Daniel Defense Lays Off Large Percentage Of Work Force

BY Herschel Smith
9 months, 1 week ago

Reader David Dietz sends this from Recoil.

Amid ongoing reports of deteriorating sales in the black rifle market, firearms manufacturer Daniel Defense laid off an undisclosed number of employees. According to conversations with those affected and social media posts, on Friday, Sept. 29 and Monday, Oct. 2., the firearms manufacturer eliminated approximately 100 full-time positions.

A former employee of Daniel Defense affected by the layoffs said, “This was very unexpected. All of us were handed a blanket packet that explained everything. The paperwork didn’t even have my name on it. All they said about my job was that my position was being eliminated. There was no severance package, we were just fired.”

The scope of the layoff is unknown, but firsthand sources including current and recently laid off employees speaking under the condition of anonymity said anywhere from a third to a half of the company’s workforce was affected.

Speaking about the terms of employment at Daniel Defense and the layoff, one laid off employee said, “We all had to sign a non-compete. I think the non-compete I signed was for 2 years. The outgoing talk and paperwork didn’t specify the non-compete being lifted. It’s unfortunate for a lot of people who don’t have skills outside of the industry.”

According to former employees, Daniel Defense’s post-termination non-compete clause is contained in a standard employment agreement employees sign as they are brought aboard. It is used to protect the employer’s interests by preventing employees from working for a competing company for a certain amount of time, stipulated in the non-compete clause.

When asked about the existence of a post-termination non-compete agreement, the terms, and whether it will be enforced, officials from Daniel Defense refused the opportunity to comment.

Well, Daniel Defense has a right to force employees to sign non-compete agreements as a condition of employment.  But this is a shame for the former employees of Daniel Defense, who only know how to do one thing.  Hopefully they can keep their machinist skills up-to-date enough to return to the workforce when the agreement has been fulfilled.

On the other hand, one has to question the wisdom of Daniel Defense.  If they were prepared to throw good money after Super Bowl commercials (and apparently they were), and if their rifles are almost priced out of the market, and they are, then it seems wise to cut costs and MSRP, tighten the belt, and even cut employee salaries in an attempt to stay afloat.

This way (with the history of the non-compete agreement preventing employees from seeking other similar gainful employment), it would seem to me hard to hire good employees in the future.


  1. On October 10, 2017 at 10:23 pm, Joshua Smith said:

    Thankfully, non-compete contracts are rarely upheld by judges. Keeping a man from providing for his family is immoral, full stop. Most judges get this, and the only non-competes that are enforced are incidents where an employee made off with a sizable percentage of their employer’s customer base or IP.

    Contracts are only worth as much as a judge thinks.

  2. On October 11, 2017 at 8:10 am, Fred said:

    Agree with Joshua here. The former employees are not prevented from working. There are a dozen ways around it including things as simple as giving somebody a different title, such as from Machinist to Metal Fabrication Tech or something. As long as the guys don’t disclose any IP, operational, or business advantage that could be gained they are fine.

    Hopefully somebody will tell them this.

  3. On October 11, 2017 at 11:15 am, Lina Inverse said:

    Just the existence of a non-compete can prevent you from getting hired in the first place, a prospective employer just doesn’t need that sort of hassle, even if you eventually win in court.

    In this case, the former Daniel Defense workers are probably safe, since we’re the sort of community that would severely punish such a stunt, especially since Daniel Defense isn’t offering anything unique. But that’ll be less true if they don’t soon declare they won’t be enforcing it.

  4. On October 11, 2017 at 2:53 pm, David said:

    A Covenant not to compete will not be enforced Georgia if the employee didn’t receive substantial consideration for signing the agreement. I doubt Daniels would even try to enforce that agreement given it laid off the workers.

    I do like the DDM4 I purchased from Daniels.

  5. On October 11, 2017 at 3:16 pm, Randolph Scott said:

    No severance package, no sign the non-compete. Fuck the judge that tries to prevent them working in the industry. Fuck the employer for even asking people to sign the non compete horseshit.

  6. On October 11, 2017 at 3:35 pm, moe mensale said:

    Before everyone starts crapping all over DD and what the moron reporter failed to completely explain, is that this was a long planned workforce reduction and plant consolidation. All SC activities are being terminated and relocated to GA where corp. headquarters are located. Additionally, new positions are being opened up in GA which will offset some of the terminations. And this was to be finalized during late summer of 2017. Which is exactly where we are now.

    Obviously, the majority of people affected would be in the SC facility but for them to say this was totally unexpected is just BS and sour grapes. Didn’t they notice all the machinery being moved out over the last year?

    Here’s an article from a year ago discussing this.


  7. On October 11, 2017 at 3:57 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    Thanks for the clarification. I do appreciate it. I’m not “crapping all over DD.”

    The non-compete agreement was signed as a condition of initial employment – I’ve also go that. That said, there were likely a number of employees who couldn’t relocate (due to things like dependent care and family members, etc.). Same as with any company.

    I’m hopeful that the non-compete is loose enough that it doesn’t prevent these folks from working as mechanics in the firearms industry, or gunsmiths, or somewhere they can use their skills.

    It’s not a question of legality for me, or even whether they knew. It’s a question of morality. These are men’s lives and livelihoods we’re talking about.

  8. On October 12, 2017 at 2:28 pm, moe mensale said:


    Regarding the non-competes, I’m not going to dwell on that because none of us here knows the specifics involved. I don’t see DD as a company that would attempt to harm, financially or otherwise, former employees. But non-competes are enforceable in both GA and SC. It all depends on what’s in them and we don’t know that minor detail!

  9. On October 12, 2017 at 2:31 pm, moe mensale said:

    BTW, I live in GA and I’ve never owned anything from DD. :)

  10. On October 18, 2017 at 6:33 pm, Johnny said:


    You are wrong. Most employees like myself were completely taken by surprise. We were told not to worry about our job and as far as a long planned reduction… no, we were offered money for getting people hired. Yes… that’s right. We were told that if we recommend someone for hire and they were, we would get paid. With this info, how would you expect anyone of us to really see if coming. Yes we had our concerns but we were told not to worry.

  11. On March 28, 2018 at 1:02 pm, Dan said:

    Just so everyone knows , non compete agreements are enforceable. They will hold up in court. Second, if you feel you want to fight the noncompete, the company can and will tie you up in court regardless, can you afford the time and Attorneys fees? Third, DD are way over priced. It doesn’t take rocket scientists to build a good A.R. 15 with quality materials. The Profit they make on these firearms is incredible. Greed has taken over, And if that is the case, are they hypocrites for preaching the religion. Just sayin

  12. On March 28, 2018 at 1:53 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    I don’t begrudge a company for making money. Wealth isn’t evil. “The good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”

    If they are “overpriced,” the market will tell them that and they’ll have to drop them.

    You can build your own ARs. True. One thing you get with a good manufacturer-built gun is all of the parts fitting together tightly and safely because it’s been designed and manufactured that way, e.g., machining tolerances to ensure head space is right. If you feel you don’t need that or want to do it yourself, then so be it.

    But wealth still isn’t evil.

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This article is filed under the category(s) AR-15s,Firearms,Guns and was published October 10th, 2017 by Herschel Smith.

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