Shot Show 2017 Trends: Bullpups

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Firearms are a mature technology; their inner working may differ from design to design, but until energy weapons or rail guns become a reality, they all function by siphoning excess energy from a cartridge’s detonation.

Despite this, countless inventors have attempted to build a better mousetrap and incorporate improvements in ergonomics, weight, materials and metallurgy into existing designs to maximize their effectiveness. One that drastically alters the appearance of these weapons, is the bullpup configuration.

Bullpup firearms are those whose trigger and fire controls are forward of the chamber. Classic examples include the Steyr AUG, the Tavor and the L85. These rifles feature full-length barrels in a rifle half the size of traditionally-configured firearms. They also tend to be better balanced and fit smaller shooters since the rifle is so compact.

On paper, bullpups offer nothing but pure upgrades and advantages over traditional long arms, so why aren’t they widely adopted?

There are dozens if not hundreds of contributing factors, but in terms of objective reasons there is only really one big one – ergonomics.

Because their configuration requires the magazine well to be located at the rear of the gun, shooters often have to reach under their shooting arm’s armpit to release a spent magazine or release the gun’s bolt/chamber a round.

This is incredibly awkward while standing or kneeling and damn near impossible from the prone. Thankfully, the engineers over in Israel felt the same way, and developed their X95 / Micro Tavor to circumvent the shortcomings of the configuration.

Gone is the armpit magazine release, replaced with an AR-15 style push-button one located just above the trigger – where it belongs. The bolt release is still located at the rear, but the gun’s charging handle can be used in lieu of it, giving shooters a much more traditional set of controls for the rifle.

Because of this, and the rising popularity of other bullpup designs like the AuSteyr EF88 from Australia, my prediction for SHOT 2016, is an increase in bullpup designs on the civilian market.

Though I don’t think we’ll see dozens of new designs, I do believe with the panic-buying subsiding that shooters will spend their money more wisely, and invest in higher-priced designs since the urgency to buy whatever’s available will be gone.

Rumors of a new Remington 700 bullpup chassis and a new AK bullpup have been circulating around the net, and Desert Tech will allegedly release their own bullpup 5.56 carbine next month to consumers. As someone who’s an enormous fan of bullpup guns (I’ve got short arms, and these things balance very well) I can’t wait to see what crazy, cool designs might be coming out of this year’s SHOT Show.