Product review: Springfield Armory Hellion, Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW

Dirty Dog

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As some here know, I've been a shooter most of my life. My first gun was given to me by my mother on my 8th birthday. A no-brand .22 bolt action with a 5 round magazine, that she ordered from the Sears catalog. Yes, I'm mail order guns years old.

I learned to shoot with that gun and eventually used paper route money to add a 4X scope. Growing up, I did a lot of small game hunting with it. I still have it, and it's the first gun my kids and grandkids use when they start learning to shoot.

But other than that one rifle, I've always been a handgun shooter. This past year, I decided to dip my toe into the AR-style world. After much research, I made my choices. And now, after 5-6 months, the ATF and FBI have finished their background checks and such and I took possession last week.

Springfield Armory Hellion:

Hellion.jpg

One of the issues I have with long guns is that they are, well, LONG. That can be an issue when you're moving through a building or dense forest. The Hellion addresses this issue by using a bullpup design. For those who may not know, a bullpup rifle moves the breach and firing mechanism behind the trigger. This means that despite having a 16" barrel (which means it's not an NFA item) it has an overall length of just 28.25".

Springfield delivers this rifle with an elevated picatinny rail along the top with pop-up iron sights. The front sight adjusts for elevation, the rear for windage. The fore-end is surrounded by M-LOK slots.

The Hellion is truly ambidextrous. It comers with an ambi safety and mag release, and there are ejection ports on both sides. This is a huge issue with bullpup designs, since hot brass is ejecting less than an inch from your face. It's designed to throw the brass forward a bit, but still... Unfortunately, switching ejection ports is not just flipping a switch. You have to disassemble the rifle and reverse the bolt. It can be done in just a few minutes, with no tools needed.

The Hellion was designed to accept a suppressor. It comes with a 4-prong flash hider. If you choose to fire suppressed, you can replace that with your favorite silencer in about a minute. Obviously, a suppressor affects gas pressure inside the gun. No problem. See the little stub above the barrel? Push it in and rotate it to switch between suppressed and non-suppressed fire.

Triggers are notoriously problematic on bullpup designs, but the Hellion is really quite good. Take up is short and smooth all the way to the fall and the break is clean. Reset is short and smooth. Trigger pull is 7lbs, which surprised me. It feels more like 5.

I've modified mine with a supply of 30 & 40 round mags (40 round mag pictured), a Magpul sling, front pistol grip, a Thrunite flashlight, Vortex 1-10X scope, and an AB Warthog silencer.

Impressions:

I've put about 500 rounds through the Hellion now, and I am very pleased. The action is smooth and I have had zero failures. The mag and bolt release are both centered behind the magazine. This is an unusual location and if you're accustomed to the conventional layout, will take some getting used to. There is no dedicated forward assist, but the charging handle is configured to allow it to be used, instead. The safety is easily reachable, but the angle feels odd. Like the mag/bolt releases, it takes a bit of getting used to.

I was impressed by the accuracy of this rifle. The range I used goes to 500 yards. At 100 yards, I shot consistent 5 round groups around 1". At 500 yards, with little wind (which rarely happens here) I was able to consistently shoot 2-2.5" 5 round groups, from a rest. I suspect that with match grade ammo, and someone with more rifle experience, MOA groups would be entirely reasonable. And let's be honest. 5.56 is not a real good choice for 500+ yard shots.

I was not shooting sub-sonic ammo (does sub-sonic 5.56 or .223 even exist?), but with the AB Warthog in place, I wouldn't have any problem shooting this gun without hearing protection.

Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW:

DDM4.jpg

If the bullpup design of the Hellion addresses the size concern, this gun just makes it a non-issue. but with the 7" barrel and 20.75" overall length, it is an NFA item. Legally, this gun is a pistol, not a rifle.

The DDM4 follows the classic AR manual of arms. It has a picatinny rail on top, with M-LOK slots on all other faces of the octagonal shroud. From the factory, there are no iron sights. There are QD points on both sides.

The DDM4 comes with a flash hider, which is easily replaced with a suppressor. The DM4 comes with two springs; a red and a gray. The red spring is installed by the factory, and is intended for use with subsonic ammo only. If you need to swap springs, it will take about 5 minutes. No tools needed.

The trigger is lovely. The take up is extremely short, as is the reset, and the break is crisp and clean. The pull is about 5lbs.

The DDM4 comes with one 30 round magazine (where legal). I've modified mine with additional 30 round magazines, a Magpul sling, Thrunite flash, Vortex SparcSolar red dot optic, and an AB Warthog silencer.

Impressions:

I've put about 500 rounds through the gun, and I couldn't be happier. The action is smooth. I've had zero failures. The layout is more intuitive than the Hellion.

Accuracy is what you'd expect. As a rifle, the short barrel reduces long range accuracy. But it shoots at least as well as any pistol I own. Using the pistol brace, it's slightly better, as you would expect. I consistently shot MOA or less out to 100 yards. My largest group, at 100 yards, was 2.5" As with any handgun, I wouldn't consider this weapon ideal for anything longer than that.

This gun is chambered in 300 Blackout. Like the .45 ACP, this round was designed from day one to be sub-sonic, making it ideal for suppressed fire. With the Warthog, firing without hearing protection is fine and dandy. It's not Hollywood quiet, because no gun is, but you're not going to have the slightest ringing in your ears from the DDM4 PDW. It sounds a lot like those poppers kids throw on the 4th of July.
 
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Dirty Dog

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Small update. The safety on the Hellion has been a small gripe for many owners. It was angled up when in the safe position. This made it somewhat awkward to manipulate with your thumb. And given that the standard for AR-style rifles is for the safety to be parallel when safe and down when hot, has led to complaints.
So they've changed it. The new safety conforms to the expected positions. I'll be ordering one and I will update this when it's installed.
 
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Small update. I've spent some more range time with the Hellion. This time I was shooting some better ammo. Remington 69gr Match Grade 223. From a sand bag at 100 yards I was able to consistently shoot 1" or smaller groups. My best 5 shot group was 0.75". MOA at 100 yards is 1.047" and I think consistent 1 MOA groups from a rifle that was designed for combat (the Hellion was designed in Croatia and is their standard infantry weapon) is pretty impressive.

The angle of the safety selector still feels really awkward to me. I have ordered an upgrade and will report on it once it's installed. I have also ordered a binary trigger for the DDM4...
 

Wing Woo Gar

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Small update. I've spent some more range time with the Hellion. This time I was shooting some better ammo. Remington 69gr Match Grade 223. From a sand bag at 100 yards I was able to consistently shoot 1" or smaller groups. My best 5 shot group was 0.75". MOA at 100 yards is 1.047" and I think consistent 1 MOA groups from a rifle that was designed for combat (the Hellion was designed in Croatia and is their standard infantry weapon) is pretty impressive.

The angle of the safety selector still feels really awkward to me. I have ordered an upgrade and will report on it once it's installed. I have also ordered a binary trigger for the DDM4...
I prefer a two stage Geisslle SSA-E trigger for an AR pattern, its my fave. It sounds like you are shooting nice groups. Im not a fan of bull pup and I cant have an SBR in California so Im just a tad envious. For 5.56 Im a believer in Black Hills mk262 77 gr. Ammo. I have had good experiences with the TMK bullet in 77gr. As well. If its windy that extra weight can help. If you do anything past 600yds I like Black hills gold 178 gr.TMK in 308 win. I consistently get hits on a 17 inch steel triangle at just over 1000yds with an18 inch med/heavy barrelled piston drive gas gun. I am out of reticle at this range with a leupold mark 4 2.5-10x. I am dialed out and then Kentucky from there. I have made hits in a full value 15 mph wind with this set up. Thats shooting 38 ft high and 14-16 feet to the right to buck two different winds and make consistent hits at 1038 yds on that 17 inch triangle. At that range you see the target impact about 2.5 seconds before the sound makes it back to you.
 
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I prefer a two stage Geisslle SSA-E trigger for an AR pattern, its my fave.
You cannot use conventional AR triggers in a Bullpup.
It sounds like you are shooting nice groups. Im not a fan of bull pup and I cant have an SBR in California so Im just a tad envious.
A bullpup is not an SBR. SBR is determined solely by barrel length and he Hellion has a 16" barrel. You can get 18" and 20" if you prefer.
For 5.56 Im a believer in Black Hills mk262 77 gr. Ammo. I have had good experiences with the TMK bullet in 77gr. As well. If its windy that extra weight can help. If you do anything past 600yds I like Black hills gold 178 gr.TMK in 308 win. I consistently get hits on a 17 inch steel triangle at just over 1000yds with an18 inch med/heavy barrelled piston drive gas gun. I am out of reticle at this range with a leupold mark 4 2.5-10x. I am dialed out and then Kentucky from there. I have made hits in a full value 15 mph wind with this set up. Thats shooting 38 ft high and 14-16 feet to the right to buck two different winds and make consistent hits at 1038 yds on that 17 inch triangle. At that range you see the target impact about 2.5 seconds before the sound makes it back to you.
I don't think 5.56 is a good choice for long range shooting. And I've never really been into that. If I were, I'd probably use 308 for hunting and the newer 6.5 Creedmore for target.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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You cannot use conventional AR triggers in a Bullpup.

A bullpup is not an SBR. SBR is determined solely by barrel length and he Hellion has a 16" barrel. You can get 18" and 20" if you prefer.

I don't think 5.56 is a good choice for long range shooting. And I've never really been into that. If I were, I'd probably use 308 for hunting and the newer 6.5 Creedmore for target.
I know at triggers dont go in a bull pup I was talking about your ddm4.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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You cannot use conventional AR triggers in a Bullpup.

A bullpup is not an SBR. SBR is determined solely by barrel length and he Hellion has a 16" barrel. You can get 18" and 20" if you prefer.

I don't think 5.56 is a good choice for long range shooting. And I've never really been into that. If I were, I'd probably use 308 for hunting and the newer 6.5 Creedmore for target.
I know a bull pup isnt anSBR, I was talking about your ar pistol.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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You cannot use conventional AR triggers in a Bullpup.

A bullpup is not an SBR. SBR is determined solely by barrel length and he Hellion has a 16" barrel. You can get 18" and 20" if you prefer.

I don't think 5.56 is a good choice for long range shooting. And I've never really been into that. If I were, I'd probably use 308 for hunting and the newer 6.5 Creedmore for target.
I never shoot past 300 yds with5.56, I was using 178 gr TMK in 308. For long range.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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You cannot use conventional AR triggers in a Bullpup.

A bullpup is not an SBR. SBR is determined solely by barrel length and he Hellion has a 16" barrel. You can get 18" and 20" if you prefer.

I don't think 5.56 is a good choice for long range shooting. And I've never really been into that. If I were, I'd probably use 308 for hunting and the newer 6.5 Creedmore for target.
6.5 is fine, Im more a fan of 308. I dont hunt since I was a kid.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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Small update. I've spent some more range time with the Hellion. This time I was shooting some better ammo. Remington 69gr Match Grade 223. From a sand bag at 100 yards I was able to consistently shoot 1" or smaller groups. My best 5 shot group was 0.75". MOA at 100 yards is 1.047" and I think consistent 1 MOA groups from a rifle that was designed for combat (the Hellion was designed in Croatia and is their standard infantry weapon) is pretty impressive.

The angle of the safety selector still feels really awkward to me. I have ordered an upgrade and will report on it once it's installed. I have also ordered a binary trigger for the DDM4...
Why binary trigger?
 

Wing Woo Gar

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Because getting the licenses for full auto would be too much hassle and expense.
I asked because some of them snap back to reset and arent actually much faster than you can do with a quality semi auto trigger and good finger control. When you get it, let me know, Im curious what your fastest RPM will be compared to previous setup.
 
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Dirty Dog

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I asked because some of them snap back to reset and arent actually much faster than you can do with a quality semi auto trigger and good finger control. When you get it, let me know, Im curious what your fastest RPM will be compared to previous setup.
Technically, those are not binary triggers. If for no other reason than "binary trigger" is trademarked by Franklin Armory.
I am quite certain I cannot fire as fast as these. I mean, I can bump fire, but this is, of course, more controllable.
 

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Technically, those are not binary triggers. If for no other reason than "binary trigger" is trademarked by Franklin Armory.
I am quite certain I cannot fire as fast as these. I mean, I can bump fire, but this is, of course, more controllable.
That is quite fast, I imagine this is going to get expensive to feed with the price of components so high. Looks fun for sure, oh well, at least I have the ocean in California.
 
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That is quite fast, I imagine this is going to get expensive to feed with the price of components so high. Looks fun for sure, oh well, at least I have the ocean in California.
Fun is the main reason for buying the binary trigger. I do train double taps, but I don't see myself doing the full on mag dump very often.
 
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I received the new selector switch from Manticore Arms and installed it. Installation was simple enough. They have an installation video on YouTube which was easy to follow. Removing the OEM selector was the most difficult part.
IMG_6834[1].JPG
That's the kit. The punch is flimsy, but they tell you up front it's considered a consumable and to expect it to break. It did. It's only used for pushing out a roll pin in the OEM selector.
IMG_6833[1].JPG IMG_6835[1].JPG
The photo on the left shows the OEM selector. It functions just fine, but many people, including me, found it awkward to access. On the right is the Manticore replacement. Functions perfectly, and it is much easier to manipulate.

Manticore sells this switch for about $140. I think it's well worth it.
 
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Wing Woo Gar

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I received the new selector switch from Manticore Arms and installed it. Installation was simple enough. They have an installation video on YouTube which was easy to follow. Removing the OEM selector was the most difficult part.
View attachment 30609
That's the kit. The punch is flimsy, but they tell you up front it's considered a consumable and to expect it to break. It did. It's only used for pushing out a roll pin in the OEM selector.
View attachment 30608 View attachment 30610
The photo on the left shows the OEM selector. It functions just fine, but many people, including me, found it awkward to access. On the right is the Manticore replacement. Functions perfectly, and it is much easier to manipulate.

Manticore sells this switch for about $140. I think it's well worth it.
Range videos please.
 
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Dirty Dog

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Trigger action and controllable fire rate. Whatever you want. Like a review of the trigger if you will.
I think perhaps you're confused. This is a safety selector swap for the Hellion. It does nothing but change the position and angle of the selector switch so it's closer to the "normal" AR-style selectors. It has no effect on trigger at all.
I'm still waiting for the binary trigger. And when I get it, it will go into the Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW, not the Hellion.
 

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