American Bullpup startups

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Tavors, SA80s, FAMASs, AUGs, QBZ 95s. Whether for better or worse, the majority of bullpup weapon systems in the world are manufactured and in use by countries and militaries outside of the United States. Sure there was the Bushmaster M17S way back when, and now we have Keltec’s shotguns and rifles, in addition to the ever lofty Desert Tech MDR that’ll probably enter the civilian market in a dream while we sleep at night. These American designs haven’t experienced too much success in the U.S, market, apart from the Keltec KSG. Whether or not an American design does go to the forefront of bullpup popularity time can only tell. However for now, I’d like to introduce two designs that I saw at Bullpup 2015 which if not really original, just refreshing from everyone else. It was a good change of pace to see people coming out with their own ideas of what a bullpup should be.

K & M Arms is a company in Arizona owned by a gentleman named Ken McAlister, who was at the shoot. Essentially the company was making modifications of the Bushmaster M17S from the 1990s, a rifle that didn’t exactly do so hot commercially. Now however, they are producing full rifles, from the modifications they’ve made, to really bring the M17S up to speed. They make them in 5.56x45mm, 7.62×51, .300 AAC, and 6.5 Grendel. MSRP is around $1799. The biggest claim to fame that Ken has about his rifle, is the trigger pull is from 3.5 lbs to 5 lbs out of the box. Certainly one of the lightest stock bullpup trigger pulls out there. It uses a number of AR parts, which is a change over from the original M17S. And certainly its almost “bare bones” aspect of the design. Tim from Military Arms Channel makes a point of this by comparing the rifle to a 1950s Chevy in that everything is visible and not packed away.

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The 7.62x51mm version

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The 5.56x45mm version. Notice the interchangeable AR pistol grips.

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7.62 bolt on the left, 5.56 bolt on the right.

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Some of the internals are simply AR internals.

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This is a good video showing the differences and modifications done by J&M on the original Bushmaster M17S.

And an extremely in depth review by Military Arms Channel.

 

The other American bullpup rifle I want to talk about isn’t available to the public as of yet, and was only in prototype form at the shoot. JARD, Inc is a small manufacturer that produces both complete AR rifles, pistols, and does small parts. But Dean Van Marel was there from the company with a bullpup rifle he was working on. I would have gotten a chance to shoot it, but unfortunately the charging handle broke on it, and Dean was looking into going back to the drawing board. If you saw my post about Freezing Firearms, Dean is the shorter of the two guys in lab coats. Dependent on working out all the kinks with the rifle, the important bit of information to note is that it takes Glock magazines, and the MSRP will certainly be under a thousand dollars if it comes to the public. It also uses an M1 Garand style rocking safety in the trigger guard.

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Dean with his creation.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Isaac Newton

    Not to nitpick but, the M17 is from K&M not J&M. Good article thanks for sharing.

  • Ben Wong

    his fingers on the trigger all times make me nervous…

    • Graham2

      I think it looks like the guy has his finger on the trigger but I don’t think he actually has. He is missing the end of his trigger finger!

      • iksnilol

        How does he shoot? O_o

        • ozzallos .

          WITH HIS MIND.

          • iksnilol

            Or he just puts a thimble on his finger, or shoots leftie?

    • ostiariusalpha

      Not very perceptive there, Ben.

  • Tyler McCommon

    You had me till you said $1700.

    • Vitor Roma

      Hey at least it comes with a premium trigger and a badass looking bolt.

      • Tyler McCommon

        True but until a bullpup can compete on a mid range AR price point I’m probably not gonna buy one. Especially when I can buy an AR15 and PTR/FAL for $1700

        • dshield55

          But why would you buy a PTR or FAL, they’re soo heavy. Just kidding, I want both. But no, really, they’re heavy.

        • M

          I think if you shop around you can actually get 2 ARs (or an AR and an AK) and a PTR for that price

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            Sure, but is a $500 AR really a bargain? Since they save money using cheap materials and deliver a substandard product, no.

            $800-$2000 is what a quality rifle costs these days. Used might save you a bit. But the days of $500 battle rifles are gone…except for the SKS, which used to be a $119 battle rifle.

          • Ergo

            can a $500 really be a bargain? bump it to $555 and
            the hp/mpi spike’s bcg
            fn cut rifled barrel
            alg tube and trigger
            say yes. It can be one hell of a bargain.

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            Interesting. Entire rifle, not just an upper?

            That’s a market correction from the post-Newtown panic. Enjoy it while it lasts.

          • Ergo

            yes entire rifle. 40 dollar receivers are nice.

    • MR

      MSRP, bro. Yeah, with a smaller manufacturer, MSRP might be a bit more accurate than with, say, RUGER, but it might be worth looking into. Off to search GB, etc.

      • ozzallos .

        MSRP is only going to drop by a couple of hundred on this, so $1500. Yay.

  • PeterK

    Cool. That ergos on that first one look like they’d be terrible. Anyone actually handled one?

    • Seburo

      The M17 never had good ergos. Surprised they never bothered fixing it.

      • Laserbait

        I like my M17S! No real “ergos” problem (provided you shoot it right handed, and your left hand wears a glove), just a different battery of arms.

    • RealitiCzech

      Handled one, ended up buying it. Would prefer it if the safety was an AR-style lever, but other than that no issues. Mag changes are quite fast after a bit of practice, trigger is excellent.

  • COASTIEGM

    I know they mentioned the KSG but what about the RFB and RDB4 I know it’s more than difficult to find (ruger please look into solving that problem) but they are genuine 100% made in the usa commercially available bull pups.

    • dshield55

      …and they forgot to give a hat tip to Desert Tech for their upcoming rifle, which is in my opinion much more interesting than the two in this article and any of the Keltec offerings.

      • G0rdon_Fr33man

        Dat MDR… *Drool*.

  • Cal S.

    But does it come in .25-45mm Sharps? I’m really wanting a bullpup that has a trigger guard mag release.

    Off to the mad labs to design my own!!!

    • dshield55

      That’s the spirit.

    • Secundius

      @ Cal S.

      Ballistically, the .25-45 Sharps is a .223Rem. (5.7×45) on Steroids. It should fit ANY .223 of 5.56×45 Chambered Rifle/Bullpup…

      • Cal S.

        Are you trolling me? No it won’t, just like a .300blk won’t fit any rifle unless the barrel is specifically chambered in that caliber. .25-45mm Sharps is actually 6.35x45mm anyhow.

        • Secundius

          @ Cal S.

          You asked a question, I answered your question. You don’t want to do it, THEN DON’T. I’m NOT going to loose any Sleep Over It…

  • Seburo

    The second bullpup reminds of the GK Tactical vaporware bullpup that went under.
    That stock looks long enough to replace much of it with a foldable/collapsible stock like the VHS. After the pistol calibers (I’m assuming the big 3, 9mm, 10mm and 45 acp) are finished they should test out a version that uses either 4.6×30 or 5.7×28. Just to annoy HK for not making a Civie MP7.

  • Captain Obvious

    The reason the US doesn’t field a bullpup is because they are inherently less accurate than a conventional rifle. Comes down to balance, sight radius and the ability to lock in a good sight picture/alignment and cheek weld, not to mention the proper use of a sling. All those things are important. I teach precision rifle classes and the bullpup shooters are always left in the dust. On the other hand, they are good for CQB, riding in vehicles, airborne ops etc and are rather cool.

    • Vhyrus

      Can you please explain how they are inherently less accurate? If you’re referring to sight radius, that can be corrected by modern optics. Otherwise I fail to understand what part of the design makes them less accurate.

      • Seburo

        It’s the mall ninja logic of “It’s not an AR/AK” So it sucks line of argument.

      • FourString

        No kidding. They tend to have longer barrels too due to reduced OAL.

    • Drambus Ambiguous

      Those inaccuracy reasons are bro-science, sorry. And no, that’s not the reason the US doesn’t field bullpups.

      Plenty of bullpups are just as accurate as the m4, With modern optics, there’s nothing inherently less accurate about a bullpup configuration.

      It comes down to systems, familiarity, logistics, politics, and improvement (does switching to a bullpup significantly add capability to the individual soldier?). There isn’t enough of a reason for the switch.

      Besides, US infantry doctrine isn’t to use infantry to win firefights with small arms. The use of small arms is to prevent the enemy from significantly moving while a force multiplier like helicopters, fast air, or artillery finish the job. That’s why the LSAT keeps chugging along in various guises. Lighter ammo means a greater capability of doing the above.

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      You teach precision rifle classes?

      …I´m not attending your class.

    • BrandonAKsALot

      I sure can support most bullpups steadily for longer than I can the majority of traditional rifles and guess why? Balance. I love bullpups and I hate to say this, but the reason a majority of them are “left in the dust” is probably because they are the tacticool video game fans who got them more to look cool. It’s more operator than equipment.

      • Seburo

        If people can’t handle bullpups then they shouldn’t be allowed to use pistols. Just like a carbine, the bullpup is extension of the pistol.

      • RealitiCzech

        You don’t like the balance of bullpups? You can fire them one-handed with ease due to the rearward balance.

        • BrandonAKsALot

          Oh, no. I absolutely love them. My comment was about the fact that because of the balance they tend to fatigue your arms less. My FS2000 is easier for me to fire standing than most of my other rifles and is very maneuverable thanks to it’s balance and compact package. I’m a big fan of them.

          • Graham2

            I’ve been lucky enough to fire an FS2000 and think it’s great rifle, one I found easy to shoot well and no problems with ejection. Dropping the empty cases out the front it such a neat idea!

        • 1911a145acp

          And the troops need to fire them one handed ….when?

          • If wounded, or if low on ammo count and going for another mag, and you are jumped….

    • Secundius

      @ Captain Obvious.

      Springfield Armory, field a VERY SHORT LIVED. T-31 Bullpup Garand Rifle, Most People treated it a “Alien Technology”. It Looked Strange, Felt Strange and Looked Fragile. American’s weren’t Ready for the Bullpup Concept. I doubt that they Still Are. I Love Bullpup’s, probably because their easier to shoot while sitting in a Wheelchair…

  • Mark

    Only the Desert Tech MDR offers hope for solving the weak-side weakness of other bullpup designs.

    • roguetechie

      Well if you don’t count any of the keltec bullpups, the multiple Russian bullpups ( 2 production guns that use a system that may not be exactly the same as the MDR, But they sure as hell rhyme!) and finally the Ares Olin AIWS …
      Oh the two FN guns that both have ambi friendly ejection too…
      but yup… Only the MDR can save us. …

      • wedelj1231

        Also, Tavor being switchable between the side it ejects, unlike the MDR…

        • Tom

          so can the AUG and FAMAS. And there was that crazy Peruvian bullpup with the mag at a weird angle.

        • Vitor Roma

          Changing the side of the ejection in the Tavor is possible, but not exactly quick or easy. The Kel-Tec RDB seems to be the best solution design wise.

  • Riot

    Leader dynamics bolt? I will keep an eye on this.

  • Lance

    The old M-17 is about as close a American or any in the world can get to shoot a L-85A1 both are very similar in design.

  • Southpaw89

    Does that JARD model eject from the bottom? If so it scores good points for being ambi, bullpups are something I’d like to try but conversions don’t work for me since most would be cramming brass into my face. If this one really can come in under $1000 I’d be very interested.

    • MR

      Yes, I want one in 9mm.

      • Secundius

        @ MR.

        Try the Beretta Cx4 Storm, in 9×19 Parabellum…

  • ozzallos .

    And remember, kids. Adding the word “bullpup” to any firearm description install allows you to charge 50% more!

    • Twilight sparkle

      My ps90 was reasonably priced especially for what it is. Most bull pups aren’t popular enough to be sold at the price of traditional comparable firearms.

      • andrey kireev

        Don’t forget those weird Romanian AK bulpups that Centry used to sell like 5 years ago or so for about $550…

        • Twilight sparkle

          Haha I remember those, I wasn’t even 18 yet back when those were still around. They seemed a bit gimmicky to me.

          • Zang Kang King

            Bulpup AKs have been around for a long time. Kit form or what have you.

          • Secundius

            @ Zang Kang King.

            In AK, I believe 1957. But First “bullpup” was a .303 British Bolt-Action in 1901…

    • supergun

      You got that right.

  • TheSmellofNapalm

    Don’t forget the MDR

  • Christopher Armour

    The K&M “upper” looks like it was made from 80/20.

  • janklow

    “-in addition to the ever lofty Desert Tech MDR that’ll probably enter the civilian market in a dream while we sleep at night.”

    possibly the truest thing ever written on this website.

  • Adam

    Can i have it select and in 300 AAC…..????

  • Tom – UK

    As I read your comment I had an image of a Giant Tactical Teddy Bear hugging a child.

    • iksnilol

      I can’t even… I want to draw that. Like a teddy bear with a plate carrier and assault pack and whatnot.

  • Jesper Rex Andersen

    Electronic triggers has been around, in Match Grade pistols, since Morini made their first, in 1985 (CM102E) Ok. the Morini Pistols are US$ 2000+ firearms…
    Today you can also get Electronic triggers in Match Pistols from Pardini and Walther. Those are also US$ 2000+ pistols…

    • Laserbait

      You can get electronic triggers for the 10/22, a US $200 rifle (or $300 pistol). 🙂

  • Secundius

    Waffen-Greger of Dillingen, Germany. Make’s a Nice BAR II .30-06Sprnfld. (7.62×63.3) Bullpup with 20-inch barrel. Still trying to fine a Price for it…

  • supergun

    It would be nice if someone would design an AR 15 like a bullpen. Just imagine ~ An AR 15 with the short looking barrel (16 “) with a stock and it is all legal. Wow. Sliding stock on top of that.

  • FourString

    F2000, nuff said

    • iksnilol

      Don’t forget the RFB and the new Kel-Tec bullpups. A-91, P90 aswell, and those are amongst the ones that are actually produced. You have also Korobovs rifles.

      What I am trying to say is that the thought that side or top ejection is the only way has been outdated for a while.