The Magpul PTS PDR has been one of the most anticipated airsoft projects since it was revealed in early development at the 2011 SHOT Show. At that time, it was only a shell with a magazine, but people were captivated by the design and the idea of a compact PDW type rifle that could take STANAG magazines. This year, at SHOT Show 2012, we got to check out the completed AEG. Read on to see why the PDR may be one of the best designs we’ve seen for a bullpup or PDW weapon.
Next to the Magpul USA booth on the SHOT Show floor, there was a small nondescript booth fully enclosed by wood panel walls. No markings advertised which company might be inside, but we caught a glimpse of Gregor from AATV with an AEG we didn’t expect to see. It was the Magpul PDR airsoft rifle, and we got a chance to talk with Sam and Alex from Magpul PTS about the prototype.
The PDR was originally developed by Magpul to address the need for a personal defense weapon that provides more power than a pistol but is much more compact than a rifle or carbine. Since the Magpul PDR was designed to accept standard M4 magazines and fired the 5.56 round, it was more powerful than weapons like the MP5-K. It was also easier to deploy than weapons like the FN P90 or HK MP7 due to their use of exotic ammo and proprietary magazines. While that project is currently on the shelf somewhere outside of Boulder, CO, Magpul PTS was given the green light to proceed on an airsoft replica of the PDR.
Many of the strengths of the original Magpul PDR design translate into direct benefits in the PTS PDR. The two most notable features are the compact size that the compatibility with all M4 type STANAG magazines. With the PDR, you can say goodbye to all the unwieldy P90 magazines and bulky mag pouches. A couple other features are less noticeable but still have a big impact in operability. The first is the magazine release location. Unlike most other bullpup rifles, where the mag release is located next to the magazine, the PTS PDR mag release is located on the body just above the trigger. The mag release is easily actuated by the index finger of both right and left handed shooters. The location of the magazine release means that reloads take half as much motion as other style rifles. With a traditional bullpup, you must reach back to the magazine, actuate the release to dump the magazine, then obtain a new magazine and insert it into the rifle. All of this is done with the non firing hand, while the firing hand holds the rifle. With the PDR, the user can dump the spent magazine with the firing hand while locating a new magazine with the non firing hand, and insert the new magazine into the rifle. This allows for reload times that are twice as fast as other bullpup or PDW rifles, giving you an edge in combat.
The other features add to realism but are not of any particular advantage in airsoft. The charging handle is ambidextrous, and is low profile to prevent snagging. One interesting design element of the PDR is the ejection port. Above the charging handle is another small button, accessible from either side of the rifle. Pressing this button flips an internal lever, changing which side of the rifle the ejection port opens to. On the real Magpul PDR, this would allow for instantaneous transition from right to left side shell ejection. The feature has been replicated in the PTS Personal Defense Rifle, even though it is only cosmetic in function. The PDR sports no sights at all, but the upper rail has plenty of room for optics. A set of MBUS could also be used in lieu of electronic sights.
When it comes down to AEG design, the PDR airsoft rifle is unlike any previous AEG design. It uses it’s own gearbox design, and it is equipped with a quick change spring guide. Access to the gearbox is simple. Remove the butt plate, then remove both takedown pins. This allows the upper receiver to come off, revealing the gearbox, hop-up unit, and outer barrel assembly. The spring can even be changed simply by removing the butt plate, without removing the upper receiver. The battery is housed in the pistol grip. There is room for a small 7.4v or 11.1v lipo battery, similar to an M4 buffer tube battery. One feature we may see in the future is a replacement grip plate extension. This would give more room on the grip for larger hands and allow for a slightly longer battery.
Another feature that has not received much attention is the possibility of an integral light or laser unit. Just under the barrel is a port that could be used to mount an internal laser unit, while the front grip has a panel that can be replaced with a pressure pad. This is not a final feature, but it’s possible this will be an option for the end-user to implement. Another option we may see in the future is the PDR-D. Technically, the current model is the PDR-C, which has the snag-free grip design and the curved front grip. The PDR-D sports a more traditional pistol grip and front vertical grip, and also has a slightly taller stock, along with the integrated flashlight.
Magpul PTS expects the price on this AEG to be around $350. The final price is not set, but expect it to be fairly affordable. As far as availability goes, we may see it in retailers in July, but that also is not set in stone. When it does hit the shelves, we expect this rifle to be phenomenally popular. It’s sleek, compact design is extremely ergonomic and provides a 10.5 inch barrel equal to the M4 Commando in a package that is noticeably smaller. Everyone that held the PDR at the SHOT Show seemed to take to the design immediately. The replica’s excellent balance contributed to its useability. Do you need one? That’s up to you, but we’re pretty sure we know you want one.