The world of bullpups is a unique one, and pretty much everybody knows each other there. There are several popular bullpups available on the market, and today we are reviewing one of the popular bullpups from the recent past. The FN Herstal FS2000 bullpup was produced for almost twenty years, and it has seen service by various military services across the world. If you don’t know what a bullpup is, lets get that out of the way first.
A bullpup firearm is one where the action is located behind the trigger versus in front of. The idea is to reduce the overall footprint of the weapon, but they are often looked down upon due to inherent designs that typically complicate some basic functions.
The FS2000 is a 5.56 NATO carbine designed for military and police use. The rifle utilizes a 17.5 barrel that is tucked deep into its bullpup chassis to shorten the platform. The gun utilizes Stanag pattern magazines but as far as I can tell only works with the metal GI type. The action uses a short-stroke gas piston, a rotating bolt and an interesting forward ejecting system to overcome the ambidextrousness of a bullpup, with the action being next to the face it would be very unpleasant to have brass ejecting out the side into your face should you be left-handed.
The FS2000 has a very unique look, and one that has earned it several nicknames such as the ‘tactical tuna’. Similar to the other FN bullpup the P90, the FS2000 borrowed a similar safety that is also ambidextrous. A small disc located at the bottom of the trigger-guard can be rotated from either side with the trigger finger to engage or disengage the safety. The trigger itself like many other bullpup designs is a little more mushy than most would care for. The other controls include the magazine release located just in front of the magazine itself, the magazine release can be pressed with the upper side of your hand while stripping the mag from the rifle. The charging handle is located on the front-left side of the rifle, and uses a claw detent to keep it in place. The bolt does not lock-back on the last round, so there isn’t a bolt-release.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the rifle is at the breech. Since the chamber end of the barrel is deeply covered inside the rifle, there is a spring loaded trap door just in front of the cheek-rest that the operator can open to see the breech and clear any malfunctions.
The rifle features a great deal of sealing designs to prevent the ingress of debris into the rifle. All points of ingress have their own way of closing off, such as gaskets in the magwell, and a closed ejection port. The rifle weighs in just shy of eight pounds at seven-point-nine pounds, and the overall length of the rifle is twenty-nine and a quarter inches. The compact size of the rifle promises to give the user more maneuverability and mobility in action.
Lets see it!
When I opened the box containing the FS2000, I was surprised to find that it had been shipped with both the original foregrip panels, as well as a picatinny railed foregrip to utilize other accessories. The downgrip gave better purchase for me than the traditional smooth forearm panels, so I left it installed for the purposes of the review.
The gun seemed lighter than I expected, but I think thats because it appears bigger and bulkier than it should be. It felt lighter than expected because there seems to be a lot of empty space inside. As I lifted the gun to my shoulder, I was surprised by two things; first, I didn’t dislike the feel of the rifle as I expected I would based on my experience with the FN PS90. And second; it felt rather bulky compared to similar firearms whether bullpup or conventionally configured.
I ran the charging handle a few times to get a feel for the rifle, while it may offend some of the older crowd I have grown to like the feel of metal and polymers functioning in unison. The FS2000 felt smooth and locked up tight, I gave the trigger a few squeezes to see how it felt. I’ve felt a few bullpup triggers in my day, and this one was not too shabby to be fair. There are certainly better triggers but this one was certainly serviceable.
I gave the remaining controls a once over, I didn’t care for the safety much which again was no surprise. The mag release is another curious design, its a button just in front of the magazine well that you can depress with the edge of your hand while gripping the magazine. It is actually quite pleasant to use if you are stripping the mag with intent to retain it, but if you are reloading a fresh magazine it will definitely slow you down. It requires you to strip the mag with your support hand, then grabbing a fresh mag to insert.
The muzzle of the 17.5 inch barrel is pinned (eye roll) with a muzzle brake, something I don’t care for. The gas block has two settings which I would have loved to tried with a suppressor, but I guess that’ll only happen in my dreams.
It was time to install a red dot, and get this thing to the range. Once upon a time the FS2000 was available with a 1.6X sight attached, the pictures alone made me shudder so I’m glad I had my own. I dropped a simple little Vortex red dot onto the rifle, and after gathering up some ammunition I was on my way to the range.
It had been a minute since I’d loaded some old metal GI mags, but it felt nostalgic. I loaded the magazines with some PMC Bronze 55 grain ammo, and began firing my first magazine. A handful of rounds in, the rifle stopped. That old familiar feeling of the bolt not going into battery told me something was up. The cunning mechanical device that grabs the spent case and pushes it into the long ejection chute had jammed. The spent case managed to get turned around inside the receiver and bound up, causing quite a disturbance in my shooting. After clearing the case, I finished out the mag and loaded another.
While shooting the rifle I actually enjoyed the feeling of it. I had no trouble hitting an IPSC target with every round in the magazine at two hundred yards, something every battle rifle should be able to do.
Through the rest of my range time that day, the gun ran almost flawlessly. I had one more malfunction as a round got bit going into the chamber, though I’m not sure if I could blame that one on the gun. I must admit that I enjoyed the gun much more than I expected too, and I’m even a bullpup fan.
Pros and Cons
One of my biggest gripes with so many gun owners is when they discount certain firearms or types of firearms based solely on negligent testing and arbitrary opinions. It’s easy to throw smoke at bullpups, they already get shamed for their looks so if they aren’t 100% perfect in their function they are quickly discarded.
As a bullpup fan, even I found myself quick to dismiss the FS2000. But I was quickly turned around by its smooth impulses and pleasant shooting. Though despite my positive experience with the rifle I must be fair to its critics. There are several awkward things about this gun, the bulk and controls seems to be the most of it for me. I didn’t care for the safety, mag release process, magazine compatibility, failure to lock back on empty and such.
In its favor, the rifle was accurate enough to be useful, completely ambidextrous for those lefties out there, and despite the awkward controls I still enjoyed the rifle quite a bit.
Yes I enjoyed the FS200, and though I’m already a bullpup fan I found something new by playing with the FS200. I’ve heard many people of the opinion that military service is some kind of indicator of a firearms suitability for severe duty, and the FN FS2000 certainly has seen much service across the world. And yet I felt a smidge let down because I’ve gotten to experience better suited rifles that those same people would call insufficient for service.
The FS2000 is a fun rifle, but I don’t think I could see myself paying the money for one with so many other good options available today.