Your first reaction to the IWI Tavor X95 might be wrinkling your nose and wincing at the word bullpup. After all, the short and stubby design is not as common in America and is typically frowned upon by many.
But those that look down their nose at these rifles do so at their own loss, as there are many benefits and even superior features to some bullpup designs.
Today we will look at one of the flagship rifles from the Israeli arms giant IWI, the Tavor X95 bullpup. Like all bullpups, the X95’s breech and firing mechanisms are behind the trigger. This shortens the overall size of the weapon by utilizing the space in the butt of the firearm that is normally vacant.
I’m no stranger to bullpups, so prepare yourself for some perspective as we go over this very popular and robust little rifle.
The first trip to the range with the X95 included a hundred or so rounds. I’d brought a few magazines to run through the rifle of various types. I had only installed a red dot as a sighting device with plans to shoot with a riflescope at a later date.
After loading a few magazines and a quick preflight inspection of the rifle, it was time to go hot. Charging the rifle is a very familiar process, seating the magazine and running the charging handle to chamber a cartridge. The safety selector is easily operated with the thumb, making the rifle ready to fire.
I fired a few magazines through the rifle, adjusting my sight a few times for a better point of impact. My initial impressions of the rifle were better than expected. The rifle shot smoothly and reliably. The trigger was a bit mushy for my taste, something common with some bullpups. But I could still shoot properly and get hits where I wanted them.
Reloading the rifle is different than a typical modern sporting rifle. Stabbing the magazine into the rear of the rifle can take some getting used to if you are new to bullpups. The bolt release is centrally located behind the magwell, allowing you to actuate it with your thumb upon seating the magazine. I would have liked to see a more flared magwell, but it could have just been my familiarity with this particular model.
The controls and ergonomics of the rifle seemed to fit me well. The charging handle does have a claw to capture it under recoil. I would have liked a slightly different configuration that offered just a smidge more purchase but again, this is just my preference.
One thing I did find a little annoying was during a reload motion; my trigger finger would often migrate behind the trigger. This made for an awkward transition back to shooting, but again it is likely just a lack of practice with the rifle that could be overcome with some training. Continue reading here
I’ve had a bit of experience with bullpups, some more than others. But if you’re interested enough in them to be reading this, you may want to read my last piece “Ode to bullpups” where we discussed bullpups in general. Today we will be speaking specifically about the Keltec RDB bullpup, a sixteen inch barreled 5.56 bullpup semi-auto.
Keltec has been around since the early nineties, with a motto of creating original and innovative firearms in the state of Florida. An overview of Keltec firearms gives the impression that affordability, alternative designs and materials are all part of their operation. My personal experience with Keltec has been modest at best until this RDB came to me, so this review will represent a fresh look at the rifle.
The RDB is a 5.56 nato chambered bullpup rifle, the action and magazine are located behind the pistol grip. This allows the rifle to present with a much shorter and well balanced platform than a traditionally configured rifle such as an AR-15. The RDB is fed by standard AR type magazines, and those cartridges are loaded by a piston driven bolt-carrier. The sixteen-inch one in seven twist barrel features a 1/2-28 threaded muzzle that came with a birdcage style muzzle device, as well as an adjustable gas block to meter pressure into the operating system. The cunning ejection system that sets the RDB apart from its competition is it downward ejection, the spent cases are pulled behind the magazine and ejected out the bottom of the rifle. The controls of the rifle are pretty standard, but not like you are used to for sure. There is a reversible charging handle that can be placed on either side of the fore-grip after disassembling the rifle. The safety is ambidextrous and located in the right position, right where your thumb would expect it to be.
The magazine release and bolt catch are both located behind the pistol grip. The mag release is a stamped piece of metal that reaches around both sides of the lower-rear receiver, there is a push-pad at the front of this horseshoe shaped piece just behind the pistol grip to release the magazine. The rifles locks open upon emptying the magazine, and the bolt release is located on either side of the lower receiver, but uses a captured lever on the right side of the rifle to aid in leverage to easily release the bolt after loading a fresh magazine.
There is a picatinny rail across the top of the rifle for sight mounting, and there are several points on the rifle for attaching slings with a hook or other attachment. The Defender handguard features M-Lok slots at three, six, and nine o’clock for attaching additional accessories.
I have seen Keltec firearms for years and had many opportunities to handle them. So when the RDB case arrived I wasn’t particularly surprised by its contents. I picked the RDB up from its case, and cleared it for inspection. I shouldered the rifle to give it a feel, it was then that I noticed it was lighter than I had anticipated, six-point-seven pounds according to Keltec. This was a pleasant discovery.
I played with the rifle for a few minutes to get a full understanding of its operation and features, and then I stared at it for a bit. At first I thought it appeared like a high school or college engineering class had drawn this thing in Solid Works, but the more I looked the more I could see what they were working at. The bullpup balance was like most others I’ve held, balanced right at the grip area. I again ran the charging handle a few times, the handle can be pulled to the rear and lifted into a locked position to leave the action open. But the ejection port being on the bottom, there isn’t really a place to inspect.
I wanted to try out the trigger, which for many bullpups is famously terrible. To my surprise the trigger was not bad, the first stage gave way to a solid wall that broke clean and firmly. So firmly in fact I almost immediately felt the desire to open up the rifle and see what was making such a significant strike when I pulled the trigger. Internal inspection showed a very curious design, both the hammer and trigger mechanisms were far from what I’d imagined.
The hammer itself is not unlike a turkey wishbone, with two legs coming together at the top to form a hammer anvil. The hammer splits around the magazine well, and the sear/connecting linkage travel all the way up to the trigger group itself. The whole thing is quite interesting, and explains why the trigger feels so good compared to other bullpups.
While inside I noticed the very short bolt carrier. The bottom ejection requires the bolt-face to travel far enough behind the magazine as to allow spent cases to clear the magazine and trigger parts. The short bolt and firing pin are similar to most other semi-auto bolt designs, with a rotating bolt guided by a cam-pin that also locks into the receiver guide rails as it goes into battery.
With fresh perspective, I reassembled the rifle and went to work preparing it for a range session. The rifle had come with set of Magpul flip up sights, but I also added a Sig Sauer Romeo RDS. I was surely going to try the rifle suppressed as well, to see how the adjustable gas system could accommodate the difference.
On the Range
Once on the firing line, with some thirty-round magazines I loaded the RDB and prepared to fire. Initial ergonomics were not bad, the rifle fit me well. The charging handle on the left side of the rifle was easy to find blindly and provided plenty of purchase. With an easy click of the safety I was in business. Recoil was just what I expected from a 5.56 caliber bullpup, not bad at all. The spent shells began to pile up neatly on the ground in front of me. When my first magazine went empty, it was time to try out the reloading controls of the rifle. Stuffing magazines through the rifle and doing lots of reload drills taught me a couple things about the RDB. It could use a more flared magwell, as it seemed a little bit of a stickler to get the magazine stabbed in properly. The magazine release worked better than I had anticipated, almost too good. I have long heard of people complaining that the mag release is too easy to inadvertently drop the magazine while maneuvering the rifle. And it proved to be so for me as well, a slight miscalculated move of the shooting hand can drop your magazine from the rifle. The bolt release took some time to get used to as well, reaching back and hitting it with my right thumb seemed to be the best option. I’m sure with some training it could become second nature. Cross training on different rifle platforms doesn’t hurt anyone, and its a bit of a pet peeve of mine when bullpup haters act as though a slight retraining in operation somehow renders a gun “useless” in their opinion. Continue Reading Here…
I’ve been called many things in my life, some of those titles I earned and others not so much. There is one label that some would consider an insult but its a badge I wear stress-free, that title is Bullpup enthusiast. My experience with bullpups is not unlike many others, the first time I was exposed to them was back in the 90’s when a friend showed me a hideous Mini-14 in a bullpup chassis. I was appalled by what had been done to the poor unsuspecting Mini-14, and I went back to gazing at the more conventional weapons like AR-15’s. Years would pass before I would again dabble in the occult realm of the bullpup, a friend of mine invited me to go shooting after work and he presented me with a Desert Tech SRS Covert to shoot. Within minutes I was absolutely addicted to the rifle and its impressive accuracy, and before we had even left that dry Montana hillside I swore I would get one of my own.
A man of my word, I kept that promise to myself. And it was the beginning of my trip down the bullpup rabbit hole. I am a gun nut in every sense of the word, I like them all as long as they serve a purpose. So having become a bullpup owner myself, my eyes were opened to the rest of this stubby bullpup community. After years of enjoying my SRS bolt-action precision rifle I jumped into the Desert Tech MDRX with both feet, this only deepened my affinity for these short and effective rifles.
In the term of a short few years, I had gone from a typical anti-bullpup traditionalist into a pure bullpup enthusiast. Having successfully navigated the rabbit hole I began shooting bullpups of all kinds, mainly to see what I liked or disliked about the different rifles.
An Odd Bunch
There are bullpups from every corner of the firearms market, both big names and shops you’ve never heard of seem to have a bullpup model hidden somewhere in their lineup. FN has their FS-2000 which looks like it hit every branch falling from the space-gun tree, I guess there are plenty of people out there who like it but their reasons are known only to them. Perhaps the most well-known bullpups come from Steyr, their AUG rifle has been a stalwart movie prop and service weapon with its unique look for decades.
They continue to be popular with even those who mostly dislike the bullpup genre, but for me their mushy pushy trigger and unique magazine still keep them at arms length. You certainly couldn’t talk about bullpups in America without mentioning the lineup from IWI, they have become so popular that many gun owners are under the impression that “Tavor” is some kind of all-inclusive term for bullpups. I’ve been able to shoot several of IWI’s rifles and they are probably my first choice in autoloading bullpups after my MDRX. The X95 has an incredible amount of aftermarket support and accessories, caliber conversion kits, and triggers (a much-needed improvement in my opinion). The Tavor 7 308 caliber rifle brings similar operation and design to a bigger bullpup. The battle-hardened reputation of the IWI bullpups can be seen in militaries from Jerusalem to Bogotá where I last saw them.
Bullpup rifles can be found in military service all over the world, the Desert Tech HTI is a 50 BMG sniper rifle used in service in the jungle climate of the south China sea and in the current war in Ukraine.
Not all of these bullpup rifles are popular or serve in militaries of the world. But just because a rifle is put into service doesn’t make it superior, the SA80 family of British bullpups has been despised for decades by her Majesty’s finest soldiers. Many bullpup rifles enjoy a life free of military service but still filled with action. The Keltec RDB has been a very popular 5.56 bullpup with American gun owners, it is used for everything from hunting to home defense. And its larger caliber sibling offers 308 power to those looking for a bullpup.
So Why the Hate?
What is it exactly that most gun owners have against bullpups? I think there is a two-sided explanation, and I’ll start with the first half; The engineering required to position the magazine and the action of a rifle behind the trigger tends to get complicated. While this feat does greatly reduce the overall size of the firearm, there are many complications that come as baggage.
Bullpups often have complicated linkages to operate controls, and these systems can be messy depending on the dedication of those who design and build them. These linkage systems frequently add weight and play to controls reducing the quality feel and performance, and there is also the obvious problem of ejection systems that either hit you in the mouth as a lefty or add even more weight and complexity to circumvent the redecoration of your lips.
The second half of the anti-bullpup phenomenon is based almost entirely on appearance. Most gun owners see an AR-15 or AK-47 type rifle and see a near-perfect visage of what an autoloading rifle should be. The same thing could be said about a bolt-action M-24 clone, it has nearly everything a bolt-action guy could want. And when these people see a bullpup, with its weird configuration and often goofy controls they are just immediately turned off.
The complaints about performance and design can be validated against some bullpup models, but there are others that work as good as any conventional rifle. The looks of some of these rifles is a more subjective topic. If a gun looks goofy, then no matter how functional it is many people wont want it. And for that there is no excuse, some bullpup designs are just hideous and can only be mocked from a safe distance. Continue Reading Here…
There have been countless disputes between gun owners since their invention, one of the larger disputes among gun owners in recent decades has been about bullpups. There seems to be a staunch hostility towards the diminutive stature of these firearms by a majority of gun owners. I myself am a convert to the cult of bullpups, and a decade later my safe is full of them. I only bring this up because today’s subject is another bullpup, the Appeal by Tanfoglio. I would like to preface my analysis with the disclaimer that my name is Jeff and I too am a bullpup fan.
The Appeal is a polymer framed bullpup rimfire carbine. For those that are new to bullpups, and what the name means, we’ll go over it quickly. Bullpup configurations mean that the magazine and action are behind the trigger, and as you might imagine the hatred many have for the bullpup design is typically due to several differences resulting from that key feature. Magazines placed behind the trigger require different muscle memory for reloading, as well as often awkward controls due to their placement. And perhaps the most frequent complaint is the triggers, most of which are connected to the sear pack with some kind of linkage.
The Appeal utilizes a upper and lower clamshell-type frame, with the fire controls, magazine, barrel and such located in the lower part of the housing. The upper and smaller half of the frame carries the charging handle and a Famas-like elevated optics rail that doubles as a carry handle. The model I received was chambered in 22 Magnum, but it is also available in 22LR. The rimfire cartridges are fed from detachable magazines that hold ten rounds, and are very reminiscent of pistol magazines. The rifle is ambidextrous, which with bullpups can be a big deal. Spent brass ejects from the rifle along the same longitude as your face, and you don’t want to catch a mouthful of brass because of an unfortunate cerebral development in your formative years. (easy, that was a joke)
The Appeal features a reversible ejection cover to swap from right to left, and the charging handle can also be pulled from the carrier and installed on the opposite side. The Appeal uses a thumbhole like chassis, and the magazine release is centrally located at the bottom rear of the thumbhole. The bolt-lock is located on the left side of the rifle just above the grip area, and the safety is a push-push type located at the front of the trigger guard. At the hazardous end of the rifle there is a curious muzzle brake that is attached not to the barrel but the chassis itself. The muzzle is hidden a few inches behind, cradled inside the polymer chassis.
Did you say Tanfoglio?
When I saw Tanfoglio on the paperwork, I must admit I was very excited. And yet as I opened the box I found myself somewhat confused, I didn’t even know Tanfoglio made such a thing. And despite my proclivity for bullpups, the Appeal looked like a naked mole-rat in my nest instead of an ugly duckling. If I’m honest, I was expecting something a little more zesty Italian and less Kirkland Signature ranch if you know what I mean.
I shouldered the rifle immediately, and started to feel it out. The balance was good, which most bullpups are. The thumbhole stock wasn’t uncomfortable, but it did seem a bit minimalist. The thing that surprised me the most was the mag release, it was located such that you sorta pinch it with thumb and forefinger and the mag drops into the palm of your hand. Despite having to relearn the task typical to bullpups, I found it a decent one. The trigger feels about like most bullpup triggers, which isn’t exactly praise. But I guess I could say it was better than many other bullpup triggers I’ve felt. The action is smooth and short, which also is pretty typical of a polymer framed gun. Perhaps the most awkward part of the rifle is the elevated optics mounting rail, which I found almost too tall to be useful. It does have integrated iron sights as part of the rail, which are plenty tall for my facial structure. But as soon as you install nearly any kind of red dot or other optical sight, I found myself nearly putting my chin on the cheekrest.
I removed the polymer muzzle brake in hopes of at least finding a threaded muzzle underneath, but that was another unfortunate miss for me. Continue Reading Here…
Advancing technologies have made every part of the firearm and shooting industry better, with new materials, better production equipment, and a growing competitive market all driving forward it is no wonder that so many new and exciting products are available today. Desert Tech has been pushing those limits since its inception in 2007, and this year they have released another great product that follows the Desert Tech adage Tomorrow’s Weapons.
The MDRX is the next generation rifle from Desert Tech, it builds on the already popular MDR rifle they released in 2016. The MDRX is a short-stroke piston operated semi-automatic bullpup, for those who don’t know already, a bullpup is a rifle configured such that the action, magazine, and firing mechanics are all located behind the trigger. The purpose of this design gives the MDRX a shorter overall length than conventional rifles of the same barrel length. When you add in the other additional features of the MDRX the difference becomes even more apparent.
All Desert Tech rifles are designed with modularity in mind, and as such, they are all available as multi-caliber chassis and barrel combinations. The MDRX shares that same heritage, as it stands at the moment it is available in four different calibers from the factory; 223 Wylde, 308 Win, 300 BLK, and 6.5CM. All four of these barrel conversion kits can be interchanged in the same chassis, making the MDRX one of the few modern sporting rifles to accept both large and small frame calibers. All this from an SBR sized weapon without the stamp.
But if you are a stamp collector like many of us are, you can also get the SBR conversion kit for the MDRX. The 11.5 inch barreled Micron conversion kit makes any MDRX into one of the shortest and compact rifles available. All these conversion kits make the MDRX an extremely adaptable rifle, to whatever mission specific purpose you need.
Being a semi-auto bullpup adds some challenges when it comes to universality, these challenges were overcome with ingenuity. The MDRX is completely ambidextrous, all of its controls are mirrored on both sides of the rifle for both right and left-handed shooters. In addition to the ambi controls, the rifle has a forward ejecting system that sends spent brass casing forward away from the shooter. Previous bullpup designs eject brass to the right side, which in a bullpup is a bad thing if you are left-handed. The MDRX can be fired from the right or left side with no concern of catching hot brass to your face. And if you are a dedicated left-hand shooter, you can swap ejection from forward right to forward left in just a few seconds.
The MDRX comes standard with a compensator made by Desert Tech called The Ratchet, the compensators are caliber specific to provide the best performance in recoil reduction and to stop muzzle rise.
One of the major challenges with bullpups is creating a good clean trigger pull, this is due to the linkage required to connect trigger shoe to the sear pack. This is another challenge that was overcome with design ingenuity, and the resulting trigger feel of the MDRX is widely accepted as great. Of the many people who have pulled the trigger on an MDRX, the common consensus is that it is a good trigger, not just for a bullpup, but a good trigger period.
The MDRX has a six-position adjustable gas valve allowing the operator to tune the rifle to whatever ammunition they might use, as well as use the rifle with a suppressor and a lower gas setting.
The MDRX’s aluminum/polymer chassis construction features full-length upper Picatinny rail, M-LOK slots for accessories and flush-mounted QD sling cups on the rear of the receiver. It is also designed to accept most AR-15 style magazines, and for large frame calibers, it uses SR-25 pattern mags. The rifle ships with caliber appropriate P-mags from Magpul.
The various caliber conversions for the MDRX feature popular twist rates, and standard barrel thread for adding muzzle accouterments. There are also both sixteen-inch, and twenty-inch barrels available in several of the assorted calibers, giving shooters different performance options. And with different barrel lengths, there are two different handguard lengths to go along.
The ambidextrous charging handles of the MDRX are non-reciprocating, they are normally locked to the front in a spring-loaded detent. They can also be locked to the rear by pulling them back and up, the release is as simple as slapping either of the handles down, and the bolt carrier closes into battery. The gun locks open upon firing the last shot from the magazine, the bolt release is centrally located right behind the magwell. This allows for very quick reloads by simply extending the thumb when seating a fresh magazine, thus closing the bolt on a fresh round. This actually can make reloading faster than most AR-style rifles due to fewer steps in the reload process.
The forward ejection system is perhaps the most curious of all the MDRX’s features. The open-faced bolt extracts the spent case and carries it to the rear, as the carrier travels it engages the ejector with a dovetail lug on either side. The momentum of the carrier then pulls the scissor-like ejector out, and it swipes across the open bolt face pushing the spent case off and into the ejection chute opposite. There it is retained by a spring-loaded pawl until the bolt carrier again travels forward where a protruding lug pushes the spent case forward and out the ejection chute. It’s a very interesting system, the only flaw I found with it is that when unloading an unspent cartridge from the rifle, it does require a firm stroke of the charging handles to get the cartridge seated firmly in the ejection chute. This is not so much a flaw as much as it is a training practice needed to be followed. The ejection system is designed to be used on either side of the rifle, both the ejector and chute can be swapped from one side to the other in seconds.
Also new for 2020 is a new side ejecting MDRX, for those who prefer a simpler, more traditional ejection pattern. The side eject is available in. 223 Wylde only, and can also be swapped from right to left side ejection. There is also the added benefit of a lighter overall weight, and a less expensive price tag.
On the Range
With several barrels in hand, I took the MDRX into my mountain hide to test its function. I started out shooting with the sixteen-inch 308 Win barrel, and loaded with Fiocchi 150 Grain FMJ ammunition at one hundred yards. After zeroing the sights, I fired a few five-shot groups, which ended up being around two MOA in size.
I continued firing the rifle at several additional targets to see how it ran. I found the recoil to be much softer than the previous similar rifles I had shot, this surely had much to do with the Ratchet compensator. The trigger was very clean and crisp, the reset is quite audible, I attribute that to the highly conductive poly receiver who’s hollow construction makes a very resonant chamber. I fired several additional groups using additional ammunition types as well, American Eagle XM80 as well as some 168 Grain match ammo from both Hornady and Federal. The match grade ammo certainly provided better groups, they averaged right around one MOA.
So with several hundred rounds through the rifle, and a respectable shooting and zeroed rifle, I figured it was time to test the metamorphosis of this multi-caliber gifted rifle. The barrel is removed from the MDRX using a five-millimeter hex wrench, the rifle comes with one, but I prefer to use the suggested eighty-inch-pound torque limiter. After removing the handguard via two loosened screws and one take-down pin, the barrel is released by loosening the two barrel clamp screws by about one turn, and then disengaging the barrel lock 180 degrees to allow the barrel to slide out the front of the chassis. The bolt must be locked open to the rear to complete this operation. I then installed the twenty-inch 6.5 Creedmoor barrel, seating it firmly towards the breach. The process is then reversed, turning the barrel lock 180 degrees, and then torquing the two barrel clamp screws to 80 inch-pounds with a torque limiter. Followed by re-installing the handguard, which I had swapped out for the longer one. The rifle had just transformed from a sixteen-inch 308 Winchester into a twenty-inch 6.5 Creedmoor, and I was excited to see the increased performance. The point of impact would not be the same from one barrel to the next, but it was on paper at one-hundred yards, so it only took some minor corrections.
The 6.5 Creedmoor shot very well, with 140 Grain ammunition from both Hornady and Desert Tech, the groups averaged much better, in the sub to half MOA realm. With this kind of accuracy, I couldn’t wait to take the MDRX out to more significant distances.
For several hours the rifle neatly piled up brass right in front of my shooting mat, the rifle never malfunctioned, and just kept eating magazine after magazine of ammunition. I also fired some S&B 140 grain ammo through the rifle without any problems, I would have liked to try some lighter loads like a 120 grain, but I didn’t get the chance.
The rifle is easily swapped to smaller caliber barrels as well, the 223 Wylde and 300 Blackout do require a little more though.
A change of the bolt, a magwell spacer, and a swap of the ejection chute are required in addition to the barrel change.
The 223 Wylde shot just as good as the 6.5 Creedmoor, sub MOA groups were easy when shooting good ammo.
The great performance of the MDRX was hard to deny, it is a very compact rifle, with incredible reach, and good accuracy. Desert Tech has upped the game with this rifle, and they stand behind all their rifles with a lifetime warranty. It would be a great rifle whether you are hiding in a tree stand, need a behind the seat truck gun, or anywhere you’d need heavy firepower in a compact package. Its larger calibers are certainly useful for big game hunting and some distant shooting, while the smaller calibers are great for quick target shooting in a 3-gun style competition or varmint hunting. The MDRX carries a higher than average price tag, but that is because it brings so much more to the table. The multicaliber option alone actually saves money by consolidating your training, and less money spent on optics and accessories. You literally could do almost every American shooting activity with this one rifle. Whether it is a home defense rifle or a suppressed ranch rifle, the MDRX is a do-all rifle if ever there was one.
I have long enjoyed an affair with precision rifles, and one of them in particular. I fell in love with the Desert Tech SRS many years ago now, it has been through several generations since, and the latest generation is the SRS A2.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the SRS family, it is a detachable box magazine-fed, bolt action bullpup, with the added advantage of being a multi-caliber rifle. A bullpup means that the rifle’s action is behind the trigger, and against the shoulder. This design has been tried many times over the years, in order to shorten the overall length and portability of the rifle. The SRS has all of the advantages a bullpup was designed to bring to the table, as well as the quality and a stellar record of performance sought by both law enforcement, military, and devoted precision shooters. And the icing on the cake is the multi-caliber capability.
The SRS A2 follows the long celebrated A1 model, from which it evolved. The SRS features an all-aluminum receiver, that is sandwiched between two polymer skins that comprise the pistol-grip, and magazine well. The receiver is split down the middle, and has four clamping screws down the side, together these features allow one of the SRS’s strongest assets. All SRS barrels have a shank at the breach that fits very snuggly into the receiver and is then clamped in via those four screws. Barrels are slid into the chassis from the front and seated against a steel feed ramp that doubles as an index point. The unique barrel clamping system also allows the SRS to return to zero, guaranteed every time you install each barrel, it will return to shoot the same point of impact every time. Bolts are slid into the breach by easily removing the recoil pad from the back, I say bolts because with differing cartridges you may require at least a couple of them. Anything from 223 Remington all the way up to 375XC, most options from the factory are your well-known bestsellers such as 6.5 Creedmoor, 308 Win, and 338 Lapua Magnum. The SRS has a large following with a multitude of aftermarket barrel manufacturers, allowing users to customize these factory-built rifles in whatever caliber they desire.
The evolution of this precision bullpup has brought several advantages to the system. One of the first notable differences of the new rifle is the M-Lok handguard, the more popular mounting system replaced the pic rail design from prior generations. The next most obvious change is the rifle’s weight, the A2 was put on a healthy diet. This new revision has the rifle weighing 2.1 pounds less than its predecessor, through various cuts and shaving material where possible.
The trigger also received an upgrade, a new design they call a “field match” trigger. This new trigger is adjustable from 1.5 to 7 pounds.
The SRS A1 featured a built-in retractable monopod in the bottom of the butt-pad, many users found this monopod to be a very valuable tool because of its quick deployment, and both coarse and fine adjustments. The A2 model was designed to be lighter, and the monopod was then made optional equipment instead of standard. That also helped lower the overall weight of the rifle.
The new M-Lok handguard is also interchangeable. The A1 handguard was difficult to swap between different length handguards, and it required a proprietary tool from Desert Tech. The new SRS A2 handguard is user-replaceable using only a Hex Key wrench, this allows users to easily swap between the standard length (longer) handguard, and the shorter length (Covert) handguard. Desert Tech sells the separate handguards as a kit for end-users to install, so they can enjoy the benefits of either configuration.
In addition to the new rifle chassis, Desert Tech will be releasing a few new calibers specifically marketed towards big game hunters. These newer barrels are chambered in popular cartridges such as 300 RUM, 300WM, and 7MM Rem Mag with more to come. A lighter contour barrel also helps lower the overall weight of the rifle. With a lighter rifle, the SRS is now even more appealing to those of us that would like to hunt with it, so these new offerings are a welcome development.
What’s the same:
The SRS A2 being a direct descendant of the A1 means that it inherited some of its best traits. The barrel mounting system is the same, which means that the barrel collection most SRS owners enjoy, can be used in the new A2 chassis as well. Bolts, barrels and magazines are also interchangeable between the two rifle chassis. This is a very welcome feature to SRS aficionados, as barrel kits can cost anywhere from 800 up to 2000 dollars.
The barrel clamping procedure remains the same, there is a barrel lock on one side of the receiver and four clamping screws on the other. The barrel lock rotates 360 degrees, but has a detent on the lock and unlocked positions. After installing the barrel in the chassis, the barrel lock is rotated to the lock position which rotates a cam to hold the barrel in place. The four clamping screws are then torqued down to 80-inch pounds.
The A2 maintains both standard length and Covert models as was the A1, the Covert model allows for using shorter barrels like the very popular sixteen-inch 308 Winchester. The longer standard handguard, allows for further forward bipod mounting, as well as clip on night/thermal optics.
The adjustable comb height adjustment stays the same, as does the spacer system to adjust the length of pull. These features are easy to adjust and allow you to fit the rifle to you.
On the Range:
Being quite familiar with the SRS platform, I found almost everything about it to be very recognizable. All the same functions I was used to, I tried several of my older conversion kits in it with great success. One thing I didn’t miss at all was the weight, the couple pounds lost make the rifle noticeably lighter. And the new hunting profile barrels are lighter than I was used to, making the whole kit seem more friendly to hiking hunters.
Desert Tech claims the A2 to be even more accurate than its precedent platform, this was a claim I wanted to see for myself. The SRS has always been a very accurate rifle in my experience, half MOA groups are expected and even guaranteed by Desert Tech when using match grade ammunition. The accuracy guarantee for the A1 SRS was half MOA, I was surprised to find that the A2 did not come with a better guarantee according to Desert Tech’s 36% better accuracy claim for the A2.
Shooting the SRS A2
I shot several different barrels in the A2 while at the range, among them were 6.5Creedmoor, 308 Winchester, 300 Remington Ultra Magnum, and 300 Winchester magnum. The new hunting calibers were all the lighter contour, this made the felt recoil a little more aggressive than I was used to, but with muzzle brakes installed the recoil was very manageable. Accuracy was everything I expected it to be from the SRS platform, typical groups were half MOA. Ammunition types gave wildly varying results, some of them did not even shoot MOA, while others easily shot sub half MOA. I can’t say for sure if the lighter barrel contour had anything to do with it because when they had the right ammo they just shot great.
My fourteen-year-old son also shot the rifle a bit and carried it around, he too seemed pleasantly surprised by the rifle’s easy handling and modest recoil. As usual, the rifle shot better when the sound suppressor was installed. The Desert Tech suppressor mounts directly to the muzzle brake and provides hearing safe shooting with enhanced accuracy. Another moment the bullpup platform shines is when a suppressor is installed, the SRS A2 with a suppressor mounted is still shorter than comparable rifles without one.
Whether shooting inside a 100-yard underground tunnel or shooting 1200 yards across a breezy mountain ridge, the SRS A2 tackled targets with great ease.
The only problems I found with the SRS A2 were not so much problems as they were questions. Previous generations of SRS rifles had fully adjustable triggers that were serviceable in the field with a simple Allen wrench. The new trigger requires disassembly of the chassis to complete the adjustment. While an infrequent necessity, it is still an unwelcome one.
The SRS A2 is a pleasant breath of fresh air that I didn’t even know I needed. It appears Desert Tech has listened to consumers and delivered a better bullpup, my A1 wont be going anywhere soon, but it definitely needs an A2 to go with it.