21 April 2012

FWS Armory: Bullpup Assault Rifles

There is a growing trend in military firearms that does not seem to the touch the shores of America, to seemingly fit the magazine in the wrong place! These weapons are know as bullpups, and while the origin of the word 'bullpup' is unknown, some sources say that is American slang term for fancy stock guns, or my idea was the since the gun was powerful in a smaller package, it was kind of like a bulldog puppy...just a guess. In the continuing series of FWS armory, we examine the bullpup assault rifle, and its relationship to sci-fi weaponry.`

History of Bullpup Rifles

Bullpup rifles were not technologically possible until the 20th century, and even then, these odd rifles were not to eveyone's taste, due to them flying the face of standard weapons design for nearly 500 years. If you examine the traditional rifle through its technological evolution, one thing as remained standard, where the chemical explosion occurs to drive the projectile into your enemy: the middle of the rifle. From the Arquebus of the Spanish Conquistador, to the black powder rifle, to the bolt action rifle, even today's assault rifle, the powder, projectile, and loading mechanics are located in the middle portion of the firearm. History's first recorded bullpup was the Thorneycroft carbine of 1901. This odd looking bullpup bolt action rifle chamber the .303 round, but had the bolt mechanics near the shoulder, making the Thorneycroft carbine shorter than the typical Enfiled .303 rifle at the time. The gun was developed into a few prototypes, but died a quiet death.
With firearms experimentation in post-WWI world, several attempts were made to develop a bullpup rifle, like the 1918 modified French Faucon-Meunier rifle, and a bullpup pistol. However, the first true assault bullpup rifle I came cross during my research on my AK-47 paper, it seems that in the 1944 or 1945, there was alittle known prototype variant of the STG-44 assault rifle.
America, not known for their love of bullpups, did have one of the most celebrated firearms companies develop bullpup prototype in 1949: the Springfield Armory Garand T31 that chamber the .30 caliber M1 Carbine round.While the T31 was only a prototype that died stillborn, it's magazine design did live on in the M14 battle-rifle.
Finally, in the middle 1940's, there was the first military bullpup rifle, when British army began to toy with a more modern replacement to their aging bolt-action Lee Enfield .303 rifle, and after a number of trial-and-error prototypes, it was discovered that the bullpup layout was the best suited for infantry combat. Of course, British firearm companies have been sly about odd placement of magazines (the Sten SMG and the Bren LMG). Prototypes of the
By 1951, there was the first real attempt to field EM-2 as the British small arms rifle. This highly experimental bullpup assault rifle was developed around a new cartridge to replace the Lee Enfield .303 round, the .280 or 7x43mm. Despite positive ballistic test in 1948 and 1949, there political back deals, and pressure for the US, that prevent the .280 caliber from achieving success across the pond or inside NATO, however, the British officially adopted the .280 in 1951. This set off a storm within NATO for much of 1951 and 1952, where it was seen that the British were acting in their own interests, damning the concerns of the rest of the alliance. This rose fears inside the British government that if hostiles broke out with the USSR, that resupply would become an issue, and leading to British deaths on the battlefield. The British government caved in 1952 to NATO and US wishes, adopting the 7.62x51mm round as the standard NATO cartridge. There was an attempt to rechamber the EM-2 with the .308 round, but it performance suffered to the point of dooming the rifle for being used by the military. Instead, the British Army adopted the FN FAL that fired the correct  and approved 7.62mm  round.
If the EM-2 and its .280 round were adopted by British, we could have our M16's firing .280 cartridges.
While the EM-2 was shelved and died, the cartridge was shopped around in modified light machine guns, FN FAL prototypes, along with a variants of the Lee Enfield and the M1 Garand. Of course, the Enfield EM-2 gave way to the current assault rifle, the L85, and it was even tested with the .280 round! Of course, the elements of the Enfield EM-2 was recently resurrected by COD: Black Ops, as the Enfield assault rifle, allowing the gun to live on.

The late 1970's was a watershed time for bullpup rifles acceptance in major NATO military organizations, these nations were looking at transition from the heavy, large caliber battle-rifles, like the H&K G3, to lighter, more compact weapons suited more for mechanized and urban combat. Assisting in  this change was with adopting the new standard assault rifle cartridge, the 5.56mm. the French adopted the FAMAS, and the Steyr AUG was field by the Austrian military, allowing other nations to either adopt bullpups or developed their own. The new light plastic bodied Steyr AUG was an early international star of the bullpup assault rifle, and given its stellar combat performance, it became one of the more widespread bullpups during the 1980's.  
However, some nations tried the bullpup trend in the 1970's/1980's, and rejected it, like the Finland M82 Valmet rifle for example (that was later used as Kyle Reese's phased plasma rifle in the first Terminator film). The Valmet M82 was abandoned by the Finnish Army in 1986 with fewer than 2,000 fielded to the military. The gun was seen has unfit for army life, and the Finnish later adopted an AK like rifle.
 Bullpup rifles were on the frontline of moving firearms technology forward. In 1987, Steyr, not resting on its success with the AUG, attempted their own entry into the US Army's Advanced Comabt Rifle Program in the late 1980's, with their ACR prototype. Not only was this a lightweight assault rifle, very similar to their current AUG, but it fired 5.56mm flechettes via a new type of bolt cycling system. This is closest the American military ever got to fielding a bullpup rifle. For the next two decades, other nations would field bullpups, like the Singapore SAR-21, the South African Vektor CR-21, the odd-looking Iranian Khybar KH2002, and the Red Chinese Type-95.
In the new decade, there was a game-charger in the world of bullpup assault rifles, much like the Steyr AUG in the 1970's, the Israeli IMI Tavor TAR-21.Using the cartridge and magazines of the M16/M4, IMI developed a lightweight, compact assault rifle that was smaller than the M4, but fields a longer barrel making the TAR-21 prefect for most tactical situations, and does have some of the weakness of the AR-15 design, namely, numerous cleanings and prone to jamming within hostile desert conditions. Since the IDF is one of the more forward thinking military organizations, they incorporated modern features into the weapon, like the MARS red dot, non-zero slight. In addition, they followed the AK47 rule, making the TAR-21 simple, due to the large amount of trainees pass through IDF boot. The success and design of this rifle, has sparked nations like Australia to develop a next-gen lightweight bullpup, the AICW, which will be slowly replacing their older AUGs. But will the US follow? Or will the aging AR-15 platform follows out into the stars? Time will tell...      

Advantages of the Bullpup Assault Rifle

Conventionally layed out assault rifles, mount their ammunition and bolt assembly in the middle of the weapon, which is traditional in the history of firearms, however, the bullpup rifle mounts the guts in the rear. While this may not seem like a big deal, the real advantage of bullpup rifles becomes clear when you examine the hard numbers of barrel and overall lengths of a conventional layout vs. the bullpup. Take for example, the Steyr AUG and the H&K G36, both European assault rifles, both used for the same purpose. The G36 is 39.3 inches in length, and mounts an 18.9 inch barrel, while the AUG is 31.7 inches long, and mounts an 20 inch barrel. Bullpups offer more barrel length for less space, and with more militaries exchanging their assault rifles for assault carbines, one can see that the bullpup offers a full length barrel in a carbine-sized package. If we compare, carbine to carbine bullpup, the M4 is 33 inches in length with a 14.5 inch barrel, while the Israeli Carbine TAR-21 (CTAR-21) is 25.2 inches long, but mounts an 15 inch barrel! Only if you have a 10 or 11 inch barreled M4 or even the super-short Kitty-Kat M4, can you get close to the CTAR's lenght, but the range would be strongly affected. Oh, and bullpups look really cool.

Disadvantages of the Bullpup Assault Rifle

If you have played Airsoft or COD:MW3 with a bullpup rifle than you have seen the major drawback of a bullpup rifle...loading the damn thing. Because of the position of the magazine, being close to the body of the shooter, you cannot use gravity to drop the magazine, like a traditional rifle, instead you must rotate the rifle 90 degrees, resting the weapon on your forearm, pulling the mag out, then slapping another in. This means that you have an awkward position to be in, which can be extremely difficult in prone position, and is slower due to having to extract the empty magazine, instead of letting it drop. While training can making the process faster, it would be harder for American soldiers and shooters to adapt to the change in position, seeing how the vast majority of us are used to loading a traditional rifle, and that would explain the lack of bullpups in the citizen shooter market. Most nations that use bullpup rifles do not allow their citizens to own assault rifles, so, there is little if any experience with tradition loading rifles, allowing for less mental barriers during training. 
Some bullpups have a basic design flaw not found on the FN F2000 or the Steyr AUG, the position of the ejection port. With normal assault rifles, the position of the ejection port is not an issue, however, with bullpups, most of the ejection ports are on the left side, if you are left-handed, like me, then that means you get hot brass in your face. Not exectly what I call a good time. This is also problem, as one website mention, if there is a critical failure in the weapon, and it explodes, it would right next to your face. Ouch! The position of the bolt also brings up another issue, the possibility of the bolt being caught up on the tactical gear of the shooter. That could be death in battlefield conditions. Adding to the mechanical issues, is that bullpups are more complex, and the linkage is much long between the bolt and the trigger, making some bullpup trigger worse than there conventional cousins. Most of the issues, can be chalked up to one word: ergonomics.

Examples of Real-Steel Bullpup Assault Rifles


During the late 1990's to the early 2000's , the US Army experimented with a concept similar to the M41a1 Pulse rifle from ALIENS, a weapon that integrates a grenade launcher, assault rifle, and advanced sensor and scope systems into one package, the XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon or OICW. While the 5.56x45mm carbine was traditional, the 25mm grenade launcher was a bullpup, like the current XM25 design. The concept of the weapon systems was latched on to by game designers, especially, the Ghost Recon series. The project died in 2005, however, a few develops of the OICW lived on, like the 25x40mm grenade for the XM25 launcher.

FN F2000

The first time I saw the FN F2000, I thought that someone had made live-fire prop from one of Masamune Shirow's works, and it wasn't until I held one at a gun show with Nigel that I began to like this bullpup assault rifle. Unlike the current crop of military bullpup rifles, the F2000 ejects the spent brass at the forward portion of the weapon, and according to an FN rep, it holds five spent cartridges at a time. This one feature solves one of the basic problems with bullpup rifles. Another feature of the F2000 is ability to be modular, for different tactical situations.

Enfield L85/SA80

The current standard assault rifle of the British Army, the L85, has a long history dating back to the 1940's with the EM-2. While that gun died, and it was replaced by FN FAL, the idea did not die. By 1969, the Royal Ordnance, was looking at developing new small arms based around the 4.85x49mm round, however, NATO standardizing ammunition caused the end of the 4.85mm cartridge. During the 1970's, the British Army embarked on the Small Arms of the 1980's project, to field new assault rifle based on the 5.56x45 NATO cartridge, the L85 assault rifle and the L86 LMG came out of that, and where adopted in 1985.

However, life was not grand for the L85, it was badly unreliable, and developed a terrible rep among its users. Even the SAS wouldn't use the L85, instead turning to the M16/M4 for their standard rifle, and now the H&K 417. Life got better for the L85 when the British Army hired the German H&K company (who owned Royal Ordnance) in 2000, to upgrade the weapon into a something  better. There have been rumors that the British Army will be replacing the L85/L86 with the H&K G36 or the 416/417, even the British Army's new DMR L129A1 rifle.  


In 1967, the French began work on an assault rifle that would replace their aging armory of several weapons. By 1972/73, the prototype of the FAMAS was the be testing, and officially entered service in 1978, making it one earliest bullpup rifles adopted by a major military. However, the FAMAS was beat by the Steyr AUG by one year. Unlike the AUG, the FAMAS has not found widespread popularity on the international arms market, but by all accounts, the FAMAS proved itself during Desert Storm and Afghanistan with effectiveness and reliability. In the realm of of popular culture,the FAMAS was a rare weapon, but now, thanks to Rainbow Six, COD: Modern Warfare 2, and Metal Gear Solid, the FAMAS has entered the popular culture, however, I first came to know the FAMAS via my 1985 G.I. Joe Dusty...what an awsome figure.

 Steyr AUG

The Steyr AUG was developed during the 1960's, and adopted by the Austrian Army in 1977, as the STG77. This was first bullpup rifle fielded by a major military, and featured several elements, like a standard low-power scope, plastic body, polymer magazine,and interchangeable barrels that can change the assault rifle, to a LMG, then to a sniper rifle with little effort. In keeping with the modular theme, the AUG has an ejection port that can be adjusted for right or left handed shooters.
Unlike many other bullpup rifles, the AUG is used by other smaller nations for their standard assault rifle, like Ireland and Australia, and has seen combat, especially in Afghanistan.
In another interesting element about the AUG, When I talked to people I know about bullpup rifles and how people first realized what they were, the answer was the same; the AUG in the movie Die Hard.

TsKIB ASh-12

This new Russian built bullpup chambers a new round developed specially for the ASh-12, the 12.7x55mm. This new round is similar in role and lethality to the .50 Beowulf round developed by Alexander Arms for a specially modified AR-15 rifle. Much like the .50 Beowulf round, the 12.7x55mm cartridge will see some action in the civilian shooter market, but not approved for general use due to the extreme power and expense of the round. While a cut-down .50 round seems like a great idea, dosing out massive trauma to its target, the power of the cartridge would tax both the machine and shooter, causing fatigue and damage to both. And besides that, do you really need an assault rifle that fires a .50 round? Well, unless you're hunting Terminators or T-Rexs, and my TARDIS is in the shop.

Chinese Type-95 (AKA QBZ-95)
In 1995, the Chinese Army developed their own home made bullpup assault rifle to replace their Type-56 AK clone, and it fires a new cartridge, the 5.8x42mm, and takes some design and construction notes from the French FAMAS, but has a oddly positioned safety switch. The Type-95 (AKA QBZ-95) represents a family-approach to firearms, beside being an assault rife, there is a carbine, LMG, and sniper variant. Due to new bullet, and complex buffering system, the Chinese say that the QBZ-95 is very controllable while being fire full-auto, and the gun was recently redesigned to counter some of the issues, including a heavier 5.8mm round. There is an civilian export sporter variant, geared to the American market, the Type-97, that fires the 5.56mm NATO round, along with a military grade Type-97 that is being used by Cambodia and Myanmar. While QBZ-95 used to be a rarely seen weapon in firearms culture, that as all changed with COD:MW3, and now, I cannot play one frakking game without being popped by one of the bullpups!  

IMI Tavor TAR-21

For much of the life of the IDF, they have used other people's guns, like the M16, AK, or the FN FAL, then they developed a short-lived Galil rifle, but abandoned it for the M4 carbine. Now, the IDF has developed a next-gen bullpup rifle, the 5.56x45mm Tavor TAR-21. The base TAR-21 is 28.3 inches in length, and features a 18.1 inch barrel, and its compact design and bullpup layout was chosen to serve in both environments that the IDF fights in: open territory mechanized warfare, and urban fighting, which the base TAR-21 can serve in both without any change. Given the current situation in Israel, the Tavor was developed for troops being deployed from APCs or light military utility vehicles into cramped urban territory in Gaza, which is the reason for the bullpup compact design, but also for the ability of the TAR-21 to mag-dump its entire 30 rounds in two seconds during close quarters combat engagements.
Since the TAR-21 was developed in the 21st century, it features a built-in non-zero red dot MARS sight and laser beam as well. The moment the gun is taking off of 'safe'the red dot pops up, making the gun simple and easy to use, two hallmarks of IDF weapons. Seeing some of the weakness of other military bullpup assault rifles, the IMI developed the Tavor to be used by right or left shooters, and the cocking handle is up front and features a large nob that is easy to use, even if you are using gloves. Much like other modern assault rifles and cars, there are several variants to the base model, the carbine (CTAR-21), the 40mm grenadier (GTAR-21), the extremely compact (MTAR-21), and the DMR variant (STAR-21). There is a growing export market for the IMI Tavor TAR21, fifteen countries have ordered the TAR21 unseen for bullpup, and not seen for an Israeli firearm since the UZI.

 The Future of Bullpup Rifles

Since the 1970's, major military organizations have decided to develop and field bullpup assault rifles, more than the traditional layout, only Germany, the USA, and the Russian Federation have kept that layout for their assault rifle. But has global urbanization and population growth continues, the need for long weapons will lessen, but the accuracy of a longer barreled weapon would still be desired over the 11 inch barreled assault commando carbines, which leads military planners to look at bullpups. We saw this recently with the movie AVATAR. Of course, if and when humanity moves out to the stars, there will be more close combat conditions within in space stations, boarding battles within warships, and domed or sealed off-world structures, which be the natural conditions for bullpups to thrive 
One of the best contemporary applications for the Bullpup assault rifles is very compact CQC variant, like the IMI Tavor Micro TAR-21. Unlike other compact commando carbines, like the AKS-74U or M4 CQBR, this very compact 5.56mm assault commando carbine is 23.2 inches long, with a 13inch barrel, while the AKS-74U is 28.9 inches (stock extended) with a 8.3inches, giving the Micro-TAR the advantage of having a larger barrel, while much more compact than shorty assault carbines or even some submachine guns. This would gave an shooter that uses an Bullpup shorty assault carbine a full-sized barrel, making the rifle able to be accurate in all manner of conditions, in case the fight ventured outside the close-quarters environment.
One question I have for the readers of this blogpost, do you think that the US military will ever adopt a Bullpup assault rifle?

Bullpups in Sci-Fi

Of the world's estimated 500 million small arms, the top three: the AK47, M16, and FN FAL,all are traditional laid out, the nearest bullpup rifle, the AUG, is far down the list. This is important factor when it comes to vast amount of bullpup rifles seen in sci-f works and this means that sci-fi will tend to take something like the bullpup rifle that looks futuristic and tacticool and use it to death. Bullpups are no exception to that rule, often any chemically propelled projectile KEW rifle was seen onscreen has a bullpup, even if it made no sense, like the Mortia rifle from Starship Troopers, or even the phased plasma rifles of the Terminator series.
There is another of looking at it, bullpup rifles were thought at the time of the 1980's and 1990's, to be the next big step in firearms, much like caseless ammunition was in the late 1970's and early 1980's. And that makes sense, when you see how many nations adopting bullpup rifles for their standard assault rifle at the time. There was even talk about the US military adopting a bullpup when the Steyr ACR was tested in 1989/90 for the US Army's Advanced Combat Rifle program. Therefore, sci-fi creators were just attempting to show the assumed and possible future for firearms at the time. Hey, even bellbottoms were cool at one time.  

Examples of Bullpups in Sci-Fi


The two major factions in the KILLZONE universe, the ISA and Helghast, both use bullpup assault rifles and carbines that fire chemically propelled projectiles, but are very different in terms of secondary weapons, design, and magazine design. The main assault bullpup carbine is the Stahl Arms StA-52 bullpup assault rifle that chambers a 5.56x45mm round from a drum-style magazine, and has a underslung shotgun that is limited to single shot. After playing the original KILLZONE, I seriously doubt that the StA-52 fires the 5.56NATO round considering the 50 round drum-fed magazine, I guess that it fires a caseless 5mm or 6mm round and the drum magazines are prepackaged and sealed, like the plastic box magazines of the CARB system in AVATAR. From the model seen in the original PS2 KILLZONE game, the StA-52  takes design elements from the H&K G36 carrying handle/scope and the general shape of the French FAMAS or the Croatian VHS assault rifle.  
In contrast to the Helghast StA-52, their enemy, the ISA, use the full-sized M82 Assault rifle and is a heavier, full-sized assault rifle mounted with underslung 40mm grenade launcher and despite it being a bullpup (Morita rifle anyone?). From the wiki, the M82 rifle fires a 6.8x43 SPC cartridge from a traditional STANAG magazine that holds 32 rounds, that it is jungle-taped. In contrast to the rapid-fire, more SMG-like StA-52, the heavier M82 The fictional 23rd century M82 looks like the American made Z-M LR300 5.56mm assault carbine.  


In this long running mecha intense MSF anime series, there are several bullpup rifles, some used by the Earth Federation infantry, and larger examples used by certain mecha, like the MS-11 Action Zaku, for example. The mecha-based bullpups are used like a rifle, and seem mostly to be 90mm. The reason behind the use of KEW bullpup mecha cannons was due to the expense of producting DEW cannons for the fighting suits during the One Year War. The Earth Federation Infantry uses the old M-72 5.56mm bullpup assault rifle, and appears to be, in design, based on the British Enfield EM-2/L85.


There two bullpup weapons in the ROBOTECH universe, one in the Macross saga, and another during the 3rd Robotech War. The first bullpup rifle is an odd one, the GU-11155mm gun pod mounted on the 1st Robotech War Veritech mecha, being the primary armament in all three modes, serving has a rifle in the Battroid mode and was developed by General John Adkins. This airborne cannon fed from its Armor Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot rounds from a 600-round magazine in the rear of the weapon and ejects them also out a rear ejection port.
The second bullpup rifle in the ROBOTECH universe is the REF Mars Gallant H90 Particle beam DEW system. This was the primary small arms weapon system of the REF and some Terran resistance groups, and in the 'rifle' configuration, a large protoculture power cell is loaded into the stock, making the H90 a DEW bullpup carbine.


Much of the human security contractors are armed with the CARB (cellular assault rifle base) KEW system, which is very much like a gun Lego set, allowing the shooter to modify the base caseless 6.2x35 bullpup carbine to fit the tactical situation. The base CARB carbine is fed by a plastic disposable box magazine that holds 60 rounds. Under the barrel rail system allows for the attachment of 25mm box-fed grenade launcher or a 12gauge box-fed CQC attachment. Per usual, Cameron has developed some very cool science fiction firearms technology that mirrors real-world R&D and placing it just one step beyond that without making it tacticool for the sake of tacticool.

Ghost in the Shell

In the 1995 Ghost in the Shell OVA, the Section Nine agents use a bullpup carbine or even PDW weapon called the Crvena Zastava Nosle M22, which borrows design elements from the FN F2000 and FN P90 (one of Shirow's favorites), and from some sources, used the 5.7x28mm round or the Seburo 5mm HV round (which is most likely the right cartridge). Through most of the Stand Alone Complex series and the manga, the Section Nine CT agents are seen using the Seburo C26A and larger C30 carbine. Shirow has always been a man with vision on the future of firearms, and once again, bullpups seem to represent the future of current firearms technology.  


Much like the other Masamune Shirow other works involving urban counterterrorist units, like the ESWAT in Appleseed, all seem to use Seburo manufactored CQC bullpup SMGs and carbines. Even the ESWAT's powered armor, the landmates, use a large caliber (12 or 20mm) bullpup carbine. The most recent CGI anime works in the Appleseed works show a compact Seburo made bullpup carbine or SMG or even PDW.


The HALO game series seems to have more bullpup rifles than any other sci-fi work, running through each game and book. The trend of bullpups in HALO started with the primary assault rifle of the UNSC, the 7.62mm MA5B, and continued on to the heavy-hitting BR55 battle rifle, and even on to HALO: Reach with the DMR (my personal favorite HALO UNSC firearm). There is no solid reason why Bungie decided to have the human side of the long war use bullpup rifles, my real-world guess is that Bungie wanted the human weapons to be familiar, yet futuristic, and nothing says futuristic like bullpups. Plus, rumors swirl around that the MA5B was inspirited by the FN F2000, and from that real steel model, the die was cast. The fictional world answer, is that due to the radically different environment that the UNSC operates in, planets, and inside spaceships, that compact weaponry was the best opinion, but the cheapest, to not having to field planetside weapons along with guns for internal starship security.

Starship Troopers (Film) Universe

FWS tends to talk about the SST films quiet often, and how could FWS write a blogpost about bullpup rifles in sci-fi without mentioning the Morita rifle? I like the design of the Mortia rifle all and all, but it is a flawed concept. Being a bullpup rifle means that you do not have a mount a massive barrel, but SST did on the Morita, making it a unwieldy and illogically. While the Morita rifle takes its name from a Sony executive at the time of SST being filmed, it's designed was due to the Mini-14 being able to fire blank ammunition with little or no jams. And with Starship Troopers being a Verhoeven film, everyone knew there would be a lot of gunfire. The live-fire props on the film fired both the 5.56 and 7.62, and Verhoeven did capture several scenes were we can see the bolt spitting out brass...nearly pornographic.

 The AKU-94 Bullpup
This not normal for me to just post a weapon down here, but the AKU-94 bullpup conversion kit sold by K-VAR, is a popular stand-in sci-fi bullpup gun. This is very similar to the role performed by the old Mini-14 Muzzelite conversion kit, being the default prop gun for sci-fi media. The AKU-94 bullpup has been seen in the X-Files episode, First Person ShooterStar Trek: Voyager episode Nemesis, and the 1998 Kurt Russel MSF film Soldier as the standard armament for the ADAM program soldiers.   

The Muzzelite Mini-14 Kit

During the 1980's and 1990's, the default futuristic blank-firing gun of choice was the Mini-14 bullpup Mzzelite MZ14 kit. One of the reason behind the Muzzelite being in countless films is that it handles blank ammunition very well, with little or no jamming, being nicknamed the "jammless wonder". Last year, during the Fort Worth gun show, I ran across a booth selling the Muzzelite. I guess they are still around. It was features as the weapon of choice for the Martian Federal Colony troopers, in the 1990 Total Recall. Then as the Westinghouse Model M-30A1 phased plasma carbine in hands of the human resistance in Terminator 2. The last major appearance of the Muzzelite was as the guts of the Mortia rifle in Starship Troopers. One of the more funny examples of action films getting it work, the Muzzelite made an appearence in the dog-shit bad Delta Force 2: the Coloumbian Connection and in equally bad Robocop 3. On the small-screen, the Muzzelite was seen in the seaon one and two of the NBC underwater sci-fi series SeaQuest DSV, and in the Star Trek Voyager epsiode Nemesis along with the AKS-94U.   

The Terminator Universe

In the dark post-nuclear world of 2029, the vast majority of man-portable plasma assault rifles are bullpup, like Kyle Reese's mocked-up real-steel M82 Valmet, to be the Westinghouse 4mm plasma M25A1 (which is fictional manufactured in Tulsa! My old hometown!).Then there is the Westinghouse M-30A1 Plasma Carbine, which is a Rugar Mini-14 Muzzelite, and the very common Westinghouse M-95A1 phased plasma rifle since mostly being by the T-101 models and human resistance fighters in the T:SCC TV show. So, why was Skynet fielding portable plasma weapons that used the bullpup layout? The real answer is the the Mini-14 blank-firing guns were the stable prop gun in the 1980's and 1990's, and bullpups were seen as the next logically step. So, to project that futuristic look, the Muzzelite kits were used or other real-steel bullpups, like the Finnish Valmet M82. The fictional 'in-universe' answer, is that due to the mechanics of generated supraheated hydrogen gas via lasers, the coils, and micro slush hydrogen tanks that were similar to bullet casing, it seems logically to have the maximum amount of room with the least amount of bulk, thus, bullpup layout.
Here is the best website on the dark world of 2029 and its weapons:


Here is a great article on the +/- on the bulllpup layout

Another good article:

Damn good article on the British EM-2 rifle

Here is vintage video of the British Imperium testing the EM-2 or the '280' as it is called in the video

Here is the Future Weapons episode devoted to the TAR-21:


  1. i'm sorry but someone who plays a video game would see no disadvantage to using a bullpup rifle

    1. You would if the designers gave it a longer reloading animation.

    2. That's dependent on training. If you give a soldier trained on a conventional layout a bullpup, it will take them longer to reload it, sure. If you give a soldier trained on an AR an AK, that will take them longer too!

    3. The sasr don't use bullpups for the treason of not training but designof the rifle. 1 conventional is alot faster. 2 unlike the f2000 the aug can only edject to other side when fully open gun. In tac sit that's gonna sucks.

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  2. Nice review on the bullpup firearms man! I do airsoft, own a Styer AUG 1977 version and a real AUG (semi-auto of course) and I do see the point in the reloading time and movements involved with the bullpup desighns. I have gotten used to them and can reload these rifles without moving my eye off the sight, but thats only because I have alot of experience with them. Great review and reaserch into this bro! Respect. Glad to see there is another bullpup fan out there other than me!

  3. Being a kid of the 1980's, bullpups were going to be the next-big-thing in firearms. There were rumors for years that the AUG would be replacing the M16. Much like you, most users of the bullpup design grow to reloading in a non-traditional manner with little thought, especially soldiers from European nations that do not allow private assault rifle ownership.
    And respect for using the classic AUG design!
    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. I've used the L1A1 (FAL) and F88 (AUG), fortunately not on the two way range, and I don't see what all the fuss is about how difficult handling a bullpup is supposed to be; weapon handling drills are no slower with the bullpup (The plastic magazines manufactured by a garden hose manufacturer for the F88 were designed to be dropped from an IW fired standing and then stepped on to be rendered unusable to the enemy as the soldier advances). Claiming that a magazine cannot be dropped from a bullpup or that the weapon must be slowly tilted to reload is pure fiction.
    Seriously, not slower or more awkward than reaching forward under the receiver of an SLR.
    Another advantage of a bullpup is the more rearward weight distribution which is far less fatiguing for small blokes (like me) when patrolling with a conventional nose heavy rifle at the ready.
    The only downside of a contemporary bullpup is that lefties will have a problem using normal weapons picked up on a battlefield if their own fails (swapping the ejector on the bolt for left hand firers is fairly straight forward in an armoury, but not the work of a moment in the field).
    That and the poxy 5.56mm round that goes where ever the wind is blowing.

  5. Thank you for posting this first hand information. We yanks receive little in the way of experience with bullpups...the vast majority of civilian and military firearms in the states are traditional layout. I've held a few AUGs and the FN F2000 in my day, airsoft and real-steel and liked the feel. I am also a lefty shooter and a small bloke, and that is why I use short-barreled rifles for shooting and paintball. I can see why a bullpup could be good for someone like me. If I had the cash, I would buy an old-school AUG or the FN F2000. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. The reason the Morita is bullpup yet long in body is for additional barrel length in the open spaces of undeveloped planets, allowing for essentially sniper-assault rifles. That's my theory there.

  7. That is one of the better theories I've heard! And given the planets we've seen in the SST films and cartoon series, it bears fruit! Nice call.

  8. good article. except the reloading of bullpups. agreed with other gentleman that with proper training and practice mag changes with bullpups aren't any slower than with a traditional European rifle since both mags have to be pulled free.

  9. Thanks William for sharing this informative blog. I am a Firearm trainer in Boston and always interested in the firearm related information. For the beginners it is not easy to operate the bull pups, it is very important for them to get a good training for it.

    Gunner Jacky

  10. You forgot the Ukrainian VEPR , which is basically a bullpup AK-74(it looks nice though)

  11. Two recent developments in the bullpup ejection issue are worth mentioning, the Kel-Tec RDB which ejects spent casings downwards like a P90 from a slot behind the magazine, and the Desert Tech MDR, which ejects from the left side from a somewhat conventional port with a dust cover similar to that found on an AR-15, except this cover can remain closed while firing and throws the casings forward and away from the shooter, allowing it to be ambidextrous without unnecessary mechanical complication. Forward ejecting designs like the FN F2000 and Kel-Tec RFB are also more difficult to clear as the shooter cannot easily see inside the chamber to visually or physically check for stuck cartridges: the hinged cover on the MDR can be folded down and used like most conventional ejection ports.
    I consider the MDR the last great hope for bullpup assault rifles, its modular, lightweight, and can chamber both 5.56 and 7.62 NATO. Desert tech already has a successful line of bullpup sniper rifles, so one can hope for this new rifle to meet expectations.

  12. About the issue of magazine reloading
    Rifles like AK-47 and its variants have a magazine that insert & extract from gun with a tilting movement rather than push-pull of M-16 magazine. That mean that push-a-button and magazine fall to ground wouldn’t work there.
    Another thing is that not all militaries train there soldiers to drop empty magazine.
    I served in the IDF and carried M-16, Galil AR & Galil SAR along my service. Soldiers are trained to return the empty magazine to pouch in the vest in the reloading process.
    There are 3 reasons why we doing that:
    1. IDF wants to save money so the empty magazine can be reused.
    2. Reducing to load on the supply routes – the military need to supply is troops only ammo not ammo + new magazines.
    3. In the last decades Israel enemies were mostly terrorists/guerillas, dropping a magazine your opponent may later use isn’t a good idea.
    I believe most militaries around the world act the same as IDF (for example all the former eastern bloc with their AK), and that US are exceptional with that drooping method. That could explain the unpopularity of bullpup with US military and civil market.


    1. Most in the US don't view their magazines as "disposable" per se, instead it is simply a method taught for high-intensity firefights or time-based competitive shooting: reducing the time required to reload gives one an advantage in these scenarios, and long-term sustainability and cost-cutting become secondary concerns. I for one hate dropping my magazines, but practice to do so anyways, just in case. Most of the time I retain my magazines so I don't have to collect them later or risk damaging them. Just two different methods for two different scenarios.

  13. Just a correction. The finnish M82 was supposed to be a replacement for the AK variat RK62 and RK76 which had been in service since mid 60s and late 70s respectively.

  14. If you're wondering why u don't have an optic on the ma5 series of weapons in halo is because the helmet has HUD display with an ability to zoom in while point shooting. ( essentially what smart scope is) every soldier has it on their helmet.

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