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