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Visiting Desert Tech & The MDR Experience

Getting to look under the proverbial hood of a company is something that speaks volumes to its character. A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to do just that when I was able to visit the Desert Tech (DT) headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For those not familiar with DT’s product offerings, they are the creator of a highly successful ultra-precision bullpup rifle platform with quick-change caliber kits. Dubbed the SRS and HTI, they come in all flavors from .223 to .50 BMG. I have eagerly awaited production news on their highly anticipated Micro Dynamic Rifle (MDR) since it was announced back during the 2014 SHOT Show, so when I was invited to tour the factory to test the prototype MDR, I jumped.

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The MDR is a compact; Tavor-sized bullpup that is slated be offered in a wide variety of calibers from .223 to .308; more on the MDR later.

After landing in Utah, a few of us were taken 120 miles outside of Salt Lake City to Desert Tech’s training facilities (which is formally known as Sniper Country). It is like visiting a small country with over 80,000 square miles of God’s country and a training facility that includes several ranges and courses geared towards long-range precision shooting. Of the various courses, a couple of my favorites were the 1800-yard range and the shoot-on-the-move tactics including vehicle maneuvers.

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Our trip to the training grounds provided us a chance to get some time behind the much anticipated MDR bullpup rifle along with putting rounds down range with other firearms DT used for inspiration in developing the MDR, namely the Heckler & Koch G36, MP5 and Bushmaster ACR.

The first station we encountered involved shooting the DT SRS-A1 platform rifle in .338 Lapua out to 1000-yards. The great folks from Deliberate Dynamics were on-hand to call windage and elevation adjustments, so getting on target was effortless. After ringing steel at 1000-yards with SRS, we moved onto the next station where we would shoot the full-auto G36, MP5 and ACR.

“We have taken some of the best elements from the G36, MP5 and ACR and incorporated them into the MDR,” said Tommy Alexander, Director of International Military Sales.

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In fact, many of the ergos from those three guns were cherry picked and implemented into MDR. While I would love to elaborate, the gun is just too early in the R&D stage and may likely change.

The final two stations we encountered involved hands-on training in the discipline of engaging a moving target while on the move and speed reloading an AK47 while taking cover. Training was provided by the great guys from Twistrate, which is a crowd-funding venture led by former SF guys who really know their shit. I see an article in the future about these guys.

Shooting the MDR

While the MDR is still very much in the R&D and prototype phase, DT was ballsy enough to bring out prototype #3 and #4 to shoot. The two MDRs experienced a few failures throughout the day, but when it ran, it ran like a champ. I had the opportunity to shoot the 308 MDR at the end of the day after it had been ran hard, our test gun had some 4000 rounds run through it. I experienced a multitude of issues from double feeds to extraction issues, which is to be expected with a gun that is still in development. Recoil was snappy and came straight back into my shoulder with minimal muzzle rise. The trigger was true to form with DTS and was nothing short of amazing for a bullpup.

Simply put, when the MDR is ready for production, you will have a fully ambidextrous bullpup available in 5 calibers, weighing around 7.5 lbs with ergos and trigger that are unmatched by any other bullpup on the market. Sign me up!

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“If it wasn’t for perfecting the forward ejection mechanism, the MDR would be ready,“ said Alexander. With that in mind, DT is pushing for a release late in 2015.

This writer is looking forward to getting in an MDR in-house when the time is right for a more thorough review.

FACTORY TOUR

DT rolled out the red carpet from Day 1 by hosting us in their private log cabin in the mountains on their 80,000-acre pad. For two days they fed us and provided a fun environment where my peers and I could collaborate. By day 3, we were done shooting and headed back to Salt Lake City to tour the factory.

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I have toured many firearms manufacturers and it was obvious DT has the systems, workflow and machinery to design, build, QC and execute a top quality firearm. We were able to see first hand how they produce their current SRS and HTI rifles. DT is nearly complete with becoming ISO 9001 certified which is no easy feat.

CONCLUSION

If DT can execute the MDR as well as they have the SRS platform, then I will be first in a long line of buyers clamoring to get my hands on one. Until then, I will be keeping a close eye on their progress in hopes that we see availability soon.

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