Fol­low-up Test

BAR Conversion kit: The real-world ad­van­tages of con­vert­ing to a bullpup

Airgun World - - Contents -

Nor­mally, the fol­low-up test is my chance to as­sess how an air­gun per­forms dur­ing the month fol­low­ing my ini­tial test. It’s the near­est prac­ti­cal means of see­ing how some­thing will han­dle ex­tended use, var­ied weather con­di­tions and more ex­ten­sive test­ing. That was the whole point of in­tro­duc­ing the fol­low-up test, but my ex­pe­ri­ence has shown that mostly, lit­tle changes on the ‘me­chan­i­cal’ front and the most sig­nif­i­cant al­ter­ations come through han­dling and er­gonomics, specif­i­cally with re­gard to the avail­able ad­just­ments of­fered by the ri­fle.

We are look­ing at a bet­ter for­mat at the mo­ment, with a view to re­vis­it­ing ri­fles af­ter a longer pe­riod of time. Ideally, we’d like in­put from our read­ers on this sub­ject and that can hap­pen, too, but for this month I’m go­ing to broaden the brief and ex­am­ine the whole bullpup deal. As a vo­cal ad­mirer of bullpups, I need to ask my­self if my lik­ing of these ri­fles is prop­erly grounded in their ef­fi­ciency and ad­van­tage, or if it’s a prod­uct of nov­elty, even change for change’s sake.

IDEAL CAN­DI­DATE

The B.A.R. bullpup conversion kit is the ideal can­di­date for this in­qui­si­tion, be­cause the Weihrauch HW100 ac­tion it car­ries has ab­so­lutely noth­ing to prove in terms of ac­cu­racy, re­li­a­bil­ity and over­all per­for­mance, so that leaves its trans­for­ma­tion into a bullpup as the test model’s main fea­ture. Let’s see what this of­fers for its £320 ask­ing price, and the 15 min­utes or so it takes to con­vert a stan­dard ri­fle into a bullpup.

Also, one of my go-to ri­fles these days is the HW110, which al­lows me to com­pare it fairly di­rectly to the con­verted HW100. Re­mem­ber, I’m look­ing for real-world ben­e­fit from the bullpup for­mat, rather than foren­sic com­par­i­son be­tween the stan­dard model and its B.A.R. conversion.

ON-AIM STA­BIL­ITY

There’s not a doubt in my mind that, in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, my bullpups come to the point of aim more ‘di­rectly’ than my stan­dard ri­fles. I’m equally cer­tain that, if I were shoot­ing rats or feral pi­geon at close range, where faster tar­get ac­qui­si­tion is a def­i­nite ad­van­tage, then I’d per­form bet­ter with a bullpup. Add the need to shoot in con­fined spa­ces, such as barns, out­build­ings, from ve­hi­cles and hides, and the bullpup is sig­nif­i­cantly ahead, for me at least.

Yet, air­gun shoot­ing is all about pre­ci­sion place­ment of a sin­gle pel­let, and that means pin­point ac­cu­racy. It’s no good get­ting gen­er­ally ‘on tar­get’, if the fi­nal, pre-shot re­fine­ment of the aim isn’t smooth and ef­fi­cient. Olympic tar­get shoot­ers don’t use bullpups, they use ri­fles that as­sist this fi­nal re­fine­ment. These ri­fles are far heav­ier than our sporters, too, so the com­par­i­son isn’t a di­rect one.

CAN A BULLPUP DO IT?

The real ques­tion, here, is, ‘can a bullpup for­mat pro­vide suf­fi­cient sta­bil­ity to pro­duce the ac­cu­racy re­quired in the hunt­ing field?’ and my

an­swer to that is a sim­ple ‘yes’. I’ll qual­ify that by con­firm­ing that bullpups work for me, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do so for ev­ery­one. A fur­ther qual­i­fi­ca­tion must be, if us­ing a bullpup for con­ve­nience or speed of han­dling meant a re­duc­tion in down­range ac­cu­racy, I wouldn’t use one for hunt­ing. Ac­cu­racy and that all-important pel­let place­ment that comes from it, is the one un­break­able re­quire­ment of any­one who calls him­self a hunter. No com­pro­mise is avail­able, ever.

HOW BULLPUPS WORK FOR ME

Here’s how it works in the real world, and has done since I first tested a bullpup a cou­ple of decades ago.

First, I stand slightly more side-on to ad­dress the tar­get, and once the bullpup is in my shoul­der, I use the re­main­ing three sec­onds or so of my ideal five-sec­ond rou­tine to re­fine my aim. Noth­ing new there, then, but that re­fine­ment def­i­nitely be­gins slightly ear­lier in the se­quence with a bullpup com­pared to a stan­dard ri­fle. This makes me feel I have more time, plus the felt weight of the bullpup is less, which, for me is an ad­van­tage these days. Again, I need to stress that this is my own way of shoot­ing and that oth­ers may not ex­pe­ri­ence this as I do.

HOW THEY CAN WORK FOR YOU

Bullpups work for me mainly be­cause I’ve learned how to set them up to my best ad­van­tage, and I can’t stress too strongly the need to do this. Of course this ap­plies to any ri­fle, but the unique ge­om­e­try of the bullpup, es­pe­cially its re­quire­ment for per­fect head/eye align­ment, de­mands an­other no-com­pro­mise ap­proach. Use riser blocks, dif­fer­ent-height mounts, cheek­piece pad­ding, what­ever it takes, but get that align­ment per­fect. When the ri­fle is mounted, your eye must fall naturally be­hind the scope, with no ‘find­ing’ of the eye­piece at all. If you have to ‘search’ to align your eye with the scope, make the nec­es­sary ad­just­ments to your hard­ware, rather than ac­cept­ing com­pro­mise.

WIN­NING CHANGES

Get­ting back to the B.A.R. kit for a mo­ment, if I had to make a change to the sup­plied prod­uct, it would be to fit an ad­justable butt pad. That’s it; noth­ing else needs do­ing. I wouldn’t go for any­thing com­plex, or with a butt hook at­tached, just a sim­ple pad with the abil­ity to shift around to as­sist that al­limpor­tant gun fit. You’re look­ing for some­thing that en­hances fit and pre­ci­sion, with­out re­duc­ing the bullpup’s fast, easy han­dling.

VER­DICT

Well, the first thing I can con­firm is that this sub­ject needs fur­ther ex­plo­ration, and more in­put from other bullpup en­thu­si­asts, and de­trac­tors. We need to know far more about why, and how, these com­pact ri­fles work for their fans and don’t for their critics. I’ll be get­ting on with that as soon as I can, but for now I’ll con­clude this fea­ture with my take on bullpups.

These guns can work ex­tremely well for us, pro­vided we don’t mess up their po­ten­tial. Bullpups aren’t some mag­i­cal fix for bad tech­nique and we need to work with their char­ac­ter­is­tics, rather than ex­pect­ing them to do the work for us. When the re­quire­ments are met, though, I’m con­vinced that a good bullpup is a fine ad­di­tion to any hunter’s ar­moury, and this B.A.R. conversion kit re­ally can open the door to some­thing spe­cial.

Do bullpups of­fer worth­while ad­van­tages? Only one way to find out.

I rely to­tally on pre­ci­sion shoot­ing and there’s no way that would be sac­ri­ficed for speed of han­dling.

The stan­dard sport­ing hold is fa­mil­iar but in many sit­u­a­tions a bullpup can of­fer im­prove­ment.

When cor­rect fit and align­ment is acheived, you can ex­plore the bullpup ben­e­fits, but not be­fore.

Ev­ery shooter that tried the B.A.R. conversion was se­ri­ously im­pressed by its trig­ger set-up.

Bullpups aren’t built for benches, but their ac­cu­racy can’t be ques­tioned, ei­ther.

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