Why bullpups aren't a great solution....

Discussion in 'Land Forces' started by hitesh, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. hitesh

    hitesh New Member

    Jul 28, 2011
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    Bullpups are, in general, not good engineering.

    The bullpup rifle has one real advantage: bullpup designs allow for a shorter overall weapon, for a given length of barrel (typically between 4" and 7" shorter than a conventional rifle).

    That's not an insignificant advantage. In some missions it's even a huge asset (particularly in urban combat, or infantry dismounted from armored vehicles).

    In most missions though, that 4-7 inches isn't much of a plus.

    On the other hand, the bullpup configuration has a number of disadvantages:
    Bullpup designs are mechanically more complex, requiring a long trigger linkage, and control system linkages. This seriously degrades both control feel, and reliability, and increases bulk and weight (there may be engineering solutions to this problem).

    If current munitions infrastructure and laws allowed for electronic trigger, feed, and ignition systems, this would be a non issue, and the bullpups advantage may outweigh it's several disadvantages; but for now, that's not an option (also, electronic systems have their own issues).

    If a bullpup has a catastrophic failure, instead of the explosion being six or eight inches in front of your eyes, it's right at your eyesocket, or touching your cheekbone or ear. The only good thing is, if the bolt flys back, it doesn't end up in your eye socket.

    Most bullpups also eject hot brass, and vent hot gasses in the vicinity of your eyes and ears (some eject downward or forward, which is a better solution for a bullpup, if it's engineered properly).

    Mag changes on most bullpups are slower (sometimes much slower) because they require more repositioning, that positioning can be awkward, and can be difficult to see (if necessary) without fully dismounting the rifle.

    A conventional rifle allows you to see your mag changes, and is more easily maneuvered with your dominant hand, which makes mag changes easier in general.

    More importantly a human being can naturally bring their hands together in the dark. As a basic design guideline, magwells should either be in your dominant hand, or just in front of it; because it is far more difficult to manipulate anything dexterously that is located behind your dominant hand.
    Because of the positioning of the magazine (usually the part of a gun extending lowest) close to your shoulder when the weapon is mounted, bullpups can be difficult to fire while prone (though this is common with some other rifle designs as well).

    Note in the pictures below, the magazine is by far the lowest point of the rifle; and being located behind the dominant hand and close to your shoulder; when you drop prone it will tend to strike the ground forcing the muzzle downward.

    This can also cause problems with mags being warped, ripped out of the magwell, having the baseplate broken off, or the rifle itself being ripped out of the users hand when hitting the deck.

    A conventional rifle with a long magazine can have issues with dropping prone as well, but because the mag is positioned forward of the dominant hand, instead of forcing the muzzle down, it will tend to force the muzzle up; and though it's not advisable to use the magazine as a monopod, it's possible. With a bullpup, it isn't.

    This isn't an issue for rifles that are generally fired off bipods, so in an SAW or LMG role, the bullpup may be an appropriate solution (though having the feed system in such tight quarters with your shoulder and cheek is its own issue).

    Charging the rifle and manipulating the operating handle is often more difficult, and sometimes can't be done without dismounting the rifle, or reaching over the rifle with your support hand (again, some conventional rifles do share this weakness; and this is a problem that can easily be solved with proper engineering).

    Bullpups are naturally balanced in a non-instinctive way.

    This is really the biggest problem, and the one that is hardest to solve with engineering.

    The balance point on most bullpups is in between your hand and your shoulder when mounted, which is unnatural. We have a natural tendency to try to balance things between our hands, not between our hand and shoulder.

    The only way to correct this is to put heavy things in front of your dominant hand, or to make the weapon short and light enough that this won't make a difference (and even then it will still be more awkward and less instinctive to point; but several modern bullpups have taken the second approach).

    This balance will tend to make a bullpup tend to shift its butt under recoil, unless it is very tightly mounted to your shoulder; particularly during rapid fire. This tendency is somewhat countered by the position of your support hand so far forward on the barrel, by the fact that the overall leverage moment of the muzzle is lower (the muzzle isn't as far from either your shoulder, or your dominant hand), and by the fact that most bullpups have straightline recoil.

    A conventional rifle is balanced in between your dominant and support hands, and there are good reasons for that. A human being naturally handles things that balance in the palm, or in front of your dominant hand, better, because we naturally want to balance things between our hands.

    Under recoil, the muzzle of a conventional rifle rises, but just from gravity will fall into you support hand again without actually holding or pulling it down, because the fulcrum of the lever is in your dominant hand, and the balance point is in front of the fulcrum.
    Some of these issues can be solved, or mitigated with engineering (and most modern bullpup designs do resolve, or at least reduce, many of those issues). Also, a lot of this can be worked around with training.

    What it comes down to though, is that bullpups are ergonomically incorrect for human beings. When you have the option, you don't train someone to do something ergonomically incorrect, you redesign the equipment to fit human ergonomics.

    The only good thing about a bullpup is the short overall length in relation to their barrel length; and that is not advantage enough to outweigh the disadvantages for most missions.

    The AnarchAngel : Why bullpups aren't a great solution
    Ray, W.G.Ewald, ALBY and 1 other person like this.
  3. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

    Feb 17, 2009
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    but it is always better to have few bullpups in your inventory.

    SATISH DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

    Mar 7, 2009
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    Bullpups are good for close combat and urban warfare scenarios and with special forces. A full scale deployment of bullpups for an army like India is not a wise decision.
    Pintu likes this.
  5. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

    Mar 10, 2009
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    EST, USA
    Unless a bullpup is ambidextrous, it is no good.

    Take the AK-47 bullpup for example. Try using it in left handed position, you will end up with a torn apart cheek and a smashed jaw.

    Steyr AUG is the best bet of all. P-90 is good too, but not much praised.
  6. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

    May 26, 2010
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    FN-2000 is best i know so does TAR-21 & SAR-21, I love Bullpup coz it weight distribution is very balanced, The blow back is directed to shoulders Rifle moves very little in this position, Its accurate and very stable..

    I find it better than AK and Insas in handling and it help in good accuracy, The only Problem i found as a first time user is when to change magazine..

    The article who ever written have flaws, Insas sound is no different from Tar and it produce similar smoke near eyes..
    LETHALFORCE likes this.
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    I have forgotten why during my IAT classes as to why Bullpups were no solution!

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