Desert Tech Refines the MDR, Aims for 2016 Release


Last year Desert Tech’s modular semiautomatic bullpup, the MDR, was the talk of SHOT Show. Over the past 12 months, the Utah-based precision rifle manufacturer has reworked the carbine, refining and enhancing it. At this year’s SHOT, additional prototypes of the MDR were available for handling, and company reps indicated that the release date for the gun had been pushed back.

At its core, the Desert Tech MDR is a short-stroke gas piston gun that can easily swap barrels and calibers. Its multi-caliber nature, unique method of forward ejection utilizing a “chute” mounted to the ejection port, and light trigger set it apart from other bullpups. The prototypes shown at this year’s SHOT differed from previous models in a few key ways.

A close-up on the receiver of the MDR-C. You can see the cutouts for the charging handle as well as the mag release located in front of the magwell.
A close-up on the receiver of the MDR-C. You can see the cutouts for the charging handle, refined ejection chute, and the mag release located in front of the magwell.

First, the charging handle had been made fully ambidextrous instead of simply reversible—flush-sitting polymer handles now sit on both sides of the receiver. Second, there are now cuts in receiver that the charging handles sit in when the bolt is locked forward and when it is locked open, a la H&K roller-delayed blowback guns. Third, the ejection chute has been refined and is now much more compact and flush with the receiver, and it now features a “flap” at the end. Finally, an additional magazine release has been placed in front of the magwell, similar to that on the Tavor. This complements the mag release located ahead of the trigger.

The trigger still feels great, and the gun is still wearing prototype printed furniture. Built-in iron sights were not present on the guns available at Desert Tech’s booth. I wouldn’t be surprised if the company introduces more changes to the MDR as they further refine the platform.

The MDR-C with an OSS suppressor.
The MDR-C with an OSS suppressor.

Several MDRs were sporting OSS suppressors specifically designed for the bullpups. A BPR-116 “Desert Tech” was mounted on the .308 MDR prototype. The can wraps back around the barrel within the handguard, keeping the carbine’s overall length to a minimum. OSS suppressors do not use a traditional baffle design and redirect excess gas throughout the device and back out the front of the silencer. This helps reduce the extra wear that suppressors typically exert on a gun’s internals. The OSS can makes the .308 MDR in particular look something fierce, and I’m very interested to see one in action.

The .308 MDR with OSS suppressor.
The .308 MDR with OSS suppressor.

Desert Tech has backed away from offering solid prices for the MDR, as many things may change before the final versions are released. They now hope to selling MDRs by the time SHOT comes around next year.

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