I know DD announced the 11.5" SBR V7s, and I was poking around the internet at grabagun and auction sites and the like just to see what these guns were selling for, and feeding my curiosity -
and that's when I found the DDM4 V7 SLW . it's a 14.5" version of the light-weight V7 with the pencil barrel and 13.5" MFR XS Rail, etc.
I am waiting on a stamp for my MK18, and was considering the V7s factory SBR as well, but now that I found this one, I'm seriously considering a 14.5".
no tax stamp, no wait time, and still a good rifle.
what's the consensus on 14.5" rifles? I might be missing something else, but mostly I've heard they're not good starter rifles since people oft want to upgrade the rail, gas block, or muzzle device and pinning the flash hider shoots the "upgrade" horse before the race even starts.
but since I'd keep it stock and run it loud, I don't see why not.
I won a 14.5" LWRC upper in a rifle match last year. I actually thought it had a 16" barrel until I tried to remove its FH. A local 'smith removed the FH, however the threads now aren't the best. I have an SBR lower, therefore I can use the unpinned upper on this lower. The LWRC now has a threaded FH mount for my Surefire suppressor.
I expect that the LWRC 14.5" will be my beater upper -- for high volume training and carbine courses. The barrel on my 16" Wilson carbine is nearing end of life -- its replacement 16" barrel will be for long-ish distance carbine targets, with an emphasis on more precision-type shooting.
In all honesty, I would not spent my own money for a 14.5" rifle, as the muzzle device options are somewhat limited. For my situation, as an SBR upper, it works OK.
The 14.5" barrel has a slight MV disadvantage compared to my 16" barrel. For most people the difference isn't an issue. For me, the down range drop and drift of the lower velocity is tangible for the targets and distances I see in competition. I don't really see much difference in weight between the 14.5" and 16" uppers. I also don't see the difference in maneuvering around barricades and props. My competition bolt rifle has a 26" barrel, and thus any carbine seems light and handy.
In your case, I'd chose a 16" barrel rifle. But the 14.5" will work if your heart is set on it.
I used to prefer 14.5 as a short handy rifle prior to having a SBR's and AR Pistols. The pinned muzzle device doesn't allow me to use my suppressor unless I have it removed (but I am leary). I currently now have a DDv11 Pro (18 inch) and an 11.5 inch SBR, which seems to cover close in and longer distance work for me. If you don't plan on changing the the muzzle device, than it's a great short / handy, well made rifle.
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As you described, it's about as short and light as you can get without the tax stamp. If you never plan to make upgrades to the front half of the upper (other than the usual bolt-ons) I think it's a good choice. Especially for a "keep it simple" fighting rifle with just a red dot, iron sights, sling, and light. I think it's a very well rounded rifle and have been eyeballing them myself for that role.
If you are going to put much more then that on it then I would just get the 16" version as the weight difference would be lost in the noise of the other items.
The sole female shooter in a recent carbine class I attended had this rifle (except it was the keymod SLW version). She did well and really likes it.
I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.
I used a 14.5s for several carbines because my home state (NY) used to require all ARs have permanent muzzle devices or unthreaded barrels (FUAC).
A lot of the 14.5's benefits like lighter felt weight, better balance or shorter barrel length are sort of subjective/debatable. If you are in and out of building and vehicles the shorter barrel does make it easier to maneuver in my experience. However, if it's a range gun, maneuverability is unimportant. Also, if all you use are 16" or longer, you will probably not ever feel a difference or reason to go shorter. Felt weight and balance are very hard to quantify and if you have the kitchen sink off your rifle, it negates the weight loss.
You have a couple of trade offs. As you mention, you are stuck with the muzzle device, gas block and potentially rail system. If your rail requires a unique barrel nut, like the one you show, you are stuck with what you have or with rails that take the same nut. This trade off can be over come with additional uppers or swapping the barrel assembly en-mass, but then you have a higher price.
As fritz mentioned you get a lower muzzle velocity. The actual amount of lost velocity will depend on the round used and potentially other factors as no two barrels are 100% identical. For informal plinking on a short range it may not be enough to notice, for match use at distance it could be big deal. I'm not going to mention the "L" word.
A slightly theoretical advantage to the 16" is the ability to put a longer rail on it. This could give you more room for stuff and also a longer sight radius if you use a rail mounted iron sight.
For an all purpose rifle for John Q Shooter I'd recommend going 16" because it's more modifiable, better velocity and you don't run the risk of legal issues if your permanently pinned muzzle device comes lose. You can always go shorter later if you have that requirement.
There are reasons to go with 16" over 14.5".
I do like the feel and balance of a 14.5 but think it's basically one half dozen vs the others.
That being said if you are prepared to go with a 14.5" that right there is a really nice, really handy AR and good to go. I happen to like that rifle a lot.
I'd agree with this, although I've never seen a 14.5" w/ muzzle device lose the device because of poor workmanship.
16" gives you a lot more flexibility with the addition of about 2" depending on which muzzle devices you are comparing.
Most shooters will not notice the difference between a 14.5" and a 16" without a side-by-side comparison.
I do not recommend 14.5" for anyone unless they are dead set on what they want. For those that do go with 14.5" in NFA-capable states, I usually recommend that they do some research on suppressors and buy & perm-attach something compatible with the brand of suppressor they are most likely to buy. These days, suppressor mountable brakes/FH don't cost that much more than non-suppressor fancy brakes/hiders and it's better to have them ready to mount than go through the ordeal of repinning.
If you decide to get one, drop me a line, can probably save you a few bucks.
Any DD rifle is going to be GTG.
I like it and I have a DDm4V11. I see no need to change a rail on a DD rifle, unless I could retrofit a Mlok on mine.
I'd probably still prefer the DDM4V11 for the Govt profile barrel though.
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