Bullpup Bliss

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Bullpups dare to be different, and just like any pup, Mike Morton reckons you need to get to know yours in order to unlock its full potential.

HW 100 BP in action: Triggers can be the Achilles’ heel of many bullpups, but not so with the Weihrauch HW100 BP, which has a trigger that’s crisp and precise

1. Know Your Bullpup

Many shooters associate bullpups with military-looking guns, and while there are a fair few bullpups that do follow the “black rifle” aesthetic of a combat rifle, there are plenty of others with regular walnut or laminate stocks.

It’s not the rifle’s looks that make it a bullpup, but the unusual location of the action, which is behind the trigger. This creates a more compact airgun in comparison with a regular rifle, while still having a barrel of similar length. The advantages of a longer barrel are generally better accuracy and muzzle velocity, potentially making it more air-efficient.

2. Know Your Semi-Bullpup

There’s another type of bullpup called a semi-bullpup. The action on a thoroughbred bullpup like the Weihrauch HW100 BP or Daystate Pulsar, which are both available from Solware, is located right at the back of the rifle, almost in line with the butt pad.

A semi-bullpup on the other hand, such as the Brocock Compatto Mk2 or Sniper XR, still has the action located behind the trigger, but has a more conventional butt, with the action further away from the shooter’s shoulder. Both full-on bullpups and semi-bullpups have distinct, but different advantages.

3. Trigger

Because the trigger blade is located forward of the action rather than directly underneath it, a mechanical bullpup has to have a longer trigger sear linkage than a conventional rifle. For many bullpups, this can result in a trigger that feels mushy and imprecise.

However, some manufacturers such as Weihrauch have found a way round this. The trigger on the HW100 BP, for example, is nice and crisp and feels pretty much like the one on the standard HW100 rifle. Daystate has avoided this problem altogether with the Pulsar, Renegade and Delta Wolf by using an electronic trigger rather than one with a mechanical linkage.

4. Muzzle Awareness

The main advantage of a bullpup is the reduction in overall weight and length without having to make any sacrifices with regard to the gun’s performance. This makes a bullpup an excellent choice for shooting in confined spaces such as a hide or when shooting from a vehicle.

While gun safety is always a priority for any shooter, bullpup owners need to be extra vigilant with regard to muzzle awareness due to their shorter overall length. It goes without saying that you should never put your hand in front of the muzzle, which is easier to do by accident with a short rifle like a bullpup.

Daystate Pulsar: The Daystate Pulsar is another bullpup with an excellent trigger – this time it’s operated electronically rather than having a mechanical linkage

5. Find The Point Of Balance

Rifles that are quick to get in the aim usually have a neutral point of balance, this normally being just under or just in front of the trigger guard. With a bullpup, the point of balance will often be much further back because of the rearward location of the action.

Get to know your bullpup, learn its point of balance and use this to your advantage. A rifle with a rearward point of balance is much more stable in the shoulder when you’re taking elevated shots, making a bullpup a great choice for a woodland hunting foray against squirrels or woodpigeons.

6. Add A Moderator

Even if you’re shooting your bullpup at the range where there’s no need to take stealthy, silent shots, adding a moderator can still be beneficial. Screwing on just a short moderator can make you more aware of your muzzle, and adding a longer moderator can help make the rifle handle better if you’re looking for a more neutral point of balance, especially if it’s a relatively heavy silencer.

Adding something that adds length to a bullpup may sound counterintuitive when the main reason is to keep it as short as possible, but a moderated bullpup will still be considerably shorter than a comparable moderated rifle.

7. Cocking And Loading

If you’ve never shot a bullpup before it can be tricky to locate the magazine well and the cocking mechanism, whether it’s a bolt or sidelever. While they would usually be conveniently located in front of you, they are now situated far further back and closer to your face.

But there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to operating these relocated controls – with enough practice muscle memory will soon kick in and you’ll be loading and cycling your bullpup with ease.

One thing that can help with sidelever-activated pups is a biathlon-style handle as this makes it even quicker to locate the lever. You may need to find an aftermarket part for your bullpup, while some rifles like the HW100 BP come with one equipped as standard.

8. Sighting Options

Most bullpups and semi-bullpups will let you fit pretty much any scope of your choice, but you may want to equip your shorter rifle with a shorter scope for better balance.

Some smaller scopes are designed to be used with shorter rifles like bullpups and semi-bullpups, offering what’s known as zero eye relief or short eye relief, meaning the ocular lens can be positioned much closer to your eye. Scopes like these can be found in the MTC SWAT Prismatic and Hawke Airmax Compact ranges of rifle scope.

Brocock Sniper HR: Brocock’s bolt-action Sniper HR and sidelever-operated XR are two examples of a semi-bullpup where the action isn’t set quite so far back

9. Mounting Up

On a regular rifle the rear scope mount can usually be mounted at the rear of the action, but this isn’t possible with a bullpup because the action has been moved so far back within the stock, so a riser rail is usually fitted to extend the mounting area for the optic.

This in turn means a telescopic sight will generally sit higher than on a regular rifle, but you can counter this if necessary by using lower mounts and/or tweaking the height and angle of the butt pad. Just like any other rifle, you should be able to shoulder the gun with your eyes closed, open them and find your shooting eye is directly centred behind the ocular lens of the scope.

10. Adjust Where Necessary

A bullpup is shorter due to location of the action, and while the cocking system will be further back towards the shooter, other features such as the position of the trigger blade and therefore length of pull should be similar to a full-sized rifle.

After all, while the bullpup may be shorter, our physical dimensions remain unchanged. When choosing a bullpup, or any rifle for that matter, features and performance are crucial, but just as vital is the way the gun fits you. If you shoulder a bullpup and it doesn’t feel quite right you may prefer the slightly more conventional layout of a semi-bullpup.

But whichever pup you end up bringing home with you, take the time to achieve the very best gun fit you can, paying special attention to the height and angle of the butt pad as discussed above.

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