Review

Joseph Von Benedikt - September 13, 2018

Is the SIG P320 modular pistol the best polymer-framed high-capacity sidearm ever designed?

Improved ballistic coefficients lead to greater performance downrange without upping blast and recoil. How-To

The Key to Shooting Far: Improving Ballistics

Rick Jamison - April 17, 2019

Improved ballistic coefficients lead to greater performance downrange without upping blast and...

See More Stories

More Rifles

Browning, Ruger, Brownells and more have new rifles from long-range precision rifles through cool autoloaders and lever actions to inline muzzleloaders this year. Rifles

22 New Rifles for 2019

Joseph von Benedikt

Browning, Ruger, Brownells and more have new rifles from long-range precision rifles through...

The new Curly Maple version of the Marlin Model 336C is a welcome addition to the gun's long legacy. It looks great, and it shoots straight. Rifles

Marlin Model 336C Curly Maple Review

Steve Gash - October 28, 2019

The new Curly Maple version of the Marlin Model 336C is a welcome addition to the gun's long...

Chambered in a sleek but nearly obsolete rimmed .22 centerfire, the Savage Model 99 was once considered a premium varmint and predator rifle. Rifles

Savage Model 99 .22 Hi Power Rifle Review

Joseph von Benedikt - October 04, 2019

Chambered in a sleek but nearly obsolete rimmed .22 centerfire, the Savage Model 99 was once...

See More Rifles

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.