I think most of you have probably already seen that SHOT Show 2014 opened a new front in the ongoing “camo wars”, but what you might not have noticed is that it could also be dubbed “The Battle of the Bullpups”.
First up, the Grand-daddy of them all – the Steyr AUG. The Steyr company is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, the selective-fire AUG A1 first entered service with the Austrian Army in 1978, and this year sees the introduction of the semi-auto AUG/A3 for the US civilian market.
As you can see in the photo above, the US-civvie market A3 uses standard AUG magazines (that allegedly sell for approximately $18-20 each – depending upon the retailer), it uses a one-piece upper receiver / railed optic manufactured by VLTOR, and has a lower / forward rail for mounting accessories or a vertical grip.
The NATO A3 variant in contrast uses STANAG M4/M16 magazines, has the standard folding fore-grip, and features a long railed flat-top.
In my opinion, it would have been a better move on Steyr’s part to follow the STANAG magazine / railed flat-top features of the NATO A3 version on the US A3 model – as this would make it even easier for AR users to switch to this platform without needing to swap all of their magazines, and it would also give any AUG user a much wider range of magazine options to choose from.
IWI Tavor. The Tavor for the US market was unveiled at last year’s SHOT Show, and it caused quite a stir – as its arguably the most modern and user-friendly bullpup available today. Using standard AR15-type magazines certainly helps, as does the fact its selective-fire sister is the combat-proven standard small arm of the Israeli Defence Forces.
The news around the Tavor this year was the introduction of the 9mm X95 version, as well as aftermarket parts such as the Manticore Arms ARClight XTL fore-end, and the Timney Triggers drop-in trigger kit.
Kel-Tec RDB and M43. Kel-Tec is already well-known for their 12-guage KSG and .308 RFB bullpup shotgun and rifle models – and their pistol-calibre SUB2000 bullpup carbine – all of which I had a chance to handle and shoot at last year’s SHOT Show.
Kel-Tec once again had these three models on the firing line at the Media Day at the Range event, but sadly not their two new bullpup rifle designs – the RDB and M43 models. Although they’ve been billed as essentially being scaled-down versions of the .308 RFB, the RDB and M43 eject their spent shell cases out of the bottom of the receiver behind the magwell – rather than pushing them out of the front as on the RFB.
I didn’t get a chance to examine the RDB and M43 upclose during the show, so please follow this link over to The Firearm Blog to take a closer look. Predator Intel (source of the photo above) has also confirmed that the RBD and M43 are the same internally – differing only in the external furniture and sight arrangement.
Desert Tech MDR. Also not available on the firing line this year was the most hotly anticipated bullpup of 2014 – the multi-calibre Micro Dynamic Rifle from Desert Tech (formerly Desert Tactical Arms).
I did get a chance to get up-close-and-personal with the MDR and MDR-C prototypes at the Desert Tech press briefing – and its quite an impressive piece of work. If Desert Tech are able to finish off the development of this rifle and get it to market within the next year or two, then this could well end up the winner of “The Battle of the Bullpups”, and possibly even be the best bullpup ever made.
As you can see in the two photos above (courtesy of Predator Intel), Desert Tech has overcome the challenge of how to eject the spent shell cases in a unique way. As you may know, an inherent design flaw with most previous generation bullpups is that they are not truly ambidextrous in use because the ejection port is located right where a left-handed shooters cheek would make contact with the receiver. Usually this has meant that the rifle needs to be permanently reconfigured for left-hand use by changing the bolt and ejection port to a left-side-ejecting set-up. The MDR and MDR-C uses a patent-pending side-forward ejection system that pushes the hot spent brass out and away from the shooters face when firing left-handed. The fire controls and magazine release are duplicated on each side of the lower receiver, and the charging handle can also be easily swapped from left to right – making the MDR and MDR-C a truly full-time ambidextrous platform. In fact, one of the slickest features of the platform is that the magazine release button is located at the forward edge of the trigger-group housing – right at the shooters finger-tip, and something that an AR-trained user will be familiar with.
The MDR has also been designed from the ground up as a flexible, multiple caliber platform and Desert Tech plans on making versions available in .223, .308, 6.8mm SPC, .300 BLK, and 7.62x39mm. Barrel length options will be 16″ for the MDR and 10″ for the MDR-C. Overall length for the .223 caliber MDR is 27.62 inches and empty weight is 7.5 pounds. The .223 and .308 models will be the first ones released and all models will feed from standard AR-15 and SR-25 type magazines.
Crye Precision Six12 bullpup shotgun. This was certainly one of the big surprises of the show, and it has generated quite a bit of buzz already.
Whilst there have been other bullpup, revolver, shotguns in the past, Crye Precision have created what might well be the first commercially successful venture into this arena.
Jump over to The Firearm Blog to read more…