In the world of the AR-15 there is a broad spectrum of reliability, quality, and pricing. After a certain point the only differences between the higher end AR-15s are more external factors than internal factors.
This is where we are with the options of Daniel Defense and BCM. Both are quality manufacturers that produce a reliable AR-15 and have their own accessories. They also have their own fan bases.
So today we’re going to look at some of the factors that might make you choose one over the other.
Which One is Better?
Daniel Defense AR-15s tend to be over-gassed to power through debris on non-suppressed AR-15s and are built to specifications that exceed the minimum mil-spec requirements. BCM also offers greater than mil-spec quality but comes in at a lower price point with more customization
The baseline for purchasing either tends to be aesthetics and price. Daniel Defense has bragging rights attached to it from its quality, history and price. BCM tends to have better outward aesthetics, a better trigger, and a lot more accessories built for their rifles.
Let’s dig into each one to see where they come from, what their baseline models provide, and which one is “better”
Daniel Defense and BCM
Before we get into anything we’re going to lay a little road map of where we’re going to go. We are first going to do a brief look at each company to see where they come from.
Then we are going to compare the baseline rifles of each or their closest equivalent. So no super short rifles and no overly long marksman rifles
And to wrap it all up we’re going to talk about what you get for your money.
So let’s get into the first stop on our road map, the companies themselves.
Daniel Defense was founded by Marty Daniel in a facility originally designed for his fireplace business. But the original purpose of this facility was changed in 1991 when Daniel was first introduced to firing an AR-15.
Daniel realized that the future of the AR required a flattop receiver and designed his “Big Hole Upper”. He set up a website to sell 96 of these original designs in 2001. Later he would attend the Knob Creek machine gun shoot and put forth his first sling loop.
With this new sling loop powering interest, Daniel would continue to refine the AR platform, eventually developing rail systems that were unofficially adopted onto the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s designated marksman rifles.
Later Daniel would win the SOCOM contract for the RIS II and deliver the product on schedule in 2006. Three years later in 2009, Daniel Defence would produce the DDM4 V1, the first of their firearms.
In the same year, Daniel Defense would begin to make hammer forged barrels themselves. One of the only cold hammer forging machines in the US at the time, Daniel Defense not only made barrels for their rifles but for other companies as well.
From there, the company would branch out into other designs and refinements. Today they are up to the DDM4 V7 which we will look at later.
Bravo Company Manufacturing was founded in 2003 just after Operation Iraqi Freedom. Its goal was to provide mil-spec items on the civilian market for those that needed those parts. They wanted reliable equipment for those that needed it.
This would range from soldiers and police to responsible Americans. Each part is made with the idea that it might be the difference between life and death for the end user. This means quality of the product is paramount.
BCM puts more effort into their product than their company history page, so we’ll move on to comparing the major models each company offers.
The DDM4 V7 is the current iteration of Daniel Defense’s standard M4. As such it benefits from years of refinement.
The gun itself features a mid-length gas system for reliability and improved shooter comfort. The barrel is a cold hammer forged 16” Government profile with a 1:7 twist rate. Made of a Chrome Vanadium Steel alloy, the barrel is wear resistant and is fitted with a Daniel Defense improved Flash Suppressor.
The Upper and lower receiver is made of CNC’d 7075-T6 aluminum. This means that both are more resistant to wear and tear while being harder to mill out. This denser aluminum blend trades ease of manufacture for a more durable product.
The fore end featured 7 lines of M-Lok attachment points and a continuous 1913 Picatinny rail on the top. The handguard itself is made from 6061-T6 aluminum. This is because there is less stress on the handguard than the receiver of the gun.
The bolt itself is an M16 profile and chrome lined to ease maintenance. This is acted on by a direct impingement system powered by a low-profile gas block.
No base sights come with the DDM4 V7 but it does include their glass filled polymer pistol grip and buttstock with Soft Touch Over molding.
In total, the DDM4 V7 comes in at 6.2 pounds.
BCM MID16 MOD 0
The BCM MID16 is the closest equivalent we have to the DDM4 V7. It also fills a similar role of a non-specialized AR platform.
It features a mid-length gas system and a full auto profile bolt carrier. It also comes precut to accept a registered auto sear, should you choose to go that route.
The barrel is a 16” Government profile with a 1:7 twist. The barrel is a 11595E Barrel Steel as per Mil-Spec requirements with a manganese phosphate finish for durability.
Both the upper and lower receivers are made from 7075-T6 aluminum forgings. Forged aluminum pieces need more touch up after processing but they can be made consistently. This makes areas that need to be strong repeatable. Each forging will be strong in the same places through each iteration. This is great for repeatability unless there is a flaw in the original casting. However, forging can create great resistance to fatigue.
The forend is a polymer rail with Keymod attachments. Keymod has fallen out of favor as a mounting system but can be easily swapped out later.
The MID 16 comes with an A2 front sight post that only needs a rear sight to be ready for use. This makes it slightly more ready out of the box than the DDM4 V7.
The grip, buttstock and most other accessories are part of the BCM Gunfighter line. This includes the MOD 0 compensator, the MOD 3 Pistol Grip, QD End Plate, and PNT™ Trigger.
The MID 16 comes in at 6.5 pounds. Slightly heavier than the Daniel Defense rifle.
Let’s boil all that information down into one handy chart table.
|Manufacturer||DDM4 V7||BCM MID16 MOD 0|
|Barrel and twist rate||16” Government profile, 1:7 twist||16” Government Profile, 1:7 twist|
|Grip||Daniel Defense Pistol Grip||Mod 3 Pistol Grip|
|Buttstock||Daniel Defense Buttstock||BCM Gunfighter Buttstock|
|Bolt Carrier Group||M-16 Profile, Chrome lined||Mil-spec Carpenter No.158® Steel, full auto profile|
|Lower Receiver||Enhanced Flared Magwell, 7075-T6 Aluminum, CNC||7075-t6 Aluminum, cut for register auto sears, Forged|
|Upper Receiver||M4 Feed Ramps, 7075-T6 Aluminum, CNC||M4 Feed Ramp, 7075-T6 Aluminum, Forged|
|Sights||Not included, flattop receiver||Flattop receiver, A2 style Front Post|
As you can see, there is very little difference between the two options. Both use quality parts set to a quality standard. However their greatest difference is price.
New, the Daniel Defense rifle comes in nearer to $2000 USD per rifle while the BCM MID 16 barely gets over $1000 USD. This is quite the difference. Of course prices will vary from seller to seller and the aftermarket will get you a broad range of deals.
So let’s see what we get from each one that might sway our opinion. The DDM4 V7 is more consistent in its materials overall. Most of the gun’s components are either steel or aluminum. The stock and pistol grip are polymer and are generally considered comfortable but visibly unappealing.
You have no sighting option out of the box and have to source a sight of your preference in addition to the price of the gun. While there is financing option available, most people aren’t going to feel comfortable with a $2000+ price tag for a rifle and optic combo.
This isn’t even including additional equipment like lights and slings. While it does come with a mountable foregrip/handstop this is not necessarily needed for running the rifle itself. Sights, lights, and a sling will provide more utility.
On top of this Daniel Defense trigger packs are reported as being “okay” when used. They generally don’t feel as good as other brands. Swapping out a trigger is easily done but again adds more cost to the entire setup.
The BCM MID 16” is a little more ready out of the box. With its lower price point it allows a “freer” budget for additional upgrades to the base rifle. In order to get it ready for shooting you just need to add a rear sight that matches the height of the A2 front post.
Additionally if you are not a fan of Keymod you can get M-LOK furniture. That extra money you save opens the door to more customization.
This assumes you don’t have a stockpile of spare gear or a pre-setup rifle that you can cannibalize for your new rifle.
From a standpoint of getting a rifle and setting it up for your needs, the BCM starts to win out over the Daniel Defense. Because sometimes our wants are dictated to us by our budget. You could either get a quality rifle with almost no accessories or a quality rifle at a lower price point.
This all comes down to personal preference or budget. But then most firearms purchases hinge on these two factors.
Assuming they are legally available in your area, both are great options. However, after use you might find that you need to upgrade different parts (triggers, furniture, etc.) in addition to other gear.
What’s going to allow that more easily? Having extra money to spend. The BCM only wins out against the DDM4 V7 because of three factors. Price, aesthetics, and trigger. Everything else is roughly the same.
The DDM4 has a better mounting system and is slightly lighter than the BCM. This might matter down the line with the addition of accessories but if you need a rifle now, the less expensive option generally will win out.
If money is no object you could buy both and all the accessories you want and the question of which is better doesn’t matter.
The feud over which brand is better will rage on. BCM vs. Daniel Defense will probably be a topic for another 10 years or more. As long as high-quality brands continue to put out material and people still buy them, we will have this discussion.
Both guns are reliable and will do what they are designed for. It really comes down to what looks good to you and what you can afford.
Beyond that, it’s a high-end AR-15 at the end of the day and nothing is going to change that. Except maybe poor maintenance.
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