Is the MDRX a long range rifle?
Shooting long range has become quite popular among sport, competition, and hunting marksmen over the past decade or so. We at Desert Tech don’t shy away from this trend, and perhaps share a little bit of responsibility in both popularizing the subject as well as outfitting a good portion of the participants. The Stealth Recon Scout (SRS) family of rifles that we introduced in 2007 has been a dominant long-range performer, but today we will discuss another line of our rifles and its suitability to distance shooting.
The MDRX and its predecessor the MDR are short stroke piston operated semi-automatic rifles. Many people think that autoloading rifles are less accurate than manually loaded rifles like bolt actions. For the most part that is a fairly accurate statement, but there are plenty of examples out there that breach this norm. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here, and take it back to the top of the discussion.
What is Long-Range?
Long-range shooting is typically considered a distance at which corrective aiming is required to overcome significant bullet-drop. For most modern cartridges, this begins typically around the three to four-hundred yard mark. From there the limits are pretty vague, but many people consider shooting beyond a thousand yards to be extreme long-range or ELR. Some of us don’t. We will focus on that very useful area between 400 and 1,000 yards for today’s subject.
What is Accuracy?
Accuracy is the ability of both rifle and marksman to consistently hit a predetermined point of aim with varying degrees of precision. The degree by which accuracy is typically measured is Minute of Angle or MOA. MOA is an angular measurement that increases with distance from the muzzle, 1 MOA at one hundred yards comes out to 1.047 inches, and it doubles every hundred yards. So at two-hundred yards, it is 2.094 inches and so on, all the way out to a thousand yards where it measures 10.47 inches. This is relevant for several reasons which we will get into as we continue.
The Desert Tech MDRX is a bull-pup, gas operated semi-auto. For shooting long-range it would be ideal to configure the rifle in a suitable cartridge like the 6.5 Creedmoor or 308 Winchester, but it also can be done with other cartridges like the 223 Remington. These are some of the chambers available from the factory. There are also aftermarket options that could offer superior performance.
Depending on your rifle, and how you tune and set it up, you can obtain sufficient accuracy to perform well at long-range. Good ammunition, a proper scope, and practice can bring great results. The MDRX typically delivers accuracy in the 1-2 MOA range at 100 yards, which means on average, you should be able to shoot 1-2 MOA sized targets within the envelope of the cartridge you choose. So if your rifle will shoot 2 MOA groups at 100, then you should in theory be able to hit a 2 MOA (or 21 inch) target at 1000 yards provided you do your part. You can see then why striving for a smaller pattern like 1 MOA or even 1/2 MOA would be better suited for shooting these distances. If your target is a Volkswagen from a thousand yards away, then a 3-4 MOA shooting rifle will probably do, but if your target is a glass of milk, then you will need something significantly better.
How to Configure Your MDRX for Long-Range Shooting
As mentioned above, good cartridge selection is the first step in your rifle configuration. The multi-caliber option of the MDRX gives it a leg-up in this department. Once you have that squared away, you will need to focus on the rifle and its accessories, such as a scope, bipod, etc.
For long-range shooting I would recommend a minimum of a ten-power riflescope (10X), these are common and used to be standard. But today we are spoiled for choice, and there are scores of good options to choose from. Whether it be a 3-12, a 4-16, or a big 5-25 power riflescope, make sure you get the best one you can afford. Optics is one area where “you get what you pay for” is especially true. It is also recommended that you get a scope with a good corrective aiming system, this means either a reticle that gives you the ability to “hold-over” the various distant targets. Or a scope with exposed target turrets that also allow you to correct for the bullets drop. A corrective aim is vital for long-range shooting, as it gives you the ability to adjust for bullet drop and wind deflection as range to target and wind conditions shift.
Keep your trigger, sear-pack and the trigger bar clean and lubricated. A smooth and predictable trigger break is critical to shooting well at distance. Clean, smooth, and lubed sear parts will improve the trigger feel and improve performance.
A good bipod is also a great addition to your rifle if you plan to do any long-range shooting. A bipod gives the rifle stability to allow you to keep on the distant target. I wouldn’t recommend the bipods that mount to the side of the hand-guard, as they don’t allow you to correct for cant. Some shooters use sandbags, which are another good option. There is nothing wrong with using both. You’d be hard pressed to find a better option than the new Mantis Handguard for the MDRX, it incorporates a built in bipod to the forearm, giving unprecedented versatility.
Ammunition is another very important factor, make sure to try an assortment of ammunition to find out what shoots best in your rifle. What shoots great in my rifle may perform poorly in yours, so be diligent in finding something your rifle shoots well. It will pay dividends over time in your shots-fired to hits ratio.
It cannot be stressed enough, that training is just as important as the hardware. The nut behind the trigger is perhaps the most important piece of the equation. Proper techniques when “driving the rifle” (how you hold, position, and input forces on the rifle as it fires) are key to good shooting. As are trigger control and recoil management from one shot to the next. Nothing I can write here is as valuable as some positive range critique with a good instructor. If you can, seek one out and get some instruction, and if not, search it out on the web and learn as much as you can.
Once you have rifle, ammunition, and the right discipline, you and your MDRX rifle can be a very formidable team. Whether your target is hanging steel, a jug of water, or a pesky coyote that stays just out of reach, you will find it very useful to make good hits.
One thing to keep in mind, MOA is MOA. If you can keep your groups tight at 100 yards, then you should be able to keep them tight at 800 yards. There are also external forces that can affect your shots at those ranges, like wind and other atmospheric challenges. But the basics of good form, clean sight-picture, and a good trigger press are the same whether it’s at 50 yards, or 1200 yards. Work diligently until you can perform to your best at 100 yards, and once you can predictably print your best groups at that range over and over, you can move out to further distances. That is where much of your learning will occur, you’ll learn to read the wind and how it affects your shots.
Keep this in mind always; if you miss, and don’t know why, you are just wasting ammo. Make every shot count, if you learn something from a miss, was it really a bad shot? And the same thing goes for hits, if you don’t know why you hit, then it doesn’t carry a lot of value does it?
The MDRX can be a very formidable rifle and in the right hands it can be so at very significant distances. Are your hands the right ones? Take it as a personal challenge if you will, show us what you can do with your MDRX. I look forward to hearing back from you and of your experiences on the wind.