by Scott Smith
One thing I have noticed in my ventures to train with various agencies and training centers: there are very few if any agencies mounting an M203 under their M4s. For that matter, I don’t know any civilians who are either. It took me a while, but I realized that having a heavier barrel on what is a lightweight carbine does nothing but add weight for no real reason. Thus I started looking for an M4 with a light contour barrel. Just before the SHOT Show I noticed Daniel Defense was offering an M4 in this configuration.
This might be just what I was looking for.
A couple of years ago when my partner on the PD ordered one, I had the opportunity to shoot and review an M4 from Daniel Defense (101 Warfighter Way, Dept TGM; Black Creek, GA 31308; phone: 866-554- 4867; online: danieldefense.com). I was truly impressed by it and would have considered adding it to my vault had my former partner not paid for it. With previous experience of how well Daniel Defense’s M4s perform, I ordered one to test.
The weight difference between the DDM4LWV5 and a standard M4 was immediately noticeable; nearly ten ounces and the standard M4 had the short carbine railed forearm versus the 12-inch mid length of the LWV5. That is a lot of weight if you have to stand a post for hours, carry it for a training class or shoot a three gun match.
Standard features on the LWV5 are the Omega X Rail™, A2 flash hider, Magpul MOE butt stock and 30-round PMag, Daniel Defense A2 pistol grip, pinned low profile gas block and vertical fore grip. The upper and lower receiver are military spec with M4 feed ramp, an enhanced/flared magazine well, H buffer, and the bolt group is military spec and properly staked (read won’t shoot loose), and is MP tested to ensure durability. This package will set you back $1469; it might seem pricey but it’s worth it.
To me the most important feature of the DDM4LWV5 is the chrome moly vanadium steel with a one-in-seven twist barrel and mid length gas system. The barrel is cold hammer forged to create a defect free surface and is then chrome lined. Previous experience with Daniel Defense sixteen inch barrels is they will outperform 18- and 20-inch barrels from other barrel manufactures. The previously tested DDM4 was capable of MOA with nearly any quality ammunition I fired through it; I have no doubt the LWV5 will perform just as well, possibly better because of the longer gas system which gives milder recoil.
As you can see the LWV5 is nearly perfect out of the box. For my needs I did make four changes. First I added a Magpul (PO Box 17697, Dept. GWK, Boulder, CO 80308; phone: 877-462- 4785; online: magpul.com) MOE pistol grip as the AA2 style grip with its finger groove doesn’t fit me right.
Secondly, I changed the MOE butt stock from black to flat desert earth to match the pistol grip. Third, I added a Magpul quarter-inch riser to the MOE stock for better cheek weld when using optics.
Last, I changed the A2 flash hider to a Surefire (18300 Mount Baldy Circle, Dept. TGM, Fountain Valley, CA 92708; phone: 800-828-8809; online: surefire.com) muzzle brake to allow me to use my Surefire Mini suppressor on the LWV5. As you can see, really no major changes other than the muzzle brake were needed, purely personal/ cosmetic ones.
While I was making the above changes to the carbine, I took time to wipe it down, run a lubed patch down the barrel and to lubricate the bolt, bolt carrier, buffer, and charging handle. Ensuring that these are all well lubricated makes an AR-style gun run better. Contrary to what most of us were taught by Uncle Sam, a dry AR is not a happy AR; give it quality lubricant and it will run better. Before you all gasp, I have been told that by the likes of Larry Vickers, the staff at Sig Sauer, as well as my own experience. It is especially important that these parts are well lubricated in the rain and when using a suppressor.
Now that the carbine was cleaned and lubricated it was time to head to the range. I chose a variety of ammunition with bullet weights of 62 grains to 77 grains from Black Hills (PO Box 3090, Dept. TGM, Rapid City, SD 57709; phone: 605-348-5150; online: black-hills.com), Atlanta Arms and Ammunition (721 Vine Cir. Social Cir., Dept. GWK, GA 30025; phone; 770-464- 2203; online: atlantaarmsandam-mo.com), Prvi Partizan (US Distributor; TR&Z Tradaing,2499 Main St., Dept. GWK, Stratford, CT 06615; phone: 203- 375-8544; online: trzusa.com) and my training load using Ramshot Exterminator powder with Montana Gold (PO Box 9050, Dept. TGM, Kalispell, MT 59904; phone: 406-755-2717; online: montanagold.com) 52-grain bullets.
This variety covered the spectrum of quality duty and training ammunition.
For optics I chose to use Aimpoint’s (14103 Mariah Ct., Dept. TGM, Chantilly, VA 20151; phone: 703-263-9795; online: aimpoint.com) new Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) and Vortex’s (2120 West Greenview Dr., Dept. TGM, Middleton, WI 53562; phone: 800-426-0048; online: vortextactical.com) 2.5-10X44 Viper PST in a Precision Reflex Industries (710 Streine Dr., Dept. TGM, New Bremen, OH 45869; phone: 419-629- 2603; online: primounts.com) mount.
This choice of optics gives the operator a sight for close in targets or precision long range shots. The 2.5X power, while not perfect for those 10-yard targets, will do the trick, but when you have to engage a 200-yard target the 10X option will be most appreciated. The Viper was also picked because with its 10-power magnification it would allow me to see how well the LWV5 shoots.
I find red dot sights do not bring out the best accuracy a fi rearm has to offer, especially with my over-50 eyes.
You might ask why I chose this pair of optics for the LWV5, so I’ll share. First the Aimpoint PRO is a value- priced red dot and Aimpoints are virtually indestructible. For precision I chose the Vortex Viper because it has excellent optical quality, the crosshairs are lighted and mil-dot, the reticle is etched into the glass so it won’t break and the 2.5-10 magnification allows the operator to make precise shots or, should the marksman be required, the Viper works for fast close-quarter engagements. To ensure the Viper had a solid mount that has repeatable zero I used a PRI Mount.
Once locked on your rifle, the scope is in place until you remove it and when replaced, you will not lose zero.
Before I sat down to see how accurate this M4 was, I needed to ensure it was reliable. To do this I loaded Lancer System’s (7566 Morris Ct., Ste. 300, Dept. TGM, Allentown, PA 18106; phone: 610-973-2614; online: lancer-systems.com) L5 and Troy Industries (151 Capital Dr., Dept. TGM, W. Springfield, MA, 01089; phone: 866-788-6412; online: troyind.com) Battle Magazines with mixed ammunition from my odds and ends dump bag. There were bullets from most major manufacturers and various bullet weights. The LWV5M4 didn’t care who made the cartridge or what the bullet weighed; it simply fi red every time the trigger was pulled.
Both the Troy Industries Battle Mag and Lancer’s L5 fed this hodgepodge of ammunition into the LWV5 cartridge after cartridge; they never blinked even with the steel cased .223 Rem.
In my travels the L5 magazines are nearly as popular as Magpul’s P Mags.
It seems those who like the metal lips of GI mags and the lightweight of the P Mag are happy with the cross breed of the L5. Lancer molds/locks a metal cap on their polymer magazines.
Troy Industries Battle Mags are also unique. They are the only magazine I know of that offer you a base grab tab built into the magazine. If you do not like the pull tab, it pushes into the magazine and there is a locking cover provided so you have a flush magazine pad.
While I was putting rounds down range, I “zeroed” both the Viper and the PRO. I didn’t want to burn quality ammunition to get the carbine on paper.
I figured why not see how the carbine functioned and zero the optics at the same time.
Once I knew the carbine would run— not that I expected it would not, it was time to seriously zero the Viper. I used a 50-yard zero both to give the most versatility and to get the best overall performance of this M4. The reason I suggest a 50-yard zero is that it will put the bullet within an inch and a half of zero from 50 yards to 200 yards. At 200 yards you should be right on when using 62-grain loads. From 50 yards your hold-off is minimal until you get to the terrible inside-10 to seven yards where point of impact is off by as much as six inches below point of aim. As I have been told by various trainers when I question the 50-yard zero and CQB hold-off, “learn it and deal with it.” Other zeros throw your longer range shots way off.
Meanwhile, back at zeroing the LWV5. The carbine really shined with the 77-grain loads from Atlanta Arms and Black Hills. The LWV5’s best three-shot group was 3/8-inch at 100 yards. Using heavy .223 loads, 69-grain plus, this carbine consistently shot groups under an inch. It was no slouch with lighter bullets either; those groups were just over an inch; even my hand-loaded Montana Gold loads.
The Daniel Defense LWV5’s accuracy was on par with a heavy barrel 20-inch barreled rifle.
After I had the carbine zeroed, I wanted to see how well the Viper’s adjustments made corrections. Each click is one-quarter MOA and the clicks were accurate. I was able to walk the bullet impact from the center of the target to each target square and back; the Viper performs as advertised.
Switching from precision to more close-quarter shooting I removed the Vortex Viper and replaced it with Aimpoint’s PRO. The PRO comes with flip-up covers, QRPs mount and battery (life is estimated to be three years); complete you will find this red dot priced from $400-$500, depending on the vendor or area.
Aimpoint’s QRP mount properly aligns the optic with your eye. When mounted, the PRO co-witnessed with the Magpul BUS front and rear. These sights lay flat and flip up in a flash when you depress the ambicatch. If you run the carbine with the sights in the up position they will be center co-witnessed.
Thanks to the lightweight of the LWV5 and the Surefire muzzle brake there was very little muzzle rise and transitions between targets were smooth and fast. The PRO allowed for quick, accurate shots at distances from seven to 25 yards.
Since the LWV5 had the Surefire brake mounted, I had to run the LWV5 with a Surefire Mini. This 10-ounce suppressor not only reduces the noise and muzzle flash signature, but it also reduces muzzle rise to next to nothing. My range is semi-enclosed; if you were behind the structure while the M4 was being fi red it sounded like a muffled balloon breaking and you could not pinpoint the origination of the sound. This is exactly what Surefire’s suppressors are designed to do.
Surefire refers to this as Total Signature Reduction™. The TSR reduces the sound signature, muzzle fl ash, and recoil. This allows you to track the bullet and have faster follow up shots. You will find the Mini reduces the noise to less dangerous levels and reduces muzzle concussion making the LWV5 more pleasurable to shoot. This is especially true during an organized training session when you have 10 or more folks on the line. The drawback to prolonged use of any suppressor is that carbon builds up faster around the gas tubes port and on the bolt. This is one of the tradeoffs we make to run a suppressor.
If you are looking for a fi rearm that can serve many roles, the Daniel Defense LWV5 would be a fine choice.
It is a practically perfect lightweight carbine from the factory. I wanted to have my LWV5 M4 my way so I made a few changes to the base gun. With the exception of changing the A2 flash hider for a Surefire muzzle brake, the other changes were cosmetic.
The Daniel Defense LWV5 M4 is an awesome fi rearm. It is wicked accurate, thanks to the lightweight barrel it is easy to handle and carry, and it is boringly reliable. The longer mid-length forearm allows you to have a more stable grip on the carbine, and it helps make target to target transitions quicker.
If you are looking for a M4 for duty, competition, hunting, self-defense; consider Daniel Defense. The LWV5 would be and is my choice, the carbine in this article is my personal firearm; that is the highest recommendation I can give.