A Happier Place: Daniel Defense Lite Rail II Review

I’m going to get this out up front; my name is Chris and I’m a Daniel Defense fanboy. I’ve been smitten with the Georgia-based company ever since I first picked up and shot a DDM4V1 rifle a few years ago. I think their commitment to quality and value is second to none, and their customer service is equally impressive.

Marty Daniel started Daniel Defense in the early 2000’s when he was unable to find the products he was looking for on the commercial market to improve his M16. He started out designing and selling sling loops, and, as the story goes…the rest is history.

One of the items Daniel Defense is famous for are their line of rails and handguards for the AR platform.  Although pricey, they are of the highest quality, solid as granite, and can handle any abuse you can possibly throw at it. This article covers the Lite Rail II 10”; however, the Lite Rail is just one of many they offer.

  • EZ CAR – 2-piece drop-in rail, non free-float. No gunsmithing required.
  • Omega Rail – Free-float drop-in rail. No gunsmithing required.
  • Omega X Rail – Two-piece design, free-float. Utilizes a proprietary barrel nut.
  • AR15 Lite Rail II – One-piece, free-float unit. Utilizes proprietary barrel nut. Lightweight.
  • Rail Interface System (RIS) II – Designed for US SOCOM. Free-float unit that will still accommodate the M204 40mm grenade launcher.
  • 7.62 Lite Rail – Same design as the AR15 Lite Rail II, but for AR-10 style rifles. Separate versions for DPMS LR-308, Rocker River Arms LAR-8, and Armalite AR-10 pattern rifles.
  • Piston Omega Rails – Designed specifically for gas piston AR’s.

As I stated earlier, I recently purchased a Daniel Defense Lite Rail II to replace my Daniel Defense EZ CAR rail on my Smith & Wesson M&P15. The EZ CAR worked well enough and was definitely stout, but I wanted something that would both shave a little weight and free-float the barrel, as the EZ CAR rails are 2-piece drop-in rails. I briefly considered both the Diamondhead VRS-T and Samson Evolution rails, but something kept bringing me back to the Daniel Defense Lite Rail. I ultimately settled on the Lite Rail II 10.0 and haven’t looked back.

dd_pic2

The AR15 Lite Rail II 10.0 is a 10” handguard with full picatinny rails on all four sides, so there’s plenty of room for mounting lights, lasers, or any other accessories. There are four sling swivel attachments, two on each side, both fore and aft. The rails are clearly numbered so you can reinstall optics without losing your zero.

After receiving the rail, I understand why they call it a Lite Rail. Weighing in at a scant 11.5 ounces, it’s amazingly well balanced and I could definitely tell the difference once installed on my rifle. As with all Daniel Defense products I’ve handled, fit and finish was flawless, and although not weighing a lot it still felt of substantial quality.

dd_pic6

In addition to the rail, also included were three black rail covers, the bolt-up system barrel nut wrench, and an allen wrench for the four allen head screws.

Comes with three ladder rail covers, barrel nut wrench, and all necessary hardware.

Comes with three ladder rail covers, barrel nut wrench, and all necessary hardware.

Installation was about as easy as you can get with a free-float rail. With the gas block removed, simply slide the bolt-up plate over the barrel and up against the upper receiver. Then slide the barrel over the barrel and thread it on the upper receiver until it’s hand tight. One thing you want to make sure of is the gas tube holes are lined up. If they’re not, you’re going to have a rough time installing the gas tube. J

Then, using the supplied barrel nut wrench, tighten the barrel and torque it to 50 ft/lbs. At this point the bolt-up will still move freely. Don’t’ panic! It’s supposed to do that.

10" Lite Rail II

10″ Lite Rail II

Now just slide the rail up over the barrel, align the four holes on the rail with the four holes on the bolt-up plate, thread on the allen head screws, torque to 32in/lbs, and…voila, you’re done! It’s really that easy. In fact, a caveman cold do it.

Smith & Wesson M&P15 with DD Lite Rail II.

Without a doubt, the Daniel Defense Lite Rail II is the finest rail I’ve ever owned. It’s lightweight, looks fantastic, and built like an M1 Abrams tank. If everyone owned a Daniel Defense rail, this world would be a much happier place.

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