Desert Tech MDR Update | SHOT 17

    Ah, the Desert Tech MDR: The rifle many (based on my comments and emails) believe will be the savior of bullpups, and the best rifle ever made, sweeping aside all others. Well, that’s a pretty high bar for it to clear, but Desert Tech was at the 2017 SHOT Show, and had brought some of their pre-production MDR rifles with them for display.

    For those unfamiliar, the MDR is a multicaliber bullpup rifle designed to be convertible from 2.26″ length calibers like 5.56mm to 2.8″ calibers like .308 Winchester, and anything compatible with those two lengths. It is designed to have better ergonomics and handling than previous bullpup designs, and to be shot equally well by right and left handed shooters. For more information on the MDR, you can check out last year’s SHOT Show article on it, here.

    The MDR, however, has been in development publicly for over three years now, and the rifle is increasingly getting a reputation as vaporware. If we’re being fair, development of new weapons platforms simply takes time, and three or four years is not at all unusual for a new rifle, especially one from a fairly small company. The MDR has received this reputation more because it has been in the public eye for so long and been delayed several times, not that development itself is taking an unusually long time. So then the big question TFB had for Desert tech was: When? They were a little reticent to give an answer beyond “when it’s done it’s done”, but they did tell us they are shooting for the first shipments to occur in March.

    Versus the 2016 versions, the MDR has changed just a little: The ejection swapping procedure is now tool-less, requiring only a bullet tip. Desert Tech was also far more forthcoming this year about the design of the rifle and how its mechanism functions than in previous years.

    MSRPs are expected to stay the same as those listed on Desert Tech’s website, that is $2,275 for the 5.56mm version, $2,525 for the 7.62 version, and between $749-$999 for a conversion kit.

    I should make one final note of something that struck me as amusing: While at the Desert Tech booth, no less than three other showgoers looking at MDR rifles commented on how “heavy” they felt. Desert Tech quoted about 8lbs for the standard length rifle, which isn’t so unusual a weight, and which is a figure that sounds about right to me. I think the “heavy” comments were the result of the MDR’s balance point being a couple of inches behind the pistol grip, which torques the wrist pretty good and causes noticeable strain, hence the “heavy” feeling! I don’t think this balance point is unique to the MDR among bullpups, but I felt it was worth pointing out.

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]