19th Century Tavor: The Curtiss bullpup rifle of 1866 (VIDEO)
By Chris Eger
Possibly the earliest magazine-fed bullpup rifle came from the mind of British engineer William Curtiss, predating today’s commercially available designs by more than a century.
In the above video from The Armorer’s Bench, the 1866 Curtiss design, as made by Winchester and currently archived in the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center, is examined in detail. A .32 WCF caliber pump-action rifle with a drum magazine, it was placed over the shoulder while the trigger assembly was well forward, almost to the muzzle. The rifle used a striker-fired action, another innovation for the time.
Although not commercially viable, the Curtiss came over 30 years before the better-known bolt-action 1901 Thorneycroft bullpup, a half-century prior to the semi-auto French 6.5x61mm Faucon-Meunier of WWI, and a full century before the Steyr AUG went into production.
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