Partnering with the Croatian firearms manufacturer HS Produkt has allowed Springfield Armory to break into the high-capacity polymer pistol market with the XD series. Continuing with that proven quality, Springfield introduced a new bullpup 5.56mm semi-automatic sporting rifle. Based on the Croatian military’s full-auto-capable battle rifle, HS VHS-2, the Springfield Hellion will offer American users a lifetime of service.

About the Springfield 5.56mm Hellion Bullpup Rifle

The Hellion offers shooters a 16-inch barrel while keeping the overall length shorter than that of an M4 carbine. The result is full M4 carbine levels of 5.56mm power. One of the best ways to understand the dimensional advantages of the Hellion is to compare the adjustable stock Hellion with the adjustable stock Saint M-LOK AR-15 carbine.

The Saint is an upgraded M4-style carbine and, like the Hellion, is equipped with a 16-inch barrel. The Hellion is NOT classified as a short-barreled rifle (SBR). The Springfield Hellion comes in at 4 to 5.75 inches shorter.

Rifle Springfield Saint Springfield Hellion
Overall Length Stock Closed: 32.5 inches

Open: 35.5 inches

Stock Closed: 28.25 inches

Open: 29.75 inches

Weight 6 pounds, 11 ounces 8 pounds


As side-ejecting rifles, bullpup operation must be nearly ambidextrous. The action of a bullpup is positioned near a shooter’s cheek. So if you are left-handed, and your bullpup is set up for right-hand ejection, extremely hot, empty cases will be ejected directly into your cheek or eye.

To remedy this, the Hellion design allows for switching the ejection port operation to the left side. With the Hellion partially disassembled, switching ejection ports requires repositioning the bolt carrier group per directions for right or left side ejection, then changing the port cover locking pin from the left side to the right to keep the right cover locked.

Hellion Operations and Features

The Hellion uses a short-stroke piston operating system that is two-position adjustable. Its ambidextrous non-reciprocating charging handle is located atop the upper receiver — below the top rail carry handle — and is easily reached and operated.

The ambidextrous fire-control system is reminiscent of the HK weapons systems and mounted directly above the BCM GUNFIGHTER Mod 3 grip. Safe is marked as a white bullet outline with an “X” in the middle, while Fire is marked by a single red bullet outline.

Aft of the pistol grip is the magazine well. The magazine release paddle is located at the rear of the well. At the rear is a five-position polymer stock with cheek riser. An ambidextrous release latch is located at the rear of the stock.

To operate the two-piece bolt release, pinch the sliding portion to a fixed stop with the thumb and index finger. The bolt release doesn’t lock the bolt back. Inserting an empty magazine first is required to lock the action open for disassembly.

A common complaint among bullpup shooters is of the design’s often terrible trigger pull caused by the long drawbar. The engineers at HS have overcome this and produced a trigger pull that is the best I’ve found on a bullpup design as well as many conventional military rifles. Following about a half-inch of take-up, the pull weighs in at 6.12 pounds.

The short handguard is a polymer M-LOK with plenty of ports, which help dissipate heat from the entirely enclosed 16-inch CMV, 1:7 Melonite-coated barrel. The flash hider is a four-prong type.

The included adjustable folding sights are the best I’ve ever seen. They fold below the level of the full-length picatinny rail with a push of the top-mounted button. I mounted my trusty Aimpoint Comp 2 Red Dot sight for testing.

Hellion Bullpup Rifle at the Range

I worked with the Hellion rifle at a friend’s range. We loaded up the included Magpul PMAG 30 first with PMC 55-grain ammo, saving some Winchester “White Box” 55-grain ammo for the next round of testing. The first thing I noticed was how easily the magazine inserted and locked in place. It was a big improvement over an AR mag system. Inserting it in securely did not require a slam. The ambidextrous charging handle ran the bolt back as smooth as silk. The only operational issue I had was needing to adjust my grip to manipulate the safety lever. However, my friend has larger hands and had no problem.

The Hellion is one smooth-shooting bullpup rifle. The gas piston operating system has none of the abruptness of the AR’s direct impingement system. We shot in a standing position about 75 feet from the target. The Aimpoint was sighted a bit to the left for both, but the three-shot groups landed in nice 2-inch clusters from a standing position.

Rapid-fire ringing of the steel silhouette was a blast with the Winchester White Box ammo. There were no malfunctions of any kind. The Hellions 1×7 barrel twist rate will excel with bullets at 62 grains and heavier in weight. And it should outperform an AR in accuracy since the barrel is not part of an upper receiver that pivots on a hinge pin and locks in place with a captive locking pin. It holds the Hellion’s barrel rock-solidly in place. Recoil is a gentle nudge due to the low-bore axis.

Wrap Up

The Hellion’s battle-proven rifle design brings with it loads of reliability and accuracy potential. If you decide a Hellion is for you, work with it extensively before keeping it ready for defensive use. Dry-fire it frequently between range trips to stay familiar, as you should with any gun. MSRP is $1,999.


Springfield Armory: Springfield-Armory