Forget everything that you’ve learned about conventional firearms. Bullpup rifles and shotguns break all of the rules.
A “bullpup” is a type of firearm with its action and trigger behind the trigger group. This setup reduces overall length and weight substantially while not sacrificing barrel length and velocity.
They’re short, compact, and easy to handle, but still have the same accuracy as long-barrel rifles, shotguns, and sub-machine guns.
I’ll cover more exactly what a bullpup gun is, the pros/cons, and the best models out there right now.
If you can’t wait, here’s the full list of our favorite bullpups:
- Ruger 10/22 Bullpup Kit
- Tavor SAR Flattop B16
- Desert Tech SRS A1
- Desert Tech MDR
- FN F2000
- FN PS90
- Kel-Tec KSG
- Mossberg 500 Bullpup
- Steyr AUG
What Is a Bullpup Firearm?
Bullpups have the action located behind the firing grip.
In other words, the part of the gun where the magazine, barrel, and bolt meet is positioned behind the trigger instead of in front of it, like with conventional guns.
Because bullpup firearms have a different design than their traditional counterparts, they need to be handled differently.
When shooting a bullpup gun, you’ll need to hold the firearm closer to your body when aiming and shooting. This, combined with the fact that bullpup guns generally have shorter overall lengths, makes them great for shooting in confined spaces.
Pros and Cons of Bullpup Guns
Bullpups are something many people either love or hate, and it can take a lot of practice before you master shooting one.
They have a lot of benefits in a tactical setting…which is why various bullpup guns have been used by various armed forces around the world, including Britain, France, Israel, and Australia.
Pros of Bullpups
- Many bullpup versions are more compact than conventional models, increasing their maneuverability.
- The design allows for a longer barrel without sacrificing overall length, accuracy, and muzzle velocity that comes with a shorter barrel.
- Since the gun has to be held closer to the body, you’re less likely to experience fatigue from extensive shooting.
- Your hand positioning helps you aim and shoot from a lowered position quicker than conventional guns.
While it’s true that bullpup weapons have some benefits that set them apart from traditional firearms…there’s still a couple cons.
Cons of Bullpups
- Bullpup guns that aren’t specially designed to eject casings downward are prone to hitting left-handed shooters in the face. Fortunately, most newer bullpup firearms have found a way around this with downward and upward ejection features.
- Many bullpups are back heavy, which can affect the gun’s balance and can cause the muzzle to rise significantly when being fired.
- The positioning of the magazine can make it more difficult to rapidly reload bullpup guns.
- In the rare and unlikely event that your bullpup gun backfires, the way bullpup guns are held means the explosion happens much closer to your face.
The Bottom Line:
The advantage of using a bullpup gun over a conventional firearm is improved maneuverability, which is why bullpups are ideal for shooting in confined spaces. Additionally, this is also why bullpup shotguns make great weapons for home defense.
Have a look at this video of a Kel-Tec bullpup shotgun in action:
As you can see, it looks much easier to handle than a bulky conventional shotgun.
What Are Some Cool Bullpup Rifles & Shotguns?
Now that we’ve covered the basics of what a bullpup is and why you might want one, let’s have a look at some popular bullpup models…in no particular order.
If you own a Ruger 10/22, converting it into a bullpup rifle is cheap and relatively easy. For less than $250, you can order a bullpup conversion kit from High Tower Armory that turns your Ruger 10/22 into a tactical rifle.
The kit even comes with an attachable shell deflector, making it easier and more comfortable for left-handed shooters to handle.
The Ruger 10/22 bullpup is a favorite for a lot of hobbyists who enjoy modifying their guns.
This sleek and futuristic design makes the SAR B16 looks like something out of this world
The Tavor SAR Flattop B16 is an Israeli bullpup rifle that’s popular because of its reliability and easiness to handle. It fires 5.56 NATO rounds, but with a kit, it can be converted to shoot 9mm Parabellum.
The Tavor has a reputation of being a top assault rifle and is used by the IDF, as well as armed forces from various parts of the world, including Brazil and India. Even some police departments in the United States have begun using the Tavor over other assault rifles on the market.
If you’re in the market for an accurate bullpup rifle that’s known for its reliability in the field, the Tavor is a good gun to have. It’s even won the 2017 Golden Bullseye Award for Rifle of the Year.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Don’t let the size fool you. The SRS-A1 is a world-class sniper rifle
The Desert Tech Stealth Recon Scout A1 (~$5000) is a bullpup, bolt-action sniper rifle that is known for its accuracy and compact nature.
The bullpup design makes the SRS-A1 an effective sharpshooting rifle that’s as compact as a submachine gun.
The shortest model has a barrel length of 16”, other versions have either a 22” or 24” barrel. The exception if the SRS-A1 magnums, which have a barrel length of 26.”
The SRS-A1 has the following cartridge options:
- .308 Winchester
- .260 Remington
- 6.5mm Creedmoor
- 6.5x47mm Lapua
- 7mm Winchester Short Mag
- .300 Winchester Mag
- .338 Laupa Mag
Overall, the DT SRS-A1 is a great sniper rifle with an innovative design that allows it to be short and compact without sacrificing accuracy. (Editor Eric: My SRS in .308 gets 3/8 MOA using dialed in reloads!)
Want to learn more? Have a quick look at this short video clip covering the SRS-A1.
Another innovative bullpup rifle coming from the people over at Desert Tech is the Micro Dynamic Rifle ($2500), or MDR.
Desert Tech is a company that’s known primarily for their long-range rifles (like above), so when they announced that they were releasing a carbine some critics were skeptical.
However, skeptics were immediately silenced, as the MDR was an instant success and was praised for being one of the most innovative rifles of the time.
The MDR is a one-of-a-kind gun’s lightweight, compact, and has an incredibly futuristic look to it. It weighs less than 8.5 pounds and has an overall length of 26.2”, making it an incredibly portable gun.
Another thing that makes the MDR an incredible gun is forward ejection mechanism, which makes the rifle fully ambidextrous. This will make the MDR a favorite among left-handed shooters who’re frustrated with bullpup designs that send casings flying in their faces.
The DT MDR has the following cartridge options:
- .223 Wylde
- .308 Winchester
- .300 AAC Blackout
If you want to learn more about the DT MDR and see what it looks like in action, have a look at this exciting video:
Do you want a battle-tested rifle that’s trusted by the Belgium Special Forces and Spanish National Police? The F2000 by Belgian company, FN Herstal, is the gun for you. This bullpup assault rifle fires 5.56 NATO rounds with amazing accuracy.
You might have seen the F2000 feature in popular video games, like the Call of Duty Modern Warfare series, but did you know that weapons by FNH are often used by the Secret Service because of their excellent accuracy, dependability, and functionality? In this regard, the F2000 is no exception!
Here are some great features that make the F2000 better than your average bullpup rifle:
- It’s fully ambidextrous, so left-handed shooters don’t have to worry experiencing discomfort that comes with other bullpup guns.
- It comes with a 1.6x telescopic sight.
- Forward cartridge casing ejection protects the faces of left-handed shooters.
Depending on your local gun laws, you can get the FN2000 with the standard 30 round capacity mag, or a 10 round restricted magazine.
Another reliable bullpup gun manufactured by FN Herstal is the PS90 ($1300).
This firearm, classified as a personal defense weapon (PDW), is often lumped in the category of submachine guns. Even if you didn’t know the PS90 by name, you’ve probably seen it feature in various forms of media, like the game Counter Strike and movies, including James Bond, Hunger Games, and X-Men series.
Recognize the PS90 yet?
Yes, the PS90 is indeed a real gun and not some futuristic weapon seen in the movies. Although it’s unorthodox design does make it seem a bit far-fetched!
However, the PS90’s reputation of excellence has made it a popular choice among LEOs in the United States on a local and national level, as well as the Taiwanese Armed Forces and various militaries in the EU.
Unique features of the PS90 include:
- Fully ambidextrous and easy to operate by right-handed shooters and southpaws.
- It ejects cartridge casings downwards, protecting the face of left-handed shooters.
- The magazine sits on the top of the barrel, rather than underneath.
If you want to see what the PS90 looks like up-close-and-personal, have a look at this video:
What’s your take on the PS90?
Do you want a bullpup weapon that’s perfect for home defense?
The KSG 12-gauge shotgun by Kel-Tec (~$800) is your best bet. It’s light, compact, and easy to use.
The KSG is smaller than your average 12-gauge but it still packs the same punch. Check out our list of the Best Tactical Shotguns to see which made the list.
As you can see, the KSG doesn’t look like your conventional shotgun. It doesn’t have a long barrel, which means that it’s perfect for shooting in narrow and tight spaces. This pump-action shotgun is ambidextrous and can be easily fitted with red-dot sights, making it optimal for tactical scenarios.
If you’re still uncertain about the KSG, consider this: its reputation for reliability in the field has made the shotgun a popular choice among certain French and South Korean battalions. Additionally, since it KSG utilizes downward cartridge ejection technology, left-handed shooters don’t have to worry about shells hitting them in the face.
With a retail price under $1,000, the Kel-Tec KSG is a great weapon home defense weapon to have. If you’re still not sold, consider this: the KSG has two feeding tubes, which allow for a total of 7+7+1 rounds at any given time.
The Mossberg 500 is a 12-gauge shotgun that is known for its reliability and supreme functionality. They have seen action in the Gulf War and the Iraq War, and are used by the United State military, as well as 10 other armed forces.
Did you know that these conventional weapons can easily be converted into powerful bullpup shotguns optimized for home defense?
Converting your Mossberg to a bullpup will reduce its size significantly
Companies like Bullpup Unlimited and Tac+On Ready sell conversion kits for less than $400. If you find the thought of stripping and modifying your gun intimidating, don’t worry! It’s actually not as difficult as you think, and Tac+On has a number of instructional videos on their website to guide you along the way.
While these conversion kits can turn your Mossberg into a tactical beast, it does have a drawback.
Since the gun wasn’t designed specifically as a bullpup shotgun, it lacks the ambidextrous features of other bullpups. For left-handed users, this means that expended shells could fly in their line of sight, or even their faces.
You didn’t think I’d write a review of bullpups and leave off the Steyr AUG ($2000), did you?
This Austrian bullpup rifle is one of the most recognizable and popular weapons in its field. It shoots the 5.56 NATO cartridges and is used by a number of countries across the world, including the United States, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
The Steyr AUG might be the most recognizable bullpup rifle.
Here are some of the features that helped the Steyr AUG become arguably the face for bullpup rifles:
- Easy-to-use safety mechanism located above the grip.
- The gun can be configured for right or left-handed shooters by changing the bolt to a right or left-side model and sealing the ejection port on the side closest to the shooter’s face.
- Standard models come with a 1.5x optical sight and carrying handle.
Overall, the Steyr AUG is a good rifle to have. It accommodates right-handed and southpaw shooters and is easy to operate. This has helped make the gun a successful tactical piece for nearly 40 years.
Need a hands-on review of the AUG? We got you covered! Steyr AUG Hands-On Review!
As you can see, bullpup weapons are completely different than their conventional counterpart.
With that said, they’re still great for shooting in tight spaces and are capable of firing accurately at short and long ranges. If you’re a firearms enthusiast who loves tactical weapons, you should consider buying a bullpup if you haven’t already.
So, when are you planning on getting one…and did we miss any of your favorite bullpup rifles and shotguns? Tell us in the comments!