Best Bullpup Shotguns of 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

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Bullpup rifles have been around for more than a century now. Yes, they are actually older than most, or perhaps all semi and full-auto rifles.

These rifles are exceptional tactical assault weapons and can be quite deadly in a life or death situation. That’s why many militaries adopted them for service.

Here we will gain deeper insights into the functions, features, and usefulness of bullpup rifles. Plus, we’ll also review some very admirable and desirable bullpup rifles on the market, so you can get one for yourself. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Bullpup Rifles

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Kel-Tec RDB 5.56x45mm Bullpup Rifle

  • Adjustable Gas System and the Most Aptly Priced Bullpup.
  • Ambidextrous Design for Both Right and Left-Handed Shooters.
  • Downward Ejecting Mechanism Prevents Shooters from Standing Sideways.
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STEYR AUG A3 M1

  • Exceptionally Reliable and Ergonomically Stable.
  • Looks Like a Futuristic ‘Space Age’ Rifle Although it is 40 Years Old.
  • Has Been the Main Infantry Weapon of Many Major Armies in the World.
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Kel-Tec RFB .308 Winchester 24" Semi-Auto Rifle

  • Safe To Use - Two Layers Of Steel Over the Breech.
  • Extremely Crisp Trigger for a 7.62 Bullpup. Delivers High Rate of Fire.
  • Only Ambidextrous 7.62 NATO Bullpup With Forward Ejecting System.
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IWI 17" Tavor SAR 9mm Parabellum Bullpup Rifle, FDE

  • Best 9mm Bullpup Rifle.
  • Full-Length Rail and Tritium Folding Sights.
  • Currently Used by Israeli Defense Forces in 5.56 Caliber.
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What is a Bullpup Rifle?

Bullpup rifles are smaller in size than normal rifles, but still as effective. These rifles are created by making slight changes to the design of a regular rifle. The action and trigger of the rifle are placed behind the trigger group to make the rifle more compact, without compromising with barrel length and velocity. 

Since bullpup rifles are just a re-arrangement of the regular assault rifle assembly, they work exactly the same in regards to inaccuracy, capacity, and hitting power. This change in design makes bullpup rifles more compact, and better to handle during tactical operations, since the rifle stays closer to the user. 

Bullpup rifles have been in service with many prominent militaries around the world. Including Britain, France, England, Austria, Israel, and Australia. 

Are All Bullpup Rifles the Same?

Most bullpup rifles are pretty much the same if you consider their design and major parts of the operating mechanism. However, different bullpup rifles do differ in certain characteristics such as magazine capacity, overall weight, caliber, and range.

Bullpup rifles can also differ in terms of handling and mounting accessories. Since each of them has a different kind of frame, you may not find the accessories very interchangeable. 

Another difference between different bullpup rifles is their ejection port design. Most of these rifles shoot sideways, so the shooter standing next to you will get the hot brass right over his face. However, recent modifications in such rifles have eliminated this vulnerability. 

Additionally, the distinctive design of different bullpup rifles makes them ideal for a specific purpose and condition. 

What Makes a Great Bullpup Rifle?

As for any other product, bullpup rifles should also have some features which make them great and ideal for use. Some of these important features include:

Balance

Since the magazine and the action of a bullpup rifle is present on the rear end, they tend to be heavier in that part. However, a good bullpup rifle still maintains a proper equilibrium of weight throughout its body, for proper shooting performance. 

Customizability

A bullpup rifle must be customizable to let you mount aftermarket accessories and make some changes to its platform. This feature makes the rifle more versatile and adaptable to different situations. Whether it be CQB or target practice.

Ejection Port and Ambidexterity

Since bullpup rifles are known for their notorious sideways ejection, a good one must have the right design of the ejection port. So the shells get deflected upwards or downwards.  Some bullpup rifles are ambidextrous, which is also a great feature for shooters. 

Quick Take - The Bullpup Rifles

Review of the Best Bullpup Rifles

Bullpup rifles are quite scarce on the market. Plus they can also be expensive. Finding a good bullpup rifle online can be a tough and tedious task. So we decided to compile a list of the most notable and effective bullpup rifles on the market. 

Pros

  • Appropriately Priced
  • Good Ejection Mechanism
  • Allows You To Adjust the Gas System
  • Can Be Operated Left Handed With Ease
  • Ideal For CQB and Varmint (Mostly Hogs) Eradication
  • Customizable Design, Accepts Aftermarket Accessories With Ease

Cons

  • Might Feel a Bit Heavy
  • Magazine Release Can Be Improved
  • Bolt Travel Is a Bit Longer (Doesn’t Really Affect the Performance)

What Recent Buyers Report

The first thing buyers really love about this bullpup is it's price. It is the lowest priced bullpup rifle on the market. The rifle has a fantastic recoil compensation, and the downward ejection solves a very major problem with bullpups. The rifle acts as an SBR, without the need for purchasing a tax stamp.

Why it Stands Out To Us

Kel-Tec is undoubtedly the most renowned manufacturer of bullpup firearms. The Kel-tec RDB is an impeccable weapon from their inventory that shoots the common and famous 5.56 cartridges. Plus, the rifle has an exceptional recoil, adjustable gas system, customizability, and apt price point. It is also easy to maintain and offers exceptional value for money.

Who Will Use This Most

Since the rifle fires 5.56 NATO rounds, it is ideal for practice and self-defense/CQB. The rifle is also good for shooters who want to get a taste of bullpup rifles, without burning a hole through their pocket. The rifle is a more compact alternative to longer assault rifles, without compromising on power and accuracy. Plus, it is extremely fun to shoot.

What Could Be Improved and Why

This is probably the most loved bullpup rifle on the market. There are no important or differentiating improvements that could be made to this rifle. However, a slight reduction in its weight and the bolt travel would be helpful but, that doesn’t ​affect its performance in any way.

Bottom Line

The Kel-Tec RDB is an exceptionally priced, low recoil, and customizable bullpup rifle, shooting the 5.56 NATO cartridge. The rifle is easy to clean and maintain. Plus, the downward ejection port, also solves a major ejection problem with bullpups. The rifle accepts common AR-15 mags, which is also an added benefit.

Best for the Money:
STEYR AUG A3 M1

Pros

  • Easy To Disassemble and Clean
  • Barrel Can Be Changed Quickly
  • Fires 5.56 NATO Ammo, Accepts AR Mags
  • No Feeding or Jamming Issues, Very Reliable
  • Amazing Ergonomics and Comfortable To Shoot
  • Foldable Vertical Grip Adds To the Shooting Comfort

Cons

  • Priced On the Higher End
  • Difficult To Mount Accessories, Limited Space
  • Very Limited Aftermarket Upgrades Available For the Gun

What Recent Buyers Report

The reliability and easy disassembly of the Steyr Aug M3 A1 is a matter of interest among its users. The rifle is exceptionally accurate and both close and mid-range. However, the rifle has limited rail space, which only allows you to mount the essentials. Such as the scope and flashlight. The rifle is well balanced and well made. Plus the rifle is quite accurate, for a CQB weapon.

Why it Stands Out To Us

The Steyr AUG A3 was the first bullpup rifle adopted by a military (Austrian Army) for service. This fact speaks about its reliability, performance, and effectiveness in combat. Additionally, the rifle has an ergonomic and comfortable design, with expedited disassembly and only 6 parts to assemble. The rifle is also impeccably tough and works flawlessly even with the cheapest ammo, which isn’t a case with most bullpups.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle is ideal for self-defense and close-quarter hunting. You can even use it successfully for competitions. It is a battle-tested rifle and can be used for recreational fun shooting because of its unique design. Overall, the rifle is ideal for self-defense.

Who Will Use This Most

The trigger of the weapon is a bit stiff. However, it can be adhered to with practice. Another prickly attribute of the rifle is its price point. It should have been priced a bit lower, to be the best in class rifle. However, it still offers the best value for money at this price point.

Bottom Line

The Steyr AUG M3 A1 is a reliable battle-tested rifle, with impressive ergonomics, perfect equilibrium, and good accuracy for close quarter shooting. However, the limited rail space and availability of aftermarket upgrades can be a concern for some people.

Pros

  • Ejects Casings Forward
  • Ample Amount Of Rail On the Top
  • Good Compact Design For a 7.62 NATO Rifle
  • Extra Protective Steel Sheets Over the Chamber
  • Lightweight Compared To Other Similar Caliber Rifles
  • Ambidextrous Controls For Safety, Magazine, and Charging

Cons

  • Scope Mount Might Interfere With the Charging Handle
  • Doesn’t Work Well With Large Scopes, Not Compatible With Bipods
  • Gas System Requires Some Adjustment With Change in Ammo Grain

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers fancy the idea of condensing the power of a 7.62 NATO cartridge in such a compact rifle. The rifle is extremely effective for close quarter combat as well as hunting. Another feature that is most liked by users is its ambidexterity, forward ejection, and ease of handling.

Why it Stands Out To Us

First of all, it is the only 7.62 bullpup on the market with a forward ejection feature. Plus the rifle is extremely secure with double steel plates over the chamber. It does not compromise on barrel length and offers ample rail space to mount good scopes. Most of all, the rifle is appropriate for both right and left-handed shooters.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle would be loved by hog hunters. The rifle is compact, which allows the shooter to quickly change his/her stance and position, thus improving maneuverability. The rifle can also be used for home defense in certain situations. It’ll work flawlessly for anyone looking for a compact 7.62 rifle.

What Could Be Improved and Why

There isn’t any substantial improvement to this rifle. However, a thing worth noting is the charging handle. It could have been positioned farther away from the top rail, so chances of pinching the index finger become minimal. There are aftermarket charging handles available on the market, which can do this job really well.

Bottom Line

The Kel-Tec RFB is the best-in-class and unique .308 bullpup rifle. It can be used for hunting and even self-defense under very critical situations. The rifle works flawlessly and is compact and accurate enough to be worthy of its price.

Pros

  • Good Amount Of Rail Space
  • Reliable and Easily Customizable
  • Extremely Compact and Maneuverable
  • Foldable Iron Sights With Tritium Inserts
  • Forward Mounted Non-Reciprocating Charging Handle
  • Easy To Disassemble and Convert To a Different Caliber

Cons

  • Trigger May Feel Heavy and Mushy
  • Large Magazine Release Prone To Bumping
  • Not Very Suitable For Left-Handed Shooters

What Recent Buyers Report

The Tavor IWI 9mm is an exact replica of the 5.56 variant and is extremely accurate and maneuverable. Some users do complain about its mushy trigger, but it isn’t a very big issue. Especially when you get used to it. The rifle has ample rail space, and the folding sights offer an extra advantage.

Why it Stands Out To Us

The Tavor IWI is a battle-tested bullpup firearm. Plus it overcomes the problem of rail space found with most other bullpup rifles. The tritium based folding sights are an advantageous backup.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle is exceptional for self-defense and CQB. The 9mm parabellum cartridge is useful for short ranges, and due to its size, this rifle can only be used for defense, practice and recreational shooting.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Some minor improvements to the crispness of the trigger will be a definitive upgrade. Plus the magazine release can also be shortened a bit to prevent accidental bumping. However, these are not very noticeable and are minor changes.

Bottom Line

The IWI Tavor 9mm is good for self-defense and fun shooting. The rifle is a complete package in its own regard and is used by the IDF for combat. So there’s really no point in doubting its effectiveness for CQB.

Pros and Cons of Bullpup Rifles

Bullpup rifles have a unique place in the weapons industry. But just like any other firearm, they also have a few pros and cons. We’ll elaborate on them to help you understand bullpup rifles better. 

Pros of a Bullpup Rifle

Below are the pros of bullpup rifles:

Compactness 

The primary and most important feature of a bullpup rifle is its size. These rifles house all the components of a standard rifle into a package about 2/3rd of their length, without compromising on barrel length. Which in turn doesn’t affect the accuracy of the weapon.

Maneuverability

The compact size of these rifles makes them even more maneuverable. Especially in close-quarter battles. The weight of the rifle is more concentrated towards the rear, so you can operate the rifle with just one hand. 

Less Fatigue

Since bullpup rifles are held close to the body, you don’t have to spread your non-firing arm for supporting the rifle. This reduces fatigue while using the rifle for long stretches of time. 

Cons of a Bullpup Rifle

Below are the cons of bullpup rifles:

Firing Position and Control

Most Bullpup Rifles eject casings sideways, thus they are not very good for left-handed shooters. Additionally, the rear concentrated weight may cause the muzzle to rise in certain events. 

Safety

Since the action is just beneath the face, a shooter may develop hearing issues. Plus, in the very unlikely event of the action blowing up, the face is sure to get badly injured. However, many such rifles have reinforced cheek welds these days. 

Reloading

The positioning of the magazine may affect the reloading speed to some extent. Although, it can be improved with practice. 

Conclusion

A bullpup rifle packs the power and accuracy of a regular-sized assault rifle in a more compact and maneuverable package. Bullpup rifles are ideal for self-defense and close-quarter battles because of their size and design. 

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