Few industries in Canada are as odd as that of the firearms industry. Founded on principles, businesses, and designs that are tried and tested over the course of generations, it’s an industry that can be incredibly resistant to change, and one that can still balk at embracing the rapid pace at which today’s technology allows advancements in firearm design and manufacturing to be made. However, once in a while, a product is just too good to be ignored, and the company that makes it somehow manages to break through that barrier of stagnation on the strength of that product alone. Modular Driven Technologies is one such company.
Based out of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Modular Driven Technologies, or MDT as it’s better known, is the brainchild of one man: Laszlo Klementis. A machinist by trade and a competitive rifleman by choice, it didn’t take long for Laszlo to marry his two interests, using his skills and knowledge as a machinist to build rifle components. So it should come as no surprise then that when Laszlo looked into buying a new stock or chassis system for his own Remington 700 precision rifle and found himself unimpressed by the price tags attached to many of the popular manufacturers, he did precisely what you’d expect: design, engineer, machine, and build one himself.
Applying what he knew of competitive shooting, machining, and the Remington 700 action to AutoCAD, Laszlo came up a basic design, and began revising it, incorporating more features and trying to improve upon the design with each progressive evolution. By the 17th evolution, he felt the overall design was near enough to completion to warrant a second opinion, and took the drawings to the owner of the machine shop he had previously called home. Sadly, the news was not good: the design would call for so many machine hours that it’s production would end up surpassing the cost of most of the already extant stock options! So, they took the design back to the drawing board and began working from the machining process backward; creating a stock that would incorporate as many of the original’s features as possible while minimizing production costs. The final product would arrive with the 21st iteration of the design and be called, fittingly, the MDT TAC-21.
Now in use with everyone from competitive rifle shooters like Laszlo to law enforcement officers such as marksmen with Atlanta, Georgia’s SWAT team, we stumbled across the MDT booth at SHOT show in January this year and cajoled Laszlo and his team into allowing us, and our cameras, into MDT’s small and unassuming production facility. Located just a couple hours east of Calibre’s own office in a region of British Columbia that stakes it fame on a colossal annual corn harvest, you’d never know that what rolled out of MDT’s innocuous shop was being deployed with all manner of individuals that earn a living behind a gun, and stake their life on that gun’s performance. Now manufacturing the TAC-21 chassis at a rate that has their facility operating at maximum capacity, Laszlo is not only proud of what his company has produced, but also of how they go about producing it.
Starting with billets of 6061-T6 aluminium, MDT begins the process by feeding the billets to one of their Mazak CNC machines, which then carves the stock adapter, trigger housing, and action receiver out with tools spinning at a dizzying 16,000 rpm, removing over two pounds of raw material before arriving at a finished product. The most complex of the machining operations required by the TAC-21’s production process, the production of these three pieces form the basis the of the chassis system and are largely responsible not only for the superior ergonomics of the chassis system, but also for the increased accuracy it provides. Across the shop floor, the extrusions that form the barrel shroud are fed through yet another CNC machine, which machines the shroud into the appropriate shape, incises the uninterrupted rail into the top, and cuts the various holes into the octagonal shape for cooling, lightness, additional rail mounts, and of course that always important looks-cool factor.
After that’s been finished, the four chassis components are tossed into vibratory tumblers, which serve to deburr the pieces and round off any remaining sharp edges that might have been left by the machining process. Then, the pieces are media blasted in order to prepare the semi-porous aluminium for its surface treatment and the final step in the production process: a military grade, Type III hard anodizing. After that’s complete, the necessary pieces are collected and checked against MDT’s stringent quality controls, before being boxed up and sent out the door to an eager customer.
Now, if that cursory description of the manufacturing process leaves you wondering why we at Calibre were so eager to darken MDT’s doorway, consider this: MDT is a company located right here in Canada, using Canadian labour and materials, to produce a world class rifle chassis that can be bought for as little as $699. And since the chassis uses a V-block design to retain the action itself (a design feature that’ll undoubtedly be familiar to machinists), it can be installed on a rifle in as little as 20 minutes with nothing but basic hand tools in a garage or workshop… that’s right, no bedding is required. Furthermore, the use of standard AR-style mounts for the grip and stock assembly mean that owners can furnish their TAC-21 chassis with parts that are both familiar and readily available, while still ensuring a high degree of custom fit for comfort. And finally, since the chassis includes both the magazine housing and an integral 20 MOA top rail, there’s no need for either the detachable magazine bottom metal nor the scope mount that’s required by most aftermarket stocks and chassis systems. In other words, you buy the chassis from a Canadian company, source a couple of pieces of AR-15 furniture, and assemble your new rifle in your garage, all at a cost that’s going to be at least $400 less than if you’d bought a stock from a larger American manufacturer. What’s not to like about that