Just over two years ago I ran a story introducing the Desert Tech MDR bullpup semiautomatic (and full auto!) rifle. I had just come back from Sniper Country where Desert Tech introduced me and nine others to the MDR prototypes. I returned to Desert Tech last fall to see components in production and fine tuning still in progress. Two weeks ago I fired the pilot production model MDR chambered in 7.62. So, yes, I’ve kept my eye on the MDR for a while and am happy to bring you this 2017 MDR update.
If you’re not yet familiar with the Desert Tech MDR allow me to bring you up to speed in a few sentences. “MDR” stands for “Modular Dynamic Rifle” which makes for a nice acronym. For other MDR definitions, see the video at the bottom of this article. In reality, the MDR is a short stroke piston multi caliber bullpup design rifle from the company that put bullpup precision rifles on the map. Desert Tech confidently calls it “the assault rifle of the future.” It’s a rifle many have long waited for, one that some have written off as “vaporware”. But the MDR is now in production, so a bit of crow eating may be in order… First shipments go out in March with full production shipments starting in June. Yes, those are 2017 dates for those of you counting it down.
Largely due to it’s bullpup design, Desert Tech says, “The MDR is smaller, lighter, faster, more ergonomic, and more adaptable than any other assault rifle ever made.” Clearly they are referring to .308 and/or 7.62 chambered guns as there are many sub seven pound AR-15 derivatives on the market. But what is bullpup rifle and why do you care?
Bullpup designs move a gun’s action and magazine well behind the rifle’s trigger, dramatically shortening the overall length of the gun. This results in short fast handling rifles with full length barrels. For those of us interested in a compact hunting solution, you essentially get the benefits of an SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) but without sacrificing muzzle velocity and without the headaches of the NFA. Lots of win in that design.
In addition to the shipping dates mentioned above, here’s a bit more on the MDR status. Initial production is in 7.62/.308 only. Having shot that gun at an indoor range I’ll tell you it is flat out loud. Okay, every sixteen inch .308 is loud. Fortunately, the free floated barrel on the MDR has an adjustable gas block and is designed to run suppressed. Its pistol grip and hand guard are modular so you can customize them to a preferred configuration. The production model MDR has both Picatinny rail and MLOK mount options. The MDR has two mag releases, one at the magazine and one at the front of the trigger guard similar to an AR-15. Charging handles are located on both sides of the rifle so it’s always in an ambidextrous configuration. The bolt release is behind magazine.
With delays in R&D and pushed back delivery dates, some speculated that the original forward ejection MDR concept wouldn’t make the final production model. Well, it did survive and based on my shooting and my observation of others shooting the production model I’d say it works well. Actually, from what I observed as multiple shooters ran the gun, the forward ejection worked flawlessly. That’s not exactly scientific, but Desert Tech designed the MDR forward ejection system so that if it were damaged you could remove it in the field without tools.
I didn’t have a scale in my back pocket when shooting the production MDR a couple of weeks ago, so we’ll refer to the Desert Tech spec sheet for weight: 7.3 pounds for the 7.62 model. I didn’t have a trigger scale either, but the spec sheet says the MDR has a five pound trigger. That seems about right.
The future of the MDR looks promising. 5.56 and 300 Blackout versions are on the roadmap. Since the MDR gas block has a Picatinny rail section attached, you’ll be able to leave an optic mounted when switching calibers so you never lose your zero.
I think the MDR will make a terrific hunting and home defense rifle. It has all the benefits bullpup design and the caliber change option creates a new class of bullpup rifles.
Want to know what else MDR stands for? Take a look at the video below, filmed at the prototype rollout I mentioned at the top of this story! (Full Story Here)