Almost exactly a year ago, TTAG reviewed Desert Tech’s shiny new bullpup battle rifle, the MDR. One of its selling features is quick and easy caliber conversions, though no factory conversions have been available (and just one aftermarket 6.5 Creedmoor option). Until now. Well, until soon…
On a recent visit to Desert Tech’s Salt Lake City (ish) headquarters, we toured their manufacturing facilities, learned how to convert a .308 MDR over to 5.56 with their new caliber conversion kit, and then went and shot both.
In the Full30 video above, Patrick from Desert Tech walks us through the steps involved in the caliber conversion before we hit the range. A full factory tour video will follow in a week or so. Note: it is a direct violation of YouTube’s community guidelines to show “how-to” gunsmithing type stuff. To avoid yet another strike against my account and further deletion and demonetization of my videos, my MDR 5.56 YouTube video does nothing more than attempt to send viewers over to Full30, as has become my general practice regardless.
Taking his time and talking through each step in the process, Patrick was a little slower than usual. General consensus is that an MDR caliber conversion takes two minutes start to finish, and I think that’s realistic. Remove the barrel, swap the bolt head, install the magazine well adapter, pop off the old magazine catch and snap the new one in place, swap the ejection port panel, install the new barrel. All of this is achieved with a single hex wrench.
On the range, we had an MDR in each caliber so they could be shot back to back.
Though extremely low recoil is touted as a feature, I find that the .308 MDR kicks plenty. It isn’t uncomfortable at all, but it’s a lot of “whump” in a lightweight rifle, and it does what it can to move the shooter around. This is apparent in the video for both shooters — scrawny lil’ me and even buff man Mike.
Part of this is because the MDR looks and feels like a 5.56. It’s just so dang compact and fairly light. I have a hard time getting it through my head that it’s firing a three-times-heavier projectile at a velocity that’s good for 50 percent more muzzle energy.
Over to 5.56, and it’s a soft-shooting, flat-shooting, fast-shooting little beast. The rifle’s size and weight jive better with the feel of firing 5.56 / .223 through it.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy shooting the MDR more in the smaller caliber. If I owned one, it would likely live with the 5.56 kit installed. That said, the ability to then quickly and easily swap it over to a full-size cartridge for hunting or other use is pretty dang amazing.
Word on the street is that Desert Tech is doing final tuning of the adjustable gas block to ensure the 5.56 kit runs flawlessly both suppressed and unsuppressed. Then, they’ll hit full production and become available for purchase. MSRP is expected to be $749.
Also coming soon: a nice foam rubber cheek rest for the MDR. Some shooters complain of the .308 being a bit rough on the cheekbone and, though I don’t recall that being a specific issue for me, I did find this soft and less slippery, less cold-feeling cheek rest to be extremely pleasant.
Meanwhile, MDRs in .308 continue to roll off the production floor, and Desert Tech is even ramping up a small custom shop to offer custom finishes and more:
Stay tuned for that factory tour video in a week or so.