Shrinking the size of their rifle game, Springfield Armory hit the market Friday with the Hellion bullpup 5.56 NATO platform.
An evolution of the proven HS Produkt-made VHS-2 rifle system, the Hellion has an overall length of just 28.25 inches while still possessing a carbine-length 16-inch CMV barrel with a 1:7 twist. The rifle uses a two-position adjustable short-stroke gas piston operating system. It also has fully ambidextrous controls and a reversible ejection system that can be swapped without using special tools.
While the HS Produkt name is vague on the U.S. market, the Croatian gun maker is known for variants of its HS-2000 pistol, which has been imported to this side of the Atlantic for decades as the Springfield XD series. The VHS-series rifle was first introduced in 2005 – an evolution of a bullpup prototyped during the Croatian War of Independence in 1992 – and today is the standard rifle of the Croatian military and police, as well as in use in other countries around the globe.
Building on the growing reputation of the VHS platform, the semi-auto Springfield Armory Hellion has been adapted for the American consumer market to accept readily-available AR-pattern magazines and use AR-pattern pistol grips – for instance, shipping with a BCMGunfighter Mod 3 grip installed as well as a Magpul PMAG-30. The handguard also has M-LOK slots in the handguard, a veritable standard on anything American black rifle these days, as well as six QD mounts.
"The new semi-automatic Hellion builds upon the solid foundation of the Croatian VHS-2, and adapts it to the needs of American shooters," says Steve Kramer, Springfield's VP of marketing. "With the changes applied to the design by Springfield Armory, the Hellion offers American shooters a truly unique and capable 5.56mm bullpup."
MSRP is $1,999, which, with inflation, will be a super deal in the coming months. This puts it at about $200 less than the Steyr AUG A3 M1 and is about on par with the IWI Tavor X95. The value bullpup in the 5.56 market is the KelTec RDB, with an asking price of around $1K, but they do not have the same military pedigree that the Hellion/VHS, AUG, or Tavor carry.
With some direct feedback on the new bullpup, James Reeves over at TFB-TV, FMG Publication's Roy Huntington, and Fred Mattison with Ballistic all went live with reviews today.