For hundreds of years, classic rifles and firearms have used a ‘bulletproof’ technique of firing. The trigger, as with all weapons initiates the firing process with the firing action occurring either in line or slightly in front of the trigger. All the way from the very first matchlock guns in the 14th and 15th-centuries to the classic Colt models on the 1800s and 1900s and now with the modern rifles that come in all shapes and sizes, the style, although differing slightly, has been a uniform approach. That all changed when a significant innovation was introduced at the start of the 20th-century, the bullpup. But what exactly are these? Take a look below at our guide to bullpup weapons, their history and how they differ to classic rifles.
At the turn of the 20th-century, the first bullpup design was released in the form of the Thorneycroft Carbine, a bolt-action rifle. This gun changed the design for rifles at the time, moving the point of action behind the trigger towards the stock of the weapon. However, this change came at a cost as this decreased the overall length of the gun and increased the distance between the bolt handle and the hand grip, meaning each reload took longer than a standard rifle. 1918 saw the use of the bullpup design being used in semi-automatic firearms, specifically the 6.5mm French Faucon-Meunier. 18 years later, a bullpup machine pistol was patented, again by a Frenchman in Henri Delacre.
The years following WWII were instrumental in the development of the bullpup design, with a Polish design team that were employed at Enfield Lock’s Royal Small Arms Factory creating the blueprints for a revolutionary new gun, the EM-2. The gun was briefly adopted by the UK as a limited service rifle but was quickly replaced by the FN FAL which could more easily be adapted to the new regulation bullet size (the 7.62 x 51mm NATO cartridge).
The first bullpup rifle considered to be successful is the Steyr AUG which was adopted by Austria and Australia in the 1970s as the primary service rifle. Further innovations such as the FAMAS in France in 1978 and the L85 in Britain in 1985 secured the bullpup's place as a serious weapon design. Bullpups are currently the primary service weapon in over 15 countries across the world including the UK, China, Australia and France.
One of the main purposes of a bullpup design is to shorten the overall length of the weapon while maintaining the length of the barrel. This makes a more manoeuvrable weapon that retains the accuracy and range of a conventional rifle system. The decreased length also contributes to a lighter weight of the gun meaning soldiers can carry it for longer periods without fatigue. The reduced length and weight can also allow for carriers to assume an aiming position in less time than a standard rifle, leading to quicker targeting and engagement times. Although it won’t be the case for all bullpups, many retain the sight position so that it aligns with other standard rifles.
The decreased weight and length sound great in practice, however, there are a few sacrifices that have been made to allow for this reduction. One of these is the ejection port location. Typically (although not always) located on the right of the weapon, the ejection port is responsible for releasing the used bullet shells which generally are very hot after firing. The location of the port, coupled with the position at which left-handed shooters place their head when firing, can result in hot shells coming into close proximity with the shooter’s face, mouth and eyes. To combat this, some weapon systems have allowed for modification and adjust the port to be on the left-hand side to account for left-handed shooters.
Additionally, the weight distribution of bullpups is significantly different from that of a standard rifle, meaning that most of the weapon mass is at the back. This could potentially cause a loss of balance when shooting the gun.
The great thing about bullpups and airguns is that the disadvantages that plague the real steel versions aren’t as applicable to the airgun and airsoft version, specifically the ejection port as what you load is what you’re firing. For airguns, bullpups are a great option as they are small, lighter and still offer strong power and range, however, we think the biggest advantage is how awesome they look. Depending on the model and the colours, these guns can look amazing! If you’re playing in large open areas, standard rifles may be the way to go to ensure you get maximum range, however, if your playstyle is more suited to fast action and closer engagements, bullpup rifles would come highly recommended.
However, if you’re dead set of getting your hands on one of these, but still want to retain your range, then we have the answer for you; introducing the Silverback SRS A1. This is one of the best bullpups around and is a bolt action sniper rifle. This allows you eliminate targets at range while minimising the length of your gun. These guns are extremely playable and come in three different barrel lengths: 20, 22 and 26 inches. You can check these out here!
Make sure you check out our bullpup weapons and kits on our store, among our range of other amazing airsoft rifles. If you have any questions about setups or guns, why not get in touch? Drop us a line on Facebook or give us a call!