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CIA'S Bullpup: an odd AKM variant.


Just when I thought I had seen every possible variation of the AK/AKM family of firearms, Century International Arms comes up with a new one--the Bullpup. Short, compact, odd-looking but distinctive, the CIA Bullpup has turned out to be probably the most accurate, out-of-the-box AKM variant I have ever fired.

I suspect ordnance engineers in every country have experimented, one time or another, with the concept of the bullpup design. The bullpup does make a lot of sense. By virtually eliminating the buttstock and replacing it with the receiver itself, the design immediately shrinks the overall length of a rifle or carbine by at least 7" to 10".

Given today's highly mobile, mechanized style of combat in which you often find yourself cramped inside a combat vehicle or chopper and loaded down with body armor, ammunition, grenades and whatnot, a compact weapon is a distinct advantage. It's no accident the bob-tailed, telescoping stocked, M4 has emerged as the primary shoulder arm of our troops. The days of 44" battle rifles are over.

Now Conventional

The curious question is why more countries have not adopted the design. Currently, three successfully fielded bullpups come to mind: Austria's Steyr 5.56mm AUG (Armee Universal Gewehr), the French 5.56 FAMAS (Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de St.Etienne), and the British 5.56 L85A1. All have proved themselves under real combat conditions and are no longer regarded as "unconventional."

Century International Arms actually imported some semiautomatic versions of the FAMAS and Gun South, Inc., the AUG, but those days are long gone and the price of a semiauto FAMAS or AUG is unconscionable. That's exactly why the CIA Bullpup is so attractive at this particular time.


With an estimated 60 million manufactured and adopted by 55 countries, Kalashnikov's AK/AKM family of weapons is a fascinating field of study for the military collector. Depending upon the congressional and BATF whims of the day, we have seen a series of semiautomatic variations in 7.62 and 5.56 arriving on our shores. Plus companies like Century International Arms continue to produce a virtual catalog of cloned and unique designs using the basic AKM framework and a mixture of original and newly manufactured parts. Whimsical Laws

Buy them when one appeals to you. Having lived through the ridiculous "Pre-Ban" and "Post-Ban" eras and now watching the corrupt UN trying to muscle in on the firearms ownership debate, buy your AKM's and/or AR's now and vote the 2nd Amendment in November!

Considering the wood stocked issue AKM stretches to 34-1/4" overall and weighs a little over 8-3/4 pounds, the CIA Bullpup is a study in gifted downscaling. The Bullpup measures only 27-1/4" overall and weighs 6-3/4 pounds without a magazine, yet it doesn't give up a foot-pound of performance to its larger kin. The Bullpup sports the same 16-1/4" barrel as does a standard issue AK or AKM, delivers the same velocities and seems to be inherently accurate.

The Bullpup

The heart and soul of the Bullpup is its AKM or "Avtomat Kalashnikova Modernizirovannia" receiver. The riveted, welded, heavy sheet metal AKM receiver replaced the milled receiver of the AK around 1959. Contrary to what the surplus ads may claim and the prices exacted for a milled AK receiver, the Soviets considered the AKM more accurate than the milled AK.


The AKM receiver is easily recognizable with its exposed, rounded head rivets and twin dimples stamped on both sides of the magazine well, which serve as guides for the magazine. The receiver of the Bullpup is made by DC Industries in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is so marked.

What converts an AKM into a CIA Bullpup is the stocking. What we normally would call an AKM bolt cover has been converted into a combination bolt cover and cheekpiece. The new unit is made by simply riveting on a smooth polymer, wraparound cheekpiece to the top of the bolt cover. The result is both functional and surprisingly comfortable when mounted.

In place of a normal fixed or folding buttstock, another polymer molding serves as a curved buttplate and extends forward to cover the standard triggerguard housing bypassed by the Bullpup design.

A key piece of the stocking, a forward polymer unit forms the pistol grip, triggerguard and houses a pinned-through trigger and a polymer forearm section. Both units fit my hands well and are generously ventilated to dissipate heat as that AKM barrel warms up.

Trigger Solution

The challenge in any bullpup design is the trigger. How do you mechanically link a forward mounted trigger to a rear mounted sear and still maintain an acceptable trigger pull? Over the years, there have been all sorts of wild and wooly solutions to the problem. In the case of the CIA Bullpup, the trigger is approximately 12" forward of the sear. The engineers at Century International Arms chose to employ a stiff', steel, music wire connecting the trigger and the sear and running inside and along the right side of the receiver.

It's a simple solution, and the trigger pull? Well, it's spongy and heavy, but the trigger breaks consistently at 11 pounds 7 ounces. That consistency makes all the difference in the world when it comes to trigger control. With practice, you can mentally master a heavy trigger, but if the break point varies from shot-to-shot, accuracy suffers.

The sight radius of the Bullpup is only 13", but the M-16 type rear sight features a precise, windage adjustable, "L-type" flip-up aperture and the front sight, a standard, elevation adjustable, AKM post.

The flip-up rear sight sports two apertures. One is a large ghost-ring aperture marked "0-2" that is just perfect for field work. The other offers a fine peep ideal for ringing out all the accuracy the Bullpup is capable of on the rifle range.


When I stated the CIA Bullpup was one of the most accurate out-of-the-box AKM's I have ever fired, I wasn't blowing smoke. It's fully capable of five shot, 1" to 1-1/2" groups at 50 yards with Wolf's 122-grain HP load and 3" to 3-1/2" spreads at 100 yards. Shooting some old and treasured, Norinco "silver box" match ammunition, I could squeeze out 2-1/2" groups at 100 yards. While the Chicom, Norinco match load can no longer be imported, it can easily be equaled by a good handload.


I'm a sucker when it comes to Mr. K's AK/AKM designs, and this little CIA Bullpup really stole my heart. Great home gun, great car gun, great family plinker, the Bullpup is just accurate and compact enough I plan on carrying it afield with a 5-round magazine in place to do some close-quarter coyote calling. It s one cool tool. Buy 'em while you can.

(800) 527-1252

 ACTION TYPE: Semiautomatic

 CALIBER: 7.62x39

 CAPACITY: 30 rounds



 WEIGHT: 6-3/4 pounds

 FINISH: Parkerized

 SIGHTS: Post front, adjustable rear

 STOCK: Polymer

 PRICE: Check with local dealers
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Title Annotation:SURPLUS LOCKER[TM]
Author:Bodinson, Holt
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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