There are many people who dislike bullpup rifles. I not only like them, I find that there are quite a few things they do much better than conventional designs. After running M16 and M4 rifles in combat in the military, I prefer the bullpup. Fighting in tight spaces with one of these rifles was a nightmare, not to mention adding body armor and a lot of one handed shooting while treating wounded, etc. The reloads being close in your work space, the weight being in your shoulder, and the overall length being way shorter than your standard rifle made the bullpup platform so attractive to me.
My bullpup rifle of choice, of the available ones you can buy, is the IWI IDF Tavor because of its ease of maintenance, and its simple manual of arms that are similar to the AR. I also like the Steyr Aug for its classic look. I even like the idea of rifles like the FN FS2000 and the Keltec RFB/RDB. I think my favorite bullpup rifle of all time is the British standard service rifle, the L85.
I have been in love with the look and idea of the rifle ever since I first saw it. Now I don’t really consider it a very practical rifle in its controls and relative complexity, but it just looks sexy to me. That being said, if it were for sale and I could afford it, I wouldn’t really seriously consider buying it since I like to limit my collection to guns I will use.
The Tavor answers a lot of the issues that other bullpups had problems with in the past. Bullpups in general have had problems with the safeties not being easy to use such as the AR safety that the Tavor Has. Another issue is that the reloads on other bullpup designs can be less than intuitive, to put it lightly. And the last and probably the most criticized feature of the bullpup design is that the triggers are heavy and feel crappy. I personally have had no real issues with heavyish triggers on rifles for some reason, but this issue has caused a lot of people to steer away from the designs when they could get good triggers on a conventional rifle and just deal with the added length. The Tavor trigger out of the box can pull 11 or 12 pounds on a trigger gauge. After 5000 rounds, my trigger, with proper oiling reaches to 6-8 pounds. Compared to most bullpups on the market, the Tavor trigger is awesome and very unique, but it still requires you to shoot the rifle and work with it regularly and take care of it.
Another sore spot on bullpups is the reloading methods. The reloads on the Tavor are very simple and are a big selling point for this rifle that ended up making other bullpups obsolete or just plain undesirable in comparison. The Tavor has a bolt hold open that locks the bolt to the rear on the last round fired, which is almost unheard of in the bullpup world. From here, there are two ways of reloading the rifle. You can either eject/swipe the magazine out of the rifle and then go for your fresh mag, or get your fresh mag and then swipe your empty mag out before insertion of the fresh one. Either way is fine and doesn’t take much more time than the other. From here, there is a big button just behind the magwell that protrudes a good way down when the bolt is locked to the rear. Upon seating the magazine in the magwell, all your required to do to load the rifle is to use your thumb and apply upward pressure. I feel that it is worthy to note that the Tavor accepts almost all magazines except for drum mags, but the surefire 60rd mag will seat.
Operating the rifle in close quarters such as out of a vehicle is very easy since the Tavor is the minimum legal length that a rifle can be on the market without having to get a tax stamp for an SRB. Also the rifle is not going to sacrifice accuracy and terminal effectiveness at range since it can maintain its 16″ barrel in the process of putting the action in the stock. The bullpup truly is the best of both worlds. You get a maneuverable rifle that only goes out as far as your arm can reach, and your still getting a 16 inch barrel to work with. Moving around cover is very easy and you can stay close to cover and keep the rifle pointed forward and in your shoulder instead of having to raise or lower it in tight spaces as you would with a conventional rifle design.
When you think about getting a rifle to fight with, don’t discount the bullpup. They have served many nations for decades and has proven how versatile they can be. From being used to clear tight spaces and operate with ease inside a cramped vehicle, to being able to accurately shoot at long range, the bullpup has proven its worth the world over. It is up to you to see if the merits that the bullpup has are for you.
David served in the USMC for a few years, deployed twice and got wounded. Retired and moved to Alaska. Has a passion for reviewing and testing guns and gear of all kinds. Enjoys working to dispel myths and show that you can train and practice in a realistic, safe, and practical way.
Featured Photo: URUZGAN, Afghanistan–Private Daniel Gibson, from 2nd Platoon, 3rd Battalion (Para), the Royal Australian Regiment, stands over watch during a foot patrol of the town of Tarin Kowt while conducting an International Security Assistance Force mission. (ISAF photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Collins, U.S. Navy)