Best Bullpup Rifle and Shotgun Choices in 2019

Do you want a shorter weapon, without sacrificing barrel length or dealing with the hassle of obtaining an SBR? Bullpups are the answer.

In this guide, we'll explain the benefits of this style of firearm and also give you our choices for the best bullpup rifle and shotguns.

Preview

IWI Tavor X95 - Top Overall Rifle Pick

Tavor X95 16.5 in Barrel Preview

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KEL-TEC RDB - Budget Rifle Pick

KEL-TEC RDB Preview

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KEL-TEC KSG - Top Shotgun Pick

KEL-TEC KSG Preview

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What is a Bullpup?

A bullpup is a type of firearm that has its action and magazine located behind the trigger. Without sacrificing accuracy, this allows bullpup rifles and shotguns to be shorter than traditional styled firearms with the same barrel length.

Tavor Bullpup and AR Style Rifle

The advantages of bullpups, which we'll cover in greater detail below, have led to a number of military and police forces adopting this style of firearm. One of the most noteworthy modern examples is the adoption of the Tavor by the Israeli Defense Forces.

Israeli Soldier Using Tavor Bullpup Rifle

Pros and Cons of Bullpup Firearms

There's a lot to love about bullpup firearms, but they also have some qualities that have left some sticking with more traditional firearms. Here are the pros and cons of bullpups:

Bullpup Pros

  • As we touched on above, bullpup firearms are almost always shorter than other firearms with the same length barrel. This makes them more maneuverable, a huge benefit for close quarters use.
  • Under United States federal law, the minimum overall rifle length is 26" and the minimum barrel lengths is 16". Bullpups let you push these limits. For example, a Tavor XB95 with a 16.5" barrel has an overall length of just 26.125". By contrast, most AR-15s with a 16" barrel are around 32.5".
  • Bullpups are back heavy, which is both a pro and a con. The positive of this is that they have better balance, leading them to be less fatiguing to shoot for prolonged periods of time and generally easier to use for weaker shooters.
  • The position of the grip on bullpups typically makes them faster to shoulder, aim, and shoot from a lowered position.
  • They look really cool and unique! You and I both know that you're lying if you say this isn't playing a role in your decision. If you bring one of these to the range, people will be looking for the time portal you came there through.

Tavor From Future

I'm really bad at Photoshop, but you get the point.

Bullpup Cons

  • The back heaviness of bullpups can lead to increased muzzle rise, which can cause to slower and less accurate subsequent shots.
  • Older bullpup rifles designed for right-handed shooters would often eject hot casings into the faces of left-handed shooters due to the ejection port being further back than on traditional rifles. Fortunately, most modern weapons redirect ejected casings downward or upward. Many popular bullpup rifles also come in left-handed versions or allow you to swap the ejection port to the opposite side.
  • Triggers in bullpups typically leave a lot to be desired, because they use linkages to connect the trigger and action of the firearm. This slightly more complex design is also suspected by some to make them more prone to breakages.
  • In the extremely unlikely event that a bullpup has a catastrophic malfunction, the shooter is at a greater risk of injury due to the action being closer to their head and body.

Is a Bullpup Right for You?

Aside from being super cool, Bullpups have a fairly major advantage in maneuverability compared to traditional rifles and shotguns. Personally, I think this can more than make up for their drawbacks.

Ultimately, however, the decision will come down to your individual preferences.

Below you'll find our list of the best bullpup rifle choices for a variety of different calibers and needs:

1) IWI Tavor X95 (XB95)

The Tavor, more specifically the Tavor X95, was the first rifle that led many people to actually consider choosing a bullpup for serious use.

Other rifles had brought the benefits of shorter overall length, cool looks, and good balance... But the Tavor was the first to do so with a well thought out modern design and user-friendly controls.

Tavor X95 16.5 in Barrel

 

$1749.99 at Brownells

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Prices accurate at time of publishing

Unlike previous Tavor models, the X95 has a button style magazine release in a similar location to an AR-15. Both the magazine release and safety selector are ambidextrous. The ejection port can also be swapped to either side, making this a great choice for left-handed shooters. IWI also moved the charging handle forward to be just above the trigger.

Speaking of the trigger, it's far better than triggers found on most other bullpups. It has a 5-6 lb trigger pull. Fortunately, there's also a great aftermarket upgrade, the Geissele Super Sabra Trigger Pack that's compatible with all Tavors and X95s excluding those 308 and 12 gauge models (see the trigger pack here).

In doing so, they were able to add Picatinny (1913) rail sections at the front of the rifle in the 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions. When you don't need to take advantage of these rails, you can keep on the rail covers shown in the picture above. This is of course in addition to the Picatinny rail that runs along the top of the rifle for mounting optics like red dot sights. The X95 also has built-in backup sights that fold down into the top rail.

The Tavor X95 is our clear number one choice for the best bullpup rifle for self-defense and general awesomeness. It gives you the benefits of a bullpup, without the major drawbacks of its competitors.

Automatic and semi-automatic X95s have been used by the Israeli army for whom the weapon was developed, as well as many other military and police forces around the world including India, Ukraine, Singapore, and Greece.

X95 Features and Specs:

  • Available in 5.56, 300 BLK, and 9mm
  • Barrel Lengths of 13" (SBR), 16.5", and 18.5".
  • Overall length of 26.125" for X95 with 16.5" barrel.
  • 7.95 lbs (weight for X95 16.5" Barrel)
  • Chrome-lined, cold hammer forged barrels with 1:7 twist rate.
  • Compatible with AR-15 Magazines
  • Available in Black, Flat Dark Earth (FDE), and Green (ODG)

IWI Tavor X95 Review
Tavor X95 16.5 in Barrel

Product Name: IWI Tavor X95

Product Description: The Tavor X95 by IWI U.S. is the best bullpup rifle available today. While all rifles in this class feel nearly futuristic, the X95 has done a fantastic job of actually modernizing the controls, fit, and feel. It currently serves as the weapon of choice for the Israeli military, as well as other military and police forces around the world.

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (5)
  • Usability
    (5)
  • Reliability
    (5)
  • Value
    (4)
4.8

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2) KEL-TEC RDB

While not every KEL-TEC firearm has been great, they really hit it out of the park with the RDB.

RDB stands for Rifle Downward-ejecting Bullpup, which brings us to the first innovative feature of this rifle. The ejection port is located just behind the magazine facing the ground, eliminating issues left-handed shooters face when shooting many bullpups. Casings are ejected down at a 15-degree angle and don't affect shooting this rifle in my experience even when prone, but I wouldn't shoot this gun shirtless if I were you.

The trigger is far above average, with a crisp pull and a pull weight of ~5 lbs. The safety selector is ambidextrous and out of the way, but I'm not a huge fan of the magazine release that resembles older Tavor models and requires you to break your grip with your shooting hand.

KEL-TEC RDB (Best Budget Bullpup)

$915.99 at Brownells

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Prices accurate at time of publishing

The internal design of the RDB is incredibly simplistic and well thought out. Minimal parts have aided in this firearm proving to be reliable over time.

The last feature to note is that it comes with an adjustable gas system and generally runs very well suppressed thanks in part to the nature of Bullpups and the forward location of its gas piston.

Overall, this is an affordable way to get your hands on a well-performing bullpup, earning it our choice for the best budget bullpup.

KEL-TEC RDB Features and Specs

  • Available in 17.4" or 20.5" barrel.
  • Overall Length of 27.4" (with 17.4" barrel).
  • 7 lbs (with 17.4" barrel)
  • Chambered in 5.56/.223.
  • Compatible with AR-15 magazines.

3) High Tower Armory Bullpup Conversion Kit for Ruger 10/22

Our next choice is a great way to get your hands on a bullpup at an affordable price. It will also allow you to shoot .22 long rifle, the cheapest ammo around.

Technically this isn't a rifle, but a conversion kit to turn your Ruger 10/22 rifle into a bullpup. Considering 10/22s are the most popular 22 rifles and that this conversion kit is pretty darn cool, I decided to include it anyway.

High Tower Armory Bullpup Ruger 10/22 Conversion Kit

 

$287.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

This kit is compatible with any 10/22 with either the standard 1/2" diameter barrel or .920 bull barrels. It is important to note, however, that your barrel should be 18" or longer. Shorter barrels used with this kit will be below the federal 26" minimum for overall rifle length.

The finished product heavily resembles a suppressed P90 if you attach the dummy suppressor that comes included. Despite the big boost in ascetics, it's still compatible with most 10/22 magazines.

The last awesome thing about this mod kit is that it's really easy to assemble. Check out the video below.

4) FN PS90

After covering a 10/22 P90 style conversion kit, why not take a look at the real thing... Or at least the civilian semi-automatic version, the FN PS90.

If you hadn't heard of our first 2 picks, you've almost certainly heard of the FN P90. It's been widely popularized in both video games and in film.

FN PS90 Bullpup Rifle

$1326.74 at Euro Optic

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Prices accurate at time of publishing

Like the Tavor, this is another bullpup that has seen a great deal of use by police and military forces around the world.

Aside from its oddball caliber (5.7x28mm) that it shares with the FN Five-Seven, its most noteworthy feature is its magazine that sits at the top of the firearm. It also has fully ambidextrous controls and ejected casings are directed downwards, making it a great choice for right and left-handed shooters.

FS90 Features and Specs

  • Chambered in 5.7x28mm
  • 16" Barrel
  • 26.23" Overall Length
  • 10 or 30 Round Capacity
  • 6.28 lbs

5) Steyr AUG

Before moving onto the best bullpup shotguns, we have one more rifle to cover - the Steyr Aug.

This is without a doubt the most well-known gun our list, having been featured in countless movies like Die Hard and video games like CS:GO.

Originally developed for the Austrian military in the 1970s, the AUG has been in use for 40+ years.

The latest version of the AUG is the AUG A3, which comes in a number of different Picatinny rail and optic configurations.

Steyr AUG A3 Features and Specs

  • Chambered in NATO 5.56/.223 Remington
  • 16.375" cold hammer forged barrel.
  • 28.15" Overall Length
  • 7.7 lb Overall Weight
  • Only NATO stock models are compatible with AR-15 magazines.
  • Mushy trigger with factory pull weight of 9 lbs, 8 oz.
  • Available in OD Green, Black, and Tan (Mud).

Steyr Aug With Full Picatinny Rail

$1999.00 at Euro Optic

Prices accurate at time of publishing

While the AUG is definitely a modern firearm even by today's standards, there are some reasons it wasn't first on our list. Considering its price point, the Tavor is its closest competitor, so let's do a quick comparison of the AUG vs the X95.

Steyr AUG Pros vs IWI Tavor X95

  • Typically the AUG can shoot 2 MOA groups at 100 yards, whereas the X95 is slightly less accurate at ~3 MOA on average.
  • Quick barrel swap capabilities.

IWI Tavor X95 Pros vs Steyr AUG

  • Lighter and crisper trigger, plus better aftermarket support.
  • AR style magazine release and safety selector.
  • Charging handle in a better location. The AUG's is too close to the rail/optic.
  • The charging handle can be swapped to either side.
  • Come standard with built-in flip-up sights as a backup.
  • All models work with AR-15 magazines, whereas only NATO stock models of the AUG do.
  • I prefer the "handguard" space to grip the X95, as opposed to the AUG which lacks this.
  • More popular in the United States today, leading to more aftermarket support.
  • Generally, slightly cheaper than the AUG.

While the above comparison is largely subjective, I think the X95 is the clear winner and the overall best bullpup rifle.

We've covered our favorite rifles, now here are the best bullpup shotguns:

1) Panzer Arms BP-12

The Panzer Arms BP-12 is a semi-automatic, magazine fed bullpup shotgun at a very affordable price. It features a full Picatinny rail on the top of the firearm, as well as rails at the front at the 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions.

As is the case with all magazine fed shotguns, the BP-12 can be picky about what ammo it likes, so be sure to try out some different options.

Panzer Arms BP-12 Bullpup Shotgun- Best Bullpup Shotgun (Semi-Auto)

$549.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Panzer BP-12 Features and Specs

  • 18.5" Barrel
  • 29.5" Overall Length
  • 12 Gauge Shotgun
  • 9 lbs
  • Comes with 2 5-Round magazines, flip up sights, and an angled foregrip.

2) KEL-TEC KSG

The KEL-TEC KSG is arguably the most popular bullpup shotgun. This 12 gauge pump action shotgun was first released in 2011.

Like the RDB bullpup rifle we featured above, the KSG is downward ejecting and completely ambidextrous. It's fed by two magazine tubes that you can switch between, each one holding 6 or 7 rounds depending on shell length. That puts its overall capacity at 12+1 or 14+1 rounds.

With its short length, plus its bottom and top Picatinny rails, the KSG is ready for tactical applications and home-defense.

KEL-TEC KSG Bullpup Shotgun - Best Overall Bullpup Shotgun

$808.99 at Brownells

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Prices accurate at time of publishing

KEL-TEC KSG Features and Specs

  • 18.5" Barrel
  • 26.1" Overall Length
  • 6.9 lbs Overall Weight
  • Trigger pull rated at 5 lbs from the factory.
  • 7+7 magazine tube capacity.

Thanks to it's proven history and great features, the KEL-TEC KSG is our current choice for the best bullpup shotgun.

3) IWI Tavor TS12

Oh yeah, IWI in about to launch a Tavor semi-auto Shotgun too.

At the time of writing this, it's currently able to be purchased on back order for a planned July 2019 release.

IWI Tavor TS12 - Best bullpup shotguns

$1,399.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Tavor TS12 Specs:

  • 18.5" Barrel
  • 28.34" Overall Length
  • 8 lbs Overall Weight
  • 12-15 Round Capacity (12 Guage 3" or 2.75")), fed from 3 individual magazines.

Perhaps once we get a chance to get our hands on the TS12 it will become our new best bullpup shotgun.

Conclusion

Hopefully this guide not only helped you find the best bullpup rifle or shotgun for your needs but also gave you a better understanding of why bullpups are so great.

Our favorite rifle options are the Tavor X95 if you can afford it or the KEL-TEC RDB if you're on a budget.

As far as the best bullpup shotguns go, the pump-action KEL-TEC KSG has been the dominant player in the market, but we're excited to get our hands on the Tavor TS12 once it's readily available.

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