Firearms are very diverse and varied, although for the most part they all follow a similar pattern: The magazine (Where ammunition is contained), the trigger, and then the stock of the weapon. This pattern covers the majority of assault and sniper rifles, from the MP5, the M16, and the AK-47. This pattern has been followed since the first rifles. However, there is a relatively newer concept to firearms that is becoming more widespread. That would be what is called a “bullpup,” where the rifle is configured as the trigger, followed by the magazine in the stock. While considered unusual by some, the bullpup concept is increasing in popularity around the world.
The first bullpup assault rifle to be adopted by a major country’s armed forces was the AUG by Austria in 1977, although the history of bullpups goes back much farther. A bullpup assault rifle named the TKB-408 was considered for the Soviet Army, despite the conventional AK-47 being chosen. Another bullpup would later be designed as a possible contender for the standard Soviet Army assault rifle, the TKB-059. Despite being a bullpup, the TKB-059 also contained three barrels and a large magazine.
Currently, bullpup assault rifles are being used by several countries around the world. The AUG used by Austria, the FAMAS used by France, the TAR-21 used by France, the F2000 used by Belgium, the F2000 S used by Slovenia, the L85 used by the United Kingdom, etc. The TAR-21 for example, replaced the Galil assault rifle in use by the Israel Defense Forces. This was very significant, as the Galil was a conventional design which was very similar to the AK-47; however, the TAR-21 was so effective it was selected for widespread adoption within the IDF. The French FAMAS was very successful in the field, and has even spawned a copy named the VHS assault rifle produced in Croatia.
There are many sniper rifle designs that are being designed as bullpups as well. The Russian SVU is a bullpup variant of the SVD sniper rifle. The WA2000 was developed in Germany during the 1980’s, and is now seen in popular videogames such as the Hitman series for its unusual appearance. Croatia, the developer of the VHS assault rifle, also developed the MACS M3 and the RT-20.
Bullpups are an unconventional design, but are becoming more commonplace everyday. Their futuristic appearance is making them more popular in action movies and video games, and perhaps someday bullpups will become the standard weapon design.