UK Man Makes Compliant Belt-Fed Lever-Action .44 Magnum Bullpup

ADF Projects and Designs took this Ruger to 11. (Photo: ADF)

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.

Starting with a general concept, the simple design took shape. (Photo: ADF)

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.

It has a couple of little bugs but they can be worked out. (Photo: ADF)

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.

See Also: Escort Bullpup Shotguns ($589!) from Hatsan New for 2020

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.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

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  • David October 26, 2021, 7:08 pm

    Amazing, innovative idea. I truly think you are giving your British brothers a true weapon for defense. Hopefully down the road you can put your idea into several calibers.

  • Brown Danny February 7, 2021, 4:13 am

    Looks like to many parts that could go wrong. I would need to put some rounds through it to see if it jammed

  • Thomas July 18, 2020, 10:29 pm

    Now, is there a way to make this “slam fire?”

    Place the trigger forward of the grip, and rack it with the dominant hand.

    PS, as for a box magazine, how about a reversible box mag, shaped like the SAW: run the belt inside of it and run it left or right handed.

  • Michael Perkins July 18, 2020, 12:45 pm

    I could totally see Dirty Harry carting that saying “Go ahead, make my day!”

  • Michael Perkins July 18, 2020, 12:43 pm

    I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I think it is innovative, and fun. I would buy one, and have lots of fun. Way to think outside the box.

  • Chris Barbier July 18, 2020, 10:41 am

    I would prefer a pump.

  • John Bibb July 17, 2020, 12:26 pm

    BRILLIANT! However–it is rather like removing a person’s appendix via their rear end! Just to prove that it really is possible to do so.
    Make the next version in Flint Lock! Take that, Kalifornia.
    John Bibb

    • Otto July 17, 2020, 7:58 pm

      Why you taking aim at California? Did you even read the article, it’s about England.

  • Jake July 17, 2020, 12:21 pm

    I will take a Winchester or Marlin lever gun with 16-24″ barrel in .44 over this beast any time. Extremely interesting though. As far as the belt feed aspect, one will recall Browning’s first machine gun was based off an 1894 lever action.

  • AGRuss July 17, 2020, 11:07 am

    This is “outside the box” at its best!

  • Zupglick July 17, 2020, 10:16 am

    Would never take it hunting, much less combat.

  • Norm Fishler July 17, 2020, 10:12 am

    Desperate times call for desperate measures.

  • Kalashikov Dude July 17, 2020, 10:03 am

    Mount it on a motorcycle. Replace the trigger with an intermittent switch and a servo. Replace the lever with an electric motor. Put the belt in a box and mount it on the bike. Go for a ride : )

    • Steven Davis July 17, 2020, 11:44 am

      Best idea I’ve heard all day Dude.

  • Bob July 17, 2020, 9:51 am

    Top marks for thinking outside the box!
    On the other hand, all he has really done is transform a light weight quick handling carbine into a over weight, bulky and awkward carbine. It does look like a fun range gun though.

  • Ronnie Pigg July 17, 2020, 9:47 am

    Make fun of it if you like, if the Liberals get they way, this gun would be a great one to add to your arsenal if put in production. The “bull pup” design, which takes getting use to, is actually preferred by some for their compact size and mobility. A Tavor, made by IWI, is similar and you can wear across your chest, while driving or exiting a car. Doesn’t not recquire the maintenance or cleaning of an AR15. Uses same mag. Still have a 16 inch barrel.
    Urban warfare or home protection now is normally “close quarters” and does not require long distance shooting. Some are even switching to ‘FN’, P90 or U.S. version, PS90, which shoots the 5.7 which will defeat level 3 Kevlar and comes with a 50 round mag. Lighter than an AR15 also. Sixteen inch barrel too.

    • Howard July 17, 2020, 2:02 pm

      Make peace not war you don’t want go up against me in a war you people from other countries have this ideal this is your country,not.

  • Mike July 17, 2020, 9:28 am

    Can you imagine Chuck Connors from “The Rifleman” blazing away with this thing????!!! Any older guys on here remember the great opening scene to that show?

    • Aaron July 17, 2020, 9:59 am

      Older guys? I’m 42 and love that opening shot. He had a special setup for that. Small screw in the lever that would hit the trigger every time. Tricky…but, slick!

      • George July 17, 2020, 12:19 pm

        Also had a detent built in to keep cartridges from falling out when Chuck “flipped” . He was actually quite proficient with it for real, although not as good as on the show !

  • ron July 17, 2020, 9:28 am

    UK is probably already drafting language to add belt fed weapons to the illegal list.

  • John July 17, 2020, 8:50 am

    I would design it so you just rock that pistol grip forward to work the action.

  • Keith Rockefeller July 17, 2020, 8:21 am

    This rifle configuration looks so much fun. It’s just amazing. I wouldn’t mind a version in .357 or .45 Colt.

  • Steve Hall July 17, 2020, 7:48 am

    Kudos to the designers who once again prove that whatever a government put in the way of restrictions,clever and determined people will always find a way around them. I’d love to have one.

  • Phillip DeWitt July 17, 2020, 7:42 am

    I don’t call anything belt fed ultimate,especially lever action. The builder did put it together and I would like to try it out. I had a Winchester 94 in 44mag that was well balanced and handled effortlessly that made more sense.

  • Frank S. July 17, 2020, 7:19 am

    Interesting. My first thought was “why a belt”, but then the article mentioned the difficulty of making a high capacity magazine. So the designer wanted more than a 10 round box (which I think would be sufficient — easy to have more than one loaded mag). The only thing I see that could be a real issue is the position of the rounds on the belt. From seeing the lifter in action, if the forward edge of the cartridge isn’t flush with the forward edge of the belt it won’t feed. So you have this 100 round belt in your range bag, bouncing around as you carry it. Will all the rounds remain in place? What about when you are actually in the field, running and maneuvering around trees or through a building? What about when the belt gets some wear? That’s the only drawback I see. Other than that, it’s an interesting range gun, but a 10 round box mag would be more practical and reliable in the long run.

    • Guy July 17, 2020, 10:39 am

      Only 10 rounds ? You sound like a California politician. 10 rounds is never sufficient for anything.

  • W Clardy July 17, 2020, 6:43 am

    “Feed me, Mandrake!”

    • Pete Arundel July 20, 2020, 1:06 pm

      Nice reference . . . 😉

  • Don Juan July 17, 2020, 6:00 am

    …but does it also accept Glock mags?

  • Pete July 17, 2020, 4:57 am

    It can’t be a giant leap to make something like this in a semi-auto.

  • David July 17, 2020, 4:21 am

    I read this title out loud and saw the WTF on my wife’s face… Then we both WTF’d at his pronounciation of “levergun”…

    • James Anderberg July 23, 2020, 1:07 am

      It’s a “Leaver” acshune gun.

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