A New Breed of Airgun Bullpups

Emerging technologies in the world of airgunning are a boon for competitors and hunters alike.

A New Breed of Airgun Bullpups

LCS Air Arms SK-19 has a bottle-forward design and many other features that make this new bullpup a delight to shoot. (Photo: Jim Chapman)

At the end of 2019, I attended the Extreme Bench Rest (EBR) competition sponsored by Airguns of Arizona and held in Phoenix. It has become one of the premier airgun competitions in the United States and, in fact, draws competitors from all over the world.

The competitive shooters in the pro class are some of the best marksmen in the world, which I am not, so my personal results are not worth writing about. What is worth writing about are two new rifles that were being shown that I had a chance to shoot. Both incorporate many of the technologies and feature sets that have been emerging in the airgunning world.

More to the point is that after the EBR, I had the opportunity to use both guns for extended periods and have been able to hunt with them quite a bit. These guns are the RTI Prophet and the LCS SK-19 full/semi-auto, from young and innovative airgun manufacturers based in Slovenia and the U.S., respectively.

The RTI Arms Prophet

The RTI Arms Prophet is a bottle-forward bullpup design that is regulated, adjustable, modular and an absolute tackdriver. In fact, the rifle sent to me was the same one that won the 50-yard benchrest event at EBR and collected the all-time highest score on the 75-yard benchrest event. This compact bullpup has a match grade trigger that breaks like a glass rod. The regulator ensures that a consistent charge is delivered to propel each shot. The use of the RTI proprietary Long-Range Pellet barrel achieves excellent intrinsic accuracy. The modular design allows the use of interchangeable barrels that include a .177, .22, .25, .30 and an arrow barrel. I found this gun a pleasure to carry when I was out hunting. Compact and lightweight, it made for an excellent field gun to pack even over longer distances.

I used the Prophet on several of my small game hunts last winter and have taken everything from squirrels to prairie dogs to jackrabbits and raccoons with it. This airgun is ergonomic and shootable in almost any situation. I hauled it along while climbing through the Texas scrub, adjusted the length of pull to make it fit me when I was bundled up like the Michelin Man on Arctic-like Minnesota squirrel hunts and found it to be a reliable high-performance game getter in every situation.

Where I found the Prophet stood out was with long-range shooting, and it was dialed in on the 100-yard prairie dogs. While all my shooting with this gun has been with the .25 barrel to date, I cannot wait to get the gun again in the .30 for some predator hunting and the arrow barrel for some bigger game! I appreciate the fact that on these modular designs, a single gun can serve in many roles, and as more states allow more species to be hunted with airguns, this becomes a desirable feature.

LCS Air Arms SK-19

The second gun that I got to shoot is the LCS SK-19 from U.S.-based manufacturer LCS Air Arms. This gun is another bottle-forward bullpup design but is one of the most innovative air rifles I’ve shot in a while. It’s a hammerless design with a select-fire function, allowing semi-auto or full-auto rate of fire. The SK-19 comes in .22 or .25 calibers; my test gun was .25 caliber.

The 19-shot magazine will chamber longer pellets or slugs, giving a hunter the ability to tailor the gun for a specific application. The SK-19 uses a Lother-Walther barrel and a regulated action that can be tuned by the shooter. The regulator is adjustable from a small knob just in front of the air fill. A power wheel at the back of the action gives the shooter further control over the air delivery mechanism, which is analogous to handloading in the firearms world. This allows the shooter to adjust the airflow characteristics to reduce or increase energy output and fine-tune the gun for a specific projectile.

The barrel is covered with a carbon fiber style shroud and silencer for low muzzle report. On a varmint hunting trip down in Texas, this gun offered outstanding long-range performance in semi-auto. It was an absolute blast to shoot in full-auto, emptying the 19-shot magazine in less than 3 seconds. I have shot other semi-auto airguns that have been based on different technologies, but this is the first that was reliable over a long period in the field.

Let me start by saying I didn’t use the full auto for hunting, but man oh man, I had so much fun shooting pop bottles, melons and anything else that could be ripped apart! From a hunter’s perspective, where the LCS SK-19 came into its own was in semi-auto. I had LCS SK-19 with me on a few trips this year and used it for varmints such as jackrabbits and raccoons, as well as predators such as fox and bobcat.

On one occasion, we were calling at night and I had a fox come charging in. We could not get it to hold up, so I took a shot at it on the run. I missed, the fox spun and went tearing off with me shooting at it on the run. I barely missed two rapid follow-up shots until at about 55 yards I caught it in the back of the head and folded him. I have never seen an air rifle that could be shot this fast, all the while maintaining power, accuracy and consistency.

On another outing, I came across three jackrabbits. I shot the first one, quickly shifting to the second and rolling it as it got ready to bolt, and then nailed the third one as it stopped at 70 yards to look back. With the shrouded barrel, this rifle is exceptionally quiet. Combined with the rapid rate of fire, accuracy and power it provides, I think it could be an excellent predator gun, especially in suburban applications.

Airguns of Arizona has long been the importer of two of my favorite British air rifles: the drop-dead gorgeous Daystate Regal and the Brocock Compatto semi-bullpup. But it’s good to see them expanding their range with a more tactical lineup for the growing number of shooters so inclined.

While it can be argued that the best airguns in the world come from the UK, Germany and Sweden (excluding big bore guns where the U.S. excels), it’s great to see innovation coming from other countries, including a homegrown player! Modular design, multi-caliber, regulated bullpups are on the leading edge of advanced airgun designs. In my opinion, the RTI Arms Prophet and the LCS SK-19 are two of the most exciting new designs I’ve hunted with in the last year.

The RTI Arms Prophet excels at long range; the author found 100 yard targets with ease. (Photo: Jim Chapman)
The RTI Arms Prophet excels at long range; the author found 100 yard targets with ease. (Photo: Jim Chapman)
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