Old Designs?

The system goes way back to 1905, and two designers, unknown to each other. In America, Elbert Searle used it in the Savage pistols. In Austria, Karel Krnka did a more elaborate application in the Roth-Steyr of 1907. Not to malign the fine falling-barrel system of John Moses Browning, the turn-barrel has a lot to recommend it. Over the years, it’s been used in several other excellent pistols, including the Beretta Cougar and the French MAB P-15.

While we’re around historical stuff, let’s take a quick look at the only other time a back-feeding magazine was tried. It was in the first years of the semi-auto pistol, just before 1900. The exact year was 1895, and the designer was Hugh W. Gabbett-Pairfax. His huge pistol was called the Mars. Unlike the beautifully-engineered Bond Bullpup, it was a disaster. Its locking system was a small separate turning breech block in the massive slide. After the cartridge was pulled rearward out of the magazine and lifted, it was fully exposed outside, at the rear, held only by the extractor pressure! The Mars didn’t last long.

In the Bond Bullpup, the cartridge-handling parts are all internal, and it works perfectly. There is one caution — ammo. Never use low-priced cartridges with un-crimped bullets, or aluminum cases. If you do, the vigorous action will occasionally pull the case off the bullet, a spectacular malfunction as you might imagine. In the manual, there are extensive lists of approved loads for range use and serious business.