The M17S is a rifle that first caught my eye several years ago when it was being manufactured and sold by Bushmaster. With its ultra-sleek, futuristic (even sci-fi) looks, the M17S certainly looked like no other rifle on the market at the time – a factor which might have actually contributed to its demise within the Bushmaster house, especially once the ACR came along.
But two things came to my attention today, firstly that the M17S has a history that stretches back before its time at Bushmaster, and secondly that K&M Arms is now manufacturing an improved and updated version – and with the recent upsurge of interest in Bullpup rifles in the US market, maybe this version will at last enjoy the success its been seeking…
The design of the M17S dates back to 1986 when the Australian company Armtech Ltd. developed the prototype as a prospective military rifle for the Australian Army. Two prototypes were developed, the C60R which used the 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge, and the more revolutionary C30R that used caseless ammunition. The C30R was developed hastily and an out-of-battery ignition resulted in a prototype exploding during a high-profile demonstration.
The Australian Army adopted a licence-built version of the Steyr AUG, leading to the sale of the Armtech design to another Australian company, Edenpine PTY Ltd. Edenpine, with Charles St. George, improved the design resulting in the ART-30 and SAK-30. The salient features of the M17S were in place but some Finnish Valmet parts were used instead of AR-15 parts to save money. Edenpine expressed interest in selling the design on the United States market and subsequently licensed the design to Bushmaster for local manufacture thus avoiding import restrictions. This rifle was sold from October 1992 to 1994 as the “Edenpine M17S Bull-Pup rifle”. The distributor was Edenpine (USA) Inc., the American branch of Edenpine of Australia, headquartered in San Jose, California.
When Edenpine folded in 1994, the totality of the rights passed to Bushmaster, who manufactured it as the “Bushmaster M17S”. The Bushmaster M17S hit the market just a few months before the approval of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. At the time, the M17S was the only American-made bullpup rifle to be offered commercially, and the only one not banned by name. The BATF approved a version with a longer barrel sleeve which covered more of the muzzle thread – making it impossible to attach a flash hider, and thus meet one of the key cosmetic requirements for a rifle to not be considered an “assault weapon”.
After just over a decade of lackluster sales, Bushmaster discontinued production of the M17S in 2005.
K&M Arms M17s: The Next Generation M17S
K&M is a small arms manufacturing company that is taking the risk to bring this classic bullpup back to the market with all the upgrades that should be in the rifle. K&M know their stuff though – they’ve been customizing / gunsmithing Bushmaster M17S’s for many years.
Now that there is more interest in, and more of a market for, bullpup semi-auto sporting rifles in the US, K&M have acquired the rights to the M17S design and decided to offer an improved and modernized version. As you can see immediately from the photos below, the K&M M17S has some significant differences from the Bushmaster M17S pictured above – internally it has also bee upgraded as well (which kind of begs the question of why K&M retained the M17S nomenclature…).
The K&M M17S differs from previous incarnations of the design by featuring an all-metal lower receiver, reduced weight, improved trigger, left-side mounted charging handle, AR-compatible pistol grip, built-in butt-pad, extra ventilation slots, Picatinny rails, etc.
- Caliber: .223 (.300 Blackout, .308 Winchester and 6.5mm Grendel versions under development)
- Barrel Length: 17.5″
- Barrel Twist: 1:9 Nitride treated
- Overall Length: 26.25″
- Weight: 7.4 LB
- Price $1800
- Billet aluminum Lower 6000 series
- Adjustable AR drop in hammer assembly with pull range from 3.5-4lb without removing the assembly
- Utilizes standard AR-15 magazine catch, grip, springs and pins
- Skeleton billet trigger
- Magpul enhanced butt-pad
- Push button safety located right at your finger tip
- 2X QD sling adapters at the butt of the rifle
- 2X AR style takedown pins (uses standard AR takedown springs and detent)
- AR-180 style bolt carrier with a 3 lug triangular bolt that uses standard AR extractor and ejector parts
- Uses Standard AR mags
- Uses standard AR pistol grip that can be changed to use most all other AR grip (ships with a TangoDown grip)
- Non-reciprocating charging handle changeable to both sides of the receiver
- Standard AR Flash hider threaded 1/2-28
- Ambi-mag release that is a standard AR style
- Modular side rails that can be mounted in any of the side slots
- AR style bolt catch with last round hold open
- Flared magwell for quick magazine loading
For more info visit: www.kmarms.com
Also check out this extensive review on the Military Arms Channel’s You Tube channel and Blog.