Desert Tech MDR: A Good Choice For A Battle Rifle?

The MDR battle rifle from Desert Tech was released to the general public in January of 2014, but it was only until very recently that they began hitting the shelves due to a number of issues and problems that went on behind the scenes.

The MDR, or Micro Dynamic Rifle, is essentially a .308 semi-automatic bull-pup rifle. It was designed by Desert Tech to be the most portable .308 semi-auto rifle in the world. Indeed, it’s much shorter than comparable weapons such as the FN FAL, HK G3, Springfield M1A, or the AR-10.

Adaptable, ambidextrous, ergonomic, and compact, there’s no denying that the Desert Tech is an attractive offering at least on paper.

But is it truly a practical or applicable rifle in the real world? Let’s find out.


Pros and Cons of Bullpups In General

Before we talk about the Desert Tech MDR in detail, we should first discuss the pros and cons of using a bullpup carbine in general.

A bullpup rifle is simply a rifle where the action and the magazine well are located behind the trigger. In other words, the action and magazine well of the rifle is located in the stock.

There are many pros to using a rifle in this configuration.

The first is that the overall rifle is much shorter than a rifle where the action and magazine well are located forward of the trigger group. In fact, the overall length of a bullpup rifle may be reduced by as much as 30% in contrast to more traditional semi-auto rifles such as the AR-15 and the AK-47.

Having this short of a rifle naturally presents the user with a number of important advantages: the weapon is more maneuverable in tight conditions, clearing rooms is much easier, the weight is reduced greatly, it’s more portable for transportation in a vehicle, and so on.

Another major pro to the bullpup design is that most (though not at all) are ambidextrous and good for both right handed and left handed shooters.

Still, bullpups are not flawless designs, or else they would be the most widely used rifle in military and law enforcement circles.

Most notably, one of the biggest cons to the bullpup rifle design is the ejection of the bullets. The ejection port is located on the stock as well, and the result of this is that it’s possible for the spent shell casings to eject in the shooter’s face, depending on whether they eject on the right or left hand side of the weapon, or whether the shooter is right handed or left handed.

Now granted, some bullpup rifles do not have this problem. The Tavor and the AUG rifles, for example, allow the user to choose whether they would like the spent shell casings to eject out of the right hand or left handed side of the gun. The only issue here is that if you suddenly change hands for firing, you’re going to run into problems anyway. The FN P90 and the FN2000, two other bullpup rifles, eject either out the front or under the shooter to eliminate this problem entirely.

Another major safety concern with the bullpup design is that because since the action is located in the stock right by the shooter’s face, if a catastrophic failure were to occur, it’s going to happen right by the shooter’s face and eyes, and perhaps in direct contact even.

The final flaw with the bullpup design is poor balance. Yes, it’s more lightweight than a standard rifle like the AR or AK, and it’s much shorter and more maneuverable too. But the trade off is that all of the weight of the bullpup is positioned towards the rear, which makes them rear heavy and also means that muzzle rise is going to be greater as well.


Desert Tech MDR: Opening The Box

What will you see when you open the box to the Desert Tech MDR?

Well first of all, the box itself is a very nice and durable hard case. It also has molded sections for all of the components of the rifle.

And that’s the thing: the MDR doesn’t ship as one component. When you open the box, you’re going to get three separate pieces: the barrel, the receiver, and the hand guard, in addition to the magazine and an assembly tool, as well as the manual.

Fortunately, assembly of the Desert Tech MDR is really easy to go. You just need to place the barrel into the receiver and seat it, and then tighten the locking bolts to keep it secure it. You then slide the hand guard over, and tighten its bolts to secure it as well.


The Design of the Desert Tech MDR

Describing the Desert Tech MDR as a .308 Winchester bullpup semi-automatic rifle is far too simplistic.

To be more specific, the MDR is a gas operated rifle with a rotary bolt and radial lugs that lock the barrel into place.

It utilizes a gas system with a gas piston that is located above the barrel, along with a gas regulator.

The rifle is fully ambidextrous. It has a cover over the ejection port, and the cases eject to the right and forward as well to (hopefully) avoid striking the shooter in the face or eyes, which would be annoying to say the least.

The charging handle can also be installed on either side of the firearm to ensure that it is truly ambidextrous. The magazine release button is located forward of the trigger guard.

A picatinny rail is installed on the top of the rifle to install optics. The shell of the firearm is built out of an impact resistant polymer.


Why Own The Desert Tech MDR?

Why would you want to town a Desert Tech MDR?

Basically, the reason to own an MDR is if you want to own a .308 semi-automatic rifle in a shorter, lighter, and overall more compact package.

The .308 semi-auto rifle with a detachable magazine in and of itself is a highly versatile platform. The .308 round is capable of bringing down enemy targets at long ranges, and it’s also more than powerful enough to bring down most North American big game like deer and elk.

Meanwhile, it would also be a suitable choice for combat and tactical use thanks to it being a semi-auto with a detachable magazine.

Going with the MDR over the alternatives, like the M1A or AR-10, simply means that you get the above capabilities in a much shorter package. The MDR would be vastly preferable for the AR-10 or M1A for clearing rooms or maneuvering yourself in tight conditions.


Specs

Here are some of the general specs of the Desert Tech MDR:

  • Make: Desert Tech
  • Model: MDR (Micro Dynamic Rifle)
  • Capacity: 20+1 rounds (standard)
  • Caliber: .308 Winchester
  • Weight: 8.67 pounds
  • Length Overall: 26 inches
  • Barrel Length: 16 inch
  • Twist Rate: 1:10

Conclusion

The Desert Tech is a well-built .308 bullpup. Being new to the market, it will need some more time to prove itself, but for a full-powered bullpup that provides you with all of the advantages of a .308 semi-automatic rifle in a smaller package, the MDR is a very appealing choice at the very least.

Alex Joseph is an avid bow hunter and father of two boys. Originally from Tacoma, Washington Alex now resides in California.

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