Dou­ble duty

Desert De­sign’s D39-SD carbine, an up­start on the sub­ma­chine gun land­scape

Firepower - - CONTENTS - TEXT & PHO­TOS BY FRED MASTISON

With such a wide spec­trum of guns avail­able, it’s dif­fi­cult to ac­tu­ally clas­sify one as be­ing truly iconic. How­ever, that rare air is in­deed re­served for the sub­ma­chine gun. Even in­side this very spe­cific cat­e­gory we find one spe­cial gun that rises above all oth­ers: the in­te­grally sup­pressed sub­ma­chine gun. King in that class is the H&K MP5SD. For decades this gun was the corner­stone of coun­tert­er­ror­ism units across the world. Eas­ily rec­og­nized by even the green­est of gun afi­ciona­dos, the MP5SD is seen as the gold stan­dard for

pis­tol-cal­iber, full-auto-ca­pa­ble weapons.

For a plethora of rea­sons this gun has gone largely un­chal­lenged. That has now changed as Desert De­sign De­vel­op­ment (D3) has in­tro­duced what they be­lieve to be a su­pe­rior in­te­grally sup­pressed sub­ma­chine gun. Say hello to the D3-9SD.

Dubbed the “Ul­ti­mate Ur­ban Carbine,” it is a short-bar­reled ri­fle built on an AR plat­form that’s pri­mar­ily cham­bered for 9mm. The en­gi­neers at Desert De­sign have cre­ated a sup­pres­sor unit that shrouds and in­te­grates with the bar­rel, which cre­ates an es­pe­cially quiet weapon. The ma­jor up­side to the AR plat­form is its fa­mil­iar­ity of op­er­a­tion and ease of use by vir­tu­ally any­one; the learn­ing curve to us­ing the weapon is al­most non-ex­is­tent. An added bonus fea­ture of this par­tic­u­lar SMG is the fact that it runs on stan­dard Glock-style mag­a­zines. This is a move which shows vi­sion from the de­sign­ers. This carbine is de­signed to com­ple­ment ex­ist­ing Glock sidearms and give users the tac­ti­cal ad­van­tage of car­ry­ing only one cal-

“An added bonus fea­ture of this par­tic­u­lar SMG is the fact that it runs on stan­dard Glock-style mag­a­zines.”

iber mag­a­zine and shar­ing it on both pis­tol and carbine. Uti­liz­ing Glock 17, 19, and 18 mag­a­zines, it al­lows quick tran­si­tion from the pis­tol to an ex­tremely quiet and ac­cu­rate sup­pressed carbine.

The abil­ity to cus­tomize that AR-15 users en­joy car­ries over to the D3-9SD as well. The weapon is de­signed to al­low for stan­dard AR drop-in trig­gers, af­ter­mar­ket safeties, and any other AR de­sign fur­ni­ture on the mar­ket. The over­all length of the gun ranges from 23 to 29 inches de­pend­ing on the stock you choose to mount. The unique lower is milled from 7075 bil­let alu­minum and is ded­i­cated to the Glock-style mag­a­zine. While some com­pa­nies insert blocks into the mag­a­zine well to make this hap­pen, the D3 is a ded­i­cated weapon. It is bil­let ma­chined and its fin­ish is hard-coat an­odized. Desert De­sign is also in the process of de­vel­op­ing an even shorter “K” ver­sion. The bar­rel with sup­pres­sor length is only 14 inches which makes

“The claim of this gun be­ing su­pe­rior to the H&K MP5SD is a bold state­ment in­deed.”

this a nice small pack­age for carry and use. While build­ing it as an Ar-style weapon, the de­sign­ers in­cluded an en­hanced bolt car­rier as well as a 9mm-spe­cific brass de­flec­tor. The D3-9SD has a 9-inch forend with a choice of Key­mod or quad rails. While rel­a­tively short, it al­lows users to mount crit­i­cal items like lights. The gun is fin­ished out with a Mag­pul K2 grip and MOE stock. While pri­mar­ily cham­bered in 9mm, Desert De­sign will also have mod­els set up to run 40 S&W and .45 ACP, as well as 10mm for the more ad­ven­tur­ous among us. The en­tire gun weigh in at just over 7 pounds, which is close to the stan­dard weight of a full-size M4. Some may ques­tion the weight, but it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that this in­cludes the sup­pres­sor. This is a very man­age­able weight that not only makes it easy to carry, but helps man­age re­coil as well. For those now qui­etly grum­bling about the process to ob­tain a full-auto SBR, you should know that Desert De­sign feels your pain. Along with a ver­sion de­signed for law en­force­ment and mil­i­tary use, they of­fer a semi-auto ver­sion for every­one else. NFA rules ob­vi­ously still ap­ply, but this gem is def­i­nitely ob­tain­able.

The claim of this gun be­ing su­pe­rior to the H&K MP5SD is a bold state­ment in­deed. With that be­ing said, test­ing the D3-9SD quickly moved on to the sched­ule. The gun

“Dubbed the ‘Ul­ti­mate Ur­ban Carbine,’ it is a short bar­reled ri­fle built on an AR plat­form that’s pri­mar­ily cham­bered for 9mm.”

we re­ceived was cham­bered in 9mm and was a se­lect fire ver­sion. Our first im­pres­sions were that the gun is well made and light­weight with a great deal of at­ten­tion paid the to de­tails. The qual­ity of its fit and fin­ish is not an ac­ci­dent. The de­sign­ers at D3 un­der­stand that if they're go­ing to make a claim as bold as theirs, they need to back it up. The only ad­di­tional ac­cou­trement we re­ceived was a Tri­ji­con MRO op­tic.

Over­all, range test­ing was en­joy­able.

First up was shoot­ing the gun for groups. While not known for su­pe­rior ac­cu­racy, the sub­ma­chine gun is much more ca­pa­ble

“The weapon is de­signed to al­low for stan­dard AR drop-in trig­gers, af­ter­mar­ket safeties, or any other AR fur­ni­ture on the mar­ket.”

than some might be­lieve. For this test we uti­lized three dif­fer­ent types of am­mu­ni­tion. Th­ese in­cluded Rem­ing­ton UMC 9mm Luger 115 Grain Full Metal Jacket, Aguila 9mm Luger 115 Grain Full Metal Jacket, and Fed­eral Amer­i­can Ea­gle 9mm Luger

115 Grain Full Metal Jacket. The five-shot groups were per­formed from a bench with a sup­port bag to rest the weapon on. This cre­ated a very sta­ble test­ing plat­form. Each fla­vor of am­mu­ni­tion per­formed well in the D3-9SD. The best group we got came from the Rem­ing­ton am­mu­ni­tion with a group of 1 ½ inches. Of course, even dur­ing the group shoot­ing the fo­cus was on the ac­tual sound of the gun. D3’s claim of ex­cep­tional sup­pres­sion held true dur­ing our test­ing. The gun was very quiet even with stan­dard ball am­mu­ni­tion. With the in­tro­duc­tion of sub­sonic am­mu­ni­tion the gun was al­most com­i­cally quiet. I loaded a few mag­a­zines with Magtech 9mm Luger Sub­sonic 147gr FMJ and the gun be­came the weapon peo­ple in Hol­ly­wood put in movies. Al­ready hear­ing safe, the in­tro­duc­tion of sub­sonic ammo dropped muz­zle sound dra­mat­i­cally. The last test re­gard­ing am­mu­ni­tion came as I loaded sev­eral mag­a­zines with a va­ri­ety of duty/ per­sonal pro­tec­tion am­mu­ni­tion. While not as quiet as our sub-sonic ammo, the hol­low point am­mu­ni­tion was still hear­ing safe and ran well with no mal­func­tions. This in my mind was one of the more crit­i­cal tests as the gun has the op­tion of be­ing a ded­i­cat-

“sub­sonic am­mu­ni­tion makes the gun al­most com­i­cally quiet.”

ed duty weapon and re­li­able func­tion is test num­ber one.

The shoot­ing bench is not ex­actly the nat­u­ral habi­tat for a sub­ma­chine gun so it was soon time to let it off the leash and run it as in­tended. This is where the D3-9SD re­ally be­gan to shine. The gun was com­fort­able and easy to run. Un­like its Ger­man coun­ter­part, all of the ma­nip­u­la­tions of the gun in­clud­ing safety op­er­a­tion were within easy reach, re­quir­ing no change in po­si­tion. The trig­ger on the demo gun was a stan­dard mil-spec ver­sion which was a bit stiff, but that would be quickly reme­died with a new drop-in trig­ger. The cyclic rate was well bal­anced

“The Desert De­sign D3-9SD has ad­dressed many chal­lenges by tak­ing the magic of the H&K and putting it into an AR plat­form.”

and muz­zle rise was neg­li­gi­ble. Ac­cu­racy opened up as ex­pected but still re­mained much bet­ter than other weapons. The mix of a low-re­coil 9mm round and a seven pound gun al­lowed us to quickly en­gage steel at close quar­ters all the way out to 75 yards with no is­sues what­so­ever. The gun gained ex­tra stars when it came time for reloads. The ded­i­cated Glock mag­a­zine well made those reloads fast and ef­fort­less. The over­all small size of the weapon make it feel as if you’re reload­ing a large pis­tol as op­posed to a ri­fle—fast, smooth, and al­low you to get back into the fight with only a mo­men­tary break. The Tri­ji­con MRO was a great choice for this gun as its large, clear aper­ture made for quick tar­get en­gage­ment. The two also made a great pair­ing as we ran the gun from a va­ri­ety of non-tra­di­tional po­si­tions such as ur­ban prone and around var­i­ous bar­ri­cades. At the end of the test­ing, we stood over a ver­i­ta­ble pile of brass, vis­i­bly im­pressed with the ri­fle.

As a sub­ma­chine gun in­struc­tor, I have a spe­cial place in my heart for the MP5SD and its place in the gun world. That same in­struc­tor re­spon­si­bil­ity though has al­lowed me to see the chal­lenges stu­dents face with the MP5SD in re­gards to op­er­a­tion. The Desert De­sign D3-9SD has ad­dressed many of those chal­lenges by tak­ing the magic of the H&K and putting it into an AR plat­form. It is a bril­liant move and one that we sup­port. While not a gi­ant player in the firearms world, Desert De­sign and De­vel­op­ment has cer­tainly fired a sup­pressed shot that will be heard around the world.

“This carbine is de­signed to com­ple­ment ex­ist­ing Glock sidearms and give the tac­ti­cal ad­van­tage of car­ry­ing only one cal­iber mag­a­zine, shar­ing it on both pis­tol and carbine.”

The unique lower is milled from 7075 bil­let alu­minum and is ded­i­cated to Glock-style mag­a­zines.

D3 has de­signed a sup­pres­sor unit that shrouds and in­te­grates with the bar­rel and cre­ates an ex­cep­tion­ally quiet weapon.

The D3-9SD has a 9-inch forend with a choice of Key­mod or quad rails. While rel­a­tively short, it al­lows users to mount crit­i­cal items like lights.

The only ad­di­tional ac­cou­trement we re­ceived was a Tri­ji­con MRO op­tic, which was a great choice for quick tar­get en­gage­ment.

Our first im­pres­sions were that the gun is well made and light­weight with a great deal of at­ten­tion paid the to de­tails. The qual­ity of fit and fin­ish is ac­ci­dent.

The ded­i­cated Glock mag well made the process of reload­ing quick and easy.

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