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.

Images by Matt Korovesis

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176 thoughts on “Desert Tech Refines the MDR, Aims for 2016 Release

  1. Looks a lot like the Kel Tech .308 rifle and uses the same forward ejection system they do. How come every time Kel Tech brings out something a near or very near twin is being marketed by say Ruger. There was an article in Gun Reports a couple of years back that compared the Ruger and Kel Tech’s .380 mini guns. the article closely associated with many pictures that said other than grip deign and the names each weapon was called that there was no appreciable difference. Is theft a major problem, or should I call it plagiarism, among the arms makers or are their unannounced license agreements floating around out there ? Makes me distrust some fine arms makers.

    1. Hi Noel,

      This gun does not use a forward ejection system like that of the RFB. It ejects spent casings through a “chute” mounted over the ejection port. You can see it close up in the second photo.

      Thanks for reading,

      Matt Korovesis

    2. Kel Tech and Ruger works together in many areas nothing wrong with that many companies do this no matter what area, from grocery stores to aviation, so what. In Desert Tech’s case it is not a forward ejection system all it is is a cover that shoots it to the 12 o clock.

    3. While Ruger clearly ripped of Kel-Tec’s P3AT, the MDR is a unique design from a far superior company. Kel-Tec has innovative designs but garbage final engineering and quality control. Anything Desert Tech produces will be mil spec+. You’ll never see any KT designed weapon selected by any professional agency or miltary unit.

      1. Except for the KSG which is now used by quite a few federal/state agencies as well as private firms.

      2. No Federal agency uses the KSG. Any agency that tested it found it unreliable. If any Fed agency bought any beyond purchased test units in addition to manufacturer provided units, there’d be news releases and KelTec would pimp it twice as aggressively as the propaganda they have on their website regarding the super ninja corrections contractor that uses the KSG.

        I would be shocked if any state agency was buying/using KSGs. I can easily picture small poorly led local agencies or individual LEOs buying the KSG.

    4. This is different from the Kel Tec RFB in almost every way. Aside from being bullpup of course. Try doing a little research. You might learn something.

    1. Don’t know about a bayonet lug, but you’ll have your wish for the handguard.

      I’ve noticed the US Tavor has no lug unlike the Israeli exported units elsewhere.

    1. No, it’s not. The RFB is a POS. Desert Tech produces tools of a quality far beyond anything Kel-Tec has ever or will ever produce. I’m sure they’ll continue that track record with the MDR.

  2. Dunno why everyone on here is making a big deal about Desert Tech “ripping off” Kel Tech’s design(s). How many of us cry fowl when Daniel Defense, BCM or any other manufacturer uses the exact same lay out on their ARs that ArmaLite did? How much has really changed? What about any other gun for that matter? If the design works and someone feels there is a feature that would work great on their future platform, we should all be stoked to see what they come up with. If they make a mutt bullpup that borrows certain elements that work in other platforms and put it in theirs, I see it as a necessary evolution. I mean, lets be honest, how much of what we all currently use is actually an original idea? Not very many.

  3. Well it’s the most anticipated rifle of 2014/2015/2016 and now 2017 with the latest production delays. But that’s end of 4th quarter 2017 so as long as the first production unit is finished milling by 12/31/2017 then they can claim to have met their deadline regardless if no one receives them until 2nd quarter 2018. :-/
    I honestly do not know if it is a flawed design or if they are trying to hit a moving target but the darn thing has changed in many ways from the original design that it is no wonder they keep having delays.
    – Floating barrel without sight mount to a riser with sight mount. No doubt added to accommodate changing barrel systems while maintaining zero (not sure if that was in the original design plans as what other system allows this other than their high precision rifle systems).
    – Tool removal/changing of the ejection ports while allowing the ejection port to be pivoted downward in an emergency (jam) allowing the weapon system to continue to operate. This has now been changed to a tool-less pop-off ejection port and cover that will not allow the weapon to fire when the ejection port is removed. This new design seems flawed to myself.
    1. How often does someone change the ambi ports in the field (when their right hand is shot off maybe)?
    2. Tool-less removal seems to indicate that in the event of jumping and rolling around on the ground it is liable to become dislodged, loose, or removed thus rendering the weapon inoperable.
    – 19″ 308 reduced to 16″ 308 🙁
    * I’m all for making a quality rifle that works flawlessly out the door.
    * I’m all for making the rifle better with improved features
    But there comes a point when they must decide on a set of feature they are happy with and produce the darn thing. There used to be a time when the word and promises behind the company meant something as well. With Desert Tech, their word and reputation is currently in the gutter IMHO!


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