Badass Bullpup Shotgun Options: SRM 1216, ATI Bulldog and RIA VRBP 100

A bullpup shotgun is one that moves the action from its traditional place in front of the trigger and relocates it to a position behind the trigger. A bullpup design tends to have a number of advantages, particularly for defensive use. For instance, many would argue that the shorter overall length and increased magazine capacity make the bullpup shotgun an excellent choice for home defense,

That’s versus other types of twelve gauge, mind you; arguing a bullpup shotgun vs. a carbine or handgun is a debate for a different article. 

Here’s a look at some badass bullpups. 

SRM 1216 magazine release under the barrel

SRM 1216

Perfect Bullpup to deal with Xenomorphs

by Travis Pike

Magazine-fed shotguns are nothing new, but it’s tough not to be a fan of the design. Especially if you are a rifle shooter transitioning to shotguns. A magazine-fed option often retains all those skills you crafted on the rifle when it comes to reloads. Shotgunners might have fixed feelings on mag-fed shotguns, but they’ve proven to be quite popular. I’ve fired a great many of them, and my favorite so far is most certainly the SRM 1216 from SRM Arms.

SRM 1216 magazine-fed shotgun with tri-rail for accessories.
A tri-rail provides plenty of space to mount goodies on.

The SRM 1216 looks like something that would be well suited as a game-breaking CQB weapon in Cyberpunk 2077 or whatever the next Halo we have coming out. It’s far from average, and its unique look certainly gives that bleeding edge sci-fi look we all know and love. I’ve long wanted to get my hands on an SRM 1216, and now I finally have. Boy oh boy, was the wait worth it.

What Is This Thing?

First and foremost, the SRM 1216 is a 12 gauge semi-automatic, gas-operated shotgun that utilizes a roller delayed blowback system that can fire 2.75 to 3-inch rounds. Yep, roller operated leaps out at you, right? Well, it should because, as far as I know, this is the only roller delayed shotgun out there. Roller delayed typically belongs to the HK series of rifles, pistols, and SMGs.

SRM 1216 roller delayed blowback system
Notice the roller. It makes the SRM 1216 even more unique.

Two large rollers sit on the bolt and prevent the bolt from moving until the pressure has reached a safe level. Roller delayed systems are very simple and allow the construction of the weapon to be simple. Taking it apart to get a peak requires little to no time at all. Pop a single pinout, break it down shotgun-style, and remove the bolt and bolt carrier group. Ultimately, cleaning the system is super easy and takes no effort.

Most shotguns utilize a gas-operated system with some form of a piston or an inertia system. Both require a bit more complicated construction and the placement of parts that might make it tough to incorporate the unique magazine design.

SRM 1216 disassembled
One pin disassembles the whole shotgun, making it easy to clean.

The bullpup design also allows it to be quite short and handy. Not as short as something like the pump-action KS7 from KelTec, but it’s about 6 inches shorter than most standard shotguns and retains an 18.5-inch barrel. I know what you’re saying. Ahh, it’s a bullpup, and I’m a lefty.

SRM 1216 magazine-fed shotgun with a bullpup design
The bullpup layout trims about 6 inches off the overall length.

Fear not, young man. You can order your SRM 1216 as a left-handed gun, or you can swap everything to make it left-hand friendly. This includes the loading port to allow lefty-friendly ejection. I won’t say doing so is simple, but the SRM Arms youtube channel documents how and what you’ll need to do so.

Inside the SRM 1216 Magazine

Let’s talk about that magazine a bit as well. The SRM 1216 utilizes a removable tubular magazine system. The magazine has four tubes that each hold four rounds. When the user goes Winchester with the first tube, they can rotate to a second, third, and fourth before needing to reload completely.

SRM 1216 tubular magazine system with 16 rounds of 12-gauge
16 rounds of 12 gauge is universal for “Wrong House!”

The tube can be rotated clockwise or counterclockwise on command. To rotate the tube you press a tab upwards to unlock the tube. The tabs are ambidextrous and very easy to use, and the magazine rotates without issue. What’s really cool to me is that if you run a tube dry, the bolt locks back to the rear. However, as soon as you rotate a tube into position, the bolt automatically loads the next round in the new tube and closes.

Removing the magazine and reloading is easy and can be done in the field. First, reach in front of the magazine and access the massive magazine release.

SRM 1216
See that big tab beneath the barrel? That releases the magazine.

Press it in and then pull the magazine downward and out.

Reloading SRM 1216 tubular magazines
The magazine requires two hands to load, but it’s not tough to fill it up.

To reload, bring the magazine into the horizontal magazine well and then push the other end up until it locks in place. It’s not AR 15 fast but is damn sure a fast way to shove 16 more rounds of buckshot into a gun.

Reloading the SRM 1216 tubular magazine - insert mag into magwell and press up til it clicks in place.
Insert into the magwell and press upwards.

Another benefit of this tubular removable magazine is that the ammunition won’t deform over time. Shotgun ammunition left in a box magazine can deform due to the pressure from the magazine, which can potentially cause feeding issues. Here, this is never an issue since the ammunition is sitting in tubes.

SRM 1216 magazine rotation tab
Press this tab up to rotate the magazine tube.

Loading the magazine requires two hands. You have to pull back a shell retainer and slide in shell after shell. It’s easy but can’t be done with the magazine in the gun.

Blasting Away With the SRM 1216

Getting a grip on the gun isn’t tough. It’s got a short 13.25-inch length of pull and shoulders comfortably. The included recoil pad helps, and the only real downside is that the magazine acts as the grip for your non-dominant hand. It’s rather slick, and with a push-pull grip, my slide slides ever so slightly.

Shooting the SRM 1216 - reliability is outstanding.
Reliability is outstanding.

What happens when you mix a blowback-operated action, a bullpup shotgun, and make it 12 gauge? Well, you eliminate any and all recoil reduction you get from a pump action.

Alright, I’m being dramatic; however, the gun certainly has more recoil than most gas-operated guns. It’s not as rough as a pump-action, but when you start cooking off some hot loads, you’ll feel it. With reduced recoil tactical loads, it’s a kitten—the same with cheap game loads.

Reliability in Spades

The SRM 1216 feeds both reduced recoil loads and cheap game loads reliably and without issue. I often have a little fear of failure with a semi-auto shotgun and since this gun has such a novel blowback system I didn’t know what to expect. I was rather happy that it ran with everything I put through it.

The SRM 1216 mag-fed shotgun has stiff recoil but it's easy to handle.
Recoil is stiff but easy to handle.

High brass, low brass, buckshot, slugs, birdshot, and beyond worked without issue. The only load It didn’t cycle was the super low recoiling sub-1000 FPS trap loads I keep around. No semi-auto has cycled these successfully beyond one or two, and they are about the lightest load you can get for a 12 gauge outside of mini shells. Also, no, mini shells won’t cycle in the SRM 1216.

Holosun 510C red dot sight on SRM 1216 magazine fed shotgun
The HS510C was a perfect choice for this shotgun.

If you want a gun that cycles fast, then here you go.

Hot damn, does it fire, eject and load quickly! I can dump four rounds of buckshot out and on target in about 2 seconds from a low-ready position. Semi-auto shotguns also tickle me when it comes to tube dumps, and the SRM 1216 is no different. I can dump shells without tampering with reliability, and I did so for tube after tube of ammunition.

Running the Rabbit

For fun, I did a little drill where I loaded one round into each tube, set up four clay pigeons on the berm, and practiced transitioning from tube to tube. It’s simple, I set a Shot Timer up and hit go. At the beep, I went from right to left. Since only one round was loaded into each tube, I had to keep rotating the tube system.

Shooting the SRM 1216 with HS510C red dot open reflex sight
I almost took out my camera with the shell ejected!

I was quite slow at first, and his 7.48 seconds. That was an ouchy, and I learned that a forward grip on the tube made tube transitions much easier. As I practiced the drill over and over, I built a good rhythm in place and got much faster in just a few rounds. I got my time down to 4.8 seconds from the low ready with a hit on each target.

SRM 1216 press tab to rotate tubular magazines
Rotating the magazine requires the press of this tab.

The SRM 1216 has a smooth rotating magazine that makes it easy to transition. Once I flip the tab up and start rotating the tube, the tab will relatch as soon as the tube finishes its rotation. You can’t accidentally rotate it too far. It’s very intuitive and simple to do.

SRM 1216 bolt release
The bolt release can be pressed via thumb or trigger finger.

On Target

The SRM 1216 has a sweet little trigger—roughly 6 pounds or so. A lot of rail lives at the top of the gun, and my HS510C is the perfect companion for this little shotgun. Like an AR rifle, it’s an ‘in-line’ design that makes AR height optics appropriate and easy to use. Mine didn’t include iron sights, but a rail section forward of the magazine is perfect for a front sight, and you’d have a long sight radius.

SRM 1216 magazine fed shotgun
16 rounds oughta be enough to kill the bugs.

Personally, a red dot makes way more sense to me and allows me to engage rapidly. Semi-auto shotguns dominate close-range fighting, and red dots make it perfect for that specific use. I took some Hornady slugs out to 50 yards and range 6-inch plates over and over. With my favorite load, Federal Flitecontrol, I can absolutely put a load of buck right where I want it within 25 yards.

SRM 1216 left side charging handle
The left side charging handle is incredibly ergonomic.

The SRM 1216 In Action

Do I have any complaints about the SRM 1216? Hmm, not many. The magazines are somewhat expensive at around 200 bucks a pop. There is a good argument that for home defense, you won’t be swapping magazines and are unlikely to need 16 rounds of 12 gauge. That’s all up to you, but I want at least one extra mag on tap just in case one fails me.

Other than that, it’s tough to hate the SRM 1216. It’s a very well-made, well-thought-out shotgun. Hell, the 16 round magazine doesn’t count as a ‘high-capacity’ magazine in less free states because it’s four tubes connected and not just a single magazine. The SRM 1216 is the sci-fi shotgun of my dreams.

ATI Bullpup 12-gauge shotgun
The Bulldog is a solid multi-purpose gun. Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens.

ATI Bulldog

Bullpup Shotgun Review

Kat Ainsworth-Stevens

In the world of gun reviews, it’s only natural to think of classifying said reviews under specific headings: AR, bolt-action, shotgun, handgun. Sometimes, however, a gun comes along that defies your desire to fit it neatly into a single category, and that is where American Tactical’s Bulldog falls. The ATI Bulldog is a shotgun but also a bullpup. Interested? Read on.

ATI Bulldog 12-gauge bullpup shotgun
ATI Bulldog. Photo: ATI.

American Tactical, or ATI, has been known for years for its imports. However, for 2020 they’ve been working to change that to US-made guns and they’re succeeding. ATI has justifiably carved out its place as a manufacturer of typically more affordably-priced firearms outperforming their price point in the gun industry. And although the  Bulldog itself is not yet a made-in-America model, that does nothing to lessen its performance.

The ATI Bulldog piqued my interest from the moment I first saw it at a gun writer’s event here in Texas. It was officially launched at SHOT Show 2020 – rest in peace, SHOT Show 2021 – but it wasn’t until the fall of 2020 that I was able to lay hands and trigger finger on it. At first glance, your admiration for the Bulldog will depend on your overall feelings about the bullpup platform, but even if you’re not an instant fan of the aesthetics it’s well worth taking a closer look.

ATI Bulldog, ATI Bullpup 12-gauge
The ATI BullDog in its natural habitat. (Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

What is it?

Bullpups are most simply described as guns with the action behind the trigger. For comparison, the action in an AR-15 is found above the trigger in the lower receiver.

The idea behind this is to decrease the overall length and increase maneuverability in close quarters. It also means you get a longer barrel in a platform with a shorter overall length, meaning greater velocity without sacrificing its CQB usefulness.

The platform can be traced back to 1901 and the Thornycroft Carbine which didn’t exactly excel in performance. It wasn’t until decades later, following World War II, that the bullpup made a noteworthy comeback courtesy of the French.

The bullpup had a rocky start and even today doesn’t have the fan base that guns like the AR-15 or Glock do, but it is edging its way into popularity inch by reduced inch.

Bulldog Specs

The ATI Bulldog was patterned after the bullpup platform to create a more tactical mag-fed shotgun. It’s smaller overall than most shotguns on the market but packs a solid punch thanks to its ability to retain a longer barrel even with a shorter stock.

The Bulldog has an overall length of 26 inches and a barrel length of 18.5 inches, keeping it within non-NFA guidelines. It’s chambered in 12-gauge and takes shotshells up to three inches in length.

Features include an AR-platform style charging handle, adjustable cheek riser, and rails that are both Picatinny and M-Lok. The gun ships with a trio of choke tubes, removable open iron sights, and a 5-round magazine. A 12-round magazine is available as an aftermarket purchase.

ATI Bullpup range
This is a seriously fun shotgun at the range. Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens.

Range Time

If you’re thinking the ATI Bulldog won’t work for you due to its abbreviated stature, guess again.

My length of pull is long and I strongly dislike firing youth shotguns (or shotguns designed for the supposedly tinier needs of female shooters). But when it comes to the BullDog, the fit is fine. Bullpups in general are meant to be held in closer to your body. You can accomplish this by shouldering the Bulldog and holding the pistol grip, as expected.

If you’d like a bit more reach, ATI has your back. They designed the Bulldog so a spare magazine can be attached to the Picatinny rail beneath the handguard, allowing it to be used as a forward grip. Problem solved. Personally, this hasn’t been necessary for me but it does add versatility to the shotgun.

ATI Bullpup 12-gauge box magazines. Mag-fed shotgun.
Yes, I do have a thing for box-mag-fed 12 gauges. Who doesn’t love a speedier shotgun reload? Kat Ainsworth Stevens.

At the range, the BullDog shouldered naturally and the grip was not so short as to be uncomfortable. In fact, I did not and have not had any issues with its smaller size.

Sights and Range

The factory iron sights are open and adjustable and work accurately out to approximately 50 to 75 yards depending on the target. If your goal is to hit a Frankenstein-shaped target without precision and with only rough accuracy you can certainly utilize those irons at longer distances. Open sights have the added benefit of a broader field of vision which can be quite handy in close-quarters situations. An optic can always be added to increase range but remember you’re dealing in 12-gauge so your range is going to be limited regardless.

A slug’s reach depends on the specific load; some slugs have a velocity and energy that drop precipitously by 75 yards while others can make an ethical kill on a hog closer to 200 yards. It all depends on the specific load, so do your homework.

Trigger

The Bulldog’s trigger is more MILSPEC-AR-like than shotgun-like. It’s effective for its use and platform without grit or excessive travel. And if you, like me, are a fan of running shotguns fast—yes, you can accurately rapid-fire this gun.

I’ve had no trouble nailing single ragged holes out to 25 yards. The holes broaden past that distance but they’re still nice groups.

The ATI Bulldog is a bullpup-style shotgun.
The Bulldog is a bullpup-style shotgun. Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens.

With one exception – a failure to feed that was easily corrected and took place during a hunt – my Bulldog has cycled reliably through its first few hundred rounds.

Bullpup Appetite

The statement has been made that this shotgun works best with higher-velocity shotshells. This may be true but it’s eaten everything it’s been fed, including Remington Managed Recoil 12 gauge 2 3/4-inch Rifled Slugs.

Full disclosure: that one failure to feed was the second round from a magazine full of those managed recoil slugs, so take that for what it’s worth. One time does not make a pattern but does somewhat suggest there may be some truth behind the gun’s preference for higher velocity shotshells.

Recoil is worth a mention.

Typically I don’t mind 12-gauge recoil and the Bulldog is no exception. 12 gauge is fantastically useful for waterfowl and deer hunting, CQB work, breaching walls, sporting clays – the list goes on.

The BullDog does have a shorter stock and as such, it doesn’t have the kind of attention to a recoil pad or system you might be used to from your full-length shotguns. This means there is more felt recoil than is found in many shotguns but it is by no means a problem. It’s something you’re probably going to be aware of but not concerned over.

ATI Bullpup shotgun for home defense, truck gun, hunting.
The ATI Bulldog is a handy gun for multiple purposes including home defense, use as a truck gun, and hunting. Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens.

The Wrap-Up

This is a fairly well-balanced bullpup shotgun that’s fun to shoot.

It performs well on the range on paper and steel but also gets the job done on whitetail deer. It might even be useful for home defense if shotguns are your thing for defending your castle. The Bulldog is certainly short enough to be maneuvered around corners more effectively than rifles.

It was originally offered in black but is now also available in FDE and OD Green. Best of all, with an MSRP of $499.95 the ATI Bulldog outperforms its price point. Online cost varies by retailer and is definitely subject to the whims of dealers during such a high national demand for firearms.

I give the Bulldog a 10/10. I think this is an enjoyable, unique gun to add to your collection.

Bulldog Specifications

  • Manufacturer: ATI
  • Model: Bulldog
  • Platform: Bullpup
  • Gauge: 12 Gauge
  • Barrel length: 18.5 inches
  • Overall length: 26 inches
  • Chamber: 3 inches
  • Color: Black, FDE, or OD Green
  • Features: Picatinny and M-Lok rails, adjustable cheek riser, removable and adjustable open iron sights
  • Ships with: 5-round magazine, 3-piece choke tube set
  • MSRP as of this writing: $499.95

Shell ejecting from the RIA VRBP 100 12 gauge bullpup shotgun.

RIA VRBP 100

Rock Island Armory Bullpup Shotgun Review

Travis Pike

If you’ve followed me at all on this blog, you may have noticed I have a real affinity for shotguns. Load ’em up with mags and they get even better. The Rock Island Armory VR series have been a big favorite for me, and their AR mimicking designs went from big and clunky with the VR 60 to svelte and sexy with the VR 80. In keeping with counting by twenties, Rock Island has released the VRBP 100. The BP stands for bullpup. This is not the first bullpup shotgun, but it could potentially be the most successful.

Shotguns are designed to be close quarters weapons and bullpups are super short and well suited for close range use. The RIA VRBP 100 is as long as an SBS 14 inch Mossberg 590. It’s not an NFS weapon though and has an overall length of 30.91 inches. It’s semi-auto and box fed. It comes with two 5 round magazines, but 9 and 19 round magazines are available.

RIA VRBP 100 in the wild. (~ish)
RIA VRBP 100 in the wild. (~ish)

RIA VRBP 100 SpecsThe VRBP 100 is the aforementioned 30.91 inches. The barrel is 20 inches long and the gun weighs 7.72 pounds. This is a gas operated gun and comes with two gas pistons, one for heavy 3 inch loads and one for light 2.75-inch loads. The gun has flip up iron sights and a Picatinny rail across the top and one offset on the right side. It has interchangeable chokes and comes with three chokes and a wrench as well as two 5 round magazines.

The VRBP 100 and Ergonomics

The VRBP 100 has some outstanding ergonomics with excellent controls. The compact gun places the controls in such a way that I can easily access them with a little practice. I don’t have to see the controls to reach them intuitively. The magazine release is placed in a manner that you can easily reach it when you grasp the magazine to remove it. The charging handle is non-reciprocating and is perfectly placed to rack the weapon, or to fix malfunctions.

The VRBP 100 looks like a Space Force scattergat.
Report to the Space Force!

The safety is very similar to an AR and has an authoritative click when engaged or placed on fire. It’s easy to reach as well. The gun’s stock comes with an adjustable cheek riser for use with optics. The zero setting is best used for the irons. There are also two QD sling points on the left-hand side only.

Controls and magwell.
Controls and magwell.

It does tend to favor right-handed shooters, but it’s not terrible for lefties. The gun has an ambidextrous magazine release and safety and working the charging handle and bolt with the right hand isn’t super hard. The magazine cut off and the bolt release is friendlier for right-handers though.

Ejection port and left-side controls.
Ejection port and left-side controls.

Lastly, the gun has three spacers that can be removed to shorten the length of pull by about 1.5 inches.

VRBP 100 Mags

I appreciate the fact they went with solid metal magazines. This keeps them together when loaded to the max with big 12 gauge shotgun shells. It makes them a little thinner too, and, in my experience, polymer shotgun magazines are harder to load than metal.

I’ve finally got my hands on a 9 and 19 rounder. Loading the 19 rounder was shockingly easy. The only round that was hard to get in there is the very last. Also, the weapon will load a full magazine with the bolt closed. The 9- and 5-rounders of course load very easily.

VRBP 100 mags: 5, 9, and 19 round mags. In a pinch, the 19 round mag can be used as a boomerang.
VRBP 100 mags: 5, 9, and 19 round mags. In a pinch, the 19 round mag can be used as a boomerang.

My only dislike with the 9 and 19 round magazines are the mag cuts. This allows you to see their capacity but seems like it opens up the mag to debris which may lead to failure. The mags all run well and have given me zero issues, so maybe the mag cuts aren’t an issue.

Dumping Mags

There is something about the raw power of a semi-automatic shotgun that just makes it so fun to shoot rapidly. When you toss in 19 round magazines it becomes an absolute blast. I loaded up the two five-rounders, the nine-rounder, and the 19 rounder and hit the range. The manual advises a 500 round break-in period and the gun needs it.

Smoke em if you got 'em! Hot gun + lube gives you this.
Smoke ’em if you got ’em! Hot gun + lube gives you this.

Out of the box I had difficulty with light birdshot. You know the cheap stuff. I had several failures where the fired round would eject but the bolt would not go far enough back to grab the next round. Dumping lube helped a little, but what really helped was full-powered shotgun loads.

Going cyclic with the VRBP 100
Going cyclic. Whoooo!

When loaded with Mil-Spec Olin corporation 00 buckshot, the gun ran perfectly. I also used heavy Fioochi sporting birdshot that was 1 1/4 ounce shot at 1300 feet per second. After 250 rounds of the Fioochi ammo and a hundred rounds of buck things loosened up. I could then run el cheapo birdshot.

Recoil

I’m not a stranger to recoil and I don’t fear it. I love shotguns so I’m used to it. However, holy hell does this thing buck. Muzzle rise is limited but it slams straight back into your shoulder. I wear a nice bruise from my two days of full-powered loads.

Going Cyclic with the VRBP 100

Once the VRBP 100 was up and running I was amazed at how fast it cycled. I could dump rounds fast enough that four would be in the air before the first hit the ground. I blazed through 19 round magazines in mere seconds. The adjustable cheek weld is nice, but not needed with the iron sights. I set it on the wide aperture and it was perfect for blazing between targets. I used clay pigeons set on a berm and could cycle through 9 rounds on 9 targets in under 5 seconds from the low ready.

Notice the spacers in the stock installed.
Notice the spacers in the stock installed.

The VRBP 100 trigger is heavy, but the pull is short and the reset is mighty. You sure as hell know the trigger is reset and ready.

It’s more than a feeling, it’s a shove. The small and short stature of the gun makes it a natural pointer and it does offer a level of comfort and maneuverability not commonly found on shotguns.

Happily, after shooting all day my arms weren’t tired from holding the gun up.

Notice the pile of shells in the background.
Notice the pile of shells in the background.

The VRBP 100 balances well and most of the weight is held up by the shoulder. It’s a comfortable gun and with most of the weight in the rear, it’s quick and easy to take snapshots. The 9 round is the most practical, but the 19 rounder didn’t throw things off balance. Snap Shots are a critical component for shotguns and a bullpup just makes it easier. It was very easy to snap up and shoot, and the layout of the gun puts it so the sights are perfectly placed for making those quick snapshots.

The VRBP 100 was a real joy to shoot.
The VRBP 100 was a real joy to shoot.

One Mighty Package

The VRBP 100 is a blast of a shotgun. After a little break in period, the gun ran like an absolute champ. It became extremely fun and easy to dump shotgun rounds. The VRBP 100 is also well designed and well built. It’s the most intuitive of the VR designs and feels like it is of the highest quality. While it’s not for everyone, this interesting mag fed shotgun is surprisingly affordable and at the time of this writing barely started shipping.

This has been a collaborative effort by two or more members of The Mag Life contributor team: to wit, a JWOT (Joint Writing Operations Team). We'll advise which specific contributors in the text of the article. Subscribe to GunMag TV and follow GMW on Instagram, @gunmagwarehouse. Connect on Facebook, /gunmagwarehouse/.

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