Desert Tech MDR Bullpup
By Dean V. Roxby
One of the most interesting guns to be unveiled at SHOT 2014 was the Desert Tech MDR and MDR-C. To be completely clear, the samples on display were prototypes, NOT the final product. The target release date is hoped to be mid 2015.
Desert Tech, of Utah, formerly known as Desert Tactical, is known for building very high quality modular bullpup bolt action sniper rifles. These rifles can change barrels and bolt heads to allow for rapid caliber changes.
The new MDR (Micro Dynamic Rifle) rifle is an autoloader bullpup. What sets it apart from most other autoloading bullpups is that this one is also modular. Not only can it swap barrels and chamberings within a group of cartridges (based on the magazine), but it can also move to a different family of cartridges. This is accomplished by the use of an adapter sleeve that fits into the magwell. The magwell is dimensioned for the .308 AR-10 SR-25 / DPMS type magazine, yet with the sleeve installed, a standard AR-15 mag can be used.
This allows one gun to be converted between five different cartridges: 5.56x45, .308, 7.62x39mm, 300 AAC Blackout and 6.8mm Remington SPC by swapping barrel, bolt head, and magazine.
It can also be configured between the standard size MDR and the very compact MDR-C by changing the forearm to a front hand grip attached to the trigger guard.
A common complaint of early bullpup designs was that a right side ejection while firing from the left shoulder can result in a sore face. Several recent designs have dealt with this issue in various ways. The MDR will use a unique system that kicks the spent brass forward, but does not use the ejection tube that some other guns use. This system uses the rearward motion of the bolt and carrier to extract, just as any other self loader does. At the end of the rearward movement, an “L” shaped ejector forces the spent case slightly to the right, where it is held in place by a stamped steel plate, somewhat similar in appearance to an AR15 dust cover. However, the cover is intended to be left closed during firing. The cover plate has a trough pressed into it to guide the case forward and out. As the bolt returns forward, it simultaneously strips a new round from the mag with the lower edge of the bolt head, and punches the fired case out the trough by the right hand edge of the bolt head. Very clever! Interestingly, the cover plate can be left open to allow for standard right side ejection. As well, opening the cover allows for a traditional chamber check.
A good deal of thought has gone into the controls and their location. The fire control and mag release buttons are completely ambidextrous. The mag release can be accessed by your index finger, and the fire control/safety is operated by thumb while gripping the gun normally. While the samples on display were functioning guns, there was no opportunity to do any live firing, either at Media Day prior to the show, or off site during the show. So, unfortunately, we cannot comment at this time on actual firing sensation and accuracy issues. As the samples that were on display were prototypes (the non-metal parts were in fact 3D printed), expect a few changes in appearance before the final version is available. We hope that the basic design criteria do not stray too far from what is currently envisioned.
The estimate given for a release date is mid-2015. The estimated MSRP is planned to be $2,150 for the MDR-C in .223, and $2,450 for the MDR in .308. Time will tell if the release date, target price, and overall design match these early estimates. Both civilian semi-auto only and select fire for military and LE are planned.
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