The EM-2 British Bullpup

A face only a mother could love

The EM-2 is one of the big what-ifs of military adoption history.

The EM-2 is a rare thing for small arms circa 1950 as a intermediate caliber bullpup. The round conceived for the futuristic looking rife being the .280 British round. Variants also being in 6.25×43mm, 7×49mm and 7.62mm. The British adopted it for about 30 seconds then changed their mind. Going on to use the now famous FN FAL in 7.62MM NATO.

This gun belonged to the designer , Stefan Janson. Following the EM-2 project , Janson came to the US and worked for Winchester on the SALVO project, at some point he gave the EM-2 to the company who later gave it to the Cody Firearms Museum.

The British apparently really liked the idea of the bullpup rifle. The L85/SA80 becoming their standard service rifle since 1985. Though its record has been…questionable.


  1. Ian did a video and shot one of these not all that long ago. For the time it was a fairly revolutionary idea I guess. A sort of transitional step from the wood and steel, full up battle rifle to something in an intermediate chambering. The inclusion of the early optical sight is the bigger point of interest I always think. It too carried forward to the L85 with the SUSAT. I’ve gone on about the SUSAT here before but it was a darn good sight for the day and for the Brits to have purefleet issued it to their combat units was a big step. Excluding the SOCOM units an optical sight wasn’t mass issued in the US until the late 90s.

    • I don’t watch Ian’s videos anymore or mention him here . I am still irked over the Inland M1 carbine thing after I helped him and Karl get it and another favor I did him without a small return favor I asked for and got snubbed completely.

  2. The ergonomics are still crap. Cartridge, I’m open to. The rifle? Not so much; my ideal weapon for post-WWII adoption would have been the FAL in its earlier .280 British incarnation.

    What’s interesting, in a military/industrial culture sort of way is how you can trace a direct line of “bad idea” implementation through from that Thorneycroft bolt-action bullpup, through the EM-series to the various incarnations of the AR-18 that became the L-85. It’s almost like “This is an idea we simply have to try…”, and the decision-making wonks won’t rest until they’ve gotten their idea implemented. Sometimes, this results in something successful, like the M-79 and 40mm grenade. Others, you get the M-14 and the interminable SPIW/OICW programs that just won’t go away.

    To a degree, it’s as if the bad idea has a life of its own, and the system can’t exorcise it until someone actually tries to put it into effect. God knows what else is out there like this, waiting in the shadows like some damn parasitical moth flapping against the window, trying to get at the lightbulb within.


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