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Daniel Defense is well known for its AR-15 rifles, most notably the MK18, but a handgun has long been missing from the Daniel Defense lineup.
But today, that changes with the release of the Danel H9.
It’s not an industry secret that Daniel Defense acquired the H9 or at least was thinking about it once, but it appears sometimes, when there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Daniel Defense has released the H9, and while it kept a lot of the H9 look and ergonomics, it’s obvious they have changed and fixed what Hudson couldn’t before their untimely demise.
Thankfully, I got my hands on a Daniel Defense H9 and put it through its paces before its official release; with over 1,000 rounds shot through this gun, I can weigh in on the pros and cons of this new release.
What is the Daniel H9?
Experience enhanced precision and speed with the DANIEL H9, a pinnacle of firearm innovation.
Boasting the slimmest profile and lowest bore axis in its category, the DANIEL H9 is meticulously crafted to elevate your shooting prowess.
This model inherits the ergonomic design, intuitive aiming, and smooth straight-pull trigger from the iconic 1911 while incorporating the essential elements of a contemporary striker-fired handgun.
The DANIEL H9 has features for the modern marksman: ambidextrous controls for ease of use, an integrated accessory rail for customization, and a design ready for optical sights.
Its lightweight construction is attributed to its aircraft-grade aluminum grip, reinforcing the renowned durability synonymous with Daniel Defense.
This innovation is encased around a robust cold hammer-forged barrel.
The DANIEL H9 is crafted in Black Creek, GA, upholding the esteemed legacy of one of the most trusted names in the firearms industry.
We don’t usually regurgitate manufacturer specifications in our reviews. Since this is a brand-new offering, we thought giving you the full rundown would be a good idea.
|Striker-Fired, Reciprocating Slide,
|1.2″ (Slide Stop)
|29.6 oz. (Unloaded Magazine)
|Fixed: Fiber Optic Front,
Black-Out Rear – U-Notch
|Trigger Safety Blade, Trigger Safety Plunger, Striker Block
|Metal Construction, Straight Pull w/Integral Safety Blade
What makes the Daniel H9 worth the nearly $1,300 you’ll spend on it if you buy it at MSRP? The features, of course.
I’ll run through the features of the H9 so you can better understand the pistol and its capabilities.
Low Bore Axis
What is low bore axis?
A low bore axis in firearms refers to the position of the barrel in relation to the grip and the shooter’s hand.
In this design, the barrel sits closer to the hand. This has several implications:
- Reduced Muzzle Rise: When the barrel is closer to the line of the shooter’s hand and arm, it results in less muzzle rise or flip during firing. This is because the recoil force is directed more straight back into the shooter’s hand and arm rather than upwards.
- Improved Recoil Control: A lower bore axis can help the shooter control recoil better, making it easier to keep the sights on target for follow-up shots.
- Faster Follow-Up Shots: Since the muzzle rise is minimized, the shooter can realign the sights on target more quickly, allowing for faster subsequent shots.
- Comfort and Handling: Some shooters find firearms with a low bore axis more comfortable to handle and shoot, especially those with smaller hands.
A low bore axis is desirable in many modern handguns, particularly for competitive shooting or situations where rapid, accurate follow-up shots are important. It’s one of several ergonomic and design factors affecting the shooting experience.
The H9 comes with an impressive three 15-round magazines. The body of the magazines is metal with a polymer base and a yellow follower.
These magazines are slightly thinner than the Glock 19 magazines and the height is nearly the same.
The most notable thing about the H9 magazine is the metal body and overall construction.
My only critique of the magazines is that the feedlips are a bit sharp, and loading the magazines can get a bit tiring on the thumb.
Grip and Ergonomics
One of the shining features of the H9 is the grip and ergonomics. This is one of the main features of the gun that will sell it.
The 1911 ergonomics on a Glock recoil impulse gun is going to be a seller and it’s going to impress most people who get to handle it.
Sights and Optics Mount
The H9 sights have a front fiber optic front sight and a black serrated rear U sight.
I have a love/hate relationship with these types of sights, and these sights are no different.
But there is a silver lining.
I have no intention of using the stock sights on this gun because I’m adding a Trijicon RMR pistol red dot sight.
The gun comes with a coupon for 1 free optic plate that you can get directly from Daniel Defense. There are four available plates:
If you are an iron sights-only shooter, you can switch out your iron sights for any Sig P-Series sights.
What the heck is a STAAG 4694?! Don’t worry; it’s just the technical jargon for the standard NATO 1913 Picatinny rail.
The Daniel H9 takes nearly any existing pistol flashlight or other 1913 attachment that you’d want to add to your pistol.
I will try several flashlights on the H9 to see the best fit, starting with the Surefire X-300.
It’s pretty well known that the controls of any pistol are a make or break on it’s fit and function.
The H9 is no different, so I’ll run down each of the major controls on the handgun so you have a better understanding of them.
Daniel H9’s Magainze release is not groundbreaking in any way other than that it works extremely well.
The design of the magazine release is simple with a circular design with simple serration cuts.
Magazines drop free with ease, and inserting a mag is smooth with no hangups or snags due to the magazine release like some 1911 style guns experience.
While the slide stop is the only truly ambidextrous control of the gun, it’s, in my opinion, the most important control of the gun.
The slide stop is extremely streamlined and slim with downward-facing milling. This is rather different, but it makes sense as the upperward motion of locking the slide to the rear will provide the most resistance.
Pulling down on the slide stop is easy, but you must push your thumb into the slide to catch the slide stop.
The ambidextrous slide stop allows you to pull down on both sides simultaneously, but from my experience, that’s unnecessary.
The H9 trigger is quite unique and will take some getting used to. The pivot point of the trigger is on the bottom of the trigger.
The trigger has a forward and backward sliding motion, much like a classic 1911.
There is an extremely small amount of take-up before a very defined wall. The break is crisp and clean, and the trigger reset is back to the wall with no further take-up.
While I didn’t love the trigger initially, I am starting to like it as I get more rounds down range.
This will be very dependent on the shooter and your preferences, but my recommendation is to shoot 5-10 magazines through the pistol before you make a final decision on it. My opinion started to change on the trigger about 5 magazines in and that’s likely because I started to get used to it.
Daniel Defense stuck to the overall aesthetics of the Hudson H9 and even kept the H9 name, which I like.
I think this gun has a fantastic look. It’s a fantastic-looking gun, from its unique milling to the textured grip.
I’m thankful I don’t work in engineering at Daniel Defense because it’s going to be hard to beat the look of this gun on any future models or handguns that they release.
Daniel H9 Ammo
So far, I have shot the 115 GR PMC Bronze FMJ and the AAC 124 GR FMJ, and both worked flawlessly.
While I haven’t shot any defensive ammo, I did test chambering Speer Gold dot because I wanted to see if the unique design of the feed ramp would give the hollow point rounds any problem, which worked flawlessly.
Shooting the Daniel H9
The first 210 rounds I shot through the DD H9 were iron sight shots because I wanted to understand and feel the gun right out of the box.
I noticed it appears to be shooting a bit low, shooting PMC Bronze 115 GR rounds.
The recoil impulse was fantastic, and the shooting experience was second to none.
Take Down and Maintenance
After about 210 rounds, I did a complete takedown and cleaning of the H9. Not because it needed it or was running differently than expected but more so because I shot 210 rounds the first day and wanted to break it down and see how the internals were and get the experience of cleaning the handgun.
It breaks down like most modern pistols but with a unique takedown-lever system.
This is one of the major things that Daniel Defense changed from the Hudson design.
The pull-downs are under a good bit of spring pressure and are located inside the trigger well in front of the trigger.
You have to pull back on the slide slightly, down on the takedown levers, and pull the trigger (similar to a Glock takedown) for the slide to come free.
Then, you can remove the spring and barrel, much like you’d expect from other pistols.
I cleaned all the carbon build-up off and consulted the manual for where it said to put lube before reassembly. This bad boy has 18 lube points, according to the manual.
While the manual also warns that lube attracts dirt and dust and that over-lubing may cause issues, I was still shocked at the number of lube points.
But I followed as instructed and reassembled it, and it functioned perfectly. Keep in mind, I did very small dabs of lube in all of the said places, and I never had any oil leakage or issues, and it shot great after the cleaning.
I haven’t been excited about a gun launch in a very long time. I liked the idea of the Hudson H9 when it was first announced and I’m even more excited now that the gun is in the hands of Daniel Defense.
I think this gun will be wildly popular and likely sell like hotcakes. It will be interesting to see where Daniel Defense takes this gun in the future. I look forward to shooting in the weeks and months to come!
Is the Daniel Defense H9 the Hudson H9?
Yes and no. The design and overall ergonomics mimic those of the Hundson H9, but Daniel Defense has made changes and improved the design and features of the H9.
What caliber is the Daniel H9?
The Daniel Defense H9 is 9mm.