While there are plenty of Americans who live with oppressive anti-gun laws, in general, most people in the U.S. don’t need to get creative in order to buy and own firearms. That’s not the case in the United Kingdom, where gun ownership and gun culture are pretty heavily oppressed nationwide.
In the U.K. people have to be excessively willful to own guns, and especially creative to own practical firearms. With a near-total ban on legal semi-automatic guns in private hands, ADF Projects and Designs turned to a lever-action repeating rifle as the start for a number of very creative projects.
Specifically, ADF looked to the Ruger 96. While most Model 96 rifles were rimfire guns, Ruger also made a number of Model 96-44 rifles chambered for .44 Remington Magnum.
ADF’s bullpup is based on the Model 96-44 and indeed loads and fires from a belt of big old .44 Magnum cartridges. And of course, .44 Mag is no slouch, on par with many intermediate cartridges out of a rifle-length barrel.
That’s a big part of why ADF selected the round. This is, after all, a practical gun that navigates the strict gun control laws the U.K. has while remaining a formidable, effective gun despite its constraints.
It probably doesn’t hurt that .44 Mag is a straight-walled cartridge that can easily clip into a belt and that the Ruger 96 was made to run it out of the box. The Model 96 used here started out as a conventional-looking levergun with a 4-shot magazine and a wooden sporter stock.
This is actually a second-generation redesign of the Model 96 by ADF. The first-gen remake was more straight-forward, converting it to a pistol grip stock that feeds from a 10-shot detachable box magazine.
Not that the first-gen updated Model 96 wasn’t ambitious. Making a new higher-capacity magazine that works well is difficult even for a lot of gun manufacturers today. The most expensive part, according to ADF, was the dropped 45-degree lever to match the pistol grip.
Obviously that didn’t go far enough. While it was more practical than a factory Model 96, why stop at simply more effective when you can go outrageously effective?
Making a bullpup is neat but not entirely new and as a general rule, bullpup reloads are a little more difficult than traditional rifle reloads, so ADF clearly thought, “With the right design, we won’t need to bother with reloading.”
What’s more impressive is that this is a bolt-together design made using sheet aluminum and steel and 3D-printed plastic components like the feed tray. The belt uses 3D-printed half-moon links which are just about the most complex part of them all except for maybe the re-worked lever.
Everything else is just cut or bent sheet metal held together with pins and screws. The one drawback to the belt-fed bullpup is its weight.
Weight is often a trade-off with bullpup designs. The action and controls have beefy extended transfer bars and those are necessary for the gun to function. Also bolt-together designs usually weigh more than machined products since machined parts just have less mass and overlapping materials.
The unloaded weight of the Model 96-44 bullpup is about 10 pounds, 11 as configured, and around an extra pound per 20 rounds of linked ammo. That’s close to 15 pounds with a hundred rounds of .44 Mag.
“But it is good fun.”
Sadly at the moment ADF doesn’t have any plans to take the design to the market but from the response to this video there sure is demand for it. It’s hard to deny that this is a unique and compelling design, even if it’s technically a bit out of date. But nobody thinks a gun has to be modern to be good.
Hopefully we’ll see more from ADF as time rolls by.