Are you hunting for the best bullpup rifles or shotguns? With so many different options, it can often times become difficult to make sure that you’re making the right choice.
That’s why here at Gun University we’re dedicated to helping you make the right choice. We’ve gotten our hands on quite a few and have whittled the list down to 8 top notch bullpup rifles and shotguns–plus one honorable mention.
Best Bullpup Rifles and Shotguns
IWI Tavor x95
Israeli Weapons Industries released the Tavor X95 as a newer bullpup rifle to rival their older SAR design in the same range. As you’d expect from an IWI bullpup, it is reliable and accurate, but we do suggest you make some upgrades.
So what did we love about the X95? Perhaps the standout positive feature is its reliability. When you consider its background as an Israeli weapon, this is no surprise. The X95 was designed to perform in the harshest climate and the toughest on the ground conditions.
The accuracy is the X95 is more than acceptable. During our shooting session for review purposes, I managed to stay accurate at about the 300 yard mark. Longer range than that became more of a challenge though.
One issue you might have when trying out the X95 is a period of adjustment to the trigger guard. The cutlass-style guard felt weird to use, and we suggest an upgrade to a different style. Coupled with the fact that the X95 is a bullpup, it might be significantly hard for shooters to adjust to this weapon, if you are used to a more conventional style rifle.
Overall, if you’re looking for a premium priced, reliable bullpup rifle, the X95 is a great choice. You can find cheaper bullpup rifles, but it’s worth paying a little extra to get something that you can really count on for reliability.
Check out our full review: IWI Tavor X95 Full Review
IWI X95 Specs
|Operating System||Gas Piston (long stroke)|
|Colors||Black, FDE, OD|
|Sights||Integrated Tritium Iron Sights|
IWI x95 Pros and Cons
Nice improvement over the SAR design, Very reliable (near bombproof), Accurate (for a “battle” rifle)
Must relearn rifle operation if coming from an AR-style rifle, Ejection port cover leaks gas in your face when shooting suppressed, Cutlass tyle grip guard is…just…weird
IWI Tavor ts12
The Tavor TS12 is our pick for the best semi-auto shotgun out there. It is made by IWI and is packed with innovative features.
So why should you consider the TS12 for your next shotgun? What does it offer in terms of features and performance that sets it apart from the other options out there?
The first thing you need to know about the TS12 is it scored nothing less than an A grade across the board. The TS12 has no real weaknesses whatsoever.
The key benefit of owning the TS12 is its large capacity coupled with its small size. This makes it an ideal weapon for home defense. You aren’t going to run out of shots, and you aren’t going to have any trouble maneuvering this bullpup shotgun in even the tightest of spaces.
The ammo storage found in the TS12 really is innovative. You can have 15 rounds plus one in the chamber. Even better, you can split the ammo into three different types, and easily switch back and forth between them.
There are no real downsides to the TS12. You have to pay a premium price to own this premium bullpup shotgun, but why cut corners when it comes to protecting the people you love?
Check out our full review: Tavor TS12 Full Review
IWI Tavor TS12 Pros and Cons
High Capacity Bullpup design, full length Picatinny rail, very customizable, easy to change ambidextrous
Heavy and Pricy
Steyr Aug A3 M1
The Steyr Aug is an iconic firearm for many reasons. It’s one of the earliest bullpup type weapons to find widespread use, having first been adopted by the Austrian military before making its way into civilian use.
As well as its legacy prestige, the Steyr Aug is well-known among gun fans for its appearance in many iconic movies as the bad guy’s gun of choice.
So how does it stack up as a bullpup rifle? Is it worthy of your time and attention, or are there better options out there?
First, let’s consider the positive aspects of the Steyr Aug. As you’d expect from a weapon with a military background, it’s as reliable as it gets. This is a rifle you can really count on.
The Aug is also a great-looking firearm. Aesthetically speaking, the gun is easy on the eye, and will look equally great in your collection or out on the range.
So what isn’t to like about the Steyr Aug?
First up, if you’re a fan of customization, you probably want to look elsewhere. There isn’t a lot you can do in terms of modification with the Steyr Aug. Also, the trigger isn’t the best out there. We also feel that the ergonomics aren’t as good as found in more modern bullpup rifles.
Overall, the Steyr Aug is a solid and iconic bullpup rifle, but more of a collector’s item than an everyday firearm.
Check out our full review: Steyr Aug Full Review
Steyr Aug Pros and Cons
Short, sleek, and reliable
Trigger needs improving, special mags required, safety takes getting used to, gas port vents near support hand
Kel Tec KSG
The Kel Tec KSG is the Gun University pick for the best pump action shotgun out there. It is a fan favorite of those who favor the Kel Tec brand, but it has some awkward issues for a bullpup shotgun.
First, we feel that the build quality of the Kel Tec KSG is likely to divide opinion. We feel the materials used come across as lower quality than is found in some other options, such as the Tavor range. However, if you’re a fan of the sleek and futuristic style of Kel Tec, this may not be an issue for you. If you’re old school, on the other hand, this probably isn’t the right shotgun for you.
Second, there are some comfort and performance issues with the Kel Tec KSG. The shell ejection method has caused pain and discomfort to some shooters. We advise you check out our full review of the KSG shotgun to get the full picture. You should also try and test one out before buying it.
On the plus side, the Kel Tec KSG is an affordable bullpup shotgun that is maneuverable and light. You might want to consider it as an option for home defense purposes or even as a sporting shotgun.
Overall, if you’re set on getting a pump action bullpup shotgun, this will definitely do the job. However, there are better options in the world of shotguns, even if you have to pay a little more to own them.
Check out our full review: Kel Tec KSG Full Review
Kel Tec KSG Pros and Cons
High Capacity, Short Length, Ability to Switch Magazines
Some reliabilty issues, Awkward ergonomics
Are you into First Person Shooter video games such as Call of Duty, Rainbow Six, or even old-school N64 Goldeneye? Or what about Stargate SG-1? If so, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of this weapon.
But just because it’s in a video game doesn’t make it the most used–let alone practical–on our list.
When using the FN PS90, you’re going to have to make some changes to how you actually manipulate the firearm.
First off, this thing is a little awkward even has bullpups go. It has an innovative top loading magazine design, and two seperate ergonomic grip holes. Pretty inventive if you ask me, but again it can be a bit to get used to.
However, it does come equipped with a MIL-SPEC barrel with integrated muzzle break so there’s no issue with the barrel. This comes in particularly handy if you are using the 30 round magazines that are available for this firearm.
Honestly though, it doesn’t really outshine the rest of its competition. But it’s no slouch either. So, if you’re into video games (and other pop culture), then this really is a gun for you. If you’re looking for something with a little more bang for your buck…. Maybe look elsewhere.
Check out our full review: FN PS90 Full Review
FN PS90 Pros and Cons
Novel design, small, can utilize same cartridge in pistol
No real prcatical use, expensive ammo
IWI Tavor SAR
Let’s just start by saying this is a very nice and reliable firearm. As a matter of fact, it’s actually the standard issue for the Israeli Armed Forces. (Of course, we receive a civilian version compliant with the law… but it’s practically the same gun.)
And that’s not the only honor this Bullpup has to its name. It received a Golden Bullseye award back in 2014. So what makes this gun so special?
To start with, it’s super customizable. And that’s thanks in part to a full length Picatinny top rail. So any compatible accessory can work.
It also comes with high capacity magazines capable of holding 30 rounds. Which you just might need out at the range becuase this thing is just awesome shoot.
I will say this though… Although this is a well-made reliable firearm, it does have a few issues. The bigget complaint being the magazine release catch. It makes the emptying and reloading sequence quite a bit slower. Instead of reaching for a new magazine with your support hand while you release the magazine with your firing hand , this gun requires you to use your support hand to actually remove the empty magazine.
This may not seem like a big deal to some, but if you ever find yourself in a high intensity situation… A quick reload is definitely something you’re going to want.
Either way, this issue has been corrected in IWI latest Tavor addition (and our Editor’s Choice–the X95).
Check out our full review: IWI Tavor SAR
IWI Tavor SAR Pros and Cons
Awesome design, very reliable
Heavy, weird mag release
EAA MKA 1923
Unless you’re brand new to guns, you probably know about European American Armory and their affinity for shotguns– thanks to their 1919. And now, they’re back with another addition to their family, the EAA MKA 1923.
EAA’s goal with this particular model was to bring MKA quality to a bullpup shotgun. And they’ve pretty much hit the mark. Not only that, but EAA has branded this as a great home defense weapon which is normally the reason for purchasing a bullpup shotgun such as this.
One of our favorite features of this weapon is its detachable box magazines. That’s right. Detachable box magazines full of shotgun shells. Changing from buckshot to birdshot, or even slugs is made super convenient. Just be sure to preload your magazines and you’re set.
Another defining feature we enjoyed is that they’ve made improvements to the cutlass style grip. It comes with its own trigger guard now! And if cutlass grips on an IWI bullpup make you nervous, this will definitely help to calm your nerves.
The one major thing we didn’t like about this weapon is that it’s a little rough around the edges. Not to say that the EAA is cheaply made, but it could uses a little smoothing.
But again this is a budget friendly firearm. And darn good one at that.
Check out our full review: EAA MKA 1923 Full Review
EAA MKA 1923 Pros and Cons
Semi Auto, Affordable, Detachable Box Magazine
Lacks finesse, proprietary magazines
Kel Tec RDB
When it comes to cool looking guns, Kel Tec really stands out. And there is no exception made with the RDB.
Not only does Kel Tec produce neat looking weapons, but they strive to provide innovation into their products as well.
In this particular rifle, Kel Tec aims to provide a unique shooting experience. One that can unify all marksmen. But did they really hit the mark?
There are few super cool and innovative features with this firearm. We really liked their ambidextrous magazine release which helps out any and all shooters. Also, their downward shell ejection system is pretty nice. It forces spent casings downwards to help with both lefties and righties while maintaining a great line of sight.
However, there’s a little thing I’ve noticed about Kel Tec. Where their ideas are top notch, the actual execution tends to fall a little short. The gun does feel a little wonky and a little cheap.
But that’s not to say it doesn’t work properly. And if you’re looking for an ambi bullpup that’s fun to shoot… This might be the option for you.
Check out our full review: Kel Tec RDB Full Review
Kel Tec RDB Pros and Cons
Light, Cool looking, Inexpensive
Not pro grade, poor trigger and mag release, impossible to diagnose malfunctions
Kel Tec RFB
As an honorable mention in our Best of Bullpups, we look to yet another Kel Tec firearm. This time with the RFB.
Now we do prefer the RDB to this model due to some of its other features.
But the RFB does provide some cool things worth mentioning. First off, it has a unique ejection port like that of the RDB. But instead of ejecting downwards it projects spent casings forward. This makes it ideal for either lefties or righties, and very interesting to see in action to say the least.
There are a few customization options with this firearm thanks to the top mounted Picatinny rail. However, there aren’t really any aftermarket availibilities with buttstocks, grips, or foreends.
However, just as before, this Kel Tec follows the same pattern. Great ideas, poor execution. Many malfunctions that come from bullpup rifles are caused via ejection. And the RFB’s unique design further complicates the issue. It blocks easy access to the manually clearing of the malfunction and even blocks your ability to see it.
This weapon is cool looking, and if you are looking for something novelty… Sure. Give it go. But if you’re looking for something more on the practical side of things. Opt for another choice such as the RDB above.
Check out our full review: Kel Tec RFB Full Review
Kel Tec RFB Pros and Cons
Short length, looks cool
Difficult to diagnose and clear malfunctions, no upgrade options, falls behind similar rifles
What is a Bullpup rifle?Bullpup rifles are defined as those where the action and magazine are located behind the trigger, as opposed to more traditional designs. This results in a weapon of shorter length and lower weight, while retaining the advantages of having a full length barrel. Bullpup rifles were first created by British weapons makers, and the original gun to receive the label of ‘bullpup’ is the Thorneycroft carbine. The Thorneycroft carbine bullpup was considered revolutionary, as it made use of the standard .303 cartridge which was in use by the British armed forces at the time. However, the gun experienced some issues with recoil and performance, so was considered a promising concept, but it did not get picked up by the British military. Since that time, various national militaries and gunmakers have evolved the bullpup concept. Interestingly, no-one seems to know the origin of the bullpup name for sure. In fact, as recently as the 1950s, the term ‘bullpup’ was used to refer to a type of pistol, as opposed to its current designation for compact rifles and shotguns. Arguably the big break for the bullpup rifle came in the 1970s, when the Austrian military chose to adopt the bullpup rifle as its primary combat weapon. Since that time, the militaries of many other countries have recognized the advantages of the bullpup rifle, and have adopted it accordingly.
Companies Making Bullpup Rifles
Many companies offer a bullpup rifle, but we’ll offer some brief info here on those which are featured in this Gun University ‘best of’ list, as well as a link to their website, so you can learn more about the makers of bullpup rifles.
- FN. Fabrique Nationale Herstal is a firearms maker originally out of Belgium. The company is more commonly known as FN, and their United States Operation is known as FN America. FN America have adopted the slogan ‘the world’s most battle proven firearms’ as they supply the majority of weapons for the US military, and therefore have a high-level of combat pedigree and true experience. In addition to their bullpup weapons, FN America offer a wide range of full-size rifles and smaller weapons for home protection. They are a favored firearms company for both military, law enforcement, and home defense purposes.
- Kel Tec. Kel Tec is a brand which is a byword for innovation. They are known for producing weapons with a futuristic look and feel. When you hear firearms fans talking about Kel Tec, you’ll often hear words such as sci-fi, futuristic, and even alien being thrown around. Kel Tec offer three types of firearms – pistols, rifles, and shotguns. They are a true American company, employing hundreds of Americans, including many military veterans. Kel Tec are well-known for their bullpup firearms, which include a mixture of rifles and shotguns.
- Steyr. Steyr are originally an Austrian company with a long track record of producing quality firearms that have been adopted by militaries as their weapons of choice, such as the Steur Aug. The Aug was originally a military weapon, and is now a civilian firearm. Steyr may originally be an Austrian company, but they have an extensive American operation, including a mix of manufacturing and import.
- IWI. Israeli Weapons Industries is a company based out of Israel. They have a track record of producing innovative, high-quality firearms that are able to perform in the toughest of conditions. Obviously, the weather climate in Israel is quite challenging, so you can buy an IWI firearm safe in the knowledge that it will be able to perform reliably and consistently under almost any weather circumstances. The fact that IWI weapons are used by the Israeli military is testament to their quality and prestige.
Advantages Of A Bullpup Rifle
The Bullpup rifle offers a number of advantages over more traditionally sized rifles. These include:
- Smaller. The location of the action and magazine means that a bullpup rifle is able to retain the power and advantages of a full-sized rifle, while also being smaller in overall size. The barrel length of a bullpup is not affected, only the overall length. This smaller size has a number of advantages, such as being easier to wield for female and younger shooters. It is also easier to store a bullpup rifle than a traditional rifle thanks to this smaller size.
- Lighter. Just as the innovative design of the bullpup makes it smaller, it also makes it lighter in comparison to a traditional style rifle. This makes it easier to ship them, reducing shipping costs. It also makes it easier for the military to transport them into combat.
- Practical. The bullpup rifle style has a number of advantages for users over the more conventional format. For example, in a home defense scenario, it is easier to maneuver a bullpup in tight spaces than it is a traditional rifle.
Overall, the bullpup rifle offers a number of advantages over traditional rifles. There can be a period of adjustment and the retraining of muscle memory for shooters who are more used to a traditional style rifle. However, after making the switch, many shooters come to prefer the hands on experience of using a bullpup rifle.
The quality and dependability of the bullpup rifle as a concept is evidenced by the fact that is a weapon of choice for the militaries around the world, and that many of the most exciting firearms manufacturers dedicate their resources to designing and making bullpup rifles.
What Is A Bullpup Shotgun?
Bullpup shotguns are similar in basic design and layout to bullpup rifles, in that they have a full length barrel, but are able to reduce overall length by placing the action and ammo behind the grip.
Due to the length of the bullpup shotgun, they are sometimes categorized slightly differently from a legal standpoint to conventional shotguns. If you are thinking of buying a bullpup shotgun, it’s essential to check out the particular laws regarding specific models in your state. You can’t assume that bullpup shotguns will be treated the same as regular shotguns.
Aside from their innovative shape and style, bullpup shotguns often come with many other exciting features that are sure to please firearms owners. Some models are able to fire multiple types of projectile, for example.
Bullpup shotguns seem to be gaining in popularity in America, as more and more firearms owners become aware of their advantages for the purposes of home defense and sporting competitions.
Companies Making Bullpup Shotguns
There are a range of firearms manufacturers offering bullpup shotguns. In this ‘best of’ exploration from Gun University, we’ve focused on three bullpup shotguns in particular that we feel are an excellent choice.
Here is a little more information about the maker of each and every bullpup shotgun found here, as well as a link to their official website in order for you to be able to find out more.
- EAA. European American Armories have been going since 1990. Their focus is on making safe, quality, and affordable firearms. Their bullpup shotgun featured here is the EAA 1923, but the company offers a wide range of handguns and long guns to meet different needs.
- IWI. Israeli Weapons Industries make premium firearms. The company are known for innovative firearms, including their bullpup shotguns and bullpup rifles. The Tavor TS12 is the bullpup shotgun featured here, but they also offer a wide range of other weapons, including those used by the Israeli Military in some of the most challenging circumstances on Earth.
- Kel Tec. Kel Tec are an American firearms manufacturer with a cult following. They make innovative weapons that often have a futuristic, almost science-fiction like design. The demand level for Kel Tec guns can be very high, and they are sometimes hard to obtain as a result. Kel Tec are very much invested in the bullpup concept, featuring a range of different bullpup rifles and shotguns, with more to come in the future.
Advantages Of A Bullpup Shotgun
Bullpup shotguns are often used for the purposes of home defense or in sporting competitions. So what are some of the advantages the bullpup brings to the table in comparison to more conventional shotgun styles?
- Compact. The smaller size of a bullpup shotgun makes it easier to handle and use for female or younger shooters. This is advantageous in both a competitive or home defense scenario. For example, if there is an intruder in the home, a bullpup shotgun is easier to handle in a tight space than a full-sized shotgun.
- Lighter. The lighter weight of a bullpup shotgun compared to its traditional counterpart means it is easier to carry. This is good for both transport, handling, and even shipping purposes.
- Power. Don’t think that a bullpup shotgun sacrifices anything in terms of power. It still has a full barrel length which packs the full punch of a traditional shotgun. You gain a lot in size but lose nothing in terms of power.
Like with any unfamiliar form of firearm, if you are used to a traditional shotgun, it can be hard to make the switch to a bullpup style. However, it’s usually a small period of time before the new style becomes natural and normal to handle.
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