Pistols aren’t all that great. I mean, I don’t want to get shot by one, but they’re certainly not the miracle fight stopping death ray that many think they are. By their very nature, handguns are all about compromise. A rifle or shotgun (or in my case, an MK-19 automatic grenade launcher) would be most people’s first choice for a gun capable of stopping an altercation instantly. However, you can’t very well carry a rifle around all the time, so you compromise. You accept the lower power and reduced fight stopping capability, of a handgun, in return for portability and convenience.
Since we’re already making compromises if we’re using a handgun, it makes sense to try to eke out every last bit of performance that we can. If you can design a handgun that gives you more bang for the buck in terms of effectiveness, ease of use and portability, then that’s a good thing. You’re making the best of an already compromised situation.
When I take a close look at a new handgun of any type, some of the first things that I try to draw out of my brain are the primary benefits of any particular design. What things make a particular gun special? What are the design goals of that gun? What features allow it to provide that maximum bang for the buck? Without anything unique or different, there’s not much reason for a product, is there?
When I first checked out the Boberg pistol, then spent some quality time with the Boberg folks in a Little Rock hotel bar, I quickly grasped the reason d’être. I think there are three things that stand out with this backwards bullpup pistol design:
- The “bullpup” like design allows longer barrel length in any given overall package size. I’ll explain this in detail in a minute. A longer barrel means more velocity from any given cartridge choice. More velocity means more power and more reliable expansion.
- The “backwards” feeding operation allows use of a smaller and lighter main spring. This means that the slide is really, really easy to rack for loading, unloading and general maintenance.
- The collective sum of unique design elements means that the Boberg is a very soft shooting pistol. For any given load, you’ll feel less recoil in the hand than with most other handguns of similar size and weight.
We’ll explore these design concepts in more detail, but it makes sense to understanding the why’s behind the design before getting into the “whats” and “hows.”
A closer look at the Boberg backwards bullpup pistol
First, the “backwards bullpup” terminology is mine – Boberg doesn’t market the pistol that way, but I think it’s an accurate way to describe the design. Let’s take a closer look.
Like most semi-automatic pistols, the Boberg feeds from a magazine in the grip. The reason I keep using the word “bullpup” is that the barrel actually extends backwards directly over the magazine. In other words, imagine the whole barrel moved backwards towards the rear of the gun. Since the chamber is further back, the barrel can be longer without adding length to the front of the pistol. The technicalities are different, but the idea is similar to that of a bullpup rifle. Move the chamber (and receiver in the case of a rifle) backwards, so you can have a longer barrel within a shorter and more compact overall package.