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.
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.
Advantages of 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%.
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.
So far that sounds awesome.
Disadvantages or Shortcomings of the Bullpup Configuration
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 is 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 left handed shooters want 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.
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.
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.
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:
As you may have started to notice, the positives and negatives seem to almost cancel each other out.
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? I’ll convert one of my shotguns to a bullpup configuration, strictly for home defense, and leave my other firearms as is..