Traditional handguns are relatively easy to carry and train with, but they’re a bit lacking in terms of accuracy and power if you’re forced to start sending rounds downrange in a hurry. Many self-defense-minded citizens solve this by also keeping a rifle in their home or vehicle in case things get seriously bad.
However, I find that while many people claim they have truck guns, they rarely do. The reason is simple: size. It’s difficult to securely store a full-sized AR-15 in your vehicle and still manage to keep it easily accessible. I find this to be the case with dedicated home-defense rifles as well. The challenge is real. So what we need is a compact rifle that is easy to wield, store and shoot. Oh yeah, and for that extra oomph, we’d prefer it be in the .30-caliber family. Are we asking too much?
Daniel Defense doesn’t think so, and the company has provided us with a great solution. Say hello to the new DDM4 Personal Defense Weapon, or PDW.
Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW
The PDW concept is rooted in the special operations community, where elite personnel are always looking for rifles that are small and compact yet ballistically effective. This market segment has boomed in recent years, but most companies have simply skipped the civilian side for what they believe are greener military and law enforcement pastures. The DDM4 PDW changes that.
The first thing we need to address is that the DDM4 PDW is classified as a pistol. While Daniel Defense does offer a short-barreled rifle (SBR) version, the flavor we’re interested in here does not require any BATFE or NFA nonsense. This is a small fighter that’s ready to be taken home from the gun shop without any extra paperwork.
The gun is also a miniature powerhouse because it’s chambered for the ever-popular 300 Blackout. The 7-inch, cold-hammer-forged barrel has Daniel Defense’s Strength-to-Weight (S2W) profile, and it’s designed keeps subsonic loads subsonic and provide great ballistics for a shorter barrel. The muzzle has 5/8×24-tpi threading for accessories like suppressors, but Daniel Defense also includes an effective new Linear Compensator that directs muzzle blast forward, away from the shooter. It’s made of 17-4 stainless steel and has been salt-bath nitrided for corrosion resistant. It looks a bit different, but it works extremely well.
Surrounding the barrel and pistol-length gas system is a 6-inch MFR XL handguard made from 6061-T6 aluminum with a flat front end, a full-length top rail and M-LOK slots along the sides and bottom, making the gun easy to customize with accessories. Because the barrel is so short, Daniel Defense includes an SLR MOD2 hand stop to prevent your support hand in a safe position.
Lower Receiver & Controls
The lower receiver is CNC-machined from 7075-T6 aluminum like the upper. It sports a flared magazine well, an ambidextrous safety and Daniel Defense’s only Soft-Touch overmolded pistol grip. But perhaps the most important feature is the Maxim Defense CQB arm brace, which rides on two rails and offers four different length-of-pull positions. Fully collapsed, the DDM4 PDW comes in at just 20.75 inches long overall, so it’s easy to fit into a backpack for discreet stowage and transport. With the brace fully extended, the overall length is just 34.75 inches, and the buffer system is also enhanced for optimum reliability whether you’re shooting suppressed or unsuppressed.
Of course, considering the pistol’s compact footprint, 300 Blackout chambering and muzzle threading, it’s just screaming for a suppressor. So, Daniel Defense has included one of its new Grip-N-Rip charging handles. Not only does this charging handle have latches on both sides for quick ambidextrous use, but it’s also engineered for suppressor use, redirecting gases upward and away from the shooter’s face. If you’ve ever run a suppressed weapon—especially a short one—you’ll appreciate what this does. Gone are the days or watering eyes and the feeling that you’re going to end up with black lungs after inhaling so much gas.
Being the fortunate gun writer that I am, I was able to get my hands on the new DDM4 PDW before it was released into the wild. And the model I received was pure Daniel Defense. I actually have to confess to laughing when I opened the box. After all, the gun came in a standard-size rifle case. Then I opened it up to see this little fighter nested in the foam.
The gun’s fit and finish were excellent. As with all Daniel Defense builds, there was no play between the upper and lower receivers. The pistol was also free of any burrs, machine marks or sharp edges.
As for the Maxim Defense brace, it was a bit of a challenge to extend or collapse it with just one hand. However, for what the brace offers, that’s an easy tradeoff, especially when you consider that the brace’s rods don’t interfere as much with the safety as they have on guns from other companies. The safety seems a bit thicker and more pronounced here to counteract this. In the end, it made the gun easier to run.
I needed some glass to measure the pistol’s accuracy at the range, so, in keeping with the PDW theme, I chose to install a Trijicon MRO. This compact and reliable sight has served me well many times before. I also wanted to see just how well the short-barreled shooter would handle a wide range of ammunition, so I used a little bit of everything, from Daniel Defense’s own subsonic rounds to some Hornady 110-grain Black V-MAXs.
I quickly zeroed the gun at 50 yards and went to work. The trigger was decent with a clean and crisp reset. I can see some folks quickly dropping in a high-speed aftermarket trigger to really get things going. But, contrary to what some might believe, the small PDW is a breeze to run. For those in the know, the 300 Blackout round is an easy-shooting load to begin with, and the Maxim Defense brace makes it easier.
My day at the range was simply a blast. I really enjoyed running drills with such a small weapon. After firing five-shot groups to measure the pistol’s accuracy, I spent the rest of the day hammering steel from 25 to 200 yards. And let me just say that this weapon’s maneuverability cannot be understated. In drills that had me moving the gun from my strong side to my support side, my split times were much shorter than those with a full-sized rifle.
Accuracy-wise, it was easily to produce 1.5-inch groups off-hand. Sure, it would have been more empirical to test the DDM4 PDW from a benchrest, but that isn’t what this gun is about. It was designed to put rounds on target in a hurry, and in that capacity, it excelled. The only hiccup I experienced came with a Hornady subsonic load. It might have been the ballistic tip or one of another 500 reasons, but everything else ran flawlessly.
I was personally curious about the gun’s Linear Compensator. I understand the concept and have run similar designs on longer-barreled guns. What I found was that the device worked very well. When the light got a little dim, it focused a decent flash cone as well. As far as the report, it also helped drive the sound downrange. This is really nice for the confined spaces where you would probably be using a PDW. I have spoken to several K-9 officers who really like the concept of this device because it helps protect their partner’s ears. It did indeed make shooting a bit quieter from behind the gun.
Where does the DDM4 PDW fit in exactly? While the term “truck gun” is thrown about, few really know the meaning. To most, it’s a rural reference, but I contend that this is a home-defense and BMW gun as well. You do not need a truck to need a rifle. A quick look at mobs stopping traffic and the violence often connected with that should give you pause.
The DDM4 PDW simply makes a great vehicle gun. Easily stored in a backpack or case of your choice, it takes up little room and will provide you with a whole new level of confidence. And thanks to the M-LOK handguard, the gun is easy to personalize for the road or home. I would keep the Trijicon MRO on it and add a tactical light, backup sights, a sling and a suppressor. Then it would be an exceptional PDW for my needs. That’s my idea at least, and I’m sure you’ll develop your own opinions once you get your hands on this great little blaster. For more information, visit danieldefense.com.
Specifications: DANIEL DEFENSE DDM4 PDW
- Caliber: 300 Blackout
- Barrel: 7 inches
- Overall Length: 20.75-24.75 inches
- Weight: 5.7 pounds (empty)
- Brace: Maxim Defense CQB
- Sights: None
- Action: Direct impingement semi-auto
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 30+1
- MSRP: $2,249
Editor’s Note: The video above shows the then-prototype model we ran at the 2019 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous. For even more information, please visit DanielDefense.com.
This article originally appeared in a previous issue of Ballistic Magazine. Get your print or digital subscription at OutdoorGroupStore.com.