What’s Killing the Bullpup (and How to Cure It)

Royal_Marine_121113-M-XW818-041

The concept of a stockless – or “bullpup” – rifle has been around since the very dawn of the 20th Century, when it was invented in the United Kingdom, the country with which it still is most closely associated. After World War II, the concept began to gain traction, but bullpups saw their greatest success in the 1970s and ’80s, being adopted by Austria, Britain, France, Singapore, and many other major nations of the world. However, in the modern military market, the concept’s popularity has declined. The questions of why, and how designers can create more competitive military bullpups are the subjects of this article.

I. Bullpups are Losing Ground

It is an obvious advantage: Delete the stock, move the pistol grip forward, and voila, an extra 4-8″ of barrel absolutely free. But, if it’s so easy to see the appeal of the bullpup, why has the concept lost ground in global military market?  Just a few decades ago, during the heyday of the bullpup, one could be forgiven for thinking it was just a matter of time before the “stockless” rifle became the de-facto standard configuration of modern infantry rifles. Yet, that hasn’t happened, and in fact fewer and fewer companies are offering military rifles of that type. This is closely related to the fact that several nations that have used bullpups for decades have already dropped (e.g., New Zealand), or are poised to drop (e.g., France) bullpup rifles in favor of conventional-layout ones. The bullpup isn’t yet dead on the military market, but very few new military bullpup rifles exist, and most of those are designs that are at least 15 years old. Why?

II. Death of a Thousand Cuts

In addition to its singular, obvious benefit, the bullpup layout also presents many challenges to its designer. These include the rifle’s characteristics with regards to ejection, ambidexterity, trigger pull, control placement, forearm design, and many others not mentioned. Most – if not all – of these difficulties arise because the placement of the shooters’s hands is so far from the mechanism; in contrast, the conventional layout places the mechanism squarely between the hands. Therefore, where designing the safety and/or selector for a conventional rifle is as simple as adding a switch directly to the mechanism and making it long enough for the shooter to reach, for a bullpup another solution must be found. In this example, a designer can take one of three (or possibly more) approaches: They can just add a switch directly to the mechanism without worrying about its convenience, they can add a linkage to the switch running back to the rifle’s mechanism (which adds cost, weight, complexity, and likely fragility to the rifle), or they can take another approach suggested later in this article. The thrust of this is that the design process of a bullpup rifle is riddled with these small hurdles, making them extremely difficult weapons to engineer elegantly. It’s not impossible to do so, just much, much harder than for conventional designs.

In the 1960s and 1970s, with the memory of World War II fresh, and the threat of World War III looming large in the minds of the world’s engineers, the challenges of the bullpup seemed insignificant. In a large-scale war, draftees or conscripts would need a simple, if inelegant weapon that could be produced cheaply and that provided good effectiveness. What human factors considerations that existed then were the legacy of the gravelbelly 10-ring-shooter’s tradition, not hard-learned lessons taught by terrorists, timers, and AR500 steel. During the Cold War, the threat of nuclear weapons led to the rise of the Armored Personnel Carrier, and later Infantry Fighting Vehicle, machines that packed troops tightly within their armored hulls, protecting them against nuclear, biological, and chemical attacks. The needs of the armies during this period were thus ideal for the bullpup; designers were free to take the simplest route regardless of ergonomic considerations, so long as the product was cheap and small enough for the large-scale mechanized warfare expected at the time. The FAMAS, AUG, and L85 are all typical products of this martial environment.

British_L85A2

The much-troubled L85 is perhaps the most instructive Cold War-era bullpup rifle. Little more than an AR-18 with a repositioned pistol grip and no stock, the L85’s ergonomic limitations have become painfully obvious in the three decades since its introduction. Image source: wikimedia.org

 

Decades later, after lessons from Desert Storm, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the booming civilian competition and training circuit, the need for an infantry rifle has changed in subtle ways that are having a profound impact on the bullpup rifle. Brutal city fighting against fanatical insurgents drove home the need for a rifle that can shoot off both sides of a barrier equally well, in contrast to the British Army’s decision just a couple decades prior to train all Her Majesty’s troops to shoot from the right shoulder only. The threat of vehicle-borne IEDs has raised the thumb-reached safety from a mere convenience to a necessity, and every new rifle is compared ruthlessly with both shot timer and scale against the excellent and now-ubiquitous AR-15. Today, every human factors element undergoes intense scrutiny, and in this harsh light the bullpups of previous generations seem dated and clunky. In the balance against a myriad of small but awkward flaws, the singular advantage of an additional 5-10% muzzle velocity seems virtually academic.

III. The Bullpup Lives On… Just Barely

Even so, the bullpup will probably never go away completely, as there are still some roles to which it’s very well-suited. The rifle-caliber personal defense weapon, for example, is a clear application for the bullpup, as ergonomics are not nearly as important for an echelon weapon, and compactness is at a premium. On the civilian side, the bullpup is a highly convenient workaround for the US National Firearms Act’s provisions on Short-Barreled Rifles, allowing American civilian shooters to own much shorter, handier weapons than they otherwise could without wading through the onerous regulations of the Act. How, though, can the bullpup military rifle make a comeback?

IV. Finding a Cure

The challenges that face bullpup designers aren’t insoluble, but the best solutions to them require flexible thinking and and creativity. Simply taking an existing conventional design and rearranging it to create a bullpup (a la the L85) doesn’t produce a very competitive weapon, but there are also significant drawbacks to rearranging controls via linkages and extensions, usually expressed by additional weight and cost of the system versus conventional weapons.

A more fundamental approach to the concept is needed for the bullpup to remain competitive. For one example of outside-the-box bullpup design, we will take a look at  one of the earliest of the breed: The little-known British EM-1 Thorpe rifle from the late 1940s and early 1950s (not to be confused with the EM-1 Korsac, a different weapon). The trigger of the Thorpe is unique; in contrast to traditional trigger designs that use a hammer assembly located behind the rifle’s mechanism, the Thorpe uses an innovative telescoped striker arrangement:

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This system is a radical departure from traditional rifle trigger design. The striker is connected via a see-saw linkage to a spring-loaded driver located alongside the offset gas piston. This driver ends in a point with two sear surfaces that reach forward to over and just behind the pistol grip. The trigger connects to an alligator-clip-like sear, and the whole assembly provides all desired modes of fire. This arrangement means that the trigger’s controls may all be naturally located around the pistol grip, without needing complex extensions or connecting bars to do so. Further, the entire rear of the rifle’s receiver is left clear of fire control components, which reduces the weight of the rear receiver and opens up additional options for novel ejection patterns (such as downward) that would create design problems with conventional fire control groups.

The Thorpe’s trigger arrangement is too complicated to be ideal for a service rifle, but it points the way forward for the design philosophy needed for next generation bullpups. The fundamental mechanisms can and should be re-imagined by talented designers to help elegantly and economically surmount these barriers to becoming fully competitive with conventional designs. However, the additional effort required to create and execute solutions like this one is still an obstacle to realizing the “solved” bullpup rifle. A company marketing a new design of any kind will have to offset its development costs somehow, whereas one doing the same for an established design like the AR-15 does not have that problem. This means, generally speaking, any new rifle (bullpup or conventional) will be more expensive roughly in proportion to how ambitious it is.

Those are not encouraging words for the would-be designer of the “solved” bullpup, but there is yet hope. New lightweight ammunition designs on the horizon may soon revolutionize small arms, and it’s likely that whatever NATO’s next major caliber is, it will not be compatible with existing designs. This means all firms that want to remain competitive will be back at square one; everyone will have to create a new design that works with the latest ammunition, or die trying. The stage may soon be set for the ideal bullpup to finally turn the tables.


Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Anonymoose

    I’d love to have a bullpup LSAT.

    • DW

      LSAT carbine is actually kinda bullpup: chamber is actually behind the trigger. Some dark magic at work to bring forward-mounted magazine to feed the rearward chamber.

      • Umberto

        “push through”

    • mig1nc

      Heck yeah.

    • Avery

      That’s literally what the ARES AIWS was. It even has the telescoped rounds pushed through the breechblock and out the gun through forward ejection. Only difference is that it used a rising breechblock (similar to the Steyr ACR or the Winchester ’73) instead of a rotating breechblock. It’s not a coincidence they’re one of the developers brought in by DARPA to develop the LSAT.

  • forrest1985

    Most of the guys i know who have shot & handled the L85 and C8/L119A1 derivatives prefer the latter, myself included! L85 has more drawbacks than it does benefits and hopefully with the C8 gaining more and more traction with specialist units, i hope it isn’t long before we see a full scale roll out!

    • Jon

      The usual reason for the behavior you explain is the familiarity with the given design. If you are used to standard layout its much more probable you will prefer it rather than bullpup, the same happens with the people used to auto or manual gears in cars.

      • forrest1985

        Well the L85 is standard issue over here so surely the familiarity would be with the bullpup design? I think its more that the ergonomics of a traditional layout feel more natural than a bullpup

        • Colin s

          Or is it just that the ergo’s of the L85 suck to hell and back? 😀

          • DW

            Yep. Somehow they thought AR18’s boxy receiver also makes good cheekweld.
            Compare that to the older bullpups like AUG and some other Russian bias you kinda wonder if weed was legal in UK back then.

        • Jon

          I’m refering to individual familiarity with bullpup design, bullpups are not commonly in civilian hands and until military age civilians play, hunt or simply fire standard layout rifles.
          If L85 ergonomy is worse compared to C8 it could be a L85 problem, other bullpups will surely be different.

    • n0truscotsman

      The Brits I’ve been around would have gladly slagged their L85s if it meant getting issued M4s or C8s as standard service rifles.

      Of course, according to the MOD, the L85 is probably the most reliable service rifle ever produced…/rolls eyes/

  • Another awesome article. The EM-1 is a very interesting design.

    One thing that may bring back the Bullpup is if the next LSAT caliber is designed for long range (beyond 500 yards) and requires a longer barrel to achieve its effects. For example if airbursting grenades become the dominant 50-500yard killer, that would put an emphasis more towards rounds that are effective beyond that range, while simultaneously needing to keep the weapon compact enough for CQB/ House to House where grenade launchers cannot be employed.

    • therealgreenplease

      That’s a really interesting point. At the section level you could see polarized load outs where every soldier carries a pdw and a side arm in the same caliber (using the same magazines too) and Soldier A carries a DMR chambered in an intermediate caliber and Soldier B carries something like the XM25. Right now the XM25 is a bit weighty at 14lbs but I could see future versions paring that down to 9-10lbs.

      The grenades themselves would be pretty heavy but, if you think about it, one grenade detonating in the air just beyond a window jam is probably worth at least three magazines of 5.56 in terms of effectiveness.

      • I had envisioned something very similar should the XM-25 prove to be as awesome as the initial testing showed.

        Basically a 4 man team consisting of the XM-25 Grenadier as the primary killer, 2 gunners with LSAT LMG’s who are in charge of suppressive fire, and a DMR with a bullpup battle rifle designed for engaging targets beyond 500 yards. All equipped with an MP9/MP7 style thigh mounted PDW instead of a pistol.

  • cdm

    I think a p90 ergo style design in an intermediate cartridge would be the best of both worlds.
    It could still feed near to the trigger mechanism so no trigger issues and faster reloads than the standard bullpups. Although the new favor seems to have solved a lot of its issues.

    • therealgreenplease

      I always thought the design of the P90 was rather ingenious.

    • Since TFB hates links in the comments, Google “Kalash 2012” for that sounds awesome.

      • Jon

        They neither like any type of criticism, I have posted two times about the lack of any type of non NATO or Israelly bullpup rifle references in the article and they have deleted both of them.

      • Mazryonh

        Nice reference, but the model of the Kalash 2012 has a lot of problems that make it unrealistic. For one thing, where’s the ejection port?

    • Giolli Joker

      “I think a p90 ergo style design in an intermediate cartridge would be the best of both worlds.”
      So, basically, the P90 itself.

      • More like a P90 in 5.56 LSAT or .221 Fireball/ 5.56×30 MARS. Bump it up to the 700-900 ft/lbs range from the current 350ft/lbs.

        • Avery

          Given that the 5.56 LSAT is beginning to near the same dimensions of the 5.7x28mm and it’s straight-cased to boot, this could be a reality in the near future. It could even be a one-to-one conversion, just reinforce the barrel and breech to handle the new pressures.

          • No, that will not happen. LSAT is incompatible with the P90 for numerous reasons.

          • Tom

            Play fair Nathaniel you should be pointed out those reasons :).

            The P90 is a an unlocked design so firing a non pistol calibre round would require ether a significant increase in bolt mass or using a locking mechanism which will add complexity and parts taking away from the streamlined nature of the P90.

            Also can you reload a P90 from the shoulder (keeping it on target)? And can you reload as quick as an AR15?

          • I would have, but I’m on mobile right now.

          • JSmath

            Yes, you can reload the P90 while keeping it aimed on target. No one I know who’s been involved in actual combat really cares to present themselves as a stationary target with their head exposed while reloading. That’s a really handy idea for 3 gun and other competitive shooting games, not remotely meaningful in real life combat – you can perform a level-headed top off with either, with no meaningful difference.

            Most people can reload a P90 as fast as most people can reload an AR15. Again, if we’re talking about actual real world combat, it’s not a distinct difference that’s going to matter. What’s lost in reload time is offset by having more ammunition per kg and per standard magazine. If you are what TFB readers love to avidly refer to as a mall ninja trying to max out your pewpew times on a timer, the P90 is significantly slower and more complex to reload.

          • Over your bullshit

            Why the hell do people keep talking about this? Keeping your weapon on target while reloading? Have you ever been in combat? 99% of combat is you hiding and taking a shot when you can. This whole stay on target while reloading comes from Hollywood movies and gun obsessed newbs who have never used a firearm in actual combat scenarios. So stop propagating a myth and hush.

          • Tom

            Allow me to elaborate it was a bad example on my part but I meant it in more of a general how easy is it to reload (the reload on a P90 always strikes me as somewhat clumsy compared to a conventional box magazine – but then again I would imagine its easier to do from prone),

            Whilst of course someone in an actual firefight would seek cover in general and especially during a reload this is one on the points that is often used to bash bullpups, is it relevant to combat? No but that does not necessarily discount it in the minds of the generals and politicians who make procurement decisions.

          • Mikial

            Very well said. 2 1/2 years in Iraq, and we sure as $hit didn’t stay on target while reloading.

          • Don1974

            I enjoy your responses to people that read TFB in general and you in particular. You have extraordinary communication skills. You never come across as a no-it-all and seem like a very humble person. Take care and I can’t wait until your next article

          • Don, that was a helluva compliment. Thank you for that, I’m truly flattered.

          • I read your stuff to take delight at the people who get angry. And the information. I suppose that’s okay too. But really I’m here for the butthurt.

          • BrandonAKsALot

            We’re all here for the butthurt in the end.

          • Gordon Blakeburn

            Was sure I would see you comment on the lack of Tavor mention…lol

          • Good point, I really need to be feeding the fire.

          • Budogunner

            Agreed. I’ve started ignoring some authors but I do make a point to read Nathaniel’s.

          • JSmath

            350ft/lbs is the MKE avg of civilian 5.7mm.
            LE (original design intent) 5.7x28mm avg sits just shy of 400ft/lbs.

            That number isn’t a short-coming in any way, either. Those are the performance numbers FN came to after balancing target penetration, expansion, over-penetration, and controlability. That last category is especially important, as you’d essentially have to balance the weapon’s rate of fire downward in an inversely proportional manner.

            The compactness of the P90’s design becomes a counter-point as you move away from a PDW-type usage to more combat marksmanship type ones… If you’re going to suggest making a battle rifle, then you might as well bring on the battle rifle proportions and ergonomics.

          • The P90 is a blowback firearm, so they would need to do some Belgian magic on the bolt mechanism to give it a locked breach, but thats totally doable. Bring on the p90 LSAT 🙂

          • smmp

            Infact, P90 is delay blowback (short recoil)

          • It is a straight blowback; the FN Five seveN is the delayed blowback system. That’s why you can fire hotter heavier grain loading out of the pistol than the carbine.

          • smmp

            FN P90 is not straight blowback, that’s a short recoil delayed blowback system (few mm)

          • smmp

            “The weapon fires using an unusual method of operation
            that might be described as a cross between the short recoil and
            simple Bergmann-Bayard straight blowback principles. Upon firing,
            the 10.35-inch (26.3 cm) barrel and bolt recoil rearward for about
            0.030 of an inch (0.76 mm), enabling the pressure in the barrel to
            drop to a safe level. When the barrel (which features a 1 in 9 inch
            rate of twist) stops its rearward travel, the bolt continues rearward
            in straight blowback fashion. FN Herstal SA seems to have developed
            a unique flavor of delayed blowback operation.”.

          • Awesome! Did not know that, and had always heard it referred too as straight blowback. I had no idea the barrel moved.

        • Reef Blastbody

          The Magpul PDR concept, not manufactured by Bushmaster if at all possible.

    • ProLiberty82

      The p90 isn’t particularity ergonomic to be honest, but it’s best feature is the downward ejection making it usable for right and left handed shooting.

      I think the ideal bullpup application would be in a PDW/CQB role for combat drivers, bodyguards, breaching teams and etc. And I don’t think there is a need for exotic cartridges, just use the 5.56 and design a rifle with the ergonomics/trigger of the Desert-Tech MDR with the downward ejection of the Kel-Tec RDB and size it down to the size of the Magpul PDR, then stick a Noveske KX3 on the end to top it off.

      We already have all the design components, we only need someone to design a rifle dedicated to the concept of a 5.56 PDW.

    • Budogunner

      I’d like an FS2000 in .300 Blk, honestly. I know a handful of people have made this happen.

  • Goody

    Why not electronic controls? Premium extra for paintball, standard since forever on air soft. IANAS.

    I’d of course love to see a round similar to 6.5br standing in the next round of trials.

    • m-cameron

      because if your battery dies in your paintball gun…..no big deal.

      if your battery dies in your fighting rifle….you are going to die.

      • Bill

        I can’t begin to name all the gazillions of life-safety-dependent things used by LE and the military that use batteries. Sure they can die, just like a magazine can be shot empty. The cure? Change it out, and press on.

        • Another classic example is the digital vs mechanical watch. Given how extremely durable a G-shock is in such a small package, there’s no reason a similarly rugged and reliable design couldn’t be integrated into a much larger pistol grip.

          • Bill

            Great example – i’d never thought of it. Battery and charging technology is such that given that we have reliable internal pacemakers there shouldn’t be any realistic reason not to integrate electronics into firearms. When it come to dependability, it’s nothing compared to the fatigue and stress that firearms springs go through.

          • Mazryonh

            The problem with electrically-fired firearms is that firearms by their very operation subject at least some of their parts to a lot of shock and eventually a lot of heat.

            Batteries, especially high-power-density ones, don’t like to be battered (pun not intended) either by firing or rough handling, and tend to release problematic substances and/or catch on fire when overheated or physically broken/punctured. Batteries also tend not to release as much power as they normally would when exposed to extreme temperatures (desert/jungle/arctic warfare). Sure, you can individually wrap batteries in thermal insulation, but that means it’ll heat up that much more when they’re used in combat, even more so if you need to fire off a lot of rounds, because thermal insulation blocks heat going out as well as heat coming in.

            Also, the quality control process of mass-produced high-power batteries will have to be very tight. Ever seen those news articles about current lithium-ion batteries spontaneously catching on fire? At least malfunctioning firearm cartridges usually just result in FTEs and FTFs or just not going off, rather than kaboom!s or a gun on fire.

          • Secundius

            A PEG (Personal Energy Generator), might work. I uses Movement to Produce Power (Kinetic Energy). The Recoil of the Rifle can Produce the Kinetic Energy to Produce the Power. And the PEG System can be Stored in the Stock, with Power Tap’s to use the Power Generated and Stored in the System. It would certainly Simplify having to Carrying A Small Stock-Pile of Batteries in the Field…

          • Mazryonh

            Don’t troops on lengthy foot patrols already carry a lot of batteries now? For instance, they have batteries for Night Vision Gear, Communications Gear, Combat Optics that don’t rely on tritium, IED jammers if they’re expecting that kind of thing, etc. Unless Personal Energy Generators can take care of that kind of power demand, the additional weight might not be welcome. Of course, they might be good enough to keep drained batteries from becoming dead weight.

            Are troops in “the sandbox” issued their own personal solar panels to recharge their batteries during the day? They might as well make use of all that sunlight.

    • MrPhantom

      battery powered essential components aren’t the best of ideas on a military rifle
      now, if only someone could figure out a way to squeeze enough charge out of a piezo element hooked up to the trigger to fire the rifle…

      • aPackOfWankers .

        you can turn the piston into a generator easy enough with a magnet and a coil. Each round fired would charge up the battery. Use piezo to bootstrap in the case of a flat battery.

        • therealgreenplease

          You could also attach a TEC device to the barrel. TECs are actually really durable devices. Also, you could store the power in an ultra capacitor instead of a battery.

          Perhaps the real way to address the “problem” is to have multiple sources and stores of power and have a small electrical network throughout the rifle: embedded generator in BCG, piezo element somewhere in upper, TEC element perhaps used as a barrel nut, and a solar panel somewhere on the hand guard. All of the generated energy could be used to power an illuminated reticle in addition to actuating the trigger.

          • aPackOfWankers .

            you dont need an illuminated reticle, ’cause you got a tritium emitter for that, but you can recover energy from the alpha radiation of the emitter.
            I was thinking about it, and i realised the buffer tube is the right place for a reciprocating generator, not a piston. Less of a hostile environment.
            Hmm, buffer tube battery charger, anyone?

        • randomswede

          If the “charge” needed to set off the electric primer is small enough the trigger itself could generate an “emergency charge”.

          It would probably be a three stage trigger:
          1) Spring resisted takeup for safety
          2) Micro switch click (computer mouse button click)
          3) A spring returning coil generator heavy enough not to be depressed when not needed.

      • Colin s

        There was a test done as part of the FIST programme in the UK, where an l85 was fitted with an electronic trigger and fired ammo with a suitable primer. The project was looking at ways of adjusting cyclic rates, but it would have also been a great way of solving the trigger feel and ergonomics of a bullpup rifle (if they had solved the power supply problems I.e. Going dead at the worst possible time), but I don’t think this was looked into unfortunately.

    • HERO concerns have been cited as one of the big barriers.

  • derfelcadarn

    Why would anyone care ?

    • Dave

      Right-o. I mean, places where there are actual armed conflicts vs. a bunch of psychopathic football hooligans emboldened by alcohol and the mob and atavistic nationalists firebombing immigrant centers in the name of national regeneration?

  • aweds1

    No mention of the Tavor? That’s a recently adopted military bull pup rifle because of the modern changes you mention: intense urban fighting at close ranges resulting in a shorter, handier primary weapon that is maneuverable in vehicles, alleys, and hallways.

    • Jon

      He also obviates all the world outside the NATO.

      • I focus on NATO, but the concepts in the post are universal.

        • Jon

          Those concepts are not universal, for example “the need for a rifle that can shoot off both sides of a barrier equally well” was solved in the 50’s. Look at the TKB-022PM family.

          • If I were a military customer, could you direct me to where I could buy thousands of TKB-022s?

            I would be very surprised if you could.

          • Jon

            You speak about concepts in your article, not about the point you speak about in the message I’m replying. But by the way, you ccould buy even a more capable firearm with the same barrier shooting performance contacting here, kbkedr@tula.net. I’m talking about the ADS.
            Continuing with the main point, the technology is there, it’s combat proven and any nation or serious firearm manufacturer who has the will could at least match it.

          • The TKB-022 is “combat proven”? Lay off the dope, dude.

          • Jon

            I haven’t said it, please read my post again.
            What about the main point?

          • I misunderstood you, my apologies.

            Not sure what your main point is yet…

          • Jon

            You are wellcome.
            The point is you didn’t take non NATO rifles in account.

          • Into account for what? Obviously there is a lot more to say on this subject, but I tried to keep it as brief and to the point as possible.

          • Jon

            You didn’t take any non NATO rifles in account to write this article. There have been some advancements in the last decades (I’m glad you changed the part refering to this and made the article a bit more accurate). Like the Singaporean bullpups who implement protection against chamber explosion or catastrophic failure.
            You haven’t talk about the most produced bullpup, nor about the good health bullpup design has between sniper rifles.
            Concerning to this last topic, the main advantage of the bullpup rifles is not “the singular advantage of an additional 5-10% muzzle velocity” but the gain in accuracy you get with longer barrels.

          • Sure I did. The QBZ-95, SAR-21, and others were definitely on my mind when I wrote this article, although I certainly slanted the wording towards a NATO-centric audience.

            You only get an accuracy gain with longer barrels if you’re using that barrel to get a longer sight radius, which is not applicable to bullpups.

          • Jon

            Nothing avoids you to produce a bullpup with the same length and sight radius of a standard rifle. The bullpup barrel will be longer and so it will be more accurate.
            However sight radius is losing importance today were getting an optic device is easier everyday.

    • Bub

      Nathaniel could likely answer this better than I, but it’s my understanding the Tavor is being updated to a newer model known as the X95. Doesn’t mean the Tavor is going away, but I think the X95 is meant to be more user friendly.

    • The Tavor’s design goes back to the 1990s, and it’s not substantially different than an AUG. In fact, I’d say it’s worse.

      The X95 might be better (although I was honestly indifferent to the example I shot), but it’s not a great leap forward or anything.

  • Blake

    awesome article, thanks

  • Ike

    Great article–thanks. How does the design of the Desert Tech MDR stack up against traditional bullpup designs?

  • WFDT

    I’m not a fan of bullpups because I’m leery of having the round touched off next to my jaw, with ejected cases whistling past my ear. I find it unsettling.

  • Dave

    Announcement of the bull-pup rifle’s impending demise are greatly exaggerated:

    Australian army
    Austrian Bundesheer
    Belgian federal police
    Bolivia
    Cameroon
    Djibouti
    Ecuador
    The Gambia
    Irish Defence Forces
    Luxembourg
    Malaysia
    Morocco
    Oman
    Papua New Guinea
    Saudi Arabia
    Tunisia
    Uruguay All use variants of the Stg.77 or AUG.
    Every snake-eater in every tactigay unit in the world wants or has the Tavor.
    Former French colonies in Africa hew to the Kalashnikov or FAMAS or both.

    Not bad for a world awash in M16s and AKMs, I”d say…

    • Joshua

      Really? Every “snake eater”…… Man you need to lay off the video games.

      Just FYI, Australian SAS use the M4A1 with Troy Alpha rail.

      • forrest1985

        I’m not a massive AR-fanboy but i would take an AR variant over any bullpup! As great as the Tavor maybe, every israeli soldier i’ve seen carries an M4

        • W

          Basic M4: 6.11 pounds
          Basic Tavor: 7.9 pounds (incl: lousy trigger)

      • CommonSense23

        I like how he calls the snake eaters units tactigay. Then tries to use such powerhouses such a Dijbouti, Cameroon, Tunisia as proof of exaggeration.

        • Dave

          Snake-eaters= Tavor. Even in México, carnal.

          “Powerhoses”= AUG.
          Kin u read, COMMONSENSE23, bro?

          • CommonSense23

            What? Is English your first language?

    • Besides that not exactly being a list of movers and shakers in military technology, what will they do when they cannot buy AUGs anymore, or their AUGs wear out?

      If we match up each nation with their date of adopting the AUG, while deleting the non-military customers and ones that don’t have the AUG as a standard weapon (many of the nations in your list bought AUGs at one point, but never in large quantities and don’t continue to use them), we get a clearer picture:

      Australian army – 1988
      Austrian Bundesheer – 1978
      Bolivia – 1980s sometime
      Irish Defence Forces – 1989
      Luxembourg – 1996
      Tunisia – 1978

      The only one of these users that really is still wedded to the bullpup concept (as opposed to just continuing to use legacy hardware) is Australia; they just adopted the EF88/F90.

      • forrest1985

        Don’t forget falklands defence force lol

        • Ryan

          Mustn’t ever forget the FIDF, it’d please Argentina too much.

      • Dave

        So after the FAL exhausted itself out of how many users?

        like, 90, right? Some of those national users, e.g. Australia, Austria, Ecuador, etc. etc. decided that the next generational rifle’d be the AUG, but that doesn’t count ‘cuz national armed forces either acquire U.S. M16/M4 “platforms?” or else, tired, 1940s-positively-Stg44-ish-lame-and-outdated-Kalashnikov-technology…. Yes?

        The *only* post 1970s bull-pup is the Tavor, after all…

        But then again, the only post-1970s rifle designs are, well, what exactly?
        Oh. The G36: The Bundeswehr (for now), Spain’s Ejército de Tierra, and the Miami PD? The Beretta? Italy, erm, Albania and some Central Asian “stan’s” erm, snake-eaters–or perhaps, video game players in uniform, and oh, right Finland–wait! They decided the Kalashnikov was OK after all! Oh. Maybe France will pick it instead of an AR knock-off?!

        Still don’t quite follow the “bull-pups are dead” (or “being killed”) bro’.

        • The subject of the article was standard issue infantry rifles. If the Sheriff’s Department of Muskogee, Oklahoma, decides to buy Tavors as patrol carbines, that’s fine I guess, but it’s not relevant to the subject of the bullpup on the military market.

          The FS2000 is also a post-1970s bullpup, as is the QBZ-95, but since you decided to go there, let’s list just some of the post-1970s conventionals that are currently on the market, ready for someone to buy them:

          Colt M4
          H&K G36
          H&K 416
          FN SCAR 16
          SIG 550
          B&T APC556
          LMT MARS
          Remington ACR
          Kalashnikov AK-12
          Degtyarev A545
          Galil ACE
          Beretta ARX-100
          FX-05 Xiuhcoatl

          I could go on, but you get the picture. The majority of these rifles have received orders very recently, and those that haven’t are still on offer from large firms with substantial industrial capacity. As for bullpups, there are really only two on the market right now, the Steyr AUG and the Tavor. There are bullpups from smaller shops, like the Kel-Tec RDB, but not ones being offered by major companies with serious industrial capacity.

          So how is it that you’ve managed to contort yourself into a pretzel such that you can’t see what’s right in front of you? The bullpup, on the military market, is dying.

          • Dave

            I’m not in a pretzel. Since the “bullpup, on the military market–i.e. outside of U.S./Nato forces–is “dying”: What I see is: M4 U.S. use, ’nuff said. It will be made available via U.S. military training, aid, and so on. Notice how long the IDF was content to rely on the M16/M4? Why not? It was basically free!
            G36 Really? So, like, Spain? And the Miami PD?
            416 OK. So HK and their marketers got behind the M4–perfection, right? Um. Norway? Maybe France? Someday? Oh. And the 417 for Turkey. After all, Turkish workers already make HK products in Germany…
            SIG 550. Hunh?Lessee, outside of Switzerland? Chile? Oh, right. Nicaragua?
            B&T APC556… Ja. Und?
            LMT MARS. OK: New Zealland.
            Remington ACR. Come again?
            Kalashnikov AK-12. OK, so. What? Russia is gonna get new AK74s?
            Galil ACE: Now you’re talkin’: Pretty much a lot of Latin American state’s militaries, e.g. Guatemala, Honduras –the ones not sporting the Tavor, anyway, uh, El Salvador, Colombia–major Galil user with factories to boot–Perú, and, yes, Chile, the armed forces of which apparently decided to opt for the ACE vs. their own copies of the SIG 540, or was it the 550?
            Beretta ARX100: Uh. Who’s buying? Right! Albania’s Special Forces! And maybe, someday, France!
            Fusil Xiuhcoatl 05. See G36 above…. Appeared in various military parades in the Zócalo of Mexico City… Haven’t hear too much about it. Reinforcing your very points about the Glock-like “perfection” of the M-4/M-16, the Mexican “infantes de la Marina” aka. Marines and other forces waging the “drug war” have M16s and M4s…

          • You are failing to understand. There are numerous (too many to conveniently count, in fact) conventional rifles suitable for military service that are currently on the market and in production.

            There are literally only four bullpups, maybe five if FN got a big enough order to dust off the F2000’s tooling.

            Maybe ten to fifteen countries use bullpups as standard issue rifles, and the great majority of those are legacy users from the 1970s and ’80s. One of those nations has already forsaken the bullpup, and two more of them are poised to. The rest use conventionals.

            So, the military bullpup market is not at all very healthy right now.

          • DW

            Don’t forget A91M and ADS from Russia, Sar-21 from Singapore, F88/F90 from Thales (basically AUG) and soon-to-be MSBS in bullpup config.
            These are all designed for military use and are all offered for export. Bullpup market isn’t that unhealthy as you think.

          • 624A24

            A91M and ADS haven’t seen export success.
            SAR-21 haven’t seen serious use outside of Singapore. Even there the ancient Colt 653s are preferred by “more special” folks. Check out Forgotten Weapons’ review of it.
            MSBS is currently untested in the export market. I predict the bullpup config won’t be a commercial success either.

          • I don’t think the F90 is on the market yet, but sure, that’s another option in the future.

            Likewise, neither is the bullpup MSBS… And it may never be.

          • John

            If the bullpen market is dying, why did France select the VHS for trial?

          • France didn’t. HS Produkt just submitted it. It would be a very poor manufacturer indeed that didn’t try to get in on that hunk of cheese.

    • 624A24

      Malaysia ditched the AUG for the M4, the FAMAS is long out of production.

  • Major Tom

    The biggest problem to bullpups isn’t ergonomics, it’s a lot of crap out there tarnishing the reputation.

    When the first thing you think of in bullpups is the much-troubled L85 which made the Vietnam-era M16 look positively like an AK in terms of reliability and the French FAMAS which has more problems than you shake a stick at, you don’t have a lot to go off of. In fact the only real “competitor” to those two is the AUG series. The Tavor TAR-21 family has a lot of improvements over the FAMAS/L85 but is so limited in availability that simple economics will do it in when it comes to consideration by folks such as New Zealand. (Oddly enough “rich” countries don’t have a lot of money these days. Especially not for military acquisitions.) The QBZ-95 family will never see the light of day outside China because reasons.

    Anything else is a novelty toy for ranges and civilians, not serious military consideration.

    • Rhys

      The QBZ-97 is sold on the civilian market in Canada, as the T97. It’s chambered in .223, takes AR-15 magazines, and sells for around $1100 CDN.

    • Kelly Jackson

      The L85 was made from the AR180 not the M16

      • DW

        You misunderstood. He meant L85A1 makes M16 in Vietnam look awesome as hell. Which means L85A1 was crap beyond words.

        • Major Tom

          That.

    • Wetcoaster

      It’s not necessarily money, but numbers. Setting up license production makes perfect sense if you need hundreds of thousands of units (Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Mexico, Greece, etc. setting up licensed G3 or MP5 production) – or countries mass-conscription model with the expectation that wartime would require immediate full mobilization (South Korea, Switzerland, Singapore, Taiwan, most West European nations until the early-mid 90’s).

      Purchasing a la carte makes perfect sense if you only need thousands of units (every SOF purchase of C8 carbines or HK416 rifles).

      That middle ground of tens of thousands of rifles needed to equip a modern professional force is tricky. Colt Canada probably needs a stream of exports to stay solvent. It’s too easy to set up the licensed facility, make rifles for 3-4 years, and then need to shut down/draw down to a trickle of overhaul and maintenance work, leaving most of the just-trained workforce out on the streets and the machinery barely running.

    • Cuvie

      The QBZ-97 is in service with Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. Certain units of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps use the QBZ-95

      • Major Tom

        When did the 95 get out of China? Really recently or something? Cuz the 5.8mm round and weapons chambered in it are like in explicit prohibition from export last I was aware.

        The reasoning being they didn’t want any Western or Russian-friendly sources finding out their “super special awesome body armor muncher” bullet finding out it wasn’t all that and a bag of chips.

        • Tom

          the export variants are all 5.56mm NATO.

          • Wetcoaster

            Just like the JS05 SMG where the export versions use 9mm and are compatible with MP5 mags. Speaking of handsome bullpups, that little number looks way neater than the Type 97

        • Timothy G. Yan

          Bangladeshi presidential guard the uses QBZ-95, yes the 5.8x42mm version.

  • Bullpups are dying in the “West” because there is little incentive to innovate upon the 5.56mm chambered carbine. Where is our Red Menace to compete with? Where is our mission? What great foe’s gates need storming? None. We face nothing but “unrest” from beggar hordes concealing more than a few insurgents.

    “Western” armies have largely become police forces in mindset if not practice (yet). Expect innovation to continue along the lines of PDWs, personal armor, less lethal devices, and such. This will change when a real external foe arises.

    • Aubrey

      Rifles are practically irrelevant to fighting a real mechanized enemy. If anything low intensity war should spur small arms development

      • It’s interesting to note that the most innovative small arm of our time (the G11) was killed shortly after the Cold War halted.

      • Jon

        That’s not a good reasoning way Aubrey. If we take that way of thinking to the limit we could reach to conclusions like the only relevant weapons are submarines with global nuking capability and the weapons capable to destroy those subs or nukes.
        Rifles have allways their relevance.

        • randomswede

          Without boots on the ground you never really “own” land.

          I suspect however that Aubrey is being somewhat hyperbolic and is actually saying something along the lines of “As long as you are fielding a rifle designed this side of WWII; spending the extra cash to make it a rifle designed this side of the Vietnam war isn’t a “game changer” in a Soviet Union vs. Nato in Europe context. However in the sort of “SEAL on insurgent” war we are seeing now makes tanks/bombers/subs/nukes less relevant and rifles more so.”
          That was my interpretation at least.

          • Jon

            Yes randomswede, I think he wants to say that. But the way he writes could give anybody to any interpretation, someone after reading it coud also think it’s equally effective to arm a soldier with a stick instead of a rifle in a mechanized war.

          • randomswede

            I agree fully. I’d just prefer to think of people as lazy or facetious rather than ignorant, at least in a specialized forum such as this.

  • cwp

    The infuriating thing about the bullpup is that pretty much all the pieces are in place for a really excellent rifle — they just haven’t been put together in the same rifle yet. (I know about the MDR. Wake me when I can actually buy one — lots of guns sound perfect before they’re released.)

    The F2000, RFB, and RDB all provide workable ambidextrous ejection strategies. Forward and downward both have their advantages and disadvantages, but I think either would be preferable to a manually-switchable side-ejection setup. Get rid of the need for side-mounted ejection ports and you no longer have to worry about putting a gasketed cover on the side you aren’t using. (Why yes, I do have a Tavor. How’d you guess?)

    The X95 has an ambidextrous mag release in a familiar spot, and the selector is right there. While it doesn’t come with an ambi charging handle, you *could* put something like Manticore’s Switchback on both sides at once, fold down the one you aren’t using, and call it good. That’s not a *perfect* solution, but it’s a solution that doesn’t require any new engineering, and adds only a negligible amount of weight.

    Bullpup triggers have mostly sucked, historically speaking, but the best of the Tavor aftermarket trigger packs can be called genuinely no apologies good. Honestly. Yeah, okay, it’s not “fantastic bolt-action rifle” good, but it’s “upper-tier aftermarket AR trigger” good. Again, we’re not talking perfect here, but it’s more than good enough.

    Which still leaves us with one significant ergonomic challenge, namely, the stock. I guess in theory we could shorten the return spring enough to allow a couple of inches worth of adjustment for length. The M4 has, what, three and a quarter inches worth? So three inches would probably be another not-perfect-but-good-enough. That’s another engineering challenge, but it’s not insurmountable.

    I don’t want to undersell the difficulty of getting it right once and for all. What I carelessly dismiss as “engineering challenges” would eat up a lot of man-hours from some very talented people. But it’s not hard to see why people still think the next bullpup could be The One. As difficult as it might be to engineer in practice, “an X95 with two aftermarket parts, a new ejection system, and a telescoping buttplate” *sounds* simple enough to be awfully enticing.

    • JSmath

      M17S is another great bullpup available.

      At the heart of real things, people really oversell the importance of great ergonomics imo. If we’re talking about how perfect and completely ambidextrous rifles need to be, the AK would theoretically be a terrible, unusable mess. (“You mean to tell me, after rocking an empty mag out and a new one in, I *HAVE TO* reach over or under the whole thing to charge it after reloading?!”)

      I have a Tavor as well. Yes, the improvements/changes the X95 bring would be nice. But at the end of the day, things like adjustable gas settings and better engineering for suppressed use would be nice but are just conveniences. It’s not like the Tavor/SAR21 is particularly bad at suppressed use particularly versus an original AR15. The design could use a number of incremental improvements, but incremental improvements are exactly what’s made the premium, combat-proven AR15s on the market what they are today.

      Mid-size bullpups (~9-14″ barrels, such as the X95) have a good niche to fill into combat forces as PDWs, but that would just continue to push back on the perceived need for a new primary combat cartridge. I don’t see all the military forces in the world switching over to AR15 and AK derivatives exclusively, nor do I see that happening with bullpups either.

      • cwp

        I think that ambidextrous ejection on bullpups is more important than it is on other sorts of rifles. Questionable ergonomics are one thing, having hot brass flung right past your nose is another. In this case, though, it being ambi-friendly is almost a secondary benefit to what we actually want to accomplish. If it were somehow possible to have a non-ambi ejection system that didn’t suffer from that issue, I think that would probably be accepted with only a little grumbling.

        It is of course true that weapons don’t have to have great or even good ergonomics to be successful — lots of people seem to hate the G3’s ergonomics, for instance. But Nathaniel’s point on this matter bears repeating: the AR-15 is a very good weapons system that is inexpensive, omnipresent, and also happens to have good ergonomics. If all a rifle has to offer over the AR is shorter overall length for the same barrel, it needs to be very close to it in other aspects to get any traction outside of niche environments. Most bullpups right now fall short of that standard in one or more areas.

        Despite my kvetching, I actually do like the Tavor (well, once the trigger has been replaced with something that isn’t godawful). I agree that incremental improvement will remedy at least some of its faults, and even as is it’s a good weapon if you’re in the sweet spot for it.

    • Jon

      You want a good design combination for a bullpup? Mix in it the ejection of the ADS, the chamber explosion or catastrophic failure protection of the SAR-21 and the balanced recoil system of the AEK-971, its frontal heaviness will not be a concern in a bullpup.

  • Flight Er Doc

    Why does the bullpup design need to be saved? Seems like an answer to a question not many are asking, and not a good answer to boot.

  • kregano

    I think the general cost of bullpups and their relative lack of availability is the bigger problem. Unless you’re actually the nation who makes the design, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a significant price premium for anyone importing a bullpup design for their armed forces vs an AR/AK variant. The AR and AK have hundreds of manufacturers all over the world, so you can actually get a lowest bid and work from there, but with bullpups, there’s only one source for parts and guns, so you have to pay whatever they want. That might be okay if they’re geographically close, but if they’re on the other side of the world, you might not want a gun that’s going to require tons of time and money to get fixed/replaced.

  • Joshua

    Bullpups will never be able to compete with standard layouts.

    With lights, lasers, and NV becoming more and more common across the spectrum rail space is at an all time high.

    This is what’s really killing bullpups, bullpups will never offer enough rail space to accommodate the upcoming transition to variable optics, IR lasers, lights, grips, and other NV devices becoming more and more common across the spectrum.

    This is also why the Army is looking to replace the RAS, because studies have shown that a 12″ rail is a requirement to run next generation ancillary items.

    • marathag

      In time, all that stuff will be reduced down to a single mounted sensor that puts the calculated point of impact directly to the shooters optic nerve, along with image enhancement. Won’t need separate Laser/NV/Optics. Won’t need all the gadgets stuck on rails

      • Porty1119

        Not sure about nervous-system input, but I could see the sight picture gettijg piped into a monocle. I generally agree with you about rail-mounted gidgets getting combined to save weight and space.

        • marathag

          Think it will be wifi broadcast to goggles and such first, then networked to everybody in the squad to get a big VR picture of the battlefield. Neural link later

          • CommonSense23

            Wi-Fi doesn’t work with jamming,

          • marathag

            Neither does Radar, but every jet fighter has it.

          • CommonSense23

            Radar can work when jamming, it has lot of different things going for it. Two, you can shoot missiles at the jammers. Electronic warfare is already made it to the infantry level, and its going to get worse.

      • Joshua

        Sure when we develop new battery technology, however your talking science fiction at this point and available rail space is a current issue countries using bullpups face.

        • marathag
          • Joshua

            Wouldn’t last a day in field trials.

          • marathag

            That’s the point of tech demonstrators.
            1st Gen IR NV scopes didn’t last well in the field either.
            Now everybody can have a helmet mounted one.

          • CommonSense23

            Thats not that impressive.

          • marathag

            Everything starts with limitations.

            Who would use one of those 1880s brass external adjust scopes today?
            now almost everything has optics.

            The tech is changing very quickly

            Smartguns are coming, and I don’t mean biometrics

    • iksnilol

      But wouldn’t a bullpup have the balance advantage with all that crap hanging off the front?

  • ExMachina1

    Bullpups solve very little while making many aspects of a rifle system worse. The only “pluses” of the BP design are a) compactness and b) the rearward weight distribution that allows a BP to be more easily fired one-handed. The compactness is of marginal benefit while the latter could me the BP’s strongest positive feature.

    OTOH (and ignoring the aforementioned trigger and ejection challenges) BPs seem doomed to always be more awkward when it comes to clearing jams. Moreover, gun blast is moved even closer to the shooter’s face and muzzle sweeps of close by friendlies is more likely (especially in CQB teams).

    It’s the case of the BP design being marginally better under only a very few circumstances coupled with the possibility of it being an operational liability under many more that have doomed the BP to be sub-optimal (which of course does NOT preclude a major military power from adopting it!)

  • Southpaw89

    Reading this article it occurs to me that there is one trigger mechanism that hasn’t been explored all that much that may solve at least one of these issues. I believe it was the FG-42 that had the firing pin connected directly to the op-rod, if a similar system were used on a bullpup then a sear could be integrated into the op rod, preventing the need to transfer the force of the trigger pull to the rear of the receiver. Its not perfect, and would result in a fairly significant mass moving forward on firing, but it may be worth trying.

  • ChierDuChien

    A big Ka-Boom in a bullpup is likely to lobotomize the shooter. Or worse. Don’t ever hear about them though. Does it ever happen ?

    • DW

      It does, but most bullpups are designed to have extra material surrounding the chamber in case that happens. For example Kel-tec claims to have 2 layers of 1.6mm steel sheet between shooter and chamber.

    • iksnilol

      And what happens if a regular rifle blows up in your face?

      Those 10 cm of distance aren’t going to save your face?

  • 624A24

    It seems that the most common issues with bullpups are stock length, trigger pull and ambidextrosity.

    Trigger pull probably can be improved if designers think outside the box – many current designs appear to be adaptations of existing conventional systems. There’s only so much you can do with it – a linkage that moves forward (stacky initial pull and crisper break) with a pivoting trigger, or a linkage that moves straight back (simpler and lousier break)? Perhaps in the future we will have practical and reliable electrical ignition systems requiring little mechanical considerations. Either way, soldiers must (and they can!) get used to the trigger feel.

    Ambidextrous designs are quite well-developed already. Tavor, AUG and FAMAS have switchable ejection ports, and the F2000 and A91 has forward ejection. At this point it’s all about application and implementation – stuff like kabooms are statistical rarities that shouldn’t be a top priority.

    Stock length is by far the biggest unresolved issue of bullpups. It seems that no mechanically simple or practical solution have been designed for a bullpup. Any action that is short enough for a comfortable bullpup must be simple (no beltfed-level complexity please, we infantrymen are dumb), reliable and durable (in a short action!), have a practical placement for a charging handle… all these within the constraints of existing cartridges and technology.

    As long as bullpups remain commercially viable, gun makers will be tempted to design newer bullpups, and their solutions are going to be interesting.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Koborov’s TKB-022PM bullpup design completely solved the LOP problem, so creating a truly collapsible telescoping stock is absolutely possible. Put a Korobov feeding action together with an EM-1 Thorpe linear hammer trigger group and any of the forward ejection mechanisms (the Magpul PDR ejection is particularly well thought out), and you will have resolved all the major issues with the bullpup layout.

      • DW

        Tkb22 is forward eject already.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Yes, but there is slight drawback to the forward eject channel that the TKB-022PM, F2000, and RFB use: that is that if you have a poor primer strike that does not set off the round and then another one, the first one sitting in the ejection chute might be set off when the second one strikes its primer with the bullet tip. This may seem like a vanishingly small probability of occuring, but if you’re shooting junk ammo, then the chance of it happening go up a bit. The fact that it can occur at all might put some off the design (I have an FS2000, so obviously it doesn’t trouble me that much), but the Magpul PDR and Desert Tech MDR have ejection mechanisms that throw the spent case completely clear each time. That’s why I mentioned using the forward eject that you might like best.

          • 624A24

            It’s comforting to see shells fly out of a gun though.

      • randomswede

        On a side note, I have lots of love for the TKB-022PM BUT until I see one disassembled I feel I must share the opinion that it’s an empty shell waiting for “the west” to figure out how it’s designed so they can steal that design and implement it into the shell.
        I feel I must be of this opinion because I’m hoping it will piss some antiquarian off to the point where they yank it off the display and photograph the internals and smear them in my face. (Cue happy school girl like sounds)

      • 624A24

        It’s a pity the TKB-022PM never saw mass production – its mechanism is a solution to a problem that hadn’t existed then.

        • Definitely a very good example of outside-the-box thinking.

    • smmp

      * Stock length => Croatian VHS 2
      * Amabi => FAMAS : around 30 seconds for switch ejection side (all others stuff are ambi) is you know filed strip the rifle

  • Ax

    I don’t think that the weight of the trigger linkage in that significant.

  • derpmaster

    What’s killing TFB?

    127.0.0.1

    • Oof. Sorry, I can’t help you. 🙁

      • ozzallos .

        Might want to think about it. i get that on about a 3rd of your links as well. Seems pretty random.

        • KestrelBike

          signed. (of course, it’s *ALWAYS* the articles that are immediately interesting)

          Curiously, after about a week or so, the links no longer target 127.0.0.1 and will finally go to the article.

          Some people have commented that they never get these 127.0.0.1 redirects and don’t know what we’re talking about…

          • I never have, but I’ve told Admin about it. That’s all I can do.

            If anybody gets it again, take a screenshot and send it to me. That would help.

          • KestrelBike

            There’s really not much to see, the link shows a proper target, but once it’s clicked, it’s automatic, no-delay/glitch straight-to-host.

          • Squirreltakular

            Could it be a browser issue? I use chrome and have never had this happen.

          • KestrelBike

            No, doesn’t matter which browser or what device or what connection (LAN, wireless, 3G, a friend’s phone, etc). Those that are 127.0’d seem to be that way across the board. Of course, what I can’t readily test is stuff far away from local DNS servers or whatever.

    • Evan

      I’ve been getting that too. Always on the articles that look really interesting, of course. Some new holster I don’t care about and it works fine.

    • Vhyrus

      There’s no place like home.

    • JSmath

      The home-loop IP address is showing up in some people’s error messages?

    • M

      If anyone cares to know, you can look the article up on Google and look at the cached page to view the article. You can comment too. It’s a workaround but I’d still rather it be fixed

    • GaryOlson

      What’s killing TFB is advertisements and 3rd party scripts and foreign web sites. I never have any of these issues because my security software is currently blocking:
      4 foreign web domains: facebook, contextly, gravatar, googleapis
      22 “bad things” are blocked by uBlock Origin
      15 advertising, trackers, site analytics

      What’s killing TFB is a bad business decision. If you don’t have effective control of the web page content, you can’t control the quality. I understand the need to generate revenue; but low quality web links are not advisable.

  • mosinman

    maybe having electronic controls for the trigger and safety would help make bullpups a little less complex

    • TJbrena

      Like a piezo-electric sort of thing?

      • mosinman

        yes, or some form of electronic switch in the trigger that would release a solenoid that holds the firing pin back

  • marathag

    Bullpups make a lot of sense in some applications, like the Croat RT-20
    20mm anti-material rifles are one of them.

    14″ carbine barrels? not so much

    • CrankyFool

      I mean this as a curious question, rather than a challenge: What do you think makes these larger weapons more bullpup-friendly than smaller ones? Off the top of my head, I’d think the increase in barrel length is less relevant (because the overall barrel is longer anyway). The one thing I can think of is that you’re pretty much never going to shoot them from the shoulder — is there anything else that causes you to think they’re a good fit?

      • marathag

        There’s little point in doing a bushmaster style bullpup for a 14″ carbine( or even SBR) length weapon in portability and handling, vs a 22-4″ barrel rifle
        So for 5.56, little point.

        But for 7.62, it starts making sense when you can’t reduce barrel length.

        Being able to knock a foot off the OAL of sniper rifle, that’s useful.

  • Ben

    Think its good bull pups are gone the AR-15 layout just superior and if you tactical cool guys cant stomach it…. Tough luck.

  • Steve Martinovich

    The bullpup rifle reminds me of caseless ammunition… an idea that in theory sounds wicked good but that no one can actually to get working correctly.

  • ozzallos .

    “What’s Killing the Bullpup?”
    Cost. It’s a license to add $500 or more to your already mediocre rifle.

  • Vitor Roma

    I found a bit odd that the author decided to focus on an issue already solved. M17S, RDB, RFB, X95 and MDR all come good triggers, the M17S has a 3.5lbs match trigger.

    • I didn’t say anything about trigger pull weight. So far as I know all of those weapons use linkages, which add complexity, cost, and weight.

      • Vitor Roma

        But still quite a leap foward the awful triggers of yore. The RDB trigger has a very interesting design, far from typical, look it up.

        • I’ve shot it. The weight wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like the feel.

  • Tyler McCommon

    There’s always the VHS-2

    Controls in a familiar location, and an adjustable stock..

    • Adjustable from “long” to “Robert Wadlow”, yes.

  • jono102

    I do find it funny the amount of “Opinions” on the system and its apparent failures and problems.
    As a system it has limitations but not in my opinion failures that being based on 20yrs using it in the infantry as well as other rifles incl AR variants. I don’t know about the Steyr trigger mech’s encountered in the US, but comparing our IW Steyr trigger mech with our LMT’s or other platforms its fine. So long as part of standard maintenance graphite powder is applied to the trigger mech and any where plastic rubs on plastic its fine, in the same way you make sure an AR isn’t running dry. Do I sit and cry about not being able to get a check weld firing it non master side? No I adapt my positon and hold to suit because I understand as a soldier the need to execute “Magpul-esk” rifle ballet chucking it from side to side isn’t really applicable in a combat environment.
    The issue for the Steyr is development. As a system it isn’t much newer than the AR-15. The AR15 system was adopted by a large military and has had constant continual development over its life. The civilian market in he US has also massively driven this producing some good weapons and accessories as well as some crap ones. The Steyr has had bugger all. Early 90’s development of a suitable M-203 mounting system, late 90’s addition of the rails system. The Australian EF88 is the first what I consider to be the first “True Development” of the rifle besides tacking on bits and pieces i.e. the abortion of the Steyr A3.
    Yes it has it limitations, but as does every rifle in some way (some more, some less)but as a soldier I’ll train around it just as I will when we change over to the LMT MARS-L later this year.
    I can’t see bullpup’s disappearing anytime in the distant future from Brit or Aussie armories.

  • cwp

    I like what they’ve done with the buttstock. That’s pretty much what I had in mind, like they took a collapsible AR stock and grafted it onto the back of a bullpup. It’s nice to see that someone’s already solved that problem at least once, even if the rifle as a whole doesn’t really turn my crank. But that’s sort of the story of bullpup rifles in a nutshell: one step forward, one or more steps back.

  • Mr.Volt

    WOW!
    Such killzone!

  • MrSatyre

    So why am I seeing more and more countries adopting the Tavor from IMI? Last time I checked, there were around 25 nations that either use the Tavor exclusively, or have put it to use in various sectors to complement their existing arms.

    • I don’t know what source you’re checking, but it’s wrong. Something like 5 countries use the Tavor.

      • Dave

        Outside of the über-low-drag-high-speed-operators, see “snake eaters” in the “tactigay” non-Nato, and therefore non-interesting, indeed un-worthy of discussion “special.” “forces.” above.

        • That was remarkably incoherent, Dave.

          • ostiariusalpha

            There’s a lot of that going around in the comments section for this article. Did you put epilepsy triggering subliminals in the code or something?

  • Vhyrus

    In my opinion the assertion that the bullpup is dying is, quite frankly, absurd. Looking at the successful military bullpups (L85, AUG, FAMAS, F2000, Tavor, P90), half of them entered service in the last 15 years. We now have bullpup shotguns dominating the tactical shotgun market, several more bullpups are slated to come out this year, the L85 is still in service despite it’s horrible reputation, and the Tavor is on it’s second generation. As urban centers supplant open farmland and oil fields as centers of conflict, the bullpup is going to be fielded more and more as a jack of all trades GI rifle.

    • CommonSense23

      What bullpup shotgun is dominating the tactical market?

      • DW

        Guys, it’s a typo, should be tacticool.
        That said, DP-12 looks promising.

    • CapeMorgan

      I don’t think that the FAMAS could be called a success; nor the L85. The P90 is strictly a specialty weapon, not general issue. So the assertion is not absurd at all.

      • Vhyrus

        Success in a commercial sense. They are not very good guns but they sold very well.

        • Neither of those rifles sold well outside of their home countries.

    • n0truscotsman

      The bullpups will be fielded less, not more, in the future of austerity and economic-derived cutbacks of military budgets. Conventional layout rifles like the M4 and AK have the scale production advantage, which no bullpup can compete with.

      The only reason the French and UK have bullpups in service is because of their abysmal military budgeting problems; its simply cheaper to keep existing rifles in service for as long as they can. That doesn’t mean they aren’t looking to move on, however.

      Even with the Tavor being the most ergonomically sound bullpup, it still hasn’t knocked the two kings off the mountain and probably wont.

  • Dave Spears

    Nathaniel, you missed something.

    It’s how you train. When you are a kiwi or a kyrgi and the US SF training guys come in and start having you shoot from low prone, left handed, left side barricades etc..suddenly their M4s look brilliant. And then guess what, monkey see, monkey want!

    • Didn’t I address this in paragraph 5?

      • Dave Spears

        Not with enough emphasis. Having trained foreign military personnel it is really a monkey see monkey do effort. 1 talented SF guy demonstrating shooting techniques can inspire a entire company of foreign infantry to become a bunch of Travis Haleys. The M4 in those circumstances has a lot of voodoo. I’ve shot thousands of rounds in AUGs and le clarion FAMAS , I like.them and don’t like the spring noise/exhaust gas lube in the face of the M4, but the M4 is so iconic now that foreign troops see it and look at it and it melts their minds. Besides, it’s bad ass controllable even one handed on full auto.

        • Ah, I see what you’re getting at. Yep, good point.

  • JSmath

    Minor detail, but Nathaniel, you say that bullpups are a nice workaround the NFA, but that really isn’t the case when there is still a minimum length requirement to be met — which the SAR21 had to be re-engineered to meet. Many folding stock/action rifles on the market are also built around it as well.

    • Let me put it this way: Which is shorter, a 27″ long bullpup or a 34″ long conventional? Both are legal under the NFA, but a 27″ long conventional isn’t, not if you want to still have a stock, anyway…

      • JSmath

        Your attempt to rephrase your point is meaningless to mine. The minimum lengths are 26″ overall or 16″ barrel. “not if you want to still have a stock” – CMR-30.

        Bullpups weren’t created as a workaround the NFA, nor are they really used that way. They’re conveniently short and it’s inconvenient to have magazines load in places besides behind the firing grip to meet those specs, but there is nothing preventing someone from making an FG-42 with a 16″ barrel and adjustable, shorter stock besides the effort and cost of doing so.

        • A gun with a 26″ overall length and a 16″ barrel either does not have a stock, or is a de-facto bullpup.

          And how on Earth did you get the idea that I said bullpups were invented to circumvent the 1934 NFA, from an article where I say that the bullpup was invented in 1901!?

          • JSmath

            “On the civilian side, the bullpup is a highly convenient workaround for the US National Firearms Act’s provisions on Short-Barreled Rifles…”

            Bullpups are not a workaround. The NFA was written with them and other nonconventional designs in mind, which is why both barrel length and minimum length are specified in the first place.

            Would you like me to find more examples of non-bullpup rifles that have stocks and 16″ barrels? Plenty of people with encyclopedic knowledge who’d be able to fill in the dozen blanks. You can keep rephrasing what I’ve said as much as you like.

          • I highly doubt anyone involved with the writing of the 1934 NFA had any idea that the Thorneycroft Carbine existed, and it’s pretty much the only “major” bullpup of that period. The reason there are both barrel and overall length restrictions in the 1934 NFA is because the original draft had handguns as NFA items as well. So, the overall length restriction is to prevent people from making handguns with 16″ barrels to circumvent the law.

            I don’t see how they’re not a workaround. They allow you to have a much shorter rifle than you otherwise could have with a conventional layout, without it falling into the SBR category.

            As for “more examples of non-bullpup rifles that have stocks and 16″ barrels”, um, what? When did I ever say those didn’t exist? I own several of them. What the hell are you trying to say?

          • JSmath

            “A gun with a 26″ overall length and a 16″ barrel either does not have a stock, or is a de-facto bullpup.”

            I’m done with this retarded nondiscussion. Carry on, sir.

          • iksnilol

            He does have a point.

            Most actions are 8-10 inches in length.

            So 10 inch action + 16 inch barrel = 26 inches

            Now a short stock is 10 inches. So the only way to have a 26 inch rifle is either removing the stock (or folding it away) or having a bullpup. Not really that hard to grasp.

          • JSmath

            I just simply don’t accept poor generalizations as facts when they’re touted as the latter.

            Black Aces DT firearms (not NFA shotguns) are an example of (rather glorious) circumvention of NFA rules. Bullpups play by and within the NFA rules, as did and do things like the Uzi carbine. Really not at all that difficult to grasp, either.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, point taken, it isn’t circumventing the NFA laws as much as it is going as close to the border as possible.

          • Isn’t this a de-facto admission that your criticism is wholly semantic?

  • Cal S.

    Since the AR-15 and AK-47 are so popular, very few people are willing to sacrifice the magazine release location. The Tavor is catching up to that, but the Kel-Tec has the downward ejection. Put both on the same rifle for the same $1,500 price point and you’ll at least be making it competitive.

    • DW

      You meant Ruger buying out Keltec

  • Uncle Festet

    IMHO – hoping for a better bullpup design is like hoping for a front engined Indy car to win the Indy 500. Hoping the leve action returns to military use?

    Anyone with the time/talent/money to “solve” the problem would be better off solving something more important.

    Examples:
    1) Could ammo/firearms be redesigned to reduce heat – less heat related problems under rapid fire?
    2) Could a AR-platform be modified to easily extend the maximum effect range?
    3). Could the ammo/feeding mechanisms be changed caseless ammo to allow a soldier to carry more rounds at the same total weight?

    Talent/time/money should (and generally do) go to areas of great need – not a solution (Bullpup) that creates more problems.

  • MPWS

    LSAT based carbine? Very unlikely. Reason is impracticality in feeding of stubby (cylindrical) cartridge within carbine envelope. This is curable by introducing conical cup in front but then why to bother with fancy and already developed LSW. They are stuck for lack of planning.

    Second item: why this obsession about B-pup? Is conventional carbine with folding stock not good for the purpose?

    • Erm, explain to me how is it impractical to feel cylindrical ammo in a carbine?

      • MPWS

        Cylindrical form without leading cone is a shape which is not easy if impossible to feed into chamber by combination of customary vertical and linear transfer. The replacement solution is a chamber which substitutes for both motions thru complex mechanism. This chamber has to be sealed off. Not an easy task.
        It happened I was contracted 5 years ago by local firm to produce a comparable solution; I should know what I talk about.

        Having said all that I however believe that there IS rather elegant solution to b-pup: by ejection down, behind magazine. there are other thoughts I’d add to it… but why to do it for free? There are lots of imaginative readers here.

        • The LSAT MG doesn’t really seem to have a problem feeding.

          • MPWS

            It is rotary fancy concept which is not exactly suitable to carbine version. This is where IMO they have a serious hang-up: complexity and COST.

            But, why should I preach it; they know all that don’t they? They are paid for it. Either they succeed and Gov’t will face horrendous price or it will be another flop in gallery.

          • George

            You can any of a lifting chamber (Steyr ACR), rotating around axis parallel to barrel axis (LSAT, revolver cannon), rotate chamber perpendicular to barrel axis (G11, many CTW designs).

            The only “hard” problem is gas erosion at the cartridge nose end of chamber, for which thin layers of materials you can’t make whole chambers or barrels of (yet) help immensely.

            Many of these designs were ready to go; reluctance to abandon cartridge infrastructure and inventory keep burying them.

            That’s not anything wrong with the idea or tech.

            LSAT could go now. It would be interesting if SOCOM bought 2500 LMGs or somesuch to beat the crap out of the idea in the field and either prove it or disprove it.

    • randomswede

      First item: See picture in my “reply” to “DW” above.
      Second item: “If it ain’t broken don’t (even try to) fix it”? I’m sure that’s what some spear throwers thought when they saw the complexity of the bow and arrow.

      If you read the reply you’ll find that I’m in favor of a bullpup with the ergonomics of a folding stock rifle with barrel length and balance more akin to a traditional bullpup AKA the current LSAT carbine mockup.

      • MPWS

        I appreciate your attention, but I do not recall addressing you.

        • randomswede

          I beg your pardon your highness, I thought this was a public forum for discussion amongst it’s users, speaking without being spoken to I don’t know what I was thinking.

  • Who might those people be?

    So, what nation has adopted the ADS as a standard infantry weapon? How many ADSes even exist?

    • iksnilol

      The A-91 is also available for export, not sure if the ADS is.

      Kinda hard to buy them now what with the sanctions though.

    • Jon

      This was the opening for a discussion about bullpup designs we are already having not far from these messages.

  • CR

    It’s all to do with balance. The bullpup is back end heavy and doesn’t throw instinctively. Similar things can be said about the scout rifle with its forward mounted scope.

  • Sianmink

    I think there won’t be much more progress on bullpups until (unless) electrically-fired ammunition becomes a thing. This would allow designers to completely separate the trigger from the (zero moving parts) firing mechanism.

  • GE

    If you want to see the future of the Bullpup, check out the design from Electronic Arms/Vadum.

  • John

    The VHS-2 rifle. It’s in the French replacement rifle program right now. It’s literally ambidextrous ejecting and adjustable stock, a first for any bullpen. It might make the cut.

    • The VHS-2 essentially has a normal bullpup stock with an adjustable section grafted onto the end. Imagine taking an M16A2 and grafting an MP5’s collapsing stock to the back.

      So you have settings ranging from “inconveniently long” to “it makes a suitable equestrian polo mallet”.

  • mikee

    An issue not mentioned about bullpups is the occupational health and safety issue with short barrels associated with shock wave issues after extended fire sessions. The 16 inch version of the Australian Steyr F88 became unpopular as soldiers began to complain about head aches after prolonged fire sessions. This issue does not seem to occur with the 20 inch barrel F88.

    • Very interesting point, mikee!

      • iksnilol

        Kind of a weak point IMO.

        I mean, a 16 inch bullpup versus a 10 inch AR? Which one is going to rattle your teeth more?

        Now if we’re talking about short barreled bullpups then I can see the point

      • Mazryonh

        If the problem is actually found in so many SBR and bullpup models, then how come more of them don’t feature the solutions used by the AKS-74U and the Noveske Diplomat?

    • ProLiberty82

      There is already a quite old solution to that problem, the AKS-74u due to it’s short barrel came with a “trumpet” like device that’s like a one baffle suppressor that channels the blast forward and gets rid of the concussion.
      Noveske makes a modern version of this device they call the KX3 for short barreled rifles, it probably would work equally well on the more compact bullpups.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Yeah, it’s an old, easy solution.

    • jono102

      Personally never had an issue with our 407mm barrels or heard of issues from them. Our older 350mm barrels were another story.

  • Sir TuberKopf

    My impression of Bullpups is the Big Bang is right in your ear. It can’t be used without hearing protection that renders police or solders unable to hear.

    Unless there is an integral silencer, that is not controlled or downright banned by state and federal governments the bullpup design is dead.

    Building in even a minimal silencer system would make Bullpups very attractive for military or police. Without it, who wants to go deaf in one ear.

    The government knows the civilian AR-15 makes their military weapons cheaper due to commonality of parts, via the effect of huge private sector sales. The private sector created hundreds of accessories the military also likes to use. A great bull up design is just illegal for the private sector to proliferate. It isn’t happening.

    • CommonSense23

      Electronic hearing pro is getting pretty common these days. Thats really not going to be a deal breaker these days.

      • Sir TuberKopf

        I like and have a couple electronic hearing protectors. I’m actually in the market for one with more amplification. I want directional amplified hearing like a dog.

        Never the less I don’t expect to see these issued in the military or to police, though hearing like a dog would help them as well.

        Civil rights groups might be up in arms if police or DHS had hearing protection that let them listen to any quiet conversation they wanted to that was nearby.

        • CommonSense23

          I was issued peltors or silynxs, invisios, and swordins the majority of my military career. All which provided electronic hearing protection.

  • HKGuns

    The only thing killing the Bullpup market is the popularity of the AR15. Barbies for men influences a lot of folks.

    There is also the closed mindedness of something new or different. Change scares most folks.

    These are the only two real reasons. My TAR-21 functions superbly and I trust it just as much as any other rifle. Plus, I don’t need to SBR it to make it legal. I dont’ see any earth shattering improvements in the other IWI rifle.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    Bullpups make sense, but the AR15 has stifled the popularity of not just bullups, but nearly all other carbine rifles. Im not necessarily complaining; I love the AR15 and the options available to AR enthusiasts are incredible due to the huge interest, but other platforms have suffered due to it.

    I think the shotgun has a lot of untapped potential in a bullpup form though. The KSG is a great example of what can be done with one.

    • iksnilol

      But shotguns don’t need much barrel, a 10 inch barrel is enough for most loads.

      • Mazryonh

        That’s assuming you’re using a box-magazine-fed shotgun. The normal tube magazine can’t hold many rounds when it’s only 10 inches long.

        • iksnilol

          That’s true.

          I was thinking more along the lines of a quad barrel. Something like the Winchester Liberator. That’s the advantage of break actions IMO. You can get a decent capacity compared to the size.

    • Timmybadshoes

      Think this plays a much bigger factor than most admit. The first thing that happens with any new bullpup is the comparison to the AR15 and the next thing is for people to want it changed to be more like an AR15.

      I also love the AR15 platform but not every rifle needs to be like it. The fear of change in the gun world seems rather strong.

  • John Snow

    It funny here United States where all,s complain that we do not give are troops best weapons kit. How ever when are Marines Army Navy people work with some are friends in Army Navy Marines from other country’s first thing they want trade there stuff for stuff. I had friend was US Marine in first gulf war told me British he worked with want all US made m16 mages they could get there hands on at time because they where most reliable magazines in sand box back than that worked. I had another friend who training Iraq military be soldiers again after second gulf war how shoot Ak47. But Iraq military was happy using Ak47 they want m16 switch from Ak47 to m16 he told me after they did they shot lot better where a lot happier with m16 than they ever where with ak47. The UK first selected the Diemaco C8 in the mid 1990s as the Special Forces Individual Weapon. This selection was later reconfirmed in the mid 2000s, by which time Diemaco had become Colt Canada. The weapon is so well-liked, reliable and successful that the planned competition to seek a replacement of the C8 from 2014 has been deferred in favour of continuing with the C8. Use of the C8 has expanded to include, among others, the original SAS and SBS, the Special Forces Support Group, the Pathfinder Platoon of 16 Air Assault Brigade, 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group, Royal Military Police Close Protection teams and MoD Police.[citation needed] There are about 2,500 in service. A number of barrel lengths are available for different users and most weapons are now fitted with Knights Armaments Rail Adapter System handguards and Picatinny rail flat-top upper receivers. Most users fit Trijicon ACOG x4 sights with CQB reflex attachment, but other sights are used. Various laser, light, downgrip and other attachments are used. Surefire vortex-type flash hiders are generally fitted, and suppressors are available. The standard Canadian bayonet is issued, but rarely used. Coloured furniture is becoming commonplace. The UK very much prefers polymer magazines to metal on grounds of weight and reliability and has now standardised on these for all C8 and operational SA80 users, with well over a million magazines purchased. Many weapons are fitted with the L17A1 underslung 40mm grenade launcher (UGL), the UK designation for the Heckler & Koch AG-C. Detachable shoulder stocks are available for stand-alone use of the UGL. A recent report stated that 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group would be fully armed with C8s, due to their reduced ricochet, limited collateral damage” features. Here list ever body using Hk416.

    Country Organization name Model Quantity Date Reference

    Australia Special Operations Command of the Australian Defence Force D10RS Tender evaluation 2010 [34]

    Brazil Brazilian Federal Police – – 2012 [35]

    France Commando Parachutiste de l’Air n°10 of the French Air Force [36]

    Commando Parachutiste de l’Air n°20 of the French Air Force [37]

    13th Parachute Dragoon Regiment or 13ème RDP of the French Army D14.5RS and HK416 A5 – 14.5″ [38]

    Germany German Special Forces Command (Kommando Spezialkräfte, KSK) of the German Army [39]

    German Border Police Group 9 (Grenzschutzgruppe 9 der Bundespolizei, GSG-9) of the German Federal Police [40]

    Georgia Georgian Special Forces [41]

    Indonesia Indonesian Kopassus special forces & Denjaka HK416, HK417 [39]

    Detachment 88 of the Indonesian National Police

    HK416

    [39]

    Ireland Army Ranger Wing (ARW) of the Defence Forces HK416, HK417 2010 [42]

    Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Garda Síochána HK416

    Italy COMSUBIN (Comando Raggruppamento Subacquei e Incursori Teseo Tesei, COMSUBIN) of the Italian Navy [39]

    9th Parachute Assault Regiment [39]

    GIS (Gruppo di Intervento Speciale, GIS) of the Carabinieri [39]

    Japan Special Forces Group (Japan), Japan Ground Self-Defense Force HK416, HK417 [43]

    Jordan Joint Special Operations Command (Jordan) HK416 [44]

    Malaysia Naval Special Warfare Forces (Pasukan Khas Laut, PASKAL) Maritime Counter-Terrorism unit of the Royal Malaysian Navy D16.5RS 180 2010 [45]

    [46]

    [47][48][49]

    Special Operations Command (Pasukan Gerakan Khas, PGK) Counter-Terrorism divisions of the Royal Malaysia Police D10RS

    D14.5RS [50]

    Netherlands Korps Commandotroepen of the Royal Netherlands Army D10RS

    D14.5RS 2010 [51][52]

    [53]

    Unit Interventie Mariniers of the Netherlands Marine Corps (Maritime Special Operations Forces) [54]

    Brigade Speciale Beveiligingsopdrachten of the Royal Marechaussee [55]

    Norway Norwegian Armed Forces HK416N 8200 2008 [56][57]

    Poland Wojska Specjalne 2008 [58][59]

    Policja D10RS, C 2006, 2011 [60]

    Philippines Force Recon Battalion of the Philippine Marine Corps D10RS + AG416

    D14.5RS 2010 [61]

    Serbia Special Brigade HK416 2010 [62]

    Singapore Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) HK416 2013 [63]

    [64]

    Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation HK416 [65]

    Special Operations Force (Singapore) HK416 [66]

    Slovakia 5th Special forces regiment 2010 [67]

    South Korea Naval Special Warfare Flotilla of the Republic of Korea Navy [68]

    Turkey Special Forces Command

    Police Special Operation Department

    HK416A5 [39]

    United Kingdom Hampshire Police HK416C [69]

    United States Joint Special Operations Command (including Delta Force and DEVGRU) [70][71][72]

    Asymmetric Warfare Group of the United States Army [73]

    NASA Emergency Response Teams [74]

    FBI Hostage Rescue Team [75]

    Los Angeles Police Department Metropolitan Division [76]

    United States Marine Corps M27 IAR 4476 2011 [77][78]

    See also[edit]

  • I still think that there is merit to the bullpup design and that upcoming designs like the deserttech mdr and keltec rdb will continue to improve on some of the bullpup problems mentioned above.

  • Reef Blastbody

    Okay, I can’t wait for the Springfield XD rebranding of this for the US market.

  • Don Ward

    I see this article about Bullpup rifles has attracted a lot of Bull here in the comments section.

    • randomswede

      Well, posting “bullpup”, “problems”(killing) and “fix”(cure) together in the title on the internet is just one level short of M16 vs. AK-47 or 9mm vs .45.
      In this state of Eternal September we live in, the discussions tend to follow the same script, to this there are three responses:
      1) “I’m new here, what’s this about? I thought everyone know the one truth that I know, I MUST POST!”
      2) “Oh no, it’s this AGAIN” *close tab and move on*
      3) “Oh boy! We are doing this AGAIN! Let’s see do I want to troll or eat some of the lesser trolls?”

      Just in case there was any doubt, the true answers are CMMG Mutant and 9mm Dillon.

  • micmac80

    Maybe look at something 21 century like VHS2 not the archaic L85

  • micmac80

    VHS2 is now combat proven (iraq ,Syria)

    • Paul Joly

      “combat proven”
      The VHS 2 should really be called DVD.

      • micmac80

        VHS stands for ”Višenamjenska hrvatska strojnica”- which roughly translates to, croatian multipurpose assault rifle , but literaly it ”multipupose croatian machinegun”

        Their pistols are called HS ”hrvatski samokres” -croatian selfoading pistol , sold in US under Springfield XD

  • raz-0

    OK. Tell me how one fixes this inherent problem of the bullpup.

    In order to get the lengthened barrel, the magazine has to be more or less tucked up near the armpit of your strong side arm with a magazine release mechanism located someplace in the vicinity of the magazine.

    You have a choice of reloading weak side, which now has to basically reload into your strong side armpit, or you reload strong side which means you have to contort yourself to reach the same said armpit. It is slow either way.

    Then you have the controls. They can either be placed in stupid places, or be placed ergonomically and have drastically increased complexity compared to a simple non-bullpup design.

    Then there’s the straight up bulk in all the designs on the ass end.

    The question is how critical is that extra barrel length, because you are throwing away an awful lot to get it in a short overall package.

    • Mazryonh

      It sounds like the problem you mention might be fixed if there was a bit of a buttstock to give yourself some room between the bullpup magazine and your armpit. That might mean more problems elsewhere though.

  • tony

    What is killing the bull up?
    Ergonomics

  • Just Sayin’

    Great article, but no mention of the Tavor? Probably the best of the breed, almost perfect ‘cept for the trigger.

  • Aimz

    The Israelis seem to love the idea of a bullpup. The Tavor is also a pretty popular rifle in the US, but holy crap…at nearly 1,700 dollars per gun, it definitely isn’t cheap…nowadays you can pick up two quality made AR-15s for that price!

  • Doktor Jeep

    What about the Keltec RDB and RFB? Cost? They are a bit pricey admittedly. I’ve been wanting to try out an RDB.

  • CZFan

    The only way NATO will have a new round that is “incompatible” with current designs is if there is a major departure from traditional cartridge design. Basically no matter what the next NATO standard round will be there is already an AR-15 platform that can and will accept it with little modification. If you want to stick something that is an intermediate intermediate round that is too large for the AR-15 but too small for the AR-10 platform yes there will need to be a whole new rifle made, but there is nothing stopping it from being in the same AR platform.

    There is a reason all the really good “M16 and M4 alternatives” are almost Identical in form, with differences in function.

    The SCAR, the ACR, and the other “better alternatives” are direct copies of the ergo’s of the AR-15, improving on the akward charging handle while sticking you with a terrible reciprocating one.

    the BEST “alternatives” are simply AR-15/AR-10 platform rifles with pistons. and really they dont offer much in the way of improvement, Only the most elite troops that require guns that can handle the very special nature of their operating environment, need guns like the HK416 and HK417

  • Richard C. Johnson

    As a former Marine I have seen the IWI Tavor first hand while training with Israeli Defense Forces. They are amazing. The speed of which the IDF guys and gals could move through doors in the shoot house, vehicles, etc, with its compact design was impressive. It field strip easy. And even with an 18-inch barrel it was still shorter than my M4.

    • pwrserge

      Yeah, but reload and malfunction drills are far harder with a Tavor. I think the Navy hit the nail on the head with the Mk18 CQBR, I run a civilian clone of in competition and it handles everything amazingly well. It’s quick, light, and can easily reach out to 400m with the right ammo.

      If we switch NATO over to 300AAC, then it would make bull pups functionally obsolete.

      • CZFan

        The 5.56 does not need to be replaced, the two most viable alternatives that have any modicum of commercial success are the .300AAC and the 6.8 SPC, Both offer some improvement over current military ammo, specifically the m855, but both have there own set of limitations, the 6.8SPC is the most “viable” replacement because it doesnt require special gas tuning to be reliable like the .300AAC subsonic and supersonic loads. But on the same note the 6.8 SPC really offers nothing that the 77gr SMK does not, it does not carry any significant advantage in energy or trajectory, in wind or without.

        According to the military’s own testing the 110-115gr rounds offer the best mix of terminal performance and trajectory.
        Despite that the military backed LWRC and Alliant to build a 90gr projectile for high velocity and low felt recoil from short barrels.

        Lets compare apples to apples.
        the 77gr SMK to the 115gr SMK
        Lets give the 6.8 the best chance with a 20″ barrel and compare it directly to the 18″ barrel of the Mk12.

        I dont have verified velocity from military Mk12 guns or verified (other than published military results) , I do have a douglas match 18″ barrel in an AR-15 and I will use that, and my velocity with Black Hills 5.56 77gr OTM with SMK projectiles

        On multiple occasions tested with optical and a magnetospeed chronograph, I was getting the advertised velocity of 2,750-2775 fps from my douglas 18″ barrel, and I was getting just over 2550 with my Spikes CHF 1-7 twist 14.5″ barrel. My 16″ 1-9 bushmaster CHF has a hard time stabilizing the 77gr round and I get erratic accuracy and will not use the equally erratic velocity.

        So the 77gr SMK out of an 18″ barrel at 2750 fps has a trajectory (verified on countless occasions by me) with a 100yd zero of
        100yds POA =POI and .2 MIL wind in full value 10mph.
        200yds .41 Mil drop/ 1.4 MOA .5 mil wind 10mph full
        300yds 1.0-1.0 mil drop. 3.8-3.9 moa, .9 mil wind 10mph
        400yds 2.1/7.3 moa drop 1.2 mil wind 10mph
        500 yds 3.2 mil/ 11.2 MOA drop 1.6 Mil wind

        600yds 4.5 mil drop/15moa, 1.9 mil wind

        700yds 6.2 mil 21moa drop 2.4 mil wind at a 1300fps and 289ft lbs velocity in 29.82 barometric pressure pretty standard sea level.

        Same conditions and a 20″ barrel 115gr 6.8SPC

        100 zero
        200 .5 mil 1.75 moa drop .6 mil wind

        300 1.5 mil drop 4.8 moa, 1 mil wind

        400 2.5 mil drop 8.5 moa, 1.5 mil wind
        500 4 mil drop 13.5 moa, 2 mil wind
        550 4.7mil dro 16.7 moa, 2.3 mil wind, and we are at 1300fps at 433ftlbs and at 550yds the 77gr smk is carrying 410ftlbs

        So with a slightly better trajectory, a slightly better wind cutting ability and basically an identical energy on target delivered at range, the 6.8 does what for me the 5.56 does not? yeah yeah more energy up close, but the 5.56 does not depend on that for its wounding, the 77gr SMK and other long projectiles behave totally different than the short fat rounds like the 6.8.

        Yes the 6.8 carries more energy, but not by much and the 77gr SMK has a long ogive so tumbles easily regardless of velocity.
        Obviously the 5.56 is not perfect, but as of now the only thing that really gives the AR-15 platform ALOT without taking alot away in return is the 6.5 grendel and its not a viable option either. It would make on hell of a marksman rifle but for up close and personal its not nearly as good as the 5.56 in terms of explosive fragmentation (with the right ammo) and the ease of use.

        The .300 AAC is a good round for subsonic use, a suppressed .300AAC offers alot that the 5.56 does not as long as range is limited, the 220 and 240 grain rounds even at low velocity are hard hitters within 150yds and are respectable within 300, after that the windage and trajectory become untenable even for the supersonic loads.

        The 300AAC with a 110gr load hits the transonic wall at only 430yds (under the most ideal velocity conditions) and already has 90″ of drop from the muzzle or 4.2 mil/14moa off trajectory at that point and is only carrying around 400ft lbs.

        I realize that pure numbers especially ME numbers are NOT an indication of performance concerning terminal ballistics, but the gel, and pig tissue tests back me up on this.

        For specialized uses such as protective details or entry teams the .300AAC is a good choice. It offers alot within certain parameters that the 5.56 does not.

        However It is hardly a viable option as a replacement round for a service rifle.

        As “hard” as the .300 AAC hits while subsonic, remember you are counting purely on the caliber of the projectile to do all the work, the 220 and more so the 240 gr rounds coming out at less than 1300fps are delivering decent HANDGUN energy to the target at point blank range.

        and with a 208gr projectile the lightest of the subsonic rounds you have 10 mils of drop at 300yds to contend with with windage that isnt that bad, but its no better than the 5.56 or the 6.8. and energy numbers that are abysmal.

        And while the round carries the energy well, you have a muzzle energy that isnt reached out of the 5.56 with the 77gr round until past 450yds.

        And a trajectory that makes shots at unknown distances in high wind even more difficult and hard to predict than the 55 and 62gr 5.56 projectiles.

        It does not matter how hard (certainly a relative term while talking about the .300AAC) something hits if you are not making hits. And when your trajectory is so extremely bad, actually connecting with such a SLOW bullet at unknown distance in unknown wind on moving targets becomes pretty unrealistic.

        • pwrserge

          You forgot one little tiny detail. The 110gr .300 AAC can be fired from a barrel length 2/3-1/2 the size of you 77gr SMK. Think of it this way, with a 110gr .300 AAC, you can get away with a 9″ barrel as the standard length of you rifle. That barrel length will let you effectively engage targets out to the 300-400 meter range which is the typical engagement distance of infantry personal weapons. Sure, you lose the 550 meter “effective range” against a point target which was touted for the M16, but let’s be honest, how many troops can actually make that shot. That’s SPR or DMR territory and you know it.

          What do you pick up for the slight loss of effective range?
          Well, first let’s take a loot at the muzzle energy of a m855 from an M4… 62gr at ~2900 fps = 1150 ft-lbs
          Now let’s compare that to a 110gr TTSX from a 9″ barrel… 110gr at ~2300 fps = 1300 ft-lbs

          So you get 13% more muzzle energy from a ~5″ shorter barrel. On top of that, the bullet is designed for both expansion AND tumbling which means that more of that energy will be transferred to the target at standard small arms engagement ranges. Finally, the much heavier bullet is going to be far less susceptible to barrier issues than the 62gr ss109.

          The main mistake that .300 AAC opponents make is to focus on the sub-sonic capability of the round. That’s, at best, a side show. The real utility of the round is as a short to medium range sledgehammer which provides better performance than the m855.

          • CZFan

            Yes the .300 AAC can be viable from a 8-12″ barrel, that is what makes it good for PDW missions, but my velocity numbers are from 14.5 and 16″ barrels. You really dont gain/ lose alot by adding barrel length, or losing it. The .300 AAC is optimal with SUBSONIC loads out of a 10″ barrel, the standard 5.56 is optimal out of 18-20″ barrels. depending of course on powder.

            Yes a .300 AAC can get near max velocity with subsonic ammo out of a 10″ barrel, BUT for supersonic loads such as the 110gr round you need the extra barrel length, and something like a 16-18″ barrel to reach the 2300fps advertised speed. For a 10″ barrel that same load will only be travelling at about 1850-1900fps.

            So while with certain loads you can get a very short package and be more effective with the .300AAC than the 5.56 within a very limited range as long as you are no suppressed using the subsonic loads within 200250yds. And yes most combat happens at those ranges, but with the subsonic loads any sort of intermediate barriers while the .300 AAC is out of steam will defeat them just as much as the 5.56 m855. the 70-77gr rounds are a whole other ball of wax especially when talking about solid brass projectiles designed to punch through stuff like the GMX

            Yes 550ys is ABSOLUTELY SPR/DMR territory, I cannot and will never argue that fact. I cant stand all of these vids showing how people can make hits on bright orange targets with 0 magnification red dots or irons and call that “effective range” without optics on the gun and some sort of handheld optic with a little higher power such as 4x+ target identification without great contrast is impossible at that range especially when its obscured by terrain or other conditions like someone trying not to get shot as they try and kill you..

            The .300 AAC surely has its strengths, a suppressed CQB weapon is where it shines you can have a round that is very effective, while being quiet and not blast you with overpressure so badly your eyeballs start bleeding.

            But lets not get carried away with what the .300 AAC can do for you. It has its limitations just like every round, and unfortunately the .300AAC hits those limitations very quickly. The range that the .300AAC using its most effective rounds goes from full effect to being pretty useless is rather short.

            The .5.56 has its weaknesses, small thin unprotected targets get small holes zipped right through them, because the round has no time to yaw tumble and fragment. But the .300 AAC does not cure that, and does exactly the same thing. and a slightly larger diameter bullet that is traveling much slower. With much less muzzle energy (subsonic loads have laughable ME numbers) but again you cant extrapolate terminal effectiveness using numbers.

          • pwrserge

            You need to go through my numbers a bit more carefully. The velocity I cited was from a 9″ barrel. That velocity is perfectly adequate to engage anything within the 300 meter range bracket.

          • CZFan

            I read it very carefully, and then I went and looked at all the info I had gathered while seriously considering the .300AAC as a build, then I looked at what other people were reporting.

            And unless you have a 9″ barrel and these are actual speeds you are getting (which would mean you have some very very hot 110gr loads and a very fast barrel) I think your velocity info for the .300 AAC is for 16-18″ guns. Hell Hornady posts 110gr .300AAC at 2300fps but no one I could find is getting close to that with anything less than a 14.5″ barrel.

            The .300AAC is so good for its niche because you can have a 9″ barrel with a 5-6″ suppressor and have an overall package the same length as an AR that is pellet gun quiet and that is very effective, its a flat and very fast shooting “rifle” that isnt really delivering rifle energy, but that close you dont need it to. The longer large slow bullet is like hitting something with a brick, instead of stabbing them with a knife while using the 5.56

          • CZFan

            Again I think the .300 AAC is really the only round out there that has established itself and that offers alot within that CQB range that the 5.56 does not unlike the 6.8 SPC . However It falls flat pretty quick but it was not designed to be a long range heavy hitter, or a DMR round, like the 6.5 Grendel or something like that.

            And as long as you accept and work within those limitations and use its strength to your advantage it can be a great round, and be used to great effect within a certain set of conditions.

            Forgetting energy for a moment lets look at just trajectory, even assuming that you can get 2300 fps out of a 9″ gun with a 110 gr round, the ammo is still much heavier than 5.56, the trajectory is not as good, it does not carry a whole lot of energy, my first post talking about the 110gr .300AAC was using 2300fps, and If it is reaching the same drop energy and velocity that the 77gr SMK does at 700yds, but at only 430yds there is a big problem.

            Troops in Afghanistan are saying that the 5.56 and its range even on DMR guns that can reach out to 500-600yds pretty effectively are just not enough and they are being out ranged.

            I realize its a special environment, But the guns we have right now will run ammo that we have RIGHT NOW, that will give the average soldier ammo that is far more effective than what he is using right now, for a fraction of the cost of outfitting one regiment with .300AAC for one tour.

            Loosen the tolerances for black hills a little bit, make a standard infantry 77gr round with the SMK or a solid bronze “green” projectile”, and still make match quality mk 262 mod 1 ammo for the DMR. and we have an instant effective solution to the terminal effectiveness problem, the range problem in places like Afghanistan. And we will be using actual data from SF combat veterans who have said for a long time the 77gr SMK makes even the shortest guns alot more effective.

            I would not be opposed one bit to add the .300AAC to the SF arsenal and give them another specialized tool for specialized missions, they need all the flexibility they can get.

            But for the same reason I do not advocate the HK416 as a total replacement for the average grunt, I think the .300AAC is a bad choice as a sweeping replacement.

            It simply does not offer enough of an advantage in the very particular areas that it is superior to offset the HUGE increase in cost and, when talking about the .300AAC the things it cannot do better than the 5.56 really make it unsuited for the largest area of operations we are involved in at the moment.

          • George

            The .300 has 2x the barrel area (cross section area) as a .223; .075 vs .039 in sq. So for an equal powder charge and expansion ratio (the elements of powder energy transfer / internal ballistics efficiency) half the barrel length is needed.

            It’s literally true that a 10″ .300 AAC is equivalent to a 20″ .223 …

            A saboted .223 bullet in .300 AAC would be expensive but handle long range, though slightly larger/heavier might be ballistically maximized. Expensive, sabots are not free, and less precise than a native .223, but good ones could probably give a MOA per prior tests. So a .300 with a clip of 220 grain subsonic for suppressor, a couple of clips of sabot for longer range, and the rest 110 grain midrange ammo is a useful platform.

            It’s not magic, it’s science and engineering.

          • CZFan

            No its not magic, but simply looking at barrel volume is less than half the equation, the .300 AAC and the 5.56 do not have the same charge or the same powder for the ideal velocities, the .300AAC was engineered to be shot out of short barrels getting the best possible velocity.

            And while you can get good velocity out of the 10″ .300AAC the rounds have to be tailored to do so and that still does not mean that you will not get higher velocity out of a longer barrel.

            Sabot projectiles are a small arms dead end, there was a massive program to try to get the .308 to launch armor piercing rounds and tracers the SLAP rounds and they were fragile, unreliable due to early separation in any sort of muzzle brake and wildly expensive. And the standard design of AP .308 while not quite as effective as the SLAP launching a lone penetrator at 4,000fps, its effective enough to punch through light armor, certainly enough to punch through body armor and light armor on vehicles, so the huge cost, and the unpredictable nature, and the possibility of the round disabling a gun during use was not worth it.

            With a 10.5″ barrel at ideal velocity 2300fps the .300AAC’s “midrange” is 200yds max, out of longer barrels like a 14.5 or 16″ with an extra 150-250fps, you will extend that but the external ballistics dont lie, the round only goes so fast, it only carries so much energy and it only cuts through the wind so well.

            And while within that range the .300 AAC does a good job, its best when using a short barrel, suppressed to get an overall length equal to an m4 using subsonics.

            Its a fantastic round for CQB teams, VIP protection detail and probably other second line combat troops like pilots, vehicle crews and stuff like that.

            If pilots had a suppressed .300AAC they could actually use their guns without worrying everyone within a kilometer would hear them. and since fighting isnt what they should be doing while escaping and evading a .300AAC with 2 mags and maybe another 30rds just in case would be plenty.

            Same thing with Vehicle crews they could have un suppressed 10.5″ guns that have an effective range good that is plenty for the level of training they have and for most vehicle ambush scenarios, and within that close combat scenario the .300AAC even at less than 2300fps would perform alot better than the 5.56 out of a gun of the same length.

            Ive never said the .300AAC is a bad round, or that its wholly unsuited for combat, quite the opposite, within its wheelhouse of positive attributes the .300AAC could serve certain troops/police/protective details very well. Suppressed or not.

            But it is not a good replacement for the 5.56, especially when the 77gr round could be made to less strict tolerances for regular troops. You could outfit all front line troops with ammo that is incredibly effective for the guns they already have, and do it for hundreds of millions of dollars less than the cost of outfitting one AO with the .300AAC.

            Even if I had the power and money was no option I would not replace the 5.56 with the .300AAC or the 6.8SPC.

          • pwrserge

            It’s actually not that different from what Shooting Times got with their 300 AAC factory ammo test.

            I think you’re focusing too much on the sub-sonic gimmickiness of the the cartridge without seriously looking at the normal loadings. It’s not a .308, but since the cartridge was designed for a 9″ barrel (the way 5.56×45 was designed for a 20″), most companies use barrels in that range to generate their velocity data.

          • CZFan

            There is no “subsonic gimmickness” to the 300 AAC, thats where it really shines. A 14″ overall barrel length with a suppressor, shooting 220-240gr round with very little gas blowback in to the shooters face (a big problem with suppressed 5.56) that delivers plenty of energy within CQB range that will not zip right through small soft targets like the m855 will makes the .300 AAC a great choice for certain roles.

            But as a replacement for the 5.56 its not a good choice, It does certain things well, but even with ideal velocity its range is limited, all rounds are a trade off, the 5.56 when built to deal well with intermediate barriers (like the m855) is too tough to reliable fragment and destroy tissue in a spectacular way like it should. the 55gr round is a little too delicate for punching through two car doors and still hitting a target as a whole bullet on the other side, it will be in pieces and do damage but not what it should.
            Supposedly the new m855a1 is a great compromise between the two, it does fragment easily at a very wide range of velocity and therefore distance, and it will stay in big enough pieces to punch through stuff and stay on course and do damage when it hits the target.
            The 77gr SMK and the Nosler 77gr round that has seen service have made SF very happy and they use them for Mk18 10.5″ guns 14.5″ M4’s and the Mk12 SPR, It has really changed the game, I dont know why they have not made a huge push to make a cheaper, slightly less accurate 77gr round by loosening the tolerances, and kept producing match ammo for the marksman rifles.
            It seems like the military just loves to spend money for no reason. How many times have they looked at M4’s to replace the m4, how many times have they looked at the 1911 to replace the m9, hell the Army and Marine corp basically developed the same bullet the m855a1 or the mk318, they were slightly different but the same idea and they independently blew millions doing it.
            They even held two separate highly expensive trials to select the new generation of M40/m24 and they both knew they wanted the exact same gun and chose the exact same gun (AGAIN) with the Remington MSR XM2010 or whatever you want to call it but it took them both 150 million to decide that the highly modular MSR could satisfy both of them DUH!.

            Shooting times used two high quality 10.5″ barrels for their velocity testing. The Ultra fast loads of the 110gr flavor were coming out at 2100-2250fps And for my trajectory, wind and energy calculations using both Sierra I7 and Applied Ballistics, I gave the .300AAC the serious benefit of the doubt and put 2300fps in for a 110gr round its trajectory, energy and wind cutting offered nothing that the 5.56 with the right load does not, and after its very limited range of 250-300yds its dropping faster and carrying less energy than the 77gr 5.56 out of the same overall length gun if you run a suppressor.
            To be fair you can get a reliable .300 AAC with a 10.5″ barrel that runs equally well suppressed with subsonic and supersonic ammo, but to be reliable in combat conditions a variable gas regulator is a must, and that is not a problem at all, there are many, it just takes some tweaking but they are alot less plug and play than the AR-15 with the 5.56.
            Again for SF and other specialist outfits that is not a problem. For the average armory for the average troops it is really not an option. They would need to settle on one or two loads and have alot more armorer or troop level involvement in the maintenance process.

            Yes some loads are coming out of a 10.5″ barrel at near 2300fps.
            However the the vast majority of the 110gr supersonic loads were less than 1950fps, some drastically less, like 1600fps out of the two 10.5″ barrels, 9″ would be even less.

            The best part about the .300AAC, where I know the gun truly shines, and makes it one hell of a choice for entry teams, special operations and other very specific roles is the suppressed capability. You can have a 9″ barrel with a 5-6″ suppressor and have a gun no longer than a 14.5″ M4 with brake/comp/flash hider and have a very effective close range weapon that is quiet as all hell, with very little blast and hits hard enough to get the job done without a serious threat of over penetration on small stature individuals. Although again shot placement matters more than anything. A bad shot with a .300AAC will be worse than a well placed shot with a 22lr.

            I have nothing against the .300AAC, it can do alot for specific roles, and it fills those roles better than really anything out there right now.
            But the role it fills is specific and limited. and the round is completely unrealistic as a replacement for the 5.56

  • Treiz

    there is no cure for a fundamentally flawed concept. Sooner or later interest will wane and the vanity project money will dry up, that will be the end of it.

  • midnitelamp

    maybe not general issue but for special purposes, James Bond style missions, that the electric primers Remington came up with would solve many problems. Jim Carmichael wrote a good article on the electric primed rifles and put together a much better package than Remington did, fwiw.

  • idahoguy101

    Israel has adopted it’s own indigenous Bull Pup. New Zealand is replacing their AUG rifles with an AR-15/M4 rifles

  • Andrew Foss

    Weight is a factor, so is ergonomics.
    Weight: When your (unloaded) L85+SUSAT weighs more than my (unloaded) M4+M203+M68+PEQ-2, (enough that the Squaddie’s reaction to trying mine was a simple “f**k’n ‘ell!”) you have a weight problem. When you go up against an M16A4 (SDM-R)+RCO+PEQ-2 and are *still* heavier, you have a weight problem *AND* an effectiveness one. Lightweight ammunition won’t fix this because NATO STANAG means the traditional weapons (M4/M16/C6/C7/G36…) will benefit as well. Compare empty weights. Weight is life to a soldier. Every gram counts when you have to drag it around for days on end or have to be mobile in and around structures.

    Ergonomics: So you’re saying it’s okay to give up the ability to use an adjustable/collapsible buttstock for smaller/larger shooters, (an unfixable sin of omission for bullpups) left-handed operation without brassing yourself (a weak criticism, I’ll admit: the RFB and F2000 are smart in this regard) and the ability to see your reload and target in a high stress situation without moving your head? I completely disagree.

    Can it be overcome? Potentially. But I’m willing to bet that the conventional pattern weapons will benefit from lighter weight materials and techniques as much or more than the bullpups will. (Start heavy/get light, start light/get lighter.)

    • Mazryonh

      Where exactly does all the weight on the L85 come from, compared to conventional-layout rifles?

      • Secundius

        I suspect the British Built the L85, similar to the L1A1. Much of the Recoil of the L1A1 (FAL) was absorbed by the Weight of the Rifle. Which was Made using “Imperial Units”, as oppose to “Metric Units”…

      • Andrew Foss

        It’s a simple pair of reasons: It comes from the barrel being as long as a standard configuration rifle (L85 barrel length: 518mm, M16A4 barrel length: 508mm, M4 carbine barrel length: 317mm) and the recoil system’s components (And potentially the receiver) having to be beefier because the recoil length is shorter.

        And the barrel length isn’t something easily worked around with bullpups: You can shorten them up, sure, but you lose the accuracy benefit while increasing the likelihood of some Joe, Tommy or Ivan blowing their hand or buddy’s face off because the flame cutting effect. You can suppress, but that increases unit cost and ends up a net loser in comparison to an M4, again because of weight, price and ergonomics.

  • Secundius

    I think it’s a Perception Problem, more than anything else. People see a SMALLER Rifle, a Opposed to a STANDARD Rifle. And CAN’T Quite Grasp in their MINDS, that Small In Size, Doesn’t Mean Lighter Hitting Power. I Have a .30-06 Bullpup with 22-inch Barrel, that Shoots Just As Far As My M1E6 “Sniper/Garand”. But with an Overall Length of Just 37-inches…

  • Jackson Andrew Lewis

    the french are still considering several bulpups to replace the famas……… the germans only didnt due to budget cuts……..

    Number 2 … those are training issues not rifle issues… the same issues are present with conventional layouts in other nations….

    Overall there have been many designs that could eliminate any problems in many weapons…. from operation to loading layouts…… do i think bulpips in the way we have seen them will be the future? no i think we will se further arms advancements first… i think we will see caseless ammunition tried again…… and other things eli minating ejection and mechanical issues…..

  • Mikial

    I agree with the author on the general premise that the bullpup has gone from the gee-whiz ideal to the ‘ah, it’s okay’ stage. They’re cool, no doubt about that. But they are also more complex than a traditional M4 or AK type weapon.

    And they are expensive.

    When I was a civilian security contractor in Iraq, I can only recall one PSD team that was armed with P90s. We all thought that was pretty cool, but I was completely happy with my Colt M4 and Limber .45 pistol. And many of the other teams were happy with their Ak’s and Glocks or Hi Powers.

    But a couple of things in the article gave me pause. For example, “the threat of nuclear weapons led to the rise of the Armored Personnel Carrier, and later Infantry Fighting Vehicle, machines that packed troops tightly within their armored hulls, protecting them against nuclear, biological, and chemical attacks.” I served active duty as an Armor officer in the 80’s and 90’s, and the AFV was developed to enable infantry to keep up with tanks in a high intensity battlefield while protecting them from artillery anti-personnel bursts and SAF. The NBC defense capability was indeed a factor, but not the primary one.

    The other thing that stood out was, “The threat of vehicle-borne IEDs has raised the thumb-reached safety from a mere convenience to a necessity.” I was involved in four IED attacks in the course of PSD and escort of sensitive items convoys (weapons, medical supplies, etc.), and I’m not understanding what the placement of the safety has to do with IED attacks. IED attacks against vehicle convoys (roadside bombs) generally are stand alone attacks that are initiated by a remote firing device. Only one of the four I was involved in included follow-up SAF, and the position of the safety didn’t have a lot to do with anything.

    So, I think this is a good article, and the author definitely knows his stuff on the technical side of the issue, but I am not so convinced on the tactical side. The bullpup was intended to provide a quicker present time to troops in tight quarters and to be more convenient when riding inside an AFV. Very true. And I think the design was a bit of a novel idea at the time, but I don’t think it’s the end all of military rifles.

    • Hi Mikial,

      Yes, the mobility is a large factor in the development of the APC and IFV. Nuclear weapons made the fully enclosed IFV mandatory, however – at least in the minds of the people setting the requirements, anyway.

      Re: IEDs, I was not speaking about roadside bombs, but vehicle-borne IED attacks against gates and other fortifications. While these are not the only kind of VBIED attacks that occur, they are a good example of the kinds of quick-reaction situations that have driven emphasis on conveniently located safeties, rounds being kept in chambers, and other practices that have dramatically risen in popularity in recent years.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  • Vernon682

    Ah, the helghast croat gun that only payday 2 nerds have ever even seen. Why is that thing not everywhere in games? The designers saved game devs a ton of work by making it look like a space gun without needing any doodads or knickknacks to pull off “space nazi gun”. I still want one.

    • Secundius

      Checkout the Crye Precision Six12 Bullpup Shotgun. Looks Almost Exactly like the Helghast Croat Gun

  • 33Charlemagne

    An AK100 series type sidefolder is a better approach to having a compact weapon than a bullpup. An AK 103 or an AK74M can be folded up to a very compact for transport or carrying in confined spaces and then extended in seconds. Unfortunately AR has its recoil spring in the butt stock so this approach will not work with M16s and M4s.

    • Secundius

      Just Replace the “Recoil Spring”, with an “Adjustable Pneumatic Recoil Buffer”…

      • 33Charlemagne

        The problem with either a recoil spring or a Adjustable Pneumatic Recoil Buffer” in an AR is that they are located in the butt stock of the gun. As a result you cannot have a sidefolding stock on an AR like you can on an AK which has its recoil spring in the receiver.

        • Secundius

          Unlike the Russians, Very Few American Companies produce Rifles and/or Carbines with Reciprocating Barrels…

          • 33Charlemagne

            Kalashnikovs do not have reciprocating barrels.

          • Secundius

            Are you Sure? The AK-12 Shotgun Does, and so do both AK-107 and AK-108! Short-Stroke mayby, but Still Reciprocating…

          • 33Charlemagne

            Yes the barrel is either riveted into the front trunnion which is riveted into a stamped receiver or it is directly riveted or screwed into a milled receiver. It is physically impossible for it to reciprocate.

            Kalshnikovs as well as the Mi Garand and M14 have a long stroke piston.

    • Cmex

      I’d say with the addition of a sort of butt pad that comes out when folded, you’re on the money.

  • CZFan

    except caseless ammo is fragile, cannot get damp, and if treated roughly while loaded you have highly flammable powder all over the internals of the gun, and into the magazine, and it can and will chain fire in the magazine destroying the gun and your face.

    • Secundius

      AND WORTHLESS! H&K ran a Program and Study from 1990 to 1999 on an Assault Rifle Chambered in 4.73x33mm Caseless Ammuntion. Project got Cancelled because of “Cook-Off” Problems Associated with Caseless Ammunition. The Australian “Metal Storm”, had the SAME Problem and got Cancelled Too…

      • Richard Lutz

        Seems more work needs to be done on caseless ammo. The ammo might have be sealed in disposable, waterproof magazines. To solve the cook-off problem the guns might have to be open bolt designs (with an ultra-light bolt to minimize accuracy issues relating to the bolt closing and minimize lock times), with an automatic dust cover to protect the gun in adverse conditions (locked open to facilitate cooling when used as a SAW/LMG).

        • Secundius

          The Polymer Cartridge is rated to about +450F, and within 10-shot’s a Barrel can Exceed +500F. The Problem is that the Cartridge is suppose to Burn Clean, without Residue. Or be Part of the Propellant as well. And Shotgun Shell’s are Rated to ~+390F. “A Tough Nut to Crack”…

      • CZFan

        Yup caseless ammo with solid propellants is a technological dead end, the HK program was the longest lived and most viable but it still had all of the problems that caseless ammo has had for over 150 years. Caseless ammo is not new some of the first self contained rounds were caseless the Volcanic pistol used a caseless round, it was the first truly viable repeater that was powered by gunpowder and had an action other than a revolving cylinder, or rounds fired in series.
        the Volition rifle was first but it was severely flawed and never passed prototype. The Volcanic used a hollowed out bullet much like the mini ball that had poweder and a primer encapsulated in the projectile.

        But just like the HK project over 130 years later the same problems with lack of moisture resistance, short storage life, fragility in storage and in the gun possibly leading to catastrophic weapons failure.

        I have had an idea for a long time, its not new, some artillery pieces operate off the same principle, flammable gas is the best option for the next generation of small arms propellant, electric rifles using magnets are just too heavy, and they are not powerful enough, caseless ammo with solid propellant has alot of issues.
        The CLGG (combustion light gas gun) uses hydrogen and oxygen to fire 45 or 155mm shells designed for naval guns. Nail guns that use butane or propane operate on the same principle but work differently, a chamber filled with flammable gas sealed by piston (in the case of the nail gun) or by a sabot projectile in the barrel creates a pressure chamber then an electric charge is used to ignite the gas that will either act on the pistol (nail gun) that launches the nail by either direct contact (much like a gas piston in a gun but backwards) or by a combination of air pressure and contact.
        the CLGG eliminates the piston and treats flammable gas just like the solid propellants in normal guns, but there is no shell, no carbon fouling and since hydrogen is the most stable of low molecular weight gasses, and has almost no expansion variability upon ignition due to temperature (at least not at the temps that can happen inside a gun) it is ridiculously consistent.

        Physicists use another type of gun to launch projectiles for hyper-velocity impact research.
        A Light Gas Gun It uses a combination of a solid propellant to launch a ram/piston, down a hydrogen filled barrel that ends in a much smaller diameter barrel and a “rupture disk” that seals the compression chambers off from the projectile, when the piston reaches the end of its travel it compresses the gas to such an extent that the heat and friction ignite the hydrogen/helium and it ruptures the pressure disk and the projectile is launched, some of these guns are capable of firing 3.3″ HDPE “slugs” at over 20,000fps.
        And the most powerful designs of this type are used to compress liquid hydrogen into its metallic state.

        Obviously the LGG (light gas gun) is far to complicated and powerful for any small arms technology, and its rupture disk that is one time use on top of the laughably short barrel life makes it wildly impractical for anything but the most extreme research.

        • Secundius

          A LGG-SA (Light Gas Gun, Small Arms), isn’t That Far-Fetch of a Idea. Several Years Ago, A Gun “Tinker”, Developed One with an Impulse Detonation of the Gaseous Propellant. Problems, Associated with the Gun, were Only Being Single Shot, Gass Propellant Storage, and Battery Life for the Impulse Detonation. The “Tinker” had a Short-Lived Cable TV Show Too…

          • CZFan

            For sure I truly think that a gas gun of some kind is the next big step in firearms development, I built a pressure chamber that allowed me to load regular brass cases with primers with compressed air, then flammable gas and I actually fired some, but crimped and sealed primers and bullets cannot hold enough pressure to reach the needed chamber pressure/velocity.

            I have started over with my designs on Autodesk, I have the filling and ignition systems figured out with what is basically a highly modified AR-15 bolt, it has a self contained chamber inside the bolt body, and a rotating head just like the AR does already, the biggest hurdle i have come across as of now is how to seal the combustion chamber, a sabot projectile is the easiest as far as just sealing the chamber is concerned, but for small arms having at least two extra projectiles regardless of how light they are that are completely unpredictable is a problem.

            Also with that I would need some sort of fin stabilized projectile or rifling that can spin the entire projectile and sabot enough to separate reliably and stabilize the rounds.

            Honestly without having the ability to start building some sort of prototypes that allow me to test the possibilities with compressed air and then the real thing I have sort of hit a wall on the design.

            I just need time I have protected my bolt design and filling and ignition concepts i just need to get the projectile and rifling figured out.

  • Mazryonh

    Is the fact that the FN F2000’s forward ejection system (and similar mechanisms on different bullpup rifles) patented hindering the development of lefty-friendly bullpups? Being lefty- and firing-from-right-corner-unfriendly seems to be a common thread among bullpups without an unconventional casing ejection system.

    Has anyone done tests to see how much more difficult it is to use a bayonet on a bullpup versus a conventional rifle? I know the Battle of Danny Boy proved that it’s possible to carry out a successful bayonet charge with bullpup rifles (the British L85A2 in that case) but I’d like to know if any formal research has been done regarding this.