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[Review] Angstadt Arms MDP-9: Better Than The MP5?

COMPETING AGAINST THE MP5 AS THE BEST ROLLER LOCKED SUBGUN, ANGSTADT ARMS MDP-9 IS HERE TO MAKE A STATEMENT

The public face of firearms development usually follows one of two arcs. Either a big announcement is made at SHOT Show to gauge interest in the new Blastomatic 2000 (or Angstadt Arms MDP-9 in this case), with the product eventually making its way to market after a couple of false starts and several months of thumb-twiddling. 

Or we’re let into the secret a few months in advance of the launch date on pain of ex-communication and then run the review when everyone else does once the embargo has been lifted. 

The Angstadt Arms MDP-9 followed neither of those protocols, probably because they’re a small company unburdened by a big marketing department’s pre-launch checklists.

We first encountered the pistol at SHOT 2019, when we stopped by the company’s tiny booth, manned by a couple of engineers and their founder, the fresh-faced Rich Angstadt. 

Angstadt Arms MDP-9 (4)

We tend to seek out smaller outfits run by budding crews, as they typically don’t have big advertising budgets and therefore aren’t swamped by media acolytes keen to whore themselves out for ad dollars. They’re also more likely to pursue interesting passion projects, even if they end up innovating themselves into oblivion. 

When we first encountered the MDP-9, it was at an advanced stage of development, needing only a few tweaks to bring it to market. 

Unfortunately, the world had other plans, and it was shelved to meet the incredible demand for anything that went bang during months of panic buying brought on by the Shanghai Shivers and post-Floyd summer of fiery, but mostly peaceful, protests. 

It took almost two years before work could resume on the roller-delayed pistol, but it’s most definitely worth the wait.

UNDER THE HOOD

Like most 9mm ARs, both the lower and upper receivers have been extensively reengineered to accommodate the shorter round. Taking the lower first, users will notice the absence of a receiver extension and buffer, as the recoil spring is housed in the upper receiver. 

This allows the use of a conversion block with a Picatinny rail on its rear surface, permitting the installation of any number of folding or fixed stocks, or the equivalent brace. 

The front portion of the billet receiver is hogged out to accept the ubiquitous Glock mag, and there’s an extension to its bolt hold open to ensure the bolt locks back after the last round in a magazine has been fired. 

Angstadt Arms MDP-9 (2)
Last round hold open is effective, but only when using stronger mag springs. Note finger-like ejector in wall of upper receiver.

While in applications such as this we prefer double stack, two-position-feed mags, like those employed by the Scorpion, Uzi, and MPX, the market has spoken regarding Glock magazines, so it makes sense from a commercial perspective to use them. 

Hopefully, the company will humor us sometime in the future, but we’re not holding our breath …

Other controls are 1960s style, as Stoner intended it, such as the single-sided safety, mag catch, and bolt release, but there’s an enlarged trigger guard and the magwell is funneled to assist reloads. 

SOTs who want to install a third pin will rejoice, as it’s obvious that Angstadt has potential police and military contracts in mind — the fire control pocket is fully machined for an auto sear, making conversion to select fire less troublesome. 

Like the SCAR, BREN, and other modern carbines, the MDP-9’s upper receiver is formed from an aluminum extrusion, then machined to its final shape. The bolt carrier rides on steel rails bolted to the receiver’s sides, while the bolt head locks into a steel barrel extension, ensuring that wear and slop shouldn’t be a problem. 

Angstadt Arms MDP-9 (1)
Extractor departs from the usual HK design, so extractor springs should last a bit longer.

The Angstadt Arms MDP-9 carrier group is unitary, encompassing the recoil spring and guide rod that latch into the rear of the upper receiver — press in the latch and pull everything out together for field stripping. Although the bolt shows signs of HK DNA, it departs from the MP5 in a couple of critical areas. 

First, its extractor does away with one of the few weak points of the HK design, namely the familiar clothespin-style extractor spring. This is replaced by a more reliable coil spring running transversely in the bolt head, acting on the tail of an elongated extractor claw. 

Instead of a fixed ejector crammed into a slot in the bolt head, the Angstadt design makes use of a spring-loaded blade in the left receiver wall, which rides in a slot in the carrier. To accommodate a long enough spring, there’s a square housing that protrudes from the left receiver wall. 

The receiver is railed for the entirety of its 12-inch length, providing just enough room for the shooter’s support hand and maybe a compact weapon light, attached via M-LOK slots on the rail’s bottom or sides. 

A non-reciprocating charging handle sticks out from the furthest part of the upper. At first, we questioned why the manufacturer hadn’t chosen to make it fold, as it’s visually jarring, considering all the other neat design touches throughout the upper. 

Angstadt Arms MDP-9 (6)
Receiver extension isn’t required for function, so folding stocks or braces can be used.

It wasn’t until we shot it at the range and started running it hard that we warmed up to the idea. It serves as a pretty efficient hand stop to keep digits away from the loud end and wouldn’t be nearly as effective if its profile were reduced. With a slotted muzzle which serves as a flash suppressor and brake, high-pressure gases are half an inch closer to your flesh than would be the case with a plain barrel.

ROUNDS DOWNRANGE

We shot an assortment of FMJ and hollow-point ammo through the MDP-9, fed from a mix of factory Glock 33- and 24-round magazines, some Magpul 17-rounders, and a couple of Korean and Bosnian aftermarket mags. 

The FMJ was flawless in terms of feeding from any of the magazines, but we had a few stutters with the Korean knockoffs when loaded with JHP bullets — the round ended up impacting the chamber end of the barrel at 12 o’clock, resulting in a stoppage that required stripping the mag out and starting over. 

Angstadt Arms MDP-9 (5)
The MDP-9’s handguard provides just enough real estate for you support hand and maybe a WML. Forget about IR lasers or anything that takes up more than two M-LOK slots, though.

Apart from that combination, the gun ran without issue and produced 3- to 4-inch groups at 50 yards when shot using a backpack as a rest. Or at least, it did when unsuppressed. We had a curious result when running a SureFire Ryder 9 tri-lug can on the MDP-9, which still leaves us scratching our heads. 

Groups opened up from “pretty decent” to “WTF?” Rounds started impacting the berm randomly in a 5-foot diameter pattern. At first, we had a ruh-roh moment, fearing baffle strikes. On inspection, the can proved unscathed, as did the muzzle and tri-lug mount, so we cranked it back on as tightly as possible and tried again, with the same result. And yes, the suppressor has worked without issue on an MP5. 

We were warned by the manufacturer that the bolt hold open required aftermarket magazine springs to function reliably and can confirm that’s the case. Without Wolff +10-percent springs, we had a 50-percent failure rate, so plan on investing the five bucks or so that it takes to make full use of the gun’s features.

Recoil impulse was smooth and mild, with none of the “kerchunk” you’d expect from a blowback AR9 with its heavy bolt and buffer. While the trigger group could use some refinement, especially considering the gun’s $2,600 MSRP, it was perfectly usable out of the box. 

Once we’d added a Holosun AEMS and a SIG folding brace, its weight went up from 3.6 pounds to 72 ounces, which is about the same as an MP5k without any accessories. 

Angstadt Arms MDP-9 (2)
MDP-9 all dressed up weighs about the same as an MP5-K without accessories. Progress.

If you’re in the market for a super-compact PDW-style 9mm, your options boil down to the SIG MPX, which at 5 pounds is a bit porky for the 4-inch barreled version, or an MP5k of some flavor, either the genuine German version or a clone. 

Apart from the clones that can be had for the low, low price of 1,800 bucks or so, you’ll wind up spending over two grand to scratch that itch. Is it worth it? Only you can make that call, but at least now there’s another viable option to consider. 

We came away impressed by the thought and quality of engineering that went into the MDP-9 and expect it to continue to perform well once it becomes more widely available. 

Although a completely new platform, it draws on the best aspects of other designs, and we look forward to seeing reports from other users as more units are fielded. 

ANGSTADT ARMS MDP-9 SPECS:

  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Barrel length: 4 inches
  • Overall length: 14 inches
  • Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • MSRP: $2,600
  • URL: AngstadtArms.com

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