Bushmaster M17S – An American Commercial Bullpup

The M17S began as an Australian design by a man named Alex Hand, apparently intended for Australian military trials. It did not succeed in that effort, although the Australian military did adopt a bullpup rifle (a version of the Steyr AUG). Instead, the company went in search of commercial sales. By the time it reached American store shelves, it would have passed through two addition companies (first Armstech, then Edenfire, and finally Bushmaster) and been substantially modified.

In its final form, it was a remarkably economical design to manufacture, with an extruded aluminum receiver tube and the remaining parts mostly made of Zytel glass-filled nylon. Mechanically, it is a copy of the AR-18/180 rifle, with the same rotating bolt, dual guide rods, and short stroke gas piston. It was manufactured in the United States from 1993 until 2005, and was one of relatively few bullpup style options available in the US during that time.


  1. I remember them being sold in Britain, only from Gun magazines.

    They ditched the triangular bolt then off the other one, the leader was it. Doesn’t it work well or was it cost- More of the other ones around. Or more tools to make them etc.

    • The triangular bolt was actually a really good part of the leader and this gun’s original incarnations.

      A company in the US called K&M aerospace actually makes a gun based off the bushmaster M17 which has went back to the original triangular bolt. These new guns are miles above anything bushmaster ever did with the design, and the original 5.56 version now has a 7.62 NATO big brother to go with it.

      I’m very strongly considering purchasing one at the moment, but I do not know if he is still offering the left hand ejecting versions which I would need.

    • In country of origin – Australia, it was intended for military service. For its application in States, I’d say, police would be one which comes to mind. It’s easy to store in confined space.

      • Okay, so if police carry the Bushmasters, would we see fewer “weapon theft fear” shootings? I don’t think anyone in his right mind would try to steal a bull pup from a cop, especially if the weapon is secured by a sling… or am I wrong?

      • As Ian mentioned, this rifle without a flash hider was NOT restricted by the assault weapons ban, so the main market in the US would have been civilians who either wanted a bullpup or a military style black semiauto rifle in general.

  2. It’s a shame Bushmaster stopped making them. A solid alternative to the uber trendy AR15. Handled them plenty of times and I’d buy one for the toy box if I get the chance in the future.

  3. I recall when they were advertised in gun magazines. In any case, this is a lesson in industrial engineering – slick and as Ian pointed out, economical to make in series. Why it was not adopted to service? Maybe poor access to gas piston, maybe its furniture-like appearance. As we know, neither St.George’s gun had much success in that direction.

    On my side, I have observation of relatively well back magazine position which may not be exactly advantage for quick reload access. (Magazine appears to be of Thermold type.) But is provides generous amount of space for rather radically laid pistol grip. All in all – a piece in recent firearm history which deserves attention. Thanks for showing!

  4. Bull-pups are AWESOME design IMO.. i dont know much about this particular firearm…That being said I do know Bull-pups configuration allows a shorter overall weapon length for a given barrel length due to the Bull-pups design. This maintains the advantages of a longer barrel in muzzle velocity and accuracy, while improving maneuverability and reducing overall weight.

    • Unfortunately bullpups do not have any weight advantage, quite the opposite truthfully!

      For all the people saying it’s a shame bushmaster stopped making them, that isn’t really true since k&m aerospace likely wouldn’t be making and selling a majorly refined version that actually does the design justice!

      They may be nearly 400% the price Bushmaster charged, but considering that it has a trigger setup widely considered to be beyond superb compared to conventional layout rifles…

      It would be a damn shame if the k&m guns didn’t exist!

      Bonus fact: Charles St George manufactured the bolts for this and the T2 out of commercially purchased grade 8 bolts!

      The man basically found a way to manufacture very decent and innovative firearms without having access to any of the “right” tooling or materials. Even if you hate his designs you have to respect that he put together a commercial firearms manufacturing operation from scratch on a shoe string budget!

      Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time chasing down information on what St George did and how he did it which has had very beneficial effects on what I can make with relatively little investment in tooling and etc.

      • RT, this is mighty interesting, do you have some other info on methods, materials and tools he used ?

        I’ve heard so far only (if that is true?) on using regular on the market hollow structural section tubes as a receiver of Leader t2 rifle.

  5. These are very popular in Canada (they were likely obscure enough to avoid prohibited by name status) as they are non-restricted firearms and even today a certain importer buys them up down there and ships them up here. The K&M version was just recently approved as a non-restricted firearm so I suspect there will be a few more up here soon.

  6. Too bad your facts about who designed the rifle and it being submitted for the trials along with other information is totally incorrect and not the truth. You should contact the people that really know the history of the rifle rather than read about it from Wikipedia.

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