Are Bullpup Rifles Better? Advantages-Disadvantages Weighed

Are you in the market for a new rifle or shotgun?

Maybe you’re trying to decide if a bullpup design would be advantageous in your circumstances.

There are some caveats to this design, so make sure you are aware of the advantages and disadvantages of a BullPup Rifle or Shotgun.

Quick Navigation

What is a Bullpup Stock?
Advantages and Disadvantages of a BullPup Rifle or Shotgun
    Advantages of the Bullpup Configuration
    Disadvantages or Shortcomings of the Bullpup Configuration
Best Bullpup Rifles
Best Bullpup Shotguns
Does the Bullpup Have an Advantage?

Advantages and Disadvantages of a BullPup Rifle or Shotgun

What is a Bullpup Stock?

“Bullpup” describes a modern firearm configuration, in which the action is located behind the trigger group and alongside the shooter’s face. In this layout, there is no wasted space for the buttstock, as there is in a conventional or traditional firearm design.

The bullpup is built in a way that it creates weapons that are shorter compared to rifles that have gun barrels of similar sizes.

One of its unique designs is that the gun’s action is positioned behind the trigger, which is often found in front of stock. As for the whole magazine, expect it to be positioned behind the trigger, too.

However, note that this is only essential for the feed location of the weapon to be in that spot so one can categorize it as a bullpup.


One reason why the bullpup firearm sports such a design is that it helps it become shorter and more lightweight without compromising its power as well as the length of the barrel.

Aside from being shorter, it is also easy to carry around when travelling. You can effortlessly carry it around during target practice or your hunting sessions.

Overall, you will find its design easy to use.

Advantages of the Bullpup Configuration

Bullpup firearms are perfect not only for beginners but also for those who view themselves as well-versed when it comes to firearms.

One advantage of this type of firearm is that it maintains accuracy while being more compact, which is usually a trade off with most compact style firearms.  

Here’s a few more benefits we can take note of with the bullpup configuration.

Length and Weight – The bullpup configuration permits a shorter total firearm length, while maintain the same barrel length, typically reducing the weapon’s length overall around 25%.

Not your granddad’s shotgun!

Maneuverability – This compact design offers improved maneuverability in confined spaces, and reduces weight. A bullpup is typically held closer to the body, therefore this design may provide the advantage of causing less fatigue to the user when the arm is outstretched for long periods of time.

This, coupled with the reduced weight, may also provide a small reaction time advantage in raising the firearm to firing position from a downward pointed direction.

Saves space – Because the rifle is shorter,  it’s easier to conceal and store in your safe or a vehicle and therefore more space efficient than long guns. Any tactical guys and gals know his equates to hi maneuverability in building and vehicles. 

It is also a great choice for close quarter battles. As for the standard rifle, the only thing that you can do to reduce the size is to cut the barrel short. Not necessary with a bullpup.

Reaches the shoulder faster – Another advantage of the bullpup is that it tends to get to your shoulder quicker. With that, expect to spend less time when trying to get on your target.

The lower reaction time is a lifesaver, especially during a firefight as well as in a competition.

Easy to carry – Another incredible advantage of the bullpup is that its weight focuses at the rear or center of the firearm.

This promotes ease in carrying it around for long periods of time without feeling fatigues.  Of course having a fresher mind and body equates to faster reaction times, better vision, and higher accuracy.  

So far that sounds awesome.


Disadvantages or Shortcomings of the Bullpup Configuration

The Bullpup rifle also has a few drawbacks that you have to take note of. By learning about these drawbacks, you can decide if this firearm is indeed a good choice for you.

Ejection ports – One shortcoming of bullpups is that, by design, their ejection ports are close to the face. This makes it difficult for left-handed shooters to use, because firearms in general have their ejection port on the right-hand side.

If the ejection ports are on the right side, that means that spent cartridge casings are ejected towards the right, and since the ejection port is now closer to the face, lefty’s will be getting lots of hot brass in their faces. Unless you’re a left-handed shooter who wants to shoot right-handed, you’ll have to shop around for BullPups that have left side, or bottom ejection ports.

They do exist!

  • FAMAS assault rifle, the Steyr AUG and the Israeli Tavor TAR-21 have overcome this limitation, by allowing the bolt and ejection port cover to be swappable, turning the weapon into a left-handed version.
  • The FN P90 ejects downward
  • The FN F2000 and Kel-Tec RFB eject forward of the rifle.
  • The Heckler & Koch G11 use caseless ammunition; in the event that a round fails to fire it can be manually ejected downward.
iwi tavor case

Proximity to face/head – If a bullpup firearm has a catastrophic failure, instead of the explosion happening six or eight inches in front of your eyes, it’s occurs right at your eyesocket, or touching your cheekbone or ear.

Of course, if the bolt explodes out the back of the firearm, it doesn’t end up in your eye socket. We’ll call this a Pseudo-advantage.

Balance – The bullpup’s extra weight towards the rear of the firearm, may adversely affect balance, with respect to muzzle rise and automatic firing accuracy.

Lack of Length – The bullpup, being more compact and having an overall shorter length, allows for greater close-in weapons usage; but this would nullify the effectiveness of a bayonet’s added length and reach.

Bad Trigger – One of the most common downsides of a bullpup is its poorly designed trigger.

In most cases, the trigger is designed to be spongy. This causes difficulties in shooting the firearm accurately. It also has a great impact on the weapon’s overall feel.

Harder to operate than an AR – While an AR is heavier compared to the bullpup, the former still has the advantage of being easier to operate.


The way it is designed lets you see the mag inside. Also, it gives you the chance to determine the type of stoppage that is present. It is even easy to check if the barrel is empty.

These things are harder to do when using a bullpup. Also, the way the magazine is positioned in the bullpup causes difficulty in rapidly reloading the firearm.

Ok, maybe some of these disadvantages make the bullpup sound a tad bit less awesome!

Quick Breakdown of Advantages and Disadvantages of a BullPup firearm:

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Up to 25% shorter weapon, while maintaining for the same barrel length
  • Reduced Weight (less fatigue)
  • May provide a small reaction time advantage in raising the firearm to firing position from a downward pointed direction
  • Improved maneuverability in confined spaces
  • bolt being ejected from rear of firearm, may not kill you
  • Most firearms have their ejection port on the right-hand side.
  • Firearm malfunctions happen right beside your face
  • weight towards the rear of the firearm, may affect balance
  • shorter length makes bayonet reach shorter

As you may have started to notice, the positives and negatives seem to almost cancel each other out.

Best Bullpup Rifles

IWI Tavor X95

The IWI Tavor X95 is made for those who would like to take advantage of the bullpup for heavy use. It boasts a modern and well-though-out design as well as its easy-to-use controls.

It is a good choice even for left-handed users because you can swap its ejection port to either side.

Product Specifications:

Barrel LengthWeightType of actionCartridgeCapacityType of magazineStock material
16.5 inches7.95 lbs. Direct impingement5.56 mm NATO30+1-roundRemovable Polymer



Another remarkable bullpup rifle is the STEYR AUG A3 M1.

This shooting rifle has a high level of accuracy and features an integrated optic for clarity. It is easy to use. You can also easily carry and maneuver it with its less than 9-lb. weight.

Product Specifications:

Overall lengthBarrel lengthWeightOpticColorStock material
28.15 inches16 inches9 lbs.Integrated 1.5 or 3.0White, mud, green, or blackBlack synthetic



Ideal for use as a battle or heavy rifle, the IWI TAVOR SAR is one bullpup rifle you should check out. One of its best advantages is the fact that it is customizable due to the full-length Picatinny rail on top.

Furthermore, it features high capacity magazines that can hold 30 rounds.

Product Specifications:

Overall length:Barrel lengthActionSightsCaliber
26.inches16.5 inchesSemi-autoFolding, rear5.56 NATO


You can also choose the DESERT TECH MDR 223 WYLDE if you are looking for a highly accurate bullpup rifle. It is unique with its caliber-conversion capabilities.

The button-rifled barrel helps boost accuracy. It is also powered by gas, allowing you to shoot faster than usual.

Product Specifications:

Overall lengthBarrel lengthWeightFinishType of magazine
26.2 inches16 inches8.67 lbs.All-black or flat dark earthRemovable

5. High Tower Armory Ruger 10/22


The 5th choice for the best bullpup rifle is the High Tower Armory Ruger 10/22. Created around the 10/22 receiver, this bullpup rifle can take 10/22 magazines.

It is affordable and famous for its incredible compactness. The fact that it is short and lightweight also makes it easy to manage and handle.

Product Specifications:

Overall lengthBarrel lengthMaterialModel
26.5 inches18 inchesPolymer10/22

Best Bullpup Shotguns

1. Mossberg 500


The first bullpup shotgun I want to recommend is the Mossberg 500.

It is favored because of its superior functionality and reliability, so much so that you will see it being used by the US military. The compact design of this shotgun also improves tactical response.

Product Specifications:

Overall lengthBarrel lengthMaterialsCaliberColor
28.5 inches18.5 inchesPlastic and steel12 gaugeBlack

2. KEL-TEC KSG 18.5-inch Shotgun


Another highly recommended bullpup shotgun is KEL-TEC – KSG, which has a length of around 18.5 inches. It is reliable with its pump-action and the manual feed selector level, which you can feed from the left and right. It is lightweight, too, promoting ease of maneuverability.

Product Specifications:

Overall lengthBarrel lengthWeightActionGaugeType of magazine
26.1 inches18.5 inches.44 lbs.Pump12 gaugeRemovable

3. Panzer Arms BP-12


Offered at a reasonable price, this magazine-fed and semi-automatic shotgun appeals to a lot of possible users. It comes with a complete Picattiny rail, which you can find on top. Because it is a magazine-fed shotgun, expect it to be quite picky with the ammo that you can use.

Product Specifications:

Overall lengthBarrel lengthWeightCaliberType of magazineCapacity
29.5 inches18.5 inches9 lbs.12 gaugeRemovable5+1-round



Packed with several innovative and functional features, IWI TAVOR TS12 is also an appealing and dependable choice for semi-automatic bullpup shotgun. It is one of the best weapons for home defense considering its huge capacity combined with its compact and small size.

Product Specifications:

Overall lengthBarrel lengthSightsCaliberActionType of magazine
28.34 inches18.5 inchesRail mounted12 gaugeSemi-automaticFixed

5. EAA MKA 1923

EAA MKA 1923

The EAA MKA 1923 is also sports several nice features – one of which is the detachable box magazine. It takes pride in its cutlass-style grip as well as the built-in trigger guard. It also works effectively for those looking for a home defense weapon with a semi-auto action.

Product Specifications:

Overall lengthBarrel lengthActionSightsCaliber
29.5 inches20 inchesSemi-autoAdjustable rear12 gauge

Does the Bullpup Have an Advantage?

I can see an advantage of having a bullpup stock, when used in a home defense situation. The compact design, which allows for improved maneuverability in confined spaces, would make a shotgun more effective in the hallways and rooms of an average home.

What is my take on the bullpup design?

Assault rifle

6 thoughts on “Are Bullpup Rifles Better? Advantages-Disadvantages Weighed”

  1. I really like the Bullpup configuration. One advantage I would add to the list would be: you maintain all the ballistic benefits of a longer barrel in a shorter package.

    As a prepper we all know that the shotgun is a great weapon and can be used to hunt with or defend yourself.

    The Bullpup shotgun is a great example of this. Not only can it clear corners and be a great tactical gun for self defense; but it works really well for hunting Turkey, Wild Pigs, and even Deer with a slug! I can easily sit on the ground or in a stand with a more compact weapon, but I still have an 18″ barrel if I need to reach out! Perfect!

  2. I did try the Tar-21 shooting off hand and I found a number of things that I do not like. The muzzle is closer to my ears. The action rides on my cheek (feel). The front is too light so it is harder aiming for the second shot. When I run out of ammo I would be left with a shorter club. I shoot much more accurate with my M4 style carbine.

  3. Shame that this factual inaccuracy keeps getting repeated ad nauseum.

    There is no such thing as muzzle rise due to the weight of the gun being in front or in the rear of a gun

    (1) Newton’s laws of physics already shows that an item that stays at rest tends to stay at rest. When you aim a rifle and steady your breathing, the rifle is already in equilibrium. All the forces acting on the rifle are cancelling each other out, i.e. Gravity has been cancelled out by the upward forces produced by your arms/hands.

    (2) Newton’s other two laws says that an object that stays at rest tends to stay at rest. It only moves only when there is a force acting on it, and that there is an equal and opposite reaction when forces act on it.

    Based on the above, muzzle rise has nothing to do with the centre of gravity of the gun (front heavy or rear heavy). It occurs only if the recoil of the gun causes:

    (a) your upper body/spine to bend or move backwards therefore causing the gun that you are holding in your arm to point upwards.

    Think of this as a stationary rocking chair with a horizontal broom stick attached to it. When you rock it backwards, the stick starts to rotate and point upwards.

    Solution: Better standing stance, which will reduce but probably cannot eliminate it.

    (b) a rotational force caused by the rifle butt contact point with the shoulder being LOWER than the horizontal line of the barrel.

    It is amazing that so many people still fail to understand this. The legendary Eugene Stoner addressed this in the 1960s Vietnam war era when he designed the M16 to be a straight-line recoil design constructed so that it is a straight line from muzzle to the rifle butt.

    All rifles prior to the M16 had the rifle butt designed to be lower than the muzzle tip for eye relief, including the AK-47. Of course they rotated at the pivot (which is where the rifle butt touches the shoulder). This is elementary grade school physics called “moment (or torque) of a force about a turning point is the force multiplied by the perpendicular distance to the force from the turning point” – wikipedia.

    All modern rifles (including bullpups) now use this straight line recoil design. This eliminates (2).

    Modern extremely high speed video has long since confirmed a lot of things about recoil. Please understand this before you write nonsense like bullpup-muzzle-rise-due-to-heavy-rear. No such thing.

    Also there is no such thing as a bullpup being difficult to acquire repeat rapid shots due to the lightness of the front end. Because it is closer to the body the recoil is closer to the body’s centre of gravity and should therefore theoretically be easier to control. Think of it as a fireman holding the spraying end of a firehose as close to the body as possible. He wouldn’t hold it one meter in front of him or with a straightened arm would he?

    • Hi Apollo,
      what you are saying about physics is not quite true and more importantly irrelevant as argument. That is because you look at it in a wrong way, just observing forces. When fired there will be backward force and it will be a bit off line of barrel, hence there will be a recoil force momentum, as well as straight force backwards.Rise of the barrel is due to the force momentum. That force momentum is better counter-balanced if weight of the rifle is more forward or to put it in terms of physics : moment of inertia for regular designs is larger ( hence recoil rise of muzzle- less) then for bull-pup design. It is a moment of inertia that matters and that is totally function of distribution of masses.
      Unrelated to what you wrote: standard layout has other advantages: easier manipulation of weapon
      during jamming situations, easier and more natural change of ammo clips, ease of attachment of grenade launchers and accessories , to name few. That is the reason why major militaries never really switched to bull-pup design. Advantages of “quicker manipulation” is short quarters battle, are minor and easily neutralized with proper battle tactics.

      • Actually, I think you’re both right and both wrong. If the firearm design and stance are such that the muzzle to shoulder line is level, than Apollo is right, the center of gravity of the weapon does not affect muzzle rise. However, if either design or stance create a non-level line, the lack of forward weight will exaggerate the muzzle rise (compared to more forward weight providing resistance to muzzle rise). So the short answer is, “It depends.”

  4. The Bullpups Unlimited stock for the Mossberg 500 is great. So much shorter (9 inches shorter on the butt stock end) for maneuvering in Close Quarters Combat sweeping rooms and hallways. And the mass of the weight isn’t way out in front of your trigger finger, it’s closer toward your shoulder making it so much easier to hold. Everything is a trade-off. Those advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.


Leave a Comment