Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be part of a cutting edge firearms research and development team? Or maybe just to have a range day in the mountains with top trainers in long range shooting, handguns and more? Me too! And that’s exactly what just happened when Desert Tech invited SHWAT™ and nine others from around the country to their new training facility on the Utah/Idaho border. Ostensibly, we came to test drive, beat up and do our best to break prototype MDR bullpup rifles. Did you know you could shoot .308 one handed? We did all that, and had an amazing day on the range with a few other teams and weapon systems. The possibilities for the tactically minded hunter seemed endless!
If you like guns, you need to know Desert Tech. It’s a first rate Salt Lake City company comprised of hunters, shooters and passionate firearms designers. I’ve followed them longer than SHWAT™ has been around. They did something once thought impossible – created a bullpup long range precision rifle as good as anything else out there and gave it an amazing trigger. I’ve owned the FNH PS90 and FS2000. I have a UTAS-15 bullpen shotgun. I have a Tavor that I’m quite fond of. All bullpups. If you get the idea that I like the bullpup concept, you’re catching on. For the hunter moving in and out of tight spaces like a vehicle, or hiking across fields at night, shorter is simply better. But not one of those guns came with anything resembling a precise trigger. Formerly Desert Tactical Arms, Desert Tech solved that equation, creating the Stealth Recon Scout (SRS) bolt action rifle a few years ago.
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. Because your firing mechanism is in the butt of the gun, a linkage most of a foot long is typically required to connect your trigger. How Desert Tech solved the riddle to give their SRS an amazing trigger is a story for another day, but if you know bullpups, you have to feel it to believe it.
Back to breaking prototypes… We were invited to shoot, evaluate and give feedback on a work in progress, the MDR (Modular Dynamic Rifle). Granted, it was just for a day, but it sure felt like being part of the Desert Tech R&D team. The expectations set included seeing the multiple generations of the prototype guns and what kind of refinements are still needed. We were specifically asked for any and all constructive criticism we could offer. To add to our understanding, Desert Tech lined up other guns for us to shoot. Guns that contributed practically and conceptually to the MDR design and function. It’s the first time I’ve had a company invite me out to shoot their hot new item while still under development with the clear understanding we’d not have a flawless experience. Combine that transparency with the incredible performance of their SRS and Covert rifles and it gives me great confidence in the final product.
Like other bullpups, the ergonomics on MDR are very natural. With your firing and support hands closer together than you’d experience on a traditional long gun, it’s a hybrid rifle/pistol shooting experience in terms of ergos. In my hunting experience, when it comes to natural movement, those ergonomics make for fast handing, a real plus when going after multiple hogs.
Some might say MDR is heavy. Currently weighing in at a fraction over eight pounds, Desert Tech hopes to shave a pound or more off by the time the MDR goes to production. That should be sometime next Fall, but the way it balanced and fit me, I didn’t notice weight a bit while shooting it.
The railed forearm is very much like that of the AR15, much smaller than my Tavor. My support hand was right at home. Running the prototypes in both semi and full auto, the weight distribution to the rear was pretty close to perfect in my book. Perfect enough that I could easily run the .308 with just a single hand on the gun. Watch the video, and you see. I’m sure the break contributed, but the straight back recoil kept me running on target nicely. Can’t wait to get one of these on hogs!
On target doesn’t equal precision shooting in this case. We were shooting standard silhouettes with the MDRs, but I expect very good things from these as they mature. Why? Because Desert Tech mastered the precision bullpup rifle with the SRS and shorter Covert model. With the team from Deliberate Dynamics spotting I was able to shoot a .338 Lapua Magnum SRS-A1 starting with a couple of shots at 400 yards and moving out further from there. At 900 yards, my two shot impact marks are touching. I’m probably an average shooter, so that’s a real testament to the equipment and spotting.
A number of non-Desert Tech semi automatic and fully automatic rifles influenced the design priorities for the MDR, and Desert Tech had some of those available for us as well. I first ran the Bushmaster ACR, an often overlooked rifle. Desert Tech likes its interchangeable barrel system. Consequently, the MDR will enjoy it’s own interchangeable barrel system. It’s slated to launch with both .308 and 5.56 options available. The smooth cyclic rate of the the Heckler and Koch G36 was taken into account, giving the MDR a very pleasing recoil impulse and staying nicely on target. The legendary HK MP5 locks the charging handle upward on an open bolt for very fast and natural manipulation. The MDR prototype does this ambidextrously. All of these were a blast to shoot. I’d enthusiastically take any of them to chase hogs!
Just to go above and beyond, Desert Tech brought Twist Rate training to run us through AK and handgun training! Clearly, these guys love all kinds of guns, all kinds of shooting. To cap off the trip, Desert Tech took us on a plant tour. It always impresses me to see raw materials precisely machined into parts we often take for granted.
So what does all this mean for tactical hunting? Here’s something to start with: A highly maneuverable 27 inch .308 bullpup rifle that’s hog hunter’s dream! Why do so many love the AR15 and loath the AR10? Size, weight and ergonomics! Packing .308 into the MDR design is a win. Switch to 5.56 for a training class, range time or smaller game and you have another win. Both calibers should be available when the rifle is released Fall of 2015, with other calibers to follow. No barrel banging your knees while hiking through fields or running after animals that shouldn’t still be running gives us even more to smile about… Honestly, I can’t wait for the next chapter in this story! Hopefully it involves moving past the range and on to the hunt. Hey Desert Tech, come on down to Texas!