The M82’s bullpup design would appear to be the next stage in the development of the Kalashnikov rifles, but its poor sales would suggest that the demand for such a rifle may not be too great. Too, rumors continue to circulate about bullpups firing rounds prematurely or exploding from barrel obstructions; since the bullpup shooter’s face is very close to where the action is in such an occurrence, severe injury would likely result. These rumors may have hurt sales. No actual cases of such blowups were discovered while researching this book. The semi auto M82 bullpups seem to have their following in the United States; their design may still prove to be the wave of the future.
The M82 bullpup was created by placing a one piece plastic stock over a standard M76 rifle with an abbreviated trigger group. A rod inside the stock connects the forward trigger to the rifles trigger group. The stock is enlarged on the left side for the shooter’s cheek and the sights are canted to the left as well. This keeps the shooter’s from using a left handed hold, since the reciprocating bolt would be dangerous if held in that manner.
The 1980s also saw the introduction of the Valmet Hunter, which is a Kalashnikov rifle in hunting garb with a checkered wooden hunting stock and a wooden fore grip which encloses the gas tube and the barrel below it. Although the Hunter still has a bit of military look to it, it is a rather attractive firearm; the lower than usual barrel makes follow-up shots quicker than with most hunting rifles. The rifle is available in .243, .223 and .308 chambering, making it ideal for many hunting purposes. Limited-capacity magazines are also available for use in hunting. Like other Valmet Kalashnikov rifles, the Hunter comes with an optional ejection buffer for reloaders.
The M82 features an unusual sight arrangement. The front and rear sights, similar to a Bren Machinegun or some other belt fed machineguns, are offset to the left. The sights are aligned normally with the right eye, but are offset from the barrel about 1.25 inches. This results in the rifles windage being accurate for the zeroed range only. Shots taken at closer ranges to zero will hit to the right of the target and shots taken at longer ranges will hit to the left of the target. With the sight offset from the barrel by approximately 1.25", if the rifles windage were zeroed at 50 meters, at 100 meters distance the windage error would be about 1.25 inches and at 200 meters distance the windage error would be 3.75 inches. This results in a margin of error making shots over 300 meters difficult. Since the fixed sights do not allow for any elevation adjustment, it is clear that this weapon is meant for combat accuracy (6" at 100 meters) at short/urban ranges only and not meant to be a precision sniping tool.
The offset sight arrangement and right side ejection mean that this weapon is very difficult to be used by left handers and not possible to use left handed in an urban or close combat situation. Modern bullpups have eliminated this drawback by using centrally-aligned optics and either forward, downward or rearward ejection to allow ambidextrous use in combat situations.