In an industry flooded with options, its hard to break through the crop and rise to the top (rhyme not intended). Many factors have to fall into place for someone to truly shine. In the firearms industry, it’s even harder. Yes, I know that there are larger industries out there: clothing, motor-vehicles, etc. But what makes the firearms industry so hard to be great in is the fact that so many lives depends on it. The police officers who protect you on their daly shifts depend on it. The soldiers who protect your nation and fight tyranny depend on it.
That being said, the firearms industry has been ruled by a few “large” corporations for many years. Beretta is the oldest firearms company to date (founded in 1526); the shotgun industry is ruled over by them. Smith and Wesson was established in 1852 and has had a grip on one of the top spots in handguns since. Despite this, the hardest segment of the firearms industry to excel in is the AR industry. Being relatively new (created in the 50s), the market for ARs has been ever shifting. First it was Colt, then FN joined the game, then Sig and everyone else. All of these big name manufacturers sought the coveted role of “top-Dawg.”
Though each of those companies makes great products, including their ARs, the “top-Dawg” spot is still debated to this day. And one of the contenders, and a comparatively new company, Daniel Defense is making consistent strides for the title. Throughout their 15 years in business, Daniel Defense has shown the world the amazing quality each of their product offers. One product in particular, the focus of our blog today, has shined brighter than most of late. The Daniel Defense MK18.
Coming from hands on experience, this blog is going to give you 3 reasons why you should own a Daniel Defense MK18.
Reason #1: Quality
Quality is key. Aim for quality not quantity. Those are just a few of the hundreds of sayings about quality. And how useful is a an AR that has bad quality? About as useful as a poopy flavored lolly pop (Dodgeball movie quote). The MK18 is definitely not lacking in the quality department.
Have you ever heard of Cold-Hammer Forging? Well, short story version, its a forging process that forges the metal at a molecular level while at room temperature (which is why it’s called “Cold Forged”), aligning the molecules to provide greater strength and rigidity. In simple phrasing, it’s the best way to make barrels. Daniel Defense is one of only five companies worldwide that produces them. The process creates superior toughness and durability. Some people will try and state that the stress of hammering the metal cold can cause accuracy issues with the bore, but it really doesn’t; if it did, then why are people still using Remington, Noveske, HK, and Daniel Defense barrels?
The MK18 receiver is CNC machined from 7075-T6 aluminum to Mil-Spec standards and it features M4 feed ramps for feeding reliability in all situations. The bolt carrier group is properly staked, chrome lined, and Mil-Spec MP tested. The handguard (RIS II MK18) is CNC machined out of 6061-T6 Aluminum and is the same rail still used by many USSOCOM operators. This rail was specifically designed for SOCOM… at the request of SOCOM.
Now to top this quality cake off with some icing. Every one is hand assembled and quality tested. Very, very, very rarely does anything less than perfect go out the Daniel Defense door, and if on the super slim chance that it does, Daniel Defense’s 100% quality assurance will cover it. And their customer service is second to none.
Reason #2: Because its good enough for the Heroes
Growing up, and to this day, my dream handgun was/is a Walther PPK. Why is that, you may ask. Well, the Walther PPK is more commonly known as the James Bond gun. Connery, Moore, and even Craig used the PPK at one point. James Bond was THE suave, world-saving spy-hero and if the PPK is good enough for the Hero, then it is good enough for me. The same is true for the MK18.
Reason #1 ties into this reason heavily. SOCOM and all the other Military and LEOs who use Daniel Defense do so knowing full well that the quality is worth risking their lives on. Since the contract for the RIS II was made in 2005, Daniel Defense has supplied over 30,000 units to USSOCOM. Thats not all folks. Daniel Defense also provides rails for the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense.
On top of that, many military and LEOs (both active and retired) love Daniel Defense rifles. In an episode of American Elements for Carbon TV, Marty Daniel himself talked about how important it is for them to help bring our service men and women home safely. Daniel Defense carries that same quality standard into all of their products. You can do a google search and find numerous reviews of Daniel Defense products, including the MK18, from current and former military/LE guys who can’t stop raving about them.
Reason #3: It’s practical for all Situations
The MK18 features a 10.3″ barrel length. A lot of people will see that and think, “its so short, its not gonna be accurate,” or “I don’t like that, I want to be able to shoot over 100 yards.” Here’s the thing about that. How often are you really going to be shooting over 100 yards? If your answer is something like, “I plan on doing shooting contests,” or “I don’t know, but I’d like to be able to,” then I’m pretty sure you’re not even reading this blog. Either way, let me learn you a thing or two.
If you’re ever in a situation where you need to defend you home and family from an intruder/s, what will be better? A long, heavy 16″ or 18″ barreled gun, or a short MK18? The short length of the MK18 offers better movement as well as reduced weight. It’s a step up tactically from the regular length AR and provides an advantage in vehicles and other close spaces. There is a reason SBRs are favored by special forces operators around the world. They’re practical for all situations and, more so than that, they have far more upside than downside.
Here’s another little tid-bit for you to consider. I, not a professional shooter or a special forces operator, have hit targets with my MK18 from 300 yards, with no issues. Despite the 10.3″ barrel, accuracy is not an issue, and I know and have read of people who can produce similar result with the MK18.
Driving it Home
I could go on for hours and days about the benefits of the Daniel Defense MK18, but I won’t. I don’t want you to get bored of reading just yet. Here’s the deal, and I’ll be totally honest with you. I know most of the reservations with Daniel Defense stems from the price. People often makes comments like “I can get two other AR15s for the price of one Daniel Defense Upper.” To them I would say, “Yes, you can. Just like you can get two Yugos for the price of one Ford, but would you really rather buy the Yugos?”
I’m not saying any of this to dis on other ARs and other Manufacturers. The reason I’m saying this is to point out that with Daniel Defense, you get what you pay for. Try looking at it as an investment. If you invest $600 in some other complete AR, you’re going to have to invest more time in upkeep and you’re going to have to invest more money to replace parts that stop working or break. With a Daniel Defense MK18, you have a heftier initial investment, but your investments later are significantly less. You won’t have to spend as much time in upkeep and you definitely won’t be replacing a lot of parts. You spend $1,146.00 on a MK18 Upper, and you get your money’s worth.
If you can afford a $600-$700 AR right now, why not wait a bit longer. Save up some more and get a Daniel Defense MK18 upper. Then you can invest in an SBR or a Pistol lower. Some people are happy with their cheaper ARs. That’s ok. The ARs work and do what’s expected of them, but the Daniel Defense exceeds expectations.
The Daniel Defense MK18 is available as an SBR, or you can get is as an Upper Receiver Group and put it on your own SBR or pistol lower. And you can get it in Black, Tornado Grey, or Mil Spec +. And if you just can’t get past the 10.3″ barrel, check out the Daniel Defense DDM4A1; another Daniel Defense used by military and LEOs (think of it as the MK18’s bigger brother, which features a 14.5″ barrel with a pinned Daniel Defense Flash Suppressor).