Stubby bullpup airguns are enjoying a surge in popularity, so Mat Manning considers the advantages offered by these compact guns.
It wasn’t very long ago that bullpup airguns were written off as a passing fad. It seemed that the super-compact mini-guns had had their heyday and the airgun-buying masses were turning their back on them in preference of traditionally proportioned sporters.
But bullpups have come back in a very big way over the last few years. Fuelled by the success of guns including the Kalibr Cricket, FX Wildcat, Daystate Pulsar and Air Arms Galahad, the bullpup bandwagon is back on its wheels and rolling at full steam as more and more shooters embrace the benefits of stubby airguns.
And the benefits of a compact gun really can make a big difference. Apart from being smaller, and usually lighter, to carry around, bullpups tend to handle very well.
They’re extremely pointable airguns, and their diminutive proportions mean they lend themselves brilliantly to shooting in the confines of a hide. Having a very short gun also means you’re less likely to bash your barrel when shooting inside farm buildings – a frustration that many of us will have experienced when using night vision gear to target rats after dark.
Pick up a model from the higher end of the market, and modern bullpups also shoot surprisingly well. Clever designers have worked out ways around the old problems caused by extended linkages connecting trigger units to distant actions, and you’d be hard pressed to distinguish a bullpup mechanism from one on a standard rifle in a blind test.
On top of that, a lot of shooters clearly think that compact bullpup proportions make for a very attractive-looking airgun – just like a lot of people enjoy the taste of Marmite.
Love them or hate them, the surging popularity of bullpup and semi-bullpup airguns has been more apparent than ever on this year’s show scene, and more or less every major manufacturer has at least one in its line-up.
The move is a response to the fact that the punters clearly want to enjoy a slice of the stubby-gun action, and there’s no doubt that a lot of bullpups are going to be flying off the racks over the coming year. Here’s a look at some of the best new releases on the market…
This year’s big bullpups
At just 687mm long, the German-made fully ambidextrous Walther Reign is certainly compact and it also weighs a lightweight 2.5kg so it’s easy on the arms.
Housed in a tough synthetic stock with tactical styling and an integral fore-end accessory rail, it’s eye-catching and functional. The cocking and loading mechanism is driven by a slick sidelever action and runs an 11-shot magazine in .177 calibre and a 10-shot in .22 to ensure fast follow-up shots in the field and on the plinking range.
This affordable bullpup offering from Spanish gunmaker Gamo punches well above its weight in terms of looks and performance.
Supplied in a hard case and housed in a handsome hardwood stock, it boasts features including a shrouded barrel with integrated silencer and a slick side-bolt cocking and loading system, which drives a multi-shot magazine.
It is 740mm long and weighs 3.2kg, and returns 100 shots from a 232bar fill in .22 calibre and 80 in .177.
FX IMPACT MK2
The Impact from Sweden’s FX Airguns is already recognised as one of the best on the market, and the new Mk2 variant boasts several refinements, including the option to fit a high-capacity magazine.
This airgun might only measure 745mm and tip the scales at 3kg but it packs a mighty punch, churning out power levels up to 75ft/lb in mighty .30 calibre.
Its regulated internals deliver excellent consistency and return well over 200 shots from a 250bar fill at sub-12ft/lb, and it comes supplied with a bespoke hard case.
Arguably the most technologically advanced bullpup on the market, the sidelever action Pulsar features sophisticated internals which drive a super-crisp trigger mechanism and regulate power delivery to ensure excellent shot to shot consistency.
Available in numerous variants starting at just 760mm in length and weighing 3.4kg, this British bullpup comes in .177, .22, .25 and .303 calibres and can churn out in excess of 70ft/lb. This year sees the launch of the limited edition Saxon model with an eye-catching laminate stock.
WEIHRAUCH HW100 BP
The first bullpup from German giant Weihrauch, the new BP is based on the tried and tested HW100 action, which has a reputation for solid build quality and excellent accuracy.
Available in 835mm full-length and 735mm carbine versions, which weigh 3.8 and 3.3kg and return up to 140 and 70 shots respectively from a 200bar fill.
Housed in a beech stock with black soft-touch finish it runs a 14-shot magazine driven by a factory reversible sidelever action and comes supplied with the excellent Weihrauch silencer.
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