Gun Review: Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 AAC Blackout AR Rifle

Here's a slightly "geared up" Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout.

Here’s a slightly “geared up” Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout.

Some phrases are just fightin’ words.

“That’s MY horse!”

“That’s MY daughter!”

“I love the 300 Blackout!”

For some reason, virtually any gunny discussion about the 300 AAC Blackout cartridge quickly devolves into a typing wind sprint where the winner itemizes more reasons why the 300 Blackout is not as good as (fill in your favorite cartridge here.)

Due to the unique performance characteristics and its wide range of velocity an projectile weight combinations, it gets poked in the eye from both ends of the ballistic spectrum.

The high speed supersonic crowd gets bent out of shape because, in their words, the 300 Blackout

“Doesn’t have the same energy or reliability as the 7.62×39 AK-47 round.”

“Doesn’t have the ‘reach out and touch someone’ range of the 6.8 SPC.”

“Ammo is way more expensive than the .223 Remington / 5.56mm!

The rumble and bumble subsonic cartridge fans fans claim…

“Why not use a pistol or MP-5?”

“Subsonic rounds are unreliable unless you use a silencer.”

“Ammo is way more expensive than .223 Remington / 5.56mm!”

This reaction is understandable. We all know that if you encounter someone who’s wrong on the internet, you have to rectify the situation immediately, right?

Subsonic ammo, like these 220 grain Sierra MatchKings, shot surprisingly well.

Subsonic ammo, like these 220 grain Sierra MatchKings, shot surprisingly well.

As with most debates, there are a lot of elements of truth in all of these statements. But I don’t really care. That’s because, for me, whether the 300 Blackout is interesting or not isn’t a binary question. It doesn’t have to be better than (fill in the blank.) I like the fact that it’s a different option with unique capabilities. In fairness, I might be more biased in favor because I’m a reloading enthusiast, and the 300 Blackout is a reloaders dream.

What’s 300 AAC Blackout?

The simple explanation is that the cartridge offers 30 caliber performance and viable subsonic options from a standard 5.56mm AR platform. A 30 caliber barrel swap is required, but other than that, the bolt, carrier, receivers and magazines are compatible. Without delving into the debate here, the idea is to provide improved terminal performance, especially from short barreled rifle platforms. The subsonic option is interesting as a 300 Blackout can launch a 208 to 245 grain projectile in the 1,000 feet per second velocity range. When used with a suppressor, the sound level is very, very quiet. Switching a 300 Blackout rifle from supersonic to subsonic performance involves no more than a magazine change. We’ll get into more detail on the wide variety of cartridge options later in this article series.

One big drawback to shooting 300 Blackout is ammo cost and availability. That pesky supply / demand thing means there is much less manufactured, so it’s expensive and harder to find. If you shoot 300 Blackout it’s in your best interest to reload your own ammunition.

The Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 AC Blackout

You might say Daniel Defense rifles are built from the parts up. The company started by making a simple part – a receiver mounted sling loop. You know, it’s that typical American success story. Some person out there has a better idea, they figure out how to make it, then sell it to the masses. In an oversimplified sense, that’s sort of how Daniel Defense rifles came to be. After the sling loop had started to sell, Marty Daniel figured he could also invent a better rail system for AR type rifles. Ultimately, he figured, why not build a whole rifle from the ground up using parts designed and manufactured mostly in house?

When it comes to rifles, ground up really refers to barrel out. One of the first big equipment investments at Daniel Defense was a cold hammer forging machine for making barrels in house. Cold hammer forging is kind of a cool process. You take a steel tube with a hole in it, insert a perfect 3D mirror image of the barrel interior and chamber (a mandrel), then pound the living crap out of the outside of the tube until the interior takes the form of the mandrel inside. The reason for all this pounding and noise is that the end result is a smoother and stronger finished product, and that leads to better accuracy and longer barrel life. No pain, no gain, right?

Let’s get back to the rifle at hand. The DDM4 series is infinitely configurable, so I’ll talk about the options I chose for this rifle here. Just be aware that you can build your own at the Daniel Defense website if you want to tweak options like trigger, chrome, iron sights, rail type, flash suppressor and more.

Let’s touch on some of the high points of this rifle, then we’ll talk about significant details. It’s well built for military-level reliability. Gas keys are staked, parts are mil-spec compatible and Daniel Defense pays attention to the little things that add up to long term performance under rough conditions.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition 2nd Edition 2014. It’s ON SALE now for a limited time!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

12 Reasons I Carry A Gun


1. A fire extinguisher is a lousy self defense weapon.

No one seems to have an issue with folks keeping a fire extinguisher in the house, right? I mean, people don’t question your paranoia level even though there are fire departments just about everywhere. So I thought about just carrying a fire extinguisher for self defense too. I figured I could foam at least three people in the face before it emptied, and then it becomes an excellent impact weapon. After discovering that finding a concealed holster was near impossible, I gave up.

2. I don’t know when I might need it.

While crime rates continue to fall over the long haul, there’s still plenty of evil behavior to go around. Read any paper and you’ll see that crimes happen all over, not just in “high risk” places. Speaking of high risk places, if I ever thought I was going somewhere I might need to use my gun, you can be darn tootin’ sure I wouldn’t be going there in the first place.

3. Because 186,873.

According to USA Carry, that’s the number of warrants outstanding for felons across the US. They walk among us.

4. An Abrams tank gets horrible gas mileage.

Before you write off this idea, think of the benefits. Although a tank has great offensive weaponry, you probably wouldn’t ever need it. You’re pretty well protected from just about anything other than rust. Just drive it into your garage and be sure to shut the garage door with your clicker before exiting the hatch. Be sure to lower the main gun barrel first.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!


Howard Leight Impact PRO and Impact Sport Hearing Protection

You can think of the difference between the Impact Pro (left) and Impact Sport (right) as heavy duty and moderate duty. Or you can consider the possible uses or pistol vs. rifle and shotgun.

You can think of the difference between the Impact Pro (left) and Impact Sport (right) as heavy duty and moderate duty. Or you can consider the possible uses or pistol vs. rifle and shotgun.

You know how the saying goes. Once you go electronic, you never go back.

Foam ear plugs are gross and not all that effective. Custom fit earplugs work great, but you can’t hear a darn thing when you’re wearing them. Passive exterior ear muffs also work really well, but still, you’re essentially deaf to what’s going on around you. You know, deaf to important things, like what the instructor or range safety officer is saying.

Enter electronic hearing protection. While you can get custom fit electronic devices to go in your ear, they’re uber expensive. They’re fit only to you and you can’t really share them with a friend or family member unless you have identical ear canal genes.

Howard Leight offers a couple of different models that accommodate most, if not all, shooting scenarios. The Impact Pro and Impact Sport models have different goals and we’ll talk about this in a bit more detail in a minute.

First, let’s look at what these units have in common.

The Impact Sport models are available in forest green, Mossy Oak camo or the teal shown here.

The Impact Sport models are available in forest green, Mossy Oak camo or the teal shown here.

Both Impact Pro and Impact Sport models will amplify ambient sound so you can hear what’s going on around you – even better than when you’re not wearing the muffs.

Both automatically and electronically reduce gunfire or impulse noise above 82 decibels to help protect your hearing. Remember, each and every exposure to dangerous level sounds permanently damages your hearing, a little bit more each time. It adds up and you never get it back. Always use good ear protection when shooting!

Both have what I consider to be a fantastic usability feature: a single on/off and sound level dial that is recessed into only one side. Stay with me a sec, this is important. Most electronic ear muffs have a knob on each side that sticks out from the ear muff body. Turn the knob past a click and it goes on. Keep turning to increase the volume. Invariably, when you toss this style of ear muff into your shooting back, they will get turned on as the knobs are exposed to whatever junk is around them. Your batteries will run dry. Next time you arrive at the range, one or both sides of the muffs will be, in the words of Patches O’Houlihan, “about as useful as a poopy flavored lollipop.” The recessed dial on the Impact series won’t get inadvertently turned on and the dial is only on one side to control both muffs. Simple, clever and it’s kind of a big deal. Oh, if you do somehow manage to leave them on, they’ll turn off after four hours automatically. You’ll still have plenty of the 350 hour battery life left.

While we’re talking about nice touches, the battery compartment is accessible from the outside. Other electronic muffs have the battery compartment under foam panels inside of the ear muff itself. This means they get all sweaty and icky when it’s warm. Here in the swamps of South Carolina, I have to remember to remove batteries and prop open the foam covers of other makes to keep them from corroding. Gross. With the Howard Leight models, since the battery compartment is not exposed to the interior, where things get sweaty, you don’t have to perform after shooting drying maintenance.

The Impact Pro and Impact Sport models also feature input jacks for iPods and other music players. You can play Pharrell Williams’ Happy song over and over at the range.

Both models feature insert power and volume adjustment dials and input jacks for music players.

Both models feature insert power and volume adjustment dials and input jacks for music players.

Howard Leight Impact Sport

The primary goal of the Impact Sport model is a low profile. They’re intended for shotgun and rifle shooting and the thin profile helps keep the ear muffs out of the way when you squash your face against a rifle or shotgun stock.

They do amplify safe levels of ambient sound, like conversation, up to three times normal level. At a noisy range, you can carry on a perfectly normal conversation while remaining protected from gunshot noises.

You can find Howard Leight Impact Sport ear muffs in green, Mossy Oak camo or the teal color shown here.

When it comes to ear muffs, smaller size comes at a price. The noise reduction capability is less than that of the Impact Pro models. The Impact Sport ear muffs are rated with 22dB NRR. For outdoor use, these work fine. If you shoot at an indoor range, or use mostly handguns, you’ll want the…

Howard Leight Impact Pro

The Howard Leight Impact Pro electronic hearing protection ear muffs are super-sized electronic high-attenuating wonders. They’re noticeably thicker and as a result, dampen sound exceptionally well. The electronic circuitry reduces dangerous noise, like gun shots, over 82 decibels and also amplifies normal conversation by a factor of four. It’s kind of like having bionic hearing. Cool and functional.

As I shoot mostly pistols and AR type rifles, I find myself using the Impact Pro models more frequently. For me, the wider body doesn’t get in the way when shooting an AR. When I switch to shotguns, I prefer the Impact Sport.

You can find the Howard Leight Impact Sport model for about $50 and the Howard Leight Impact Pro model for about $70.

ATI’s Ruger 10/22 AR-22 Stock System: Turn Your .22 Into a Tactical Beast

Believe it or not, this was a plain Ruger 10/22 Carbine not long ago...

Believe it or not, this was a plain Ruger 10/22 Carbine not long ago…

This week we’re going to invest in plastic surgery. No Kardashians will be involved, I promise.

While many might argue that I myself need it, I’m going to direct this decidedly non-medical procedure at a plain Ruger 10/22 Carbine .22LR plinker. The Ruger 10/22 Carbine is the basic model, with wood stock that usually sells for a street price of less than $250.

I’m going to turn it into… exactly the same rifle it was before. It will have the same functionally, but with a few cosmetic and usability improvements. You know, the kind of changes that turn a rifle into an assault weapon, whatever that is. It will have the same operating system. It will have the same magazine capacity. It will have the same caliber. It will not fire grenades. But it will look exceptionally cool. It will be easier to handle. It will be adjustable to fit shooters of different sizes and statures. It will probably make Michael Bloomberg apoplectic for no good reason at all.

What is it?

I’m talking about the ATI Ruger® 10/22® AR-22 Stock System with 8-Sided Forend. This complete stock replacement kit turns your vanilla Ruger into a tactical beast. Yeah, it’s really cool looking and incredibly fun to shoot.

Yes, some of the features are purely cosmetic, like the forward assist, safety lever, charging handle and bolt release. That’s OK, because the way the system is designed, those functions (barring the forward assist) are all covered by the existing buttons and levers on the Ruger 10/22 receiver. The idea is to provide a look and feel alike rifle to a standard AR type – great for practice and training at much lower cost to shoot.

What makes the ATI kit useful for your Ruger 10/22 are the functions that it adds. For example, the six position stock. Like a real AR-type rifle, the stock is adjustable from short to long length of pull along a faux buffer tube made of aluminum. The stock has a nice (and soft) butt pad to absorb whatever recoil your .22LR load of choice has. More importantly, the butt pad serves to provide solid placement on your shoulder so the rifle doesn’t move around when you’re emptying a 25 round magazine at a platoon of hubbard squash. The warts on that stuff are creepy.

While we’re talking about the stock improvements, an even more important feature is the adjustable cheek rest. You can raise and lower this using a screwdriver. Got low scope rings? No problem. Got a high mount just like your .223 Remington / 5.56mm AR? No problem. Adjust away. Oh, and the cheek rest has a soft rubber pad on top to protect your jawbone from the earth-shattering recoil of the .22LR.

The kit also adds a pistol grip, so if you want to use cheap (in comparison to .223 / 5.56mm) rounds for practice, it will feel somewhat like your AR type rifle. As a nice extra, the pistol grip has a textured rubber back strap and feels great during extended shooting sessions.


Read the rest at OutdoorHub!


The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Try Competitions To Become A More Effective Shooter

Competition shootingThere’s a big difference between good and effective.

If you are involved in shooting purely for recreation and the joy of punching holes in paper or tin cans, then being a good shooter is, well, good enough.

If you intend to use your gun for self or home defense, then you need to think about how to become a more effective shooter.

What’s the difference?

When you’re enjoying a range outing with family and friends, you can be really, really good. Your shots impact where you want and they’re all impressively close together. When it comes time to reload or change magazines, no worries, you can chit chat about that new gun you want while leisurely preparing for the next round of shots. Hurrying or running around while trying to shoot would put a real damper on your ability to make pretty target patterns. You’ve got all day, and when time isn’t a factor, you are one impressive shooter!

That’s good, as long as you aren’t planning to use these “impressive shooter”qualifications for self-defense needs. If you intend to have a gun for personal protection or home defense, then you need to be effective, not just good. You need to safely operate your gun and get shots on target when the conditions are the worst imaginable—exactly the opposite of those fun days at the range.

One way to become a more effective shooter is to introduce a little bit of pressure and stress into your shooting routine. In this issue of First Shots News, Barbara Baird talks about various types of competitive shooting, so I’ll focus on what those competitions can do to make you more effective.

Even though some shooting competitions, like International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) mimic self- or home-defense situations, they won’t help you much with specific defensive tactics. They will, however, help you master core skills that can contribute to your ability to use a gun in a defensive situation. Let’s consider some skills you can improve by shooting competitively.

Read the rest in the National Shooting Sports Foundations First Shots Newsletter!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Winchester’s PDX1 Defender 12 Gauge Buckshot and Slug Ammunition

Winchester's PDX1 Defense load creates a large pattern with slug and buckshot.

Winchester’s PDX1 Defense load creates a large pattern with slug and buckshot.

I was working with a Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun I have in for review and brought along a box of Winchester PDX1 Defender Personal Defense shot shells. Winchester makes a couple of varieties of this product line in 12 gauge. One is a segmenting slug design, where the slug is designed to fragment into three large chunks as it impacts the target. This load is a buckshot and slug combination, but with a twist.

Three 00 buckshot pellets are placed on top of a 1 ounce slug. Image: Winchester Ammunition

Three 00 buckshot pellets are placed on top of a 1 ounce slug. Image: Winchester Ammunition

As you see by the illustration here, there are three 00 Buckshot pellets loaded on top of the one ounce slug. This has the effect of dispersing the three .30 caliber pellets in a broader pattern while the slug continues along a straight path.

I shot it at a target placed 15 yards downrange, and as you can see by the target photo, the slug hit center while the three 00 buckshot pellets created a triangle pattern. The pellet impacts are just about 10 inches from each other measured along the sides. That’s a pretty broad pattern even from the cylinder bore of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun used for this test.

Winchester advertises one feature of this as “compensates for aim error.” This certainly appears to be true. As with any ammo choice, you need to carefully consider your environment and desired performance. If you live in a crowded environment, you may not want ammo that expands into too large a pattern, as you’re responsible for where those projectiles go. On the other hand, if you’ve got space, you may want ammo that performs exactly this way. This load is designed to create a big pattern of large projectiles, so if that’s your desired result, then check it out. It’s an interesting load.

Cabelas has it in stock.

LIMITED TIME SALE: Insanely Practical Guides Shooting Books

ON SALE NOW: Insanely Practical Guides

ON SALE NOW: Insanely Practical Guides

While supplies last, Insanely Practical Guides are on sale! These informative and fun how-to shooting books will help you improve your practical shooting knowledge. If you want to learn about the world of guns, shooting, reloading, concealed carry and gun holsters, check out some of our books. Have a laugh or two. Life is too short for boring books.

What we’ve got for you

For a limited time, we’re offering paperback copies of Insanely Practical Guides at special prices. These are the exact same books currently on sale for $16.97 each (list price) ($12.97 for The Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S) plus shipping.

Now, you can buy them direct for $10 each for a two book bundle and $9 each for a three book bundle plus flat rate shipping of just $5.

Want different titles? No problem, select the combination you want.

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If you’d like copies signed by the author with a custom inscription, no problem, just let us know in the comments when you check out.

Gun of the Day: What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Ruger Vaquero chambered in 40 S&W and .38-40

Ruger Vaquero chambered in 40 S&W and .38-40

What's wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?

I went shooting with friend and fellow gun writer William yesterday afternoon and he brought along the un-possible.

Here’s a Ruger Vaquero. No big deal, they’re pretty common. If you haven’t seen one, they’re beautiful single action pistols. I was a little surprised as Williams is a complete and total .40 S&W caliber nut. He doesn’t own anything that’s not chambered in .40 S&W. While he won’t admit it, I think his trap shotgun is secretly chambered in .40 S&W.

Anyway, after pulling this beauty out of its case, he proceeded to open a box of Winchester .40 S&W practice rounds. Huh? Usually he knows his way around a handgun, but today maybe not.

With all the unusual things manufacturers stamp on their guns these days, here's one you don't see often.

With all the unusual things manufacturers stamp on their guns these days, here’s one you don’t see often.

Turns out he got his hands on a special edition model chambered in .38-40 and .40 S&W. Like the Ruger Single Six .22LR / .22 Magnum conversion, this one comes with two cylinders for those respective calibers.

Fun? Yep.

Why? Why not?

Cabelas has one in their Wisconsin store

Gun Review: Smith & Wesson’s 1911TA eSeries

One of the design goals of the eSeries line was elegant, but not gaudy, appearance.

One of the design goals of the eSeries line was elegant, but not gaudy, appearance.

There’s always something appealing about a nice 1911. While carrying a full size, all steel 1911 isn’t always fun, shooting one sure is. This particular eSeries model is a blend of traditional and modern innovation. Like the origin government model, it’s got a 5 inch barrel, single stack .45 ACP magazine and single action trigger. Unlike the original, it features Tritium night sights, tactical rail and other internal design changes that we’ll discuss later.


Let’s start with the most noticeable features. With that criteria in mind, I have to mention the grips first. They’re gorgeous. The specs say the grips are wood laminate, but it’s sure hard to tell. The grain pattern is beautiful and the finish is well polished. There is a small diamond with the eSeries “E” logo. Surrounding this is a traditional diamond checkered pattern. Above and below the diamond pattern area you’ll see a fish-scale pattern that matches the scallop pattern carved into the slide. The grips are not only really attractive, but functional. They won’t rub your hands raw, but do provide a positive grip through recoil.

It's a personal opinion, but I think the grips are, well, awesome.

It’s a personal opinion, but I think the grips are, well, awesome.

The slide also falls into the “cool looking” category. The cocking serrations at the rear are the same fish, dragon or snake scale pattern – choose your favorite reptile. There are matching scale serrations on the front. Some people don’t like texture on the front of 1911 slides, but I find them handy for press checks. Even if I grab the front of the slide overhand, I can still easily see the chamber. But using front serrations or not is a personal preference thing. I happen to like them, but get that others don’t. The top of the slide is flattened and has full length grooves. Whether or not you think this “looks” cool is not really the issue. The practical purpose is to reduce glare that can interfere with your sight picture. Another thing to mention while we’re talking about the slide is that there are horizontal serrations at the rear also on both sides of the hammer cutout. Again, the purpose is to minimize glare.

The extractor is an external design, so that varies from the “purist” 1911. Personally, I don’t favor internal or external, as long as it works. You’ll also notice that the ejection port features a scooped cutout at the front to assist with easy ejection with a wide variety of load types.

The SW1911TA ships with two magazines with 8 round capacity, so the total carry load is nine including one in the chamber. The magazine release button is aggressively checkered and .145 inches is exposed above frame level. It’s easy to reach with your firing hand thumb if your’e right handed. When shooting left handed, I was able to operate the magazine release with my trigger finger without breaking my normal firing grip. Magazines easily fall free of the magazine well when empty.

Both sides of the frame behind the trigger are beveled to allow an unhindered reach to the trigger. The front of the grip is contoured and recessed to allow a high grip and secure resting place for your firing hand middle finger.

The front and back of the grip area are checkered with good, but not sharp texture. I counted somewhere in around a 17 or 18 lines per inch pattern, but all those dots kept getting blurry when counting, so let’s call it 17.5 lines per inch, OK? I’ll schedule a visit with my eye doc before the next time I have to count checkering patterns.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips. It will help make you a better shooter and the envy of your range in no time.

How To Zero Your AR-15


Eyesight is straight, while bullet flight paths arc.

Today we’re going to do complicated math. We’ll be talking about zeros, trajectories, and gravity. Fortunately we will not be talking about shooting in zero gravity as bullets would fly forever, or at least until they crash into the drifting hulk of the Discovery One.

Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as deciphering the true meaning of White House press briefings, as long as you understand how bullets fly. Bullet trajectory is almost as simple as dropping a brick, except the bullet flies forward as it drops towards the ground. When you fire a bullet, there is no magical force that helps it defeat gravity. In fact, if you fire a bullet from your AR type rifle, perfectly parallel to the ground, the bullet you fire will end up hitting the ground at just about the same time as a bullet you let fall from your hand straight down. I say, “just about” only because the earth curves a bit, and the fired bullet will have a smidge farther to fall than the dropped one. It’s that gravity thing we just can’t defeat, no matter what.

No matter how fast a bullet is flying, it’s constantly falling towards the ground. Even bullets from those so-called “High-Powered Assault Weapons.” If you look at the path of a bullet, it will always be a downward sloping curve, kind of like congressional approval ratings.

But wait, you say, when I aim right at a target 100 yards away, the bullet hits it! That’s correct, but only because the barrel is actually pointed a little bit upwards relative to the ground. Shooting a bullet is a just like throwing a football except you don’t get 12 million a year plus a signing bonus. You need to aim it up a little bit so it arcs back down to intersect at your desired impact point.

Most AR optics are about 2 1/2 inches above the bore line.

Most AR optics are about 2 1/2 inches above the bore line.

Whether you use iron sights or a fancy optic on your AR rifle, you will always need to plan for the intersection of the straight line designated by your line of sight and the arc of the bullet. Your line of sight is not subject to the laws of gravity, so you see in a perfectly straight path unless you stayed out too late last night. Since your bullet leaves the barrel in an arc pattern, it may actually intersect your line of sight twice – once on the way up, and again on the way down. But that depends on your zero distance.

Read the rest at!


Grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips. It will help make you a better shooter and the envy of your range in no time.

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