Bullpup Rifles, A Long Strange Trip It’s Been ~ VIDEO



Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- The “bullpup” design for military rifles places the action and magazine behind the firearm’s trigger.

The term was first used to describe embellished target pistols, so I’m not sure how, nor when, it first came to describe this particular design for rifles.

The first example of the “bullpup” rifle pattern was the obscure British bolt-action Thorneycroft Rifle, and the similar Godsal Rifle (also British), both dating from the early 1900s. Both represented attempts to make a short military rifle, owing to the unhappy British experience with long, clumsy rifles during the Second Anglo-Boer War in South Africa.

Neither was adopted nor ever referred to by the term, ‘bullpup.”

In 1951, the British briefly adopted the optical-sighted EM2 (Janson Rifle), which was an innovative bullpup autoloader in 280 British caliber. However, it was quickly swept aside by the FAL in 7.62×51, at the insistence of the Churchill Administration, bowing to pressure from the USA, and the balance of NATO, to standardize on 7.62×51 caliber (308).

The term, “bullpup” was used to describe the EM2.

Modern “bullpup” military rifles, originally attractive because of their compactness (they were imagined to combine the role of rifle and SMG into a single weapon), saw popularity during the 1970s and 1980s, but have since fallen out of fashion, owing to lack of ambidexterity, poor triggers, and difficulty in reducing stoppages and performing chamber-checks.

The four current best-known military bullpup rifles are the British SA80, The Steyr AUG, the French FAMAS, and the Israeli TAVOR.

Steyr AUG/A3 SA Rifle

The more recent, American-made, Desert Tech MDR fits the same description, as does the Kel-Tec RFB

The Chinese bullpup QBZ95, adopted by the Chinese military in 2006, replaced their “Type-81” (Kalashnikov)

The AUG, FAMAS, and TAVOR can be converted from right-hand to left-hand ejection, but not readily, and certainly not under active, field conditions.

The SA80 cannot be converted at all and thus cannot be shot off the left shoulder without the reciprocating bolt handle striking the shooter in the mouth.

Charging handles on the AUG and TAVOR are non-reciprocating.

On the FAMAS, the charging handle is reciprocating, but it is on top and does not impact the shooter’s face, no matter on which side he has the rifle mounted.

Because of the long distance between trigger and sear, triggers on most bullpup rifles are poor, as noted above.

The AUG was imported into the USA and had been subsequently manufactured domestically, so they are fairly common.

The TAVOR has been actively imported and marketed by IMI in the USA, so they are also common.

The FAMAS was imported briefly in the 1970s, but fewer than 200 ever reached our shores. They are very rare over here today. They can be found in France, but the civilian version is chambered for 222 Rem, as France (like Mexico) has a ban on military calibers in civilian hands

Desert Tech and Kel-Tec are both American companies and market their rifles to domestic, civilian consumers, but neither has secured military contracts for their wares

The SA80 has never been imported into the USA, and until recently its reputation in the field has been very poor. Current production quality is much better, as the entire rifle was refurbished under contract with H&K, but the rifle is still virtually unknown outside the UK.

QBB-95 Light machine gun
QBB-95 Light machine gun

The QBZ95 (chambered for the Chinese 5.8×42 cartridge) has never been seen outside the PRC (China).

In our DTI Urban Rifle Courses, we see an occasional TAVOR and AUG. Both are popular with the small-statured, as most of the rifle’s weight is to the rear.

What the majority of our students bring to our training courses, however, are ARs, XCRs, POFs, VSKAs (Kalashnikovs), M1As, FALs, PTRs, M1 Carbines, SCARs, ARXs.

We’ve had one Kel-Tec RFB show up. We’ve yet to see a Desert Tech MDR.


Defense Training International, Inc

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or in-actions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr. Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

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Does a bull pup shot gun count? I recently purchased a KelTec GS7. It’s the single magazine version of the KSG. I’ve loaded 10 shorty slug shells for home defense use.


Yes Winston, as does my personal favorite, the DP-12.

Others include the UTAS-15, the P90, the BP-12, the old Grizzly LAR single shot,
the Barrett M90, the Barrett M95, and many more.


I had a Mossberg 500 bullpup shotgun back in the 1980s. I thought they were the coolest idea ever. Until I had one…

Deplorable Bill

A very handy idea for a rifle but, I have lost count on the guys I know who have gone deaf in their right ear because of those little bones in the inner ear get fused from stress fracture using bull pup rifles.

Arm up, carry on…. with something else.