I have previously shared my thoughts on the one do-it-all gun for today’s world. Well the more I practice what I preach, the more convinced I am that a 308 Bullpup – once properly set up and wrung out – is the best do-it-all one gun there is.
Now yes, yes, mission and training dictates the equipment… but I like to learn, so I picked up some new equipment that really seems to fit the mission. Instead of ooh-ing and awing at pictures and looking at receipts, lets start by looking at all the places it fits:
The Scout Rifle
Accredited to the late Co. Cooper, the scout rifle concept is nothing if not an argument starter. I still like the concept though… if you don’t get hung up on the traditional stuff – because in truth it is unbalanced and kind of not all that great – and while outdated (in my opinion), the criteria for Coopers old idea has been well documented. With new materials, innovations, and inventions, the specific Scout Rifle numbers of weight and length and sighting system just don’t translate anymore. But again, the idea still does.
“A general purpose rifle is a conveniently portable, individually operated firearm, capable of striking a single decisive blow, on a live target of up to 200 kilos in weight, at any distance at which the operator can shoot with the precision necessary to place a shot in a vital area of the target.”
So a handy (read: light weight), hard hitting and accurate gun with a low powered variable optic that is a bit of a do-all outside of extended combat? Yeah, that translates. In some ways the idea is almost even more valid in today’s world of accurate, reliable, mag fed semi autos and quality optics than ever.
Of course though as soon as a set of rules are laid down, there will always be immediate push back, and this happened with the Scout Rifle concept… and still does fifty years later. But as much as they bitch, people have been drawing inspiration from Coopers concept for the same amount of time. So in the spirit of inspiration, I think we are right on with a heavy caliber bullpup. Yes a 77 grain 556 will do just fine, but whatever, I’m not goign there.
Copper’s prototype Scout Rifles were bolt-actions, however he did state, “if a semiautomatic action were made which was sufficiently compact and otherwise acceptable, it should certainly be considered.” To that I say you pretty well can’t get more compact that a bullpup. What I’m really taking away from Coopers thoughts are that the controls need to be intuitive, and positive. Let me explain…
I’m old school, and like so many other people, a lever or bolt action is still very intuitive for me, heck, more so than an AR is in the heat of the moment quite honestly. Keep it simple and all that. Anyway, I think we’ve all shot on platforms – rifles and pistols – where the controls just weren’t in reach. I have big hands and still never could quite get to the point on a heavy metal 1911 where the controls were all easy to access without having to turn the gun perpendicular in my palm. That’s a slight exaggeration, but really, only slightly. The other gun I have never forgotten how non-intuitive it was, is the Kriss Vector. I had a friend with one and every time I would shoot it, put it down, then pick it up again, I’d swear I was looking around to see if my hands were in the right place. It was just… different.
Now as different as the bullpup platform is from literally everything else, I don’t find it un-intuitive. Each one is going to be different of course, but at least to pick it up and hold it, if you’ve spent any time with sub guns / sbrs, or any other short firearm that gets shouldered, it’s very natural. With the fact that bullpups are for the most part a newer thing, relatively speaking, I’m finding that modern day designing and testing and revamping have all helped to make them as good as possible as far as control placement and grip angles go.
Cooper further outlined such specifics like, “the bolt knob should be smooth and round, not checkered and positioned far enough forward of the trigger to avoid pounding of the index finger during firing. The safety should be positive and include three positions. It should disconnect the trigger mechanism rather than blocking it. It should be strong and positive and work from front to rear, rear position “safe” and forward “fire.”
Ok well I disagree with the checkering, and while its not ideal in today’s world, the M1/M1A safety is not all that bad. But again, his intent was simply nothing to hang up, nothing to screw up, and nothing that left the user unsure. Some more modern iterations of the scout rifle include things such as retractable bipods and accessory rails for other lights and attachments, and while the addition of some of these features often render the rifle technically not a scout as originally defined, it (thankfully) has come to be accepted by many as still conforming to the spirit, if not the letter of the concept. We can go all through the outdated specifics and restrictions, trigger pull weight, forward mounting optics and the like, the point is, the 308 bullpup meets and exceeds those old ‘rules’ and works quite well in the scout role.
So, where else can this thing stretch its legs?
Yes, the ‘not quite a sniper’ Designated Marksman of the squad. It may be yet another somewhat outdated concept meant for those guys who were issued ACOGs for their long barrel M16s because it afforded them the ability to be a bit more selective with their targets at extended ranges, but the idea is always an intriguing and sexy one, so lets go with it.
In reality, if the Sniper is the offensive threat, the DM is the defensive one. The sniper is a specialized tactician, employed for specific missions, who slinks in undetected, completes his offensive objective, then slinks back out undetected. The DM is an advanced shooter that works with a squad, just as a grenadier or automatic gunner is, who is called upon when need arises.
The DM’s role fills the gap between a regular infantryman and a sniper, typically being deployed at ranges of “can you hit that from here?” They are the middle ground almost-experts… which sounds exactly like what we’re looking to do with our one general rifle. I joke, but in all honesty, Designated Marksman are traditionally misunderstood and misused by their commanders, and with absolutely zero discredit to them in the service, this is one of those rare places where I believe civilians should be able to do better than the run of the mill rifleman, because through ability and necessity, we are all capable of meeting the DM standards. The guys I hang around all take their stuff out to extreme ranges, because, why not? From pistols to SBRs to muskets, we’ve tried to see just how accurate at X range we were with whatever we had out that day. I can hit targets at 600 yards with my AK74 and iron sights, it doesn’t make it or me DM capable. DM’s are trained to work with their squad, its what makes the whole team thing work. We’re not concerned with that part right now though (although you should look into their training, its cool as shit). As civilians, with the right platform, we are afforded the opportunity learn and practice to our hearts desire, and with better glass, a wider variety of ammunition, and however much time we want to put into it. I see no reason why any shooter can’t get coached up to, and continue to practice to remain effective against targets at extended ranges, if they have an adequate setup for such a role, and that’s what we’re talking about here.
In the various individual services, from Russia to Israel to the US, that setup usually is a semi-automatic, magazine fed or 10, 20, or 30 rounds (depending on the firearm in question) slightly accurized with an optic to aid in target acquisition.
I’m probably talking too much about the tool and not enough about the idea here. The idea, minus the military squad implementation, is a rifle that can engage multiple targets at a sustained rate of fire across a wide distance. 308 Bullpup.
Well, maybe lets go with rural home defense. While I completely support my neighbors defending hearth and home with superior fire power, I really don’t want anyone touching off a 308 in town. Read up on frangible 9mm and 556 vs drywall if that’s your AO. For rural home defense though, hey, its a short 308, whats the problem?
Ok no its not anyone’s first choice, but the bullpup design is great for being shouldered in a firing grip with only one hand while the other opens doors or holds back family members. Close quarters engagements are 90% tactics, but it sure helps to not have a four foot long bolt action you are trying to implement your violence of action with.
One thing about the bullpup in 308 that shouldn’t need to be said, is that they are loud. If one were so inclined, choosing from a design that suppresses well (easily) may be something to keep in mind. Me, I just keep ear plugs AND ear muffs readily available. Big bore suppressors are not exactly cheap and they do change the handling of the firearm. For what this gun is for me, I’ll stick with the non-high speed stuff.
For a closing thought I’m going to back up for a moment. The idea of this versus a lever action… well like I said, I’m a bit of a nostalgist and one of those in 30-30, 30-06, 308, 338, or even 45-70 is still a hell of a gun. But the capacity, length and modularity of more modern offerings which expands the effectiveness in multiple roles cannot be denied. Three or five shots from even a moderately short barrel 30-06 will do dang near anything you need it to… for those three or five shots. From hunting to man to man engagements to an anti-vehicle need, only having three to five shots on hand can suddenly make you feel real short in the capacity department in a real hurry. Like this old AK goo-ru having to accept that the AR platform as a near household name in today’s world, bullpups, if not the way of the future, have carved out a niche that is here to stay, and I’m willing to take full advantage of they they bring to the table.
They’re a great close range bush gun. Plus its a nice medium between a fudd gun and a black rifle for the fudds that dont want an AR