The world of airsoft has has many innovations, but one that we see each and every day is undeniably the introduction of bullpup replicas into the sport. "Bullpup" describes a modern firearm configuration in which the action is located behind the trigger group and alongside the shooter's face, so there is no wasted space for the buttstock as in conventional designs. This permits a shorter firearm length for the same barrel length for improved maneuverability, and reduces weight.
In this series of reports, we'll be taking an on-the-surface look at how bullpup replicas have made an impact on airsoft, specifically, fourteen different bullpup replicas from around the world in origin.
We'll begin with the Steyr AUG. The AUG (Armee Universal Gewher, or Universal Army Rifle) was in development since the 1960s and first entered adoption into the Austrian army in 1977. The AUG sports the same accuracy as an M16 thanks to its same barrel length, and it achieves this standard in a smaller and more ergonomic design. The A1 variant includes a low power scope and a foldable foregrip. The A2 variant has an upper rail for optics as well as a foldable foregrip. The A3 variant is the railed version of the AUGs, having a integrated rail system. With such manufacturers as JG, Classic Army, and Tokyo Marui, you're almost sure to see one somewhere. All AUGs have the ability to remove the inner and outer barrel assembly to switch out barrels if one desires to. Let's see an AK-47 do THAT.
Next featured is the APS UAR. Despite having no real-steel weapon to base anything from, APS did a good job creating one of their own. For around 200 USD, one may enjoy the unique design, and STANAG compatibility. Some may not like the stock internals, but it comes standard with a Version 3 gearbox, including a quick-change spring guide. It also can be used without modification by both left-handed and right-handed users.
The Fabrique Nationale P90 is a compact submachine gun used by many forces around the world. You can find them mostly in CQB gameplay, but it's not uncommon to see one on the field every now and again. Mainly popularized by video games such as Call of Duty and Rainbow Six, many airosfters have a desire for some FN P90 goodness. With JG, Echo 1,Cybergun, Classic Army, and Tokyo Marui (just to name a few) making a replica of the P90, you're sure to see one at least once in your time airsofting.
The OC/OTs-14 Groza is a very recent addition to airsoft, but a welcome one. The Groza, or 'thunder' in English, is a bullpup Russian weapon made by the Central Design Bureau for Sporting and Hunting Arms in Tula. Intended for use by Russian Special Forces, it saw some action with an anti-terror campaign in Chechnya in 1999, but quickly fell out of favor and is no longer in production. Grozas are not known to many outside of enthusiasts and historians, but has gained some attention from 2001's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon game. Hong Kong's Hephaestus has made a custom line of GBB Grozas for production. Hephaestus' model will run you about 600 USD from an overseas dealer.
The SA80 series of rifles, more commonly known by their variant names, the L85 and L86 LSW are rifles of English origin. Replacing the English-made L1 SLR, an English FN FAL, the SA80 project of the 1980s spawned both the L85 and L86 LSW. Not a widely used platform, the weapons (namely the L86) gained most of their attention from games such as Modern Warfare 2 & 3 and Rainbow Six. ARES is the only company that makes all variants of the L85/L86 family, with ICS close behind, as well as an EBB made by ARMY. The ARMY is discontinued, but an ICS L85 or L86 will cost you about 300 USD on average.
Five guns down, nine more to go. Please join me in my next entry of Bullpup replica goodness, and as always, stay frosty.