Daniel Defense M4A1 RIII

Daniel Defense M4A1 RIII

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  • Design Features
  • Build Quality
  • Recoil
  • Fun Factor
4.2/5Overall Score
  • Gas System: Mid-length
  • Weight: 6.39 lbs
  • Length: 14.5"
  • Controls: Fully Ambidextrous
  • Excellent Fit/Finish
  • Ergonomics
  • Fully Ambidextrous Controls
  • Muzzle Device

I have been a fan of Daniel Defense rifles for quite some time. I have always held Daniel Defense (DD) in high regard for its quality control and attention to detail. Plus, they set the original bar for durability testing their rifles.

So it’s no shock that I have finally gotten my hands on the Daniel Defense M4A1 RIII, also known as the DDM4A1 RIII.

I’m going to dive deep into this gun’s features and shoot it and have a blast telling you the ins and outs of this fresh rifle.

m4a1 riii stockphoto

Daniel Defense M4A1 RIII

Caliber: 5.56 NATO
Barrel Length: 14.5″
Weight: 6.39 lbs

About Daniel Defense

Daniel Defense is a renowned firearms manufacturing company based in the United States.

The company was founded by Marty Daniel in 2000 and is headquartered in Black Creek, Georgia. Daniel Defense is known for producing high-quality rifles, parts, and accessories for the civilian, military, and law enforcement markets.

One of the primary focuses of Daniel Defense is the production of AR-15-style rifles, namely the rifle dubbed the DDM4 and the M4A1 series, which have gained immense popularity among firearm enthusiasts, sports shooters, and professionals.

They offer a wide range of rifles designed for different purposes, including home defense, competitive shooting, and tactical operations.

Daniel Defense rifles are recognized for their precision, reliability, and craftsmanship.

The company strongly emphasizes attention to detail and quality control, ensuring that its products meet rigorous standards. Their rifles often incorporate advanced features such as free-floating handguards, cold hammer-forged barrels, and ergonomic designs, which contribute to their performance and durability.

In addition to complete rifles, Daniel Defense manufactures various rifle parts and accessories.

These include handguards, stocks, triggers, muzzle devices, sights, and more. Many of these components are known for their robust construction, modularity, and compatibility with other AR-15 platforms.

Daniel Defense has also supplied firearms and accessories to the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies.

Their rifles have been utilized by various military units and special operations forces, reflecting the company’s commitment to producing reliable and effective firearms.

Daniel Defense M4A1 RIII Features

The Daniel Defense M4A1 RIII does not lack features and functions. This gun is extremely well built, looks good, and has features that make shooting it a dream.


At first glance, the M4A1 safety doesn’t appear to be much but like all the controls on this gun, it is ambidextrous.

daniel defense safety

One gripe I have about ambidextrous safeties is they often hit your trigger finger when on fire. This rifle has a slight bit of that but not as much as others I’ve used.

The safety design looks very much like a stock AR-15 safety, except for the right side having a small screw to hold the two together.

The safety is well done and functions like a mil-spec safety should.

Pistol Grip

I’m a big fan of Daniel Defense furniture because of its design and attention to detail.

The grip is what won me over. It has a small cutout on the top left side of the grip, allowing your finger to rest.

daniel defense grip

On the opposite side, your trigger finger naturally flows into the grip making your trigger finger that much more comfortable while it’s in the trigger well.

The grip texture is more of a rubberized texture with a unique Daniel Defense texture.

Daniel Defense also builds in the trigger guard which has a small dip to open up the trigger well.

Magazine Release

Magazine releases have come a long way in the last few years. From once being an afterthought to now getting the attention they deserve.

Daniel Defense M4A1 Magazine Release

DD did a great job on their ambidextrous magazine release. The magazine release has a left-side paddle, whereas before most guns didn’t have anything but a right-side release button.

Daniel Defense stuck with the standard button on the right side, which in my opinion, is smart because it’s what people are most familiar with.

The magazine release on the Daniel Defense M4A1 is quality and well thought-out.

Receiver Set

The upper and lower on these are truly works of art. For some time the Daniel Defense roll mark has stood the test of time with real-world use and millions of rounds.

The iconic laser etching of the caliber at the front of the upper and model moniker at the rear are tell-tell Daniel Defense upper identifiers.

Magazine Well

M4A1’s magazine well isn’t all that impressive, but I will say that it does the job and has more flare than some magazine wells on the market.

The main thing to be concerned about is the magazine funneling into the magazine well with ease and I can definitively say that this one does just that.

Bolt Release/Hold Open

Ambidextrous bolt release/hold opens are another new addition to lower receivers.

daniel defense bolt rel hold open

The Magpul Bad Lever has been around for some time, but I never really love how it functioned.

Having something built into the lower is much more bulletproof. Daniel Defense mirrored the bolt release on both sides and so the function and use are what you are familiar with.

I like the controls on this rifle and how Daniel Defense thought these out and implemented them.

Charging Handle

Like many other companies, Daniel Defense has developed its own changing handle that lets you release the handle by pulling on either side of the charging handle.

Daniel Defense M4A1 Charging Handle

This is extremely helpful for lefties or someone temporarily shooting left-handled who needs to charge the bolt.

The function of their charging handle so far has been flawless and smooth. It also bears laser etching with the Daniel Defense logo, name, and location.


As I mentioned, I really like the Daniel Defense furniture and the stock is no exception.

M4A1 Stock

The stock has a unique adjustment handle that works well but blends in with the overall shape of the stock. The butt pad is also changeable to convex or concave.

Daniel Defense RISIII Rail

If you aren’t familiar with the RIS rail system it was developed for US SOCOM and the most popular version of the rail was the RIS II.

The major selling point for SOCOM was that the rail had a two-piece design that allowed you to remove the rail’s bottom and attach an M203 or M320 grenade launcher.

This is important because attaching it to the rail added weight that would pull down on the rail and the barrel nut. This could cause potential issues with accuracy and add unnecessary pressure on the chamber.

You might be asking, why do I care about a feature for an M203 grenade launcher? You probably don’t, BUT for the average person, this is still a fantastic bomb-proof rail.

It has an incredible 6-bolt attachment design and features QD mounts as well as a plethora of M-Lok attachment slots.

Muzzle Device

With so many muzzle device options on the market, it’s hard to choose unless you plan to suppress your gun, then you know what company/brand you need to go with.

This muzzle device is Daniel Defense’s own design and is pinned and welded to the barrel. That takes this 14.5″ barrel to a 16″ barrel keeping it out of the short barrel rifle world.


Stock AR-15 triggers are typically nothing to write home about and in the case of the M4A1, that too is the case.

That’s okay this gun still shines for many other reasons the trigger is smooth and functional, it’s just not an over-the-top Geissele trigger or other two-stage aftermarket triggers.

Sling Mounts

Sling mounts are a must-have if you plan to do more than bag this rifle and carry it to the range.

The Daniel Defense M4A1 RIII gives you plenty of built-in QD mount attachment points. One on each side of the butt stock, another on the rear AR-15 end plate and one on each side of the RIII hand guard.

Ammo for M4A1 RIII

Daniel Defense rifles are hardly ammo sensitive so shoot the best or bottom of the barrel 5.56 ammo it will cycle nearly about anything you throw at it.

Shooting the DDM4A1 RIII

Shooting the DDM4A1 is a really fun experience, but with that being said, shooting AR-15 rifles is typically always fun.

The one complaint I have is a better muzzle device. The one that’s pin and welded on this model does little to mitigate muzzle rise and doesn’t offer flexibility when it comes to suppressing the gun.

But the rifle shoots smoothly and, based on the ejection pattern of the rifle, is appropriately gased.

Overall, I can’t recommend this rifle enough for someone in the market for a 14.5″ pin/weld rifle.

Daniel Defense M4A1 Final Thoughts

Overall, this gun is solidly built, backed by a reputable company and packed full of features that make the gun great for the price point.

I like how smoothly the gun shoots and how thought-out and easy the controls are to use.

While the price might be a slight premium over other brands, you are getting more bang for your buck right out of the box.


Here are some of the most asked questions about the Daniel Defense M4A1.

Are Daniel Defense rifles good?

Yes, Daniel Defense rifles are extremely well-made and battle-proven. Daniel Defense makes quality rifles but you will pay for that level of quality.

Are the MK18 and M4A1 the same?

No, they are very similar rifles but the traditional MK18 is a 10.3″ barreled SBR with a RIS II. This model is an M4A1 RIII which is a 14.5″ pin and weld with a RIII hand guard.

What is the barrel twist on a Daniel Defense M4A1?

1:7 Twist

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Michael Savage
Michael Savage

Michael is the President of Lynx Defense and an avid gun owner and outdoors man. He's passionate about helping find the best bang for your buck and helping others learn about firearms and the industry as a whole.

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