If you’re looking for a new gun, you might be tempted to purchase a bullpup rifle.
In case you don’t know, or haven’t heard of one before, a bullpup rifle is a gun designed with its action behind the trigger.
What’s the benefit of a bullpup rifle?
The longer barrel length of this gun means that you will find it easier to shoot it when compared to a conventional rifle.
Since it’s designed to be more compact, this makes the bullpup rifle easier to conceal and carry. With that in mind, here’s the best bullpup rifle for 2021 as well as four alternatives to consider.
Best Bullpup Rifle – Reviews & Buying Guide for 2021
Best overall: Kel-Tec RDB-17’’
What’s “RDB,” you ask? It stands for Rifle Downward-ejecting Bullpup. This Kel-Tec bullpup rifle is a semi-automatic that’s as mean as it looks because it offers you lots of power. Let’s check out its features.
- This gun might be powerful, but it’s compact and easy to use so it’ll even perform at its peak in confined spaces. It’s got a 17-inch barrel and only weighs 6.7 pounds, which makes it user-friendly.
- It’s got an ambidextrous design that enables you to operate the mag release with either hand, which is a nice touch to increase its comfort.
- The gun has a trigger system that enables smoother shots as well as a clean break.
- Its adjustable gas piston system keeps your shots reliable, while also reducing the amount of recoil that you have to deal with. This makes the gun valuable for a variety of tasks.
- It has a Picatinny rail that allows you to mount accessories much easier, which is user-friendly for beginners and experienced shooters alike. You can easily upgrade your gun with a variety of accessories, such as sights.
- Assembling and disassembling the gun is really easy as it breaks up into seven main components.
- Some people who have purchased this gun have reported that it doesn’t feel very ergonomically built, such as that it doesn’t have as much grip as what you’d find on other guns.
- The gun’s magazine release might get accidentally engaged if you’re not paying attention or the gas is set to a high level, so that’s something to be careful about!
Runner Up: Steyr Aug A3 M1
If you like rifles that have an interesting history behind them, you’ll love this one. It was first used in 1977 by the Austrian army and now is available for civilians. This has made it one of the most recognizable and popular rifles in the world – and it can be yours. But first, let’s check out its features.
- This Steyr Aug gun has a short-stroke gas piston operation so that it runs cleaner. This is one of the reasons why it’s the best bullpup rifle for the money. Its exhaust gas vents are located on the front of the rifle.
- It’s got the classic traits that you want in a modern rifle, but with some extra features, such as a quick-change barrel that’s got a collapsible forward grip. A quick-change barrel is useful because it reduces heat during long periods of shooting.
- The barrel also has a two-position cross-bolt safety. This essentially locks the trigger, keeping you safe.
- It comes with an extender rail for optics, so you can upgrade and customize it easily.
- You’ll love that this gun is both compact and sleek in design, making it the perfect bullpup rifle for comfortable use.
- The gun’s mag release is located behind the magazine. This can make it a little more difficult and time-consuming to change the magazine.
- The cross-bolt safety feature is sharp and can cut your fingers after regular use. Make sure you protect your hands with high-quality shooting gloves. Read the article, “Best Shooting Gloves To Protect Your Hands” if you need to buy a pair.
Alternative 1: FN America PS90
FN America is regarded as the one of the world’s best manufacturers of firearms for military and law enforcement. Even lighter than the previous bullpup rifle on our list, the FN America PS90 model has some notable features. Let’s check it out in greater detail.
- This is an ambidextrous gun that can be used for a variety of tasks, such as self-defense and competing in shooting competitions. It has ambidextrous operating controls and thumbhole polymer stock, which also helps to make it feel more ergonomic to use.
- The fired cases are shot downwards so they won’t get in your way or make you feel unsafe. This is especially reassuring if you’re a beginner.
- There are many features that contribute to the firearm’s accuracy, such as its barrel length and closed bolt design. This type of design means that the gun needs to chamber a round before the hammer strikes and causes it to be fired.
- The gun has a non-magnifying optical sight, of which red dots are the most common, and it means that you can remain locked on your target easily. This also serves beginners well because of how it makes the gun more user-friendly.
- With a muzzle break included, this firearm ensures that you can reduce recoil.
- It’s built with a military-spec barrel that’s strong and durable. It’s been hammer forged and is lined with chrome.
- This bullpup rifle comes with a molded in sling attachment point. This means you can keep your gun stable while attaching the sling.
- For increased ease of use, which seems to be one of the main focuses of this gun’s design, this bullpup rifle has an enlarged trigger guard.
- While the gun can be considered to be the best value bullpup rifle if you’re looking for quality at an affordable price, the ammo for this gun is expensive to purchase.
- It doesn’t offer users much in terms of customization.
Alternative 2: Kel-Tec RFB 24
This semi-automatic rifle offers 20 rounds of power while also having a long barrel – it’s 18 inches in length, so you’ll feel like you’re handling an AR. But, you won’t feel like the gun is too heavy. Let’s see what else this bullpup has to offer.
- This best bullpup assault rifle releases its used casings out the front of the gun, which makes it feel more ambidextrous. The casings won’t get in the way when you’re shooting.
- It has a threaded barrel that offers a Picatinny rail so you can mount the optic you want.
- For even more versatility, this gun is compatible with most FAL magazines.
- Some people have reported that the gun’s trigger is much better than other types of bullpup rifles as it reduces take-up. This means that you won’t feel the movement of the trigger being pulled towards you.
- To increase how user-friendly the gun is, it makes use of intuitive placement: basically, the action and magazine releases are placed in areas where they won’t be pressed by accident, which allows for much smoother operation.
- You’ll be able to use this bullpup assault rifle in cramped corners and awkward places, thanks to how it’s almost 14 inches shorter in length than other rifles! This also makes it the best bullpup battle rifle.
- Some people who have purchased this rifle have reported that the rail system is on the short side.
- Others have noted that taking the gun apart can be a bit tricky just because it’s quite different from other rifles. However, the user manual is sure to help you with its instructions as it’s clear and easy to understand.
Alternative 3: Panzer Arms Bullpup
Panzer Arms is a Turkish brand that has become quite popular with Americans. This company is known for being reliable and trustworthy.
If you’re looking for a bullpup rifle that’s easy to hold and carry, this small and compact rifle is worth checking out, and you’ll love that it’s well made and customizable.
- This gun is easy to carry and handle because it’s so compact. This makes it ideal for use in tight or awkward places.
- You can easily customize this bullpup rifle, thanks to its many inches of space that’s available for mounting accessories such as optics or lights.
- The gun’s safety lever is easy to operate.
- People who have purchased this bullpup rifle have reported that the recoil is a lot easier to manage than what you’d experience on a regular shotgun.
- It’s both strong and comfortable to use. It’s got an upper receiver that’s made from 7075 aluminum, while the gun’s lower receiver is constructed out of polymer that’s lightweight but resistant to impact. As a nice touch, you’ll enjoy an ergonomic grip.
- For increased user-friendliness and quick control, the gun’s controls are ambidextrous.
- This bullpup rifle has considerably fewer rounds to offer than other rifles we’ve featured on our list, coming in with just five.
- Another potential drawback of this gun is that, while it has many ambidextrous features, you can’t eject the spent shells from the left side. These will always be released from the right side, so that’s something to bear in mind.
Bullpup Rifle FAQ
Now that we’ve looked through the pros and cons of five of the best bullpup rifles on the market, there might be some questions you’d like answered about these types of guns. Let’s take a look at some common ones.
Are bullpup rifles better?
Bullpup rifles have some important advantages over other rifles. Here’s a rundown of some of the most noteworthy benefits.
- Bullpups have had their center of balance shifted, so that it’s moved towards the back. This makes them easier to shoot.
- Bullpups feel lighter, and therefore easier to control.
- Bullpups are small, yet accurate. With smaller guns, if you want to have greater accuracy you usually won’t be able to achieve it. This is one of the advantages that bullpup rifles have over other types of guns.
- Bullpups can be used in tight spaces. They can easily be maneuvered, even if you’re in a place that’s short on space. This is, of course, thanks to their shorter length and compact build.
- Bullpups prevent shooter fatigue. Using a firearm can become tiring after a while. Bullpups help to prevent this from happening because you hold them closer to your body during use. Choosing a bullpup rifle that has ergonomic features will further help to reduce fatigue. While some bullpup rifles are not ergonomic, you can find quality ones that certainly do offer these features. An example is the Panzer Arms Bullpup that we featured in our reviews as it has a comfortable grip. Another example is the FN America rifle, that also has ambidextrous controls for greater comfort.
- Bullpups are easier to conceal. Their shorter length and small build also makes these rifles much easier to carry, transport, and conceal as compared to longer guns.
- Bullpups can make changing magazines easier. With the inboard placement of the magazine, changes can be achieved faster and without a fuss, which makes the bullpup ideal for situations in which you’re shooting from behind cover, such as is the case for soldiers.
- Bullpups don’t become too heavy when tricked out with accessories. This is as a result of how their designs are balanced. When you’ve attached accessories to the bullpup, such as lasers and optical sights, you won’t feel that the gun is becoming too heavy. This, however, is a concern with traditional rifles that become too heavy at the front after being loaded with accessories.
Does the US military use Bullpup?
The US military doesn’t make use of bullpup rifles. The U.S. Armed Forces uses the M4 rifle and this is replacing the use of the M16 rifle in both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps so that it will be the main weapon of choice.
These guns work well for the military. The M4 is a compact and lightweight gun model that works on gas and is shoulder fired, while the M16 has been revered for its lower recoil and smooth operation, which make it easy to control when shots are fired.
The use of the bullpup rifle by the military has quite a colorful history. The Austrian Army was the first one to use a bullpup rifle, and it was the Steyr Aug. This occurred in the ‘70s. After they made use of a bullpup, other countries also started using bullpup rifles for their military forces.
These included Britain, with their L85 offering in 1985 that was later redesigned. In 2016, it was replaced with the L85AE as a result of the latter being lighter and more adaptable. Another example of a bullpup rifle used by the military is the Tavor TAR-21 developed by Israel Military Industries. It’s accurate, ambidextrous, and light to carry.
While roughty 20 armies use bullpups, the U.S. is stocking the XM500 and Barret M95, increasing its collection of bullpups and sniper rifles, which does point to the potential of bullpups becoming more common for use by the military, but they would probably need to become more mainstream for that to happen.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s expensive for the military to change their weapons, so they won’t do that if they’re happy with their current gear.
Do Bullpups have more recoil?
One of the things you might worry about with bullpups is if they have more recoil. This is a commonly asked question about these types of guns. The truth is that bullpups actually decrease the vibration and recoil that’s experienced by the shooter. This is because of the gun’s design.
When the trigger is in front of the magazine, a shooter can use his or her shoulder to absorb the recoil without having a negative effect on the gun’s ergonomics. This makes shooting much more comfortable. The bullpup’s more compact design definitely contributes to this, and generally bullpup rifles are 25 percent shorter than conventional rifles.
Some of the guns we’ve featured in this buying guide have features that are specifically designed to combat recoil. An example is the Kel-Tec RDB rifle that is built with an adjustable gas piston system. Not only does this make your shots more accurate but it contributes to reducing how much recoil you’ll feel when making them.
Another example is the Panzer Arms bullpup rifle. People who have purchased this rifle have reported that they didn’t experience much recoil, and that the gun is a lot easier and more comfortable to use as compared to what you’d experience with regular shotguns.
Are pistols considered Bullpups?
A pistol is not considered to be the same type of gun as a bullpup. The two have quite a few important differences.
What is a pistol?
A pistol is designed to release bullets from its barrels when held in one hand. It has a chamber that’s either part of or permanently aligned to the bore, and a short stock that can be gripped firmly with one hand at an angle.
What is a bullpup rifle?
By comparison, you usually don’t shoot a bullpup rifle with one hand. This type of rifle makes use of a magazine that contains bullets. Good grip and ergonomic features help to keep the bullpup comfortable when held.
As you can see from the above descriptions, pistols and bullpups are quite different in how they’re designed. But what’s probably the reason why some people assume they’re the same thing dates back to the 1950s. During this time, the term “bullpup” was used to refer to a target pistol that had fancy stock.
Another reason for the confusion between the two types of guns is that bullpups make use of magazines but some pistols do too. But they’re built in very different ways. A bullpup has the action behind the hand, and one’s cheek will be placed above it. Pistols, on the other hand, can have ammo that feeds through the grip, but their action sits in front of one’s hand.
Despite the above, there are some bullpup pistols that you can find, but these are few and far between. An example is the Bond Arms Bullpup 9mm. This gun has a short recoil and rotating barrel. When the cartridge has been activated, the barrel will rotate and this lets the slide travel to the back.
The ejection is what you’ll find on many semi-automatic pistols. This gun is really small and compact, coming in at an inch shorter than the Glock 43. The feature that really makes this pistol a bullpup gun is that it pulls its cartridge backwards from the gun’s magazine, and then raises it directly in line with the gun’s barrel.
If you want to buy a bullpup rifle, you might be wondering which one’s the best.
In this buying guide, we’ve provided you with five bullpup rifle choices to help you get one that’s high in quality and has the features you need.
Although sometimes bullpup rifles feel like the underdog of the gun world, they have some worthy benefits, as we’ve outlined in this buying guide.
Definitely add one to your collection! Before you do, though, it’s worth checking out our FAQ section if you haven’t already, as you’ll gain some important information about these types of rifles.