Staff Writer (Updated: 11/25/2014):
Bushmaster M17S Origins
Origins of the Bushmaster M17S place it back in the mid-1980s. Australian-based Armtech LTD designed and developed two prototype rifles - the C30R and the C60R - for possible sale to the Australian Army. The C30R made use of a "caseless" ammunition, a cartridge that attempted to remove the cartridge case left from spent rounds and thusly lower production costs and save on the weapon's weight (similar in scope to the Heckler & Koch G11 caseless rifle). The C60R was more conventional and fired the standardized 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. The C30R's reputation was shattered when the prototype exploded during a demonstration of her capabilities to potential buyers. Before the C60R could make waves, Armtech sold its C60R design to Edenpine PTY LTD while the Australian Army had settled on the Austrian Steyr AUG universal rifle system - now to be license-produced on Australian soil.
Edenpine sought to further the original Armtech design and evolved the system into the ART-30 and the SAK-30 rifles. In an attempt to tackle another, perhaps more lucrative market, the company decided to market the rifle in the United States. To do this, they would need an "inside man" to bypass any import restrictions. Thusly, Bushmaster Firearms International was tapped to license-produce the refined design under the Edenpine (USA), Incorporated brand label under the designation of "Edenpine M17S Bull-Pup Rifle". Sales spanned from 1992 into 1994 until the Edenpine company folded and was no more. This left Bushmaster with complete rights to the manufacture and sale of the M17S system so the rifle was now sold under the more common designation of "Bushmaster M17S". Of course, there were some restrictions put in place once in the American market - the M17S could not be sold with its M16-type flash suppressor. Bushmaster therefore extended the barrel sleeve to prevent use of such a device. In the end, the Bushmaster M17S would become the first "bull-pup" configured rifle to be sold on the American commercial gun market. Bushmaster production of the M17S lasted up until 2005.