Every time I fly into O’Hare International Airport in Chicago I smile and chuckle a bit. I’m 18 years old again, away from home for the first time and heading to Navy boot camp. Ahhhh, I can still feel the excitement and uncertainty.
Recently I flew back to Chicago, not to go to boot camp, rather to attend the 2015 Bullpup shoot. I flew in with a few other media members. Once boots were on the ground, we hopped a rental and headed 2-1/2 hours west to Mt. Carroll, Illinois. The weather was crazy and we drove through a massive deluge that made it extremely difficult to see. During our ride west, our hopes of a nice day at the range the following day seemed to fade away. We arrived at our hotel, wet and tired and crashed out around midnight.
Morning came very early as I didn’t sleep at all. Not much of a fan of traveling as my sleep usually suffers. We piled into the rented Ford Explorer after a crappy hotel breakfast and drove the 30 minutes to the event. In stark contrast to the night before the weather was picture perfect. The sun was shining, temps were rising and the sky was blue. Our drive took us through some of the most beautiful country side I have had the opportunity to visit. Small farm towns, perfect little homes with front porches, manicured lawns and the stars and stripes blowing in the wind. We cruised past mile after mile of corn fields and silos. Tractors and hay bales dotted the landscape. It was remarkable. I’d even consider moving there if Illinois gun laws weren’t so oppressive.
We finally pulled off onto a gravel road and wound our way into the middle of BFE. In the distance we could see a tower with an American Flag. Blowing alongside the star spangled banner was the familiar SEAL Trident representing our maritime warriors.
Passing a sign that said, The Site Firearms Training Center, we knew we had come to the right place. We continued to drive up hill until we reached a flat level area where different vendors were setting up tents. Bullpup Shoot 2015 was about to get underway.
Many folks don’t know this, but the event is open to the general public. The public is free to walk around, check out the booths and shoot for a small fee. Kids are welcome too, however they aren’t allowed to shoot any full auto firearms. The event is sponsored by Manticore Arms and Ratworx. It should also be said, there were more than just bullpups present. A bullpup, for those not in the know, is a firearm where the action is located behind the firing hand grip and trigger. The magazine is located under the shooters face as is the ejection port (on most bullpups). This moves the barrel rearward, producing a shorter, compact firearm that would normally be longer in a traditional rifle using the same length barrel.
Some of the manufacturers present were:
- Manticore Arms
- Steyr Arms
- K&M Arms
- DS Arms
- Gearhead Works
- Krebs Custom
- Zulu Nylon Gear
- Black Rhino Concealment
The public was also encouraged to bring their own firearms. Once the crowd started to arrive there was a safety briefing, lecture to attend and waivers to fill out. I was very happy to see families turn out for this event. Kids and parents walking booth to booth and lining up on the firing line to take their turn at the wide variety of firearms present. There were bullpups of course, but also more traditional rifles, pistols, submachine guns, belt fed machine guns, suppressed firearms and more. For folks that don’t have access to this type of hardware it was a thrilling experience. For a list of available firearms click HERE.
I spent the first couple hours re-connecting with vendors and meeting new ones. There was a lot of innovation at the event. The vendors have been busy creating new and exciting products for the bullpup market and beyond.
Manticore co-hosted the event with Ratworx and had all kinds of goodies for the Tavor, AK and AR markets. For the Tavor, their handguard is stylish and effective with the ability to house a 1 inch light, and attach rail segments via Keymod. They brought their butt pad and ambi-safety for the Tavor, both of which are a huge improvement over the stock versions. For the AK lovers they had all sorts of different rails from full sized rifles to the smaller Draco. Some of their rails were still in 3D print form. They also showed off accessories for the CZ Scorpion. Their biggest hit of the day, in this author’s opinion, was their new 13 inch Transformer rail for AR15 rifles. Nicknamed "13 inches of awesomeness", the Transformer rail takes a concept so simple you want to slap your forehead and ask yourself "How come I didn’t think of that?!" The Transformer features cut out segments at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions that will accommodated both Keymod and M-Lok sections. Genius. This allows the shooter to utilize any accessory with the before mentioned attachment system without having to double up on accessories should the shooter have both types. Manticore was very excited about this debut and promised an expansion of this system in the future. Release date and price is to be determined.
For the bullpup crowd Gearhead Works really brought the heat. Paul had all kinds of goodies at his booth to include a forward assist for the IWI Tavor. This required the bolt carrier to be modified. He also had his new M-Lok Tavor Modular Fore end that houses a 1 inch light, a new prototype charging handle for the Tavor as well as new rail sections for the IDF model of Tavor. I should also mention he machined his own .300 blackout barrel for the Tavor which is sure to be a big hit. Gearhead Works had other bullpups at their table like the Steyr AUG, Desert Tech Covert and Kel-Tec KSG. For the Desert Tech Covert he created his own round which is a subsonic .50 cal round. Seriously. This is a 750 grain Amax traveling at 1,000 fps. His KSG shotgun featured a new choke system with stand-off device/shroud.
DSA, known primarily for their FAL SA58 rifles had probably the most unique bullpups at the event. They brought a South African Vektor CR-21. This is a very rare and odd looking bullpup. They were kind enough to allow some of us media folks to take it out for a spin which resulted in a collaboration with Military Arms Channel on a short video project featuring this unique rifle.
K&M brought both of their 5.56 and .308 M17S bullpups. These are aluminum bullpups that have a nice variety of features. The .308 version they brought was still in the white and featured a stout bolt carrier group with double ejectors on the bolt face for excellent brass chucking.
Ratworx and Steyr Arms had a nice variety of IWI Tavors and AUGs to choose from. Steyr also brought a plethora of other NFA goodies for the attendees to shoot. Ratworks allowed us to shoot their full auto Tavor and X95 bullpups. I must say I am very excited for the X95 to hit the US market and will be sure to pick one up when it does. Ratworx also showed us their suppressed 9mm Tavor which is a collaboration with Manticore Arms as well as some other prototype projects still in the works.
Marc Krebs was in the house in all of his AK splendor. The assortment of Kalashnikov rifles he brought was truly amazing. This man is a wealth of information and we were lucky enough to corner him after the event to pick his brain. He even showed us his little CZ Scorpion he modified, inside and out. Let’s just say if I ever pick one up, it is going straight to him.
All of the vendors at the event are wonderful folks who love what they do. They were very generous with their time and really made it a point to give the attendees a good show.
Even though it was only a one day event, it was fun to see all the smiles from the folks coming off of the firing line. They had an absolute blast at the event. Everyone left happy and jonesing for next year. Before I knew it, we were packing up and heading home. A good time was had by all and I plan to be back next year. If you can make it, I would highly encourage you to join me.
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