AR-15 vs. Bullpup Rifles

22nd Mar 2021

Updated May 19, 2021

Are you thinking about adding a new rifle to your collection?

A new AR-15 or bullpup makes an excellent purchase for any enthusiast, but there are details you'll want to consider before investing. We compared the AR-15 vs. bullpup rifles to provide you with an objective look and help you make the right decision.


The AR-15 rifle design is perhaps the most prominent used today. This gun is legal to own in most states and popular for self-defense, target shooting, hunting and competitions. They are also common in military and law enforcement applications worldwide.

AR-15 rifles are some of the most recognizable on the market — even with all the different ways you can customize them. They have what many would call a "standard" design, where the bolt, action and magazine sit in front of the pistol grip.


When compared to a bullpup, an AR-15 has benefits like:

  • Accuracy: AR-15s are typically more accurate than bullpup rifles, even with mounted optics.
  • Layout: AR-15s let you fire from both shoulders without worrying about ejected shell casings.
  • Cost: Rifles built on the AR-15 platform are easy to find, readily available and affordably priced.


  • Length: AR-15-style rifles are typically longer than bullpup rifles built with same-length barrels.
  • Weight: AR-15s typically weigh more than bullpups — especially once you start adding accessories.


Bullpup rifles are less common in the united States. They are standard issue for the British military and others but see little deployment here in the states — especially when it comes to self-defense applications and recreational activities like hunting and competition shooting.

Bullpup rifles have several distinguishing features. On these guns, the action (firing mechanism) and the magazine well are both located behind the trigger — unlike the AR-15. This design allows for a longer barrel while sticking to a smaller rifle platform.


The bullpup design offers advantages that include:

  • Weight: Designs vary by manufacturer, but in many cases, a bullpup will weigh less than an AR-15.
  • Recoil: The rear action placement makes it easier for you to absorb recoil and keep your rifle on target.
  • Length: Thanks to the design, a bullpup rifle will usually be around 25% shorter than the average AR-15.


Some of the most significant issues shooters have with these rifles include:

  • Availability: Because there are fewer bullpups out there, it can be much harder to find parts.
  • Cost: Bullpup parts and complete rifles tend to be more expensive than AR-15s — by quite a bit.
  • Cartridge ejection: The ejection port placement means you can only shoot from one side safely.

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