As requested we have a first look at Desert Tech’s new MDR bull-pup rifles from SHOT Show. The MDR (Micro Dynamic Rifle) once again proves the engineering mastery of Desert Tech designers, and now offers fans of the company a more tactical bull-pup rifle in (2) very popular calibers, with more in the plans for the future. The MDR is fully staged to make a huge run on the “black rifle” market, and could become a game changer.
Though the technological advancements come with a higher price, the MDR should become a serious competitor to AR-15 rifles for bull-pup fans. The bull-pup design not only offers a significantly shorter rifle, without crossing any NFA (National Firearms Act) barriers, the design also moves all of the heavy action components (and weighted magazine) to the rear of the rifle. This weight transfer allows the shooter to shoulder the rifle much more easily than traditional rifles, and can improve accuracy and follow-up shots as the shooter doesn’t have to fight gravity as hard.
Desert Tech & Bull-Pup Rifles
Desert Tech is no stranger in bull-pup designs, having specialized in the inverted action design since their inception in 2007. Starting with their HTI, SRS-A1, and SRS-A1 Covert long-range bolt-action bull-pup rifles, Desert Tech went beyond what other bull-pup rifle manufacturers had accomplished.
Desert Tech was able to combine the short dimensions of a bull-pup with amazing long-range accuracy. Though not the first bull-up sniper rifle (think DSR-1 and a few others), the Desert Tech bull-pup rifles were much shorter than previous entries. Despite their short stature, the Desert Tech bull-pup rifles proved themselves very quickly, and gained popularity for their amazing long-range accuracy. A sniper on my SWAT Team was able to test a Desert Tech sniper rifle at a long-range shooting course he attended and came back with very positive reviews.
The New Desert Tech MDR
The MDR was specifically designed to provide military, law enforcement, and civilian shooters one of the most adaptable and portable auto-loading rifles in the world. The MDR has completely ambidextrous controls with no modification, is fully modular for personalized set-up, and comes with several popular caliber options. Initially the MDR will only be offered in the most popular military/LE calibers – 5.56mm and .308 Win., and the new .300 BLK (as a conversion kit, available later this summer), but there are plans for more calibers in the future.
NOTE: Desert Tech has published materials and posted on their website different listings for the calibers of the new MDR. For the most part they identify the calibers as 5.56mm and .308 Win., but some references include .223 caliber and 7.62x51mm. The BlueSheepDog Crew acknowledges that 5.56mm is designed with higher pressures than .223, and likewise, .308 Win. is designed for higher pressures over common military 7.62x51mm cartridges. As such, we are posting 5.56mm and .308 Win. as the MDR calibers. Chambering the MDR in the higher pressure cartridges seems most plausible. A 5.56mm rifle can handle .223, and .308 can handle 7.62x51mm, where the other way around does not work so well.
The Desert Tech engineers have made the MDR fairly lightweight, with one of the most compact, ergonomic and very nicely balanced tactical rifle options on the market. With a polymer chassis, the MDR balances at the rear of the pistol grip. At 26.0 inches the MDR is nearly a foot shorter than most common AR-15’s even with their stocks fully collapsed. Providing rifle-caliber performance at the size of a sub-machine gun like the famous HK MP-5, the MDR is full of potential. There is a low-profile cheek weld piece on the stock that provides a comfortable rest and assists in shot alignment.
The MDR is really exciting to me, and I’m sure there will be many SWAT teams that will begin to consider the MDR as a primary entry rifle. The MDR could even be incorporated into a patrol rifle (though a bit expensive for mass issue), that would fit easier in patrol cars and provide patrol officers a much easier rifle to shoulder and move with. Civilian shooters will likely be all over the MDR, providing them an SBR sized rifle without all of the BATFE paperwork.
The MDR is designed to allow quick caliber and barrel length changes, and the patent-pending sighting system allows barrels to keep their zero point without the need to compensate for impact shift. That becomes a huge factor if the shooter wants or needs to change out barrels. The original calibers of 5.56mm and .308 Win. will be supplemented by .300 BLK this summer, and potentially 2-3 more popular calibers in the future.
The MDR fully ambidextrous controls allow left-handed shooters or “off-hand” shooting to be done with ease and no awkward holds or movements. The controls are also designed and positioned to be intuitive to the shooter in what Desert Tech claims to be a “new standard in speed and precision”.
The MDR trigger is longer than most triggers and takes a unique curvature that is somewhere between common AR-15 curved triggers and straight triggers. The trigger is a 2-stage trigger that breaks smoothly and enhances the overall accuracy control of the MDR. The trigger guard is enlarged in both length and height allowing plenty of room and ease for gloved shooting situations.
There are two magazine release options. There is an enlarged textured square button release just above and forward of the trigger group, that is easily found and manipulated. There is also a release lever at the rear of the stock, just behind the magazine well. A secondary charging option is an ambidextrous lever at the front of the magazine well. This option is particularly fast when loading or changing magazines.
The safety selector switch sits on an enlarged circular base, making the control easily found and super smooth in operation. The charging handle is forward of the trigger group, but not nearly as much as AR-designed forward charging handles. The MDR charging handle is non-reciprocating removing any concern about snagging or outside interference with the action.
The MDR comes with a full-length Picatinny rail on the top of the chassis providing great potential for folding BUIS, red dot reflex sights, or even magnified scopes like the new highly popular 1-4x24mm or 1-6x24mm options. The hand guard is slotted for heat dissipation and appears that it could also take modular Picatinny rail sections for lights, lasers, or other accessories as well.
Desert Tech has designed the MDR with an advanced, patent-pending forward eject system to prevent any interference with expended shells and the shooter or others nearby. Ejection is also ambidextrous and simply changed by switching a panel on the side of the stock that also contains the ejector. Additionally, Desert Tech has prepared for the MDR release with a wealth of conversion kits and accessories.
Desert Tech MDR Specifications
- Stock Material: Polymer
- Overall Length: 26.0 inches (21.62″ with 10.5″ barrel)
- Overall Length (.308 Win): 27.12 inches
- Barrel Length: 16.0 inches; 10.5 inch option
- MDR Weight: 7.5 pounds (5.56mm and .300BLK); 7.1 pounds (.308) – unloaded
- Twist Rate: 1:8 (5.56mm); 1:10 (.308); 1:7 (.300 BLK)
- Capacity: 30-round (5.56mm); 20 or 25-rounds (.308 Win)
- Chassis Color Options: Black or FDE
- MSRP: $1999.00 (5.56mm); $2249.00 (7.62x51mm)
- DT MDR 5.56mm 16″ Conversion Kit: $749.00
- DT MDR 308 Win. 16″ Conversion Kit: $999.00
- DT MDR .300 BLK 16″ Conversion Kit: $829.00.
Optional Desert Tech MDR Components
- DT 1x Reflex red dot sight – $100.00 (with MDR purchase); $179.00 individually
- DT Scope mounts (3 options) – $365.00
- DT Sling with flush QD cups – $69.95
- DTM Munitions 5.56mm (200 rounds) – $79.92
- DTM Munitions .308 Win. (20 rounds) – $31.95
- DT Kydex .308 Mag Carrier – $69.95
- DT Cleaning & Maintenance Kits – $40.95 to $375.00
- DT Soft Cases: $275.00 to $375.00
- DT Hard Cases: $475.00 to $595.00.
Though the bull-pup design is not new, having gained wide recognition with the Steyr AUG all the way back in the 1970’s and with modern versions like the DSR-1 in a sniper rifle, and the IWI Tavor, Desert Tech has mastered the short, but highly accurate long-range bull-pup. In addition, Desert Tech bull-pups incorporate the latest advancements in rifle technology and modular options.
Their fully ambidextrous controls are well thought out and put them above the competition. Though the $2000 price tag is higher than many AR-15 options, the benefits of the bull-pup format cannot be understated.
The new Desert Tech MDR is finally a reality, and the implications are huge. Accuracy, portability, and ambidextrous controls on a rifle platform nearly a foot shorter and lighter weight than most AR-15 competitors. I really enjoyed holding and trying out all the MDR controls. The MDR feels great, operates very easily, and the weight re-distribution is awesome.
The new MDR may just be the new “black rifle” that completely takes the market by storm. I just wish Desert Tech had been at the Industry Day at the Range on Monday. I really, really want to shoot this one!
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