Gun Review: Tanfoglio’s Bullpup Appeal Offers Compact Rimfire Power
There have been countless disputes between gun owners since firearms were invented. One of the larger disputes in recent decades has been about bullpups. There seems to be a staunch hostility towards the diminutive stature of these firearms by a majority of gun owners.
I, myself, am a convert to the cult of bullpups, and a decade later my safe is full of them. I only bring this up because today’s subject is another bullpup, the Appeal chambered in .22 WMR from Tanfoglio. So, I wanted to preface my analysis with the disclaimer that my name is Jeff and I, too, am a bullpup fan.
A Little Background On the Bullpup
The Appeal is a polymer-framed bullpup rimfire carbine. For those that are new to bullpups and what the name means, we’ll go over it quickly.
Bullpup configurations have the magazine and action behind the trigger. As you might imagine, the hatred many have for the bullpup design is typically due to several differences resulting from that key feature. Magazines placed behind the trigger require different muscle memory for reloading as well as often awkward controls due to their placement. Perhaps the most frequent complaint is about the triggers because most are connected to the sear pack with some kind of linkage.
The Appeal utilizes an upper and lower clamshell-type frame, with the fire controls, magazine, barrel, and such located in the lower part of the housing. The upper, smaller half of the frame carries the charging handle and a Famas-like elevated optics rail that doubles as a carry handle. The model I received was chambered in .22 WMR, but it is also available in .22 LR. The rimfire cartridges are fed from detachable magazines that hold 10 rounds and are very reminiscent of pistol magazines.
The rifle is ambidextrous, which can be a big deal with bullpups. Spent brass ejects from the rifle along the same line as your face, and you don’t want to catch a mouthful of brass. It features a reversible ejection cover to swap from right to left, and the charging handle can also be pulled from the carrier and installed on the opposite side. The Appeal uses a thumbhole-like chassis, and the magazine release is centrally located at the bottom rear of the thumbhole. The bolt lock is located on the left side of the rifle just above the grip area, and the safety is a push-button type located at the front of the trigger guard.
At the hazardous end of the rifle, there is a curious muzzle brake that is attached not to the barrel but to the chassis itself. The muzzle is hidden a few inches behind, cradled inside the polymer chassis.
Did You Say Tanfoglio?
When I saw Tanfoglio on the paperwork, I must admit I was very excited. And yet, as I opened the box, I found myself somewhat confused. I didn’t even know Tanfoglio made such a thing. Despite my liking for bullpups, the Appeal looked like a naked mole-rat in a nest instead of an ugly duckling.
I shouldered the rifle immediately and started to feel it out. The balance was good, which is true of most bullpups. The thumbhole stock wasn’t uncomfortable, but it did seem a bit minimalist. The thing that surprised me the most was the mag release. It was positioned in such a way that you have to sort of pinch it with your thumb and forefinger, and then the mag drops into the palm of your hand. Despite that, I found it to be a decent release. The trigger felt mostly like the majority of bullpup triggers, which isn’t exactly praise. But I guess I could say it was better than many other bullpup triggers I’ve felt.
The action is smooth and short, which is also pretty typical of a polymer-framed gun. Perhaps the most awkward part of the rifle is the elevated optics rail, which I found almost too tall to be useful. It does have integrated iron sights as part of the rail, and those are the right height for my facial structure. But as soon as you install just about any kind of red dot or other optical sight, I would find myself nearly putting my chin on the cheek rest.
I removed the polymer muzzle brake in the hope of at least finding a threaded muzzle underneath, but that was another unfortunate miss for me.
Does This Bull Have Horns?
After finding some .22 WMR ammunition, I took the Appeal to my mountain hide to see if it shoots as good as it looks. Loading the polymer magazines again reminded me of a pistol. Ten rounds stacked easily into the magazine that clicked positively into the gun.
I fired the rifle both with and without the polymer muzzle brake installed. I’m not quite sure if I could tell a difference between them other than the noise. I suppose with a .22 LR it would be even less noticeable.
I wish I had been able to get some additional ammo for the rifle. But with the munitions market being what it is, I couldn’t be picky. The CCI ammo I did shoot gave patterns about two inches in diameter at fifty yards, I am sure it could have done better with a good scope mounted way up on top. I also think you’d enjoy the shooting much more if you were shooting the more affordable .22 LR ammo.
Reloads were actually quite easy, but I did find the bolt release to be very hard to find without looking for it and making a deliberate effort to push. It was very difficult to reach and push from the shooting position after a reload. Perhaps, if you were shooting the rifle left-handed, you might find it easier to use your trigger finger.
As I mentioned already, I think one of the most challenging parts of the rifle is having the sights mounted so high. A proper cheek weld was very hard to obtain, which likely also affected my ability to shoot more accurately.
The Good News
Looking on the bright side for this rifle, I do have to say some good things about it. The gun would make a great truck gun. Its dimensions make it easy to maneuver and conceal because it is narrow and short. With .22 Mag cartridges, it definitely packs a lot more power than the .22 LR, which would make it a good option for larger small-game animals. It is also well made and has the feel of a quality rifle.
I am sure there are plenty of folks out there who would love this rifle, but being a bullpup fan doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to like every one of them. If the features of the Tanfoglio Appeal fit into your wish list, you will probably enjoy this rifle even more than I did.