Firearms

Review: Bond Arms Bullpup 9mm

Bond Arms Bullpup 9mm right profile

After firing the Bond Arms Bullpup 9mm, I came away with a good impression. Despite the pistols light weight and compact dimensions, I was not rubbing my wrist or massaging my trigger finger—always a good sign. The Bullpup 9mm is a locked breech, short-recoil pistol, with a rotating barrel. This design makes for modest recoil.

Bond Arms Bullpup left profile
Let’s face it, there is really nothing quite like this handgun.

The rotation of the barrel slows recoil. The system is very compact. The trigger is pressed, the pistol fires, the barrel rotates 14 degrees, unlocks, and the slide travels to the rear. A modestly-sized recoil spring helps control slide velocity. The Bullpup features a 3.35-inch long barrel. That is a lot of barrel in a 5.1-inch long slide. As a means of comparison, the pistol is an inch shorter than the popular Glock 43.

The intent of the design is to make a very short pistol possible, but one with sufficient barrel length to produce good velocity. The higher the velocity, the better chance we have of maintaining a good balance of expansion and penetration. The slide is easy to draw to the rear. This makes the pistol well suited to those with less hand strength or some type of infirmity.

The pistol earns the term bullpup since the pistol’s magazine is below the chamber rather than behind it. The magazine is loaded more or less normally, but the magazine is closed around the bullet nose and open at the rear. The magazine isn’t difficult to load, although the lack of a magazine follower gives one pause. The pistol fires, and as the slide recoils, a fork grasps the cartridge by the cartridge rim and moves it to the rear and up into the chamber.

recoil spring assembly
Left to right: Note the rather thin recoil spring; it is basically a slide return spring, barrel, chamber, and forks that feed the cartridge into the chamber.

The slide is stainless steel. The sights are excellent designs, allowing both rapid acquisition and precision shooting. The frame is aluminum. The fit and finish are excellent. The trigger action, at 7.5 pounds compression, is smooth and tractable. The trigger is smooth in operation. The best method of mastering a double-action trigger is to press the trigger smoothly, control the handgun in recoil, allow the pistol to reset, and then press the trigger again. The hammer is an unusual flap-type at the end of the slide. No creep, no backlash, no heavy stacking.

The grips are excellent control. My example features nicely checkered grips with an attractive finish. I cannot imagine improving these grips.

There are a couple of points that caused some shooters. It does not lock open on the last shot. That’s fine, but it also means it does not tell you it is empty. The design doesn’t lend itself to conventional mechanics.

The magazine release works well. Takedown isn’t difficult, but attention to detail is need. The owner’s manual is helpful in troubleshooting the reassembly process. It isn’t as simple as the Glock or SIG, but the engineering needed to produce such a compact handgun—exceptionally well suited to concealed carry—demands this type of design.

Flat hammer beginning to cock on the Bond Arms Bullpup
Note the flat hammer beginning to cock as the double action trigger is pressed.

Be certain to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations concerning ammunition. The list isn’t brief, it is quite long, and a number of commonly available loads are on the list. The issue is cartridge integrity and bullet pull.

The cartridge demands a good crimp due to the ‘backward’ feed device. The pistol was fired primarily with the recommended loads including Winchester’s 115-grain FMJ loading. The program is to proof the pistol with the loads Bond Arms recommends. They have spent considerable time and effort to develop this handgun and found the loads that work.

The original design, the Boberg 9mm, was not a bad handgun, but demanded close attention to greasing the locking block and barrel. Rotating barrels demand more lubrication, at least in the case of designs such as the Mondragon and Mauser M2. The Beretta Storm is very reliable with far less maintenance than most rotating barrel designs.

Bond Arms Bullpup magazines
Backwards feeding magazines work very well.

The highly-developed Bond Arms Bullpup 9mm is delivered with a special coating on the barrel and locking block that eliminates the need for grease. Some pistols will go only a few hundred rounds without adding lubrication, this is the nature of the beast. The specialty coating on the Bullpup 9mm allows it go to much further between cleaning and greasing than the original Boberg design.

Once the pistol is proofed with Bond Arms recommended loads, you may experiment with a loading that you prefer. Just the same, with loads such as the Hornady 115-grain Critical Defense, Hornady 135-grain Critical Duty, SIG Sauer 124-grain V Crown and SIG Sauer 147-grain V Crown listed, you have a choice of formidable loads.

The pistol is controllable and comfortable to fire. The trigger is smooth, controllable, and makes for excellent hit probability. Some pistols have balance, others a good heft. A combination of features that make for high hit probability and speed to a first shot hit are not the same features that make for target grade accuracy.

Bond Arms Bullpup rotating barrel and locking block
A key to the pistols compact size is the rotating barrel and locking block.

The grip of the Bullpup 9mm is more than adequate for a fast grab and draw. Get the hand on the grip, acquire a solid grip, and draw the pistol. As the hands meet, and the pistol is pressed toward the target, work the trigger straight to the rear, and you have a hit. The pistol offers excellent control and hit probability at 5 to 10 years.

As for absolute accuracy, this is always interesting. The SIG Sauer Elite 124- and 147-grain loads and Hornady 9mm loads in 115- and 135-grain weights were fired for accuracy from a solid benchrested position at 15 yards. When I worked the trigger correctly, I was rewarded with a group of five shots as small as 1.5 inches.

Most groups were larger, with an average around 2.5 inches. This is excellent performance for this size handgun. The Bond Arms Bullpup 9mm offers excellent concealed carry potential and develops good velocity as a result of the Bullpup design. Combined, this allows a longer than average (for a handgun this size), and per my testing, good reliability.

Have you fired the Bond Arms Bullpup? What was your experience like? Do you like the design as the author has described it? Share your answers in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (5)

  1. This is the best article on the Bond Arms Bullpup. Many of the articles go off on side issues while yours, stayed on point with just the facts. I am saving for this hand gun and,hopefully, will get it in the next few months. Thanks for the unbiased article.

  2. Very similar to how belt-fed feed mechanisms work.

    I like the ingenuity of using it in a new application to create a more compact pistol.

  3. This is a perfect package for me. I had carried an AMT 45 Backup since the 80’s, but my arthritis made it painful to shoot 45’s. I tried both the Glock 30 and a Springfield XD compact. Both of them caused pain in my wrist. I am quite happy with the Bond Arms product. I even had a gunsmith modify a LaserLyte laser to fit in the rear sight dovetail to make it more friendly to an old mans sight.

  4. Extremely interesting design with only one flaw. Any modern pistol, especially for defensive carry must lock on empty to keep you in the fight. Been around great soldiers and officers that still could not round count when fine motor skills were compromised. As an article, I don’t know that I’ve seen as many mistakes an spelling or errors, I expect more from ya’ll. Just sayin….

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