You know those days when you're working hard, 12-hour days seem like a break, and you start forgetting simple things like the name of your kids when you're yelling at them to stop throwing the pizza slice across the room (Jeremy-Jess-Jenny-Josh-Jonny stop!)? This fall I had the opposite of one of those days. I spent a quiet morning at the range siting in my hunting rifle (a 7mm magnum, if you'd like to know).
I figured that was as good a time as any to try out the AR-15 the team over at DRD Tactical sent me to review. How'd it do? It is what made the day so enjoyable.(My 7mm mag groupings, on the other hand, didn't.)
But let me take a different approach to reviewing this item. Instead of pretending I'm a seasoned gun reviewer, let me assess it as if I'm a new AR-15 buyer; like I've never owned one and as if I'm a regular guy from the Midwest who doesn't have an arsenal of 23 different ARs and I'm looking to buy one and only one and not waste my money.
Wait, that's all true of me -- so this should work fine.
I was sent the company's CDR-15-556, or in other words, their AR-15 model chambered in .556 NATO. Let's start by breaking it down into: first impressions, feel, ease of use, accuracy, price.
When you receive your rifle, it comes in a lockable, heavy-duty, custom foam box. Instead of being rectangular, it's square. That's because the company's major selling point is that the gun is made to be assembled and disassembled very quickly. That's perfect for the military cliental it caters to, but it's also nice for overall transport and concealment.
But if you're expecting anything beyond the rifle when you first buy, don't. It comes with one 30-round magazine. That's not a knock -- when you buy a hunting rifle it's not like the manufacturer automatically gives you a scope.
The website picture shows slots for a foregrip, silencer, and extra magazines. Mine, however, did not come with foregrip slot, which means I have to take that off when I want to store it in the case. Others who have received DRD rifled told me they got extra rails to attach to theirs so they can buy and attach extra accessories such as a light and foregrip. When I didn't, I simply called the company and they sent me some. A very harmless process.
The rifle has a matte finish and comes well-oiled. For someone like me that cleans his gun after EVERY use, that's a big plus. You definitely get the sense that you're looking at something well-made when you open the case. But that said, the instructions that come with the gun are on regular computer paper and stapled in the corner. Some may view that as a little cheap. But that's actually a plus for me: it makes it feel more like a custom rifle from a small manufacturer that really takes the time with each weapon instead of a large conglomerate pumping out a rifle a minute.
The owner's manual that comes with the rifle is put together on regular computer paper and held together by a single staple, a refreshing touch that gives the impression that each weapon is made by a small group who cares rather than a giant manufacturer. (Credit: Jonathon M. Seidl/TheBlaze)
Overall first impression? I like it.
My first thought when picking up the rifle was, "Wow, this is heavy. I can't imagine being a soldier and carrying this around all day." But I also haven't handled many ARs in my life and I certainly haven't carried any military rifles around all day. So I could see a Navy SEAL coming to me and saying, "Jon, you have no idea, this is actually light!" And I would tip my cap. This type of weight may just be standard, as well as another reminder of why I could never pretend to be cut out for the service of some of our country's greatest heroes.
That said, it was heavy enough (about nine pounds with a full magazine and accesories) that it made me buy a foregrip. I couldn't imagine holding it up for any period of time without one. I bought a cheap one off of Amazon for about $8 and it was worth it.
The rifle comes standard with a Magpul pistol grip. I have small hands and so it fits me perfect. I've heard of others swapping it out, but it's more than fine for me.
There's also a telescoping butt that can lock in place. I can't say how wonderful this is, especially since I had my wife handle the rifle a little bit to get her thoughts. She was able to instantly fit the rifle to her "size." Still, the rifle's weight did get to her. But that weight has a great side effect: the gun kicks like a fetal mule, which is to say not at all.
Ease of use
One of the selling points of DRD rifles is that they are easy to assemble, easy to disassemble, and easy to morph into other calibers. This is true. While I initially had trouble putting the rifle together when I first got it out of the box, I know that was because of my lack of familiarity with ARs and breakdown rifles in general. After the second time, it started to become muscle memory.
A video on YouTube demonstrates how easy it is to assemble and shoot:
However, it's worth noting that since the rifle doesn't come with any optics or steel sights, taking it out of the box and immediately firing is not quite possible. That's not a knock -- it's just reality. I bought a red dot/green dot sight off Amazon that came within a couple days. I guess technically you could fire the rifle right out of the box and do more of a bore sighting, but that's not as much fun!
Sighting in the rifle was my chance to see how the gun performed. And did it ever. Even though my first groupings were well left, they were still good groupings at about 30 yards. As I dialed-in the optics, the gun's accuracy became apparent, as you can see in the target below:
As mentioned earlier, the gun barely kicks, making it easier to stay on target throughout multi-round shot groupings. My only trouble was with the gases that seeped back into my eyes. But again, I chalk that up to a normal occurrence that I'm just not used to because I don't shoot ARs often.
Now we get to one of the most important parts. And there's no way to sugar coat this: the rifle retails for $2,091.00. That may be steep for a lot of people. But you could also say that this could be the only AR-15 you ever buy, and just like a good shotgun, investing in a good AR-15 can be a cost that produces a firearm that you keep a lifetime.
The DRD CDR-15-556 is a top-of-the line rifle that shoots great, is built well, Sure, it's a little pricey. But considering that the DRD concept is that you can buy other components and switch them out, thereby creating a new rifle of sorts, you may find it worth it.
I told you I wanted to review this as a regular "Jon" getting my first AR. With that in mind, I'd say this rifle is worth adding to your arsenal. And with the scarcity of ammo starting to dissipate, it can make for a lot of fun at the range.
Get more information at DRDTactical.com.
Full disclosure: DRD tactical has advertised on this website. However, the review of this rifle started before that relationship. While the author was sent a rifle to review, he received no payment.