New Croatian VHS assault rifle

Last month the Croatian Ministry of Defense unveiled the final design of the VHS assault rifle (Višenamjenska Hrvatska Strojnica – Multifunctional Croatian Machinegun). The rifle has been in development for many years by Croatian manufacturer HS Produkt who are better known for their HS 2000 pistol ( sold as the Springfield Armory XD in the US).

The first version of the rifle bore a striking resemblance to the Israeli Tavor and Singaporean SAR-21:

Picture 39-1
Early prototype

The early prototype rifle utilized an interesting gas system. Reading the patent and other info on the internet it seemed to be a new take on gas delayed blowback. A piston is used to push back the bolt and gas is piped behind the bolt to slow it down.

800Px-Vhs-D Assault Rifle Remov-1
The new final production model. Click to expand. (Photo by Remigiusz Wilk (REMOV))

The new model bears more than a slight resemblance to the French FAMAS. The external design is without doubt inspired by the FAMAS.

800Px-Famas Description-1
French FAMAS (from Wikipedia)

The gas system was ditched and the final production model uses direct gas impingement, the same system as the M16/AR-15, unlike the earlier model or the FAMAS, which uses a lever-delayed blowback action.

The rifle will come in two models. The 20″ barreled rifle model called the VHS-D (pictured above,) the 16″ carbine model called the VHS-K (pictured below). The VHS is chambered in the 5.56x45mm NATO and takes STANAG (AR-15) magazines. The price is estimated to be €1000.

According to Wikipedia the rifle will undergo trials in earyl 2009 and by 2012 60,000 will be in service with the Croatian army.

VHS-K prototype. Very compact!

This video clip show the rifle in use: has more info on the rifle.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • It’s a bayonet! On a short bullpup!

  • Sean Nack

    DGI? really? didn’t they notice that even we’re getting away from that, because it’s a terrible idea?

  • jdun1911

    Like the FAMAS and G36, I gets the urge to hacksaw the carry handle.

  • jdun1911

    Only internet arm chair generasl thinks that the US military is getting away from DGI.

  • R.A.W.

    According to the internet rumor mill, the original gas-cushioned bolt design was based on some old Soviet 23mm autocannon. Apparently the system did not work so well when scaled down, so the production version will have a conventional return spring and buffer arrangement.

    I don’t know what they were smoking putting the charging handle and carry handle up on top like that. How are you going to mount optics now, geniuses?

    • R.A.W. , they mount a rail on top of the carry handle. I don’t understand it either. Putting it on the side would seem to be more convenient.

  • jdun1911

    At least it has a trigger guard instead of a hand guard like most Bullpup design.

  • Sean Nack

    @ jdun1911: at my infantry unit, most people were anti-DGI, all the way up to our armorers and master gunner; on a soldier level, i think the tide is changing. and if you look at the semi-official adoption of the HK416 (piston-operated), and SCAR (piston-operated) it does seem like we’re getting away from DGI. i think that last dust-test that steve told us about, which was asked for and observed by members of congress, hopefully made the issue clear. i think the 416 will be the next Army rifle.

    either way, bullpups are neat, good for them.

  • Vitor

    Meh, what was a quite cool idea ended up becoming a cross of the M16 internal mechanismo with FAMAS looks. Really a shame.

  • jdun1911

    Lets look at the facts shall we, Sean. What is the last major rifle that the US military procure? The military bought thousands of M110 which is DGI. Basically an AR10. Colt will most likely win the IAR program and the rifle is DGI.

    The SCAR is a failure. Pure and simple. A 10.5 SCAR weight more then a M4. It is bulky. Less accurate and cost a crap load more then a M4. The last I heard was the military procure 500 SCAR from FN and I doubt anyone going use it other then training if at all.

    The HK416 comes apart in testing. The bolt is shaving off metal from the aluminum receiver and buffer tube. No firearms companies (except Daewoo) has effectively solve the bolt tilting issue on AR. It weight more. Take down is a lot harder. It is less accurate then the AR. It is more expensive then the AR. It use HK proprietary crap which the US military hates.

    Every other day on there is a post on how piston are better then DGI by internet/wiki armchair generals. The simple fact is US troops using ARs slaughtering Taliban and Insurgents left and right.

    Terrorists in the middle aren’t using AKs. They are using ARs. They learn really fast when the Israeli picking them off and their AK are missing by a mile at the same distance.

    If the HK416/SCAR/XM8/G36/wonder rifles are as good as they claim to be then why aren’t contractors and training schools in the USA using them? Why aren’t no US Special Force unit using them? I have never seen Special Operators that used them in combat. What I heard is a lot of BS of this and that but never proofs.

    • jdun1911 , I don’t think its a case of if the AR-15 being bad, its that some people would prefer the trade off of lower accuracy with less dirt being sprayed into the working parts. There is nothing wrong with pistons, most of the worlds military firearms use pistons. Thats of course life, everything is a trade off.

      I do think it is odd that when given the opportunity to build a firearm from scratch DGI was chosen instead of a piston. Most armies could not care less about small arm accuracy. Croatia was previously using AK derivatives.

  • Vitor

    The HK system is quite accurate. It has been reported that the HK417 has a remarkably accurate, much superior to a M14. Liking or not, germans wouldnt do something that isnt at least very good.

  • Vitor

    US Army 1st SFG Detachment Delta – HK416
    US Army 1st SFG Detachment Alpha – HK416
    Netherlands Army Korps Commandotroepen Unit – HK416 and HK417
    Indonesian Marine Corps Counter Terrorist Unit, Detasemen Jala Mengkara – HK416
    Norwegian Army – HK416 and HK417
    Turkish Army – HK416
    Italian Navy SF – HK416
    Polish GROM – HK416
    Malaysian VAT69 – HK416
    Albanian B.O.S. – HK416 and HK417
    France RPIMa (Premier Régiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine – HK416

    Law Enforcement:
    US Capitol Police CERT Team – HK416
    US Transportation Security Administration – HK416
    US Department of Energy SRT Unit, Idaho Falls Facility – HK416
    US Marshals – HK416
    Maine State Police SWAT Team – HK416
    Nashville City, Tennessee PD SWAT Team – HK416
    NASA SWAT Team; Kennedy Space Center – HK416
    Fairfax County, Virginia PD SWAT Team – HK416
    Trussville, Alabama PD – HK416
    Thurston County, Washington PD – HK416
    Lake Wales, Florida PD SWAT Team – HK416 and HK417
    Lexington County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Dept. SWAT Team – HK416

    A lot of people from 9 countries, the gun cant be all that bad…

  • Sean Nack

    no argument on the SCAR. i think it’ll get replaced by the 416 too. the military generally sticks with what it knows, and prefers to add on to weapon systems rather than start from scratch, which leads me to believe that the 416 is going to be the way they go; it has all the same controls, all the same procedures (although i’m rooting for the ACR). i’ve never heard about any of the issues about accuracy (which doesn’t make a terrible lot of sense to me, it can’t be that wildly different), the bolt-shearing (yet another point in my favor vis a vis the “bad design” argument), and the weight? when have they ever cared about what an infantryman has to carry? they’ve got enough armor on us we’re ineffective anyway, so who cares about another pound? most of the kills we got in afghanistan (though i’m loathe to admit it) were from artillery and air. most casualty-producing-weapon in an infantry squad? SAW, which is piston-driven. i don’t know what you’re referring to about “terrorists in the middle”, but we never pulled anything other than AKs, RPGs, PKMs, and old lee-enfields and martini-henries off of the taliban.

    my basic training unit and my old unit (A co, 2/87 IN, 10th MTN) tested XM8s and everyone who fired them liked them (except for the built-in optic). that was killed by politics. listen: DGI works and i’ll give you that, but i think pistons work better.

    steve/anyone else who knows: where does this argument about piston-driven inaccuracy come from? i know the AK has some loose tolerances, but FAL’s are pistons, G3/G36 are pistons, 550’s are pistons, i’ve never heard accuracy complaints about those…what gives?

  • jdun1911


    I agree with most of what you posted but there is nothing wrong with DGI. DGI has a piston and is less complicated then a dedicated piston system. There is a misconception that is bore out of bad TV shows, internet whores, and wiki morons that the DGI is unreliable.

    Normal piston has one advantage and that is cleaning, while DGI is superior in every way. That is the reason why for the past decade the US military has been acquiring new DGI small arms and not the other way around.


    The HK416/17 isn’t accurate. It’s like saying the PSG1 is accurate. It isn’t compare to the AR. If the HK416/17 used the same low cost parts non-match parts and non-free floating barrel the difference will be like night and day. HK have to use high end expensive parts to get near the level of accuracy of a low end mass produced AR. Anyone that knows a damn will tell you that a correctly done DGI system is far superior in accuracy then piston system. It is not debatable.

    Where is the proof that US Special Force used HK416. I have never seen pictures or video of actual Special Operator use HK416 in combat. I have no doubt some units have them for testing purpose.

    SMGLEE a few months ago took pictures of a SEAL armory. I don’t recall SEAL having them in stock. Off all the Special Operation Groups, SEAL would be the one all over it. You know, the HK416 can fire with the barrel full of water (sarcasm, for those that don’t understand. I don’t want the HK416 KB! in your face when it is full of water).


    The reason why the XM8 was not adopted was it melted under prolong full auto. The rifle was made out of cheap plastic. Another major drawback it used proprietary HK product and not NATO standard. The US military spend over 38 millions for a new G36 stock. The XM8 is a G36 in a 38+ millions stock. It was crap and that’s how the SCAR program came about.

    I learn that “ounce equal pain”. Anyone that put on heavy gear either in the military or hunting or whatever and travel on foot will immediately understand that phase.

    Middle East, you know Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon etc. Not Iraq. Is Iraq part of the Middle East? The majority of terrorists in the Middle East carry AR.

    We all know that the SAW isn’t popular with the troops.

  • Sean Nack

    1. iraq actually is part of the middle east. i don’t need your geography lesson: i’m an international relations (middle eastern regional studies) major, and, even better, i’ve been to the middle east. have you?
    2. just because there’s one group of palestinians running around with AR’s doesn’t make it the weapon of choice for terrorist groups, but let’s just say for the sake of argument that they do: i wouldn’t consider that my stamp of approval for the quality of a firearm. all that that would mean is that the AR is what’s available and affordable.
    3. DGI in no way uses a piston.
    4. SEAL teams aren’t listed there. i can’t speak to what the SF gentlemen we had roll through the FOB were carrying, as we were A) specifically told not to even look at them, lest they be annoyed by SF fanboys, and B) i didn’t know the 416 existed at the time, so i can’t say that i recall anything other than what they were carrying didn’t catch my attention. and i’m sure Vitor would agree that we’re not saying that every SF member is getting handed a shiny new 416; we’re just saying they’re out there and in use, which means as Vitor said “they can’t be all that bad.”
    5. i’ll say again: i was there for some of the XM8 testing. during our tests, we didn’t have those issues, not that i’m saying they didn’t happen somewhere else; i just like to speak from personal experience, versus what i read on the internet. i agree that the XM8 was not necessary; i thought then and think now we just should’ve bought G36’s, but our procurement process is our procurement process, and if we get something better out of it (i’m looking at you ACR), then swell. i look forward to using it when i go back in.
    6. fine, you’re right, the SAW’s not that popular, for good reason (needlessly complicated, prone to jam, heavy but what isn’t). know what is? M240, which is piston-driven. and even if the SAW is not the most popular, it’s still the most casualty-producing weapon. point stands.
    7. i’m fully aware that ounces equal pain. i ran about 200 combat missions with roughly 60 lbs on my back. the problem is, once some officers hit O-5 they start forgetting that, and start thinking that more armor is a good idea. SCAR-L weighs 7.25lbs, H at about 7.9 lbs, by the way. you may want to fact-check your forums sometimes.
    8. as i said previously, when i thought i’d buried this hatchet, DGI works. like steve said, there’re trade-offs, and i’m willing to trade a little bit of accuracy for a lot of reliability. you’re obviously not, and that’s fine.
    9. sorry for the argument on your blog, steve. i’m pretty much done.

    • I do not mind a healthy debate, but please keep it friendly or I will be forced to moderate it. I would also prefer discussions are related to the blog post in question.

  • greg

    Great rifle, very practical, modern and very accurate. Has been ordered by 8 countries already. The HS 2000 was also made by this company and is used in 44 countries for law enforcement including the KGB and FBI.

    • greg, do you know which countries have ordered the VHS?

  • I would vote against the DGI.
    I don’t like scraping fouling off my ar bolt..
    If you like DGI good for you. I will not argue.
    I don’t think this BP will be in the same league as the proven FAMAS.
    I would not bet against the scar.

  • Do you know what countries bought this particular assault rifle?!?!

  • marcellogo

    To came back to the topic, here is news from (is a croatian site, altough based in eu.):
    The testing of 40 Croatian VHS assault rifles which lasted several months is finally over. As Militarium finds out, the results are excellent – 30 thousands pieces of ammunitions were used and the rifles performed admirably without any problems at all.
    MoD is very satisfied with testing results, especially with rifle’s precision and anti-corrosive protection developed in cooperation with certain German company and The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering from Zagreb. Next phase is production of another 100 rifles and its further testing in Croatian military facilities.

    Also on the site of croatian Mod ( there very interesting close up photos about it, and guys if you look it closely any congecture there are made here would be put in doubt…
    It is a very, very misterious rifle, unconventional design, and also accessories are quite quizzling…take a look to the bipod, for an istance.

  • marcellogo
    • marcellogo, thanks for the info

  • Mahniti Tapir

    Somebody asked why charging handle is on top?

    As you may see, early prototype is completely different than production model.

    It’s due to the fact that rifles where field tested by Croatian guards brigades and all requests where taken in account with final design.

    Request where various ranging from rifle being balanced and suitable for one arm (and shoulder) operation to rifle having no protruding parts that could hook to uniform or something else.

  • marcellogo

    Other info from croatian MoD (

    Minister of Defence Branko Vukelic held today, May 12, a conference for the media, were also the projects of equipping and modernization of the armed forces were presented.

    12/05 (may)/2009

    Together with the Minister of Defence, the conference was also attended by the Chief of General Staff of Croatian Armed Forces General Josip Lucic, MOD State Secretary Mate Raboteg, Director of the MOD Material Resources Directorate Darko Polanec, Chief of the CAF GS Logistics Directorate Major General Josip Stojkovic and Director of the MOD Development, Equipping and Modernization Department Brigadier General Milan Knezevic.

    Director of Material Resources Directorate Darko Polanec presented the activities of the project development of assault rifle VHS NATO calibre 5.56 x45 mm, a joint project of HS Produkt, and Ministry of Defence, with special emphasis on the testing phase, where the safety, reliability and accuracy of use was confirmed. Factory tests were made in one month period, and tests were performed professionally by the Commission of Ministry of Defence and the Commission of HS Produkt according to NATO directives. Accuracy and precision, constancy in extreme conditions (extreme temperatures) and similar factors were tested. “The first phase of assault rifle project development was completed, where the second phase will begin with the production of assault rifles for the purpose of equipping the Croatian Armed Forces. It is planned that the first 1000 assault rifles should be delivered in 2009”, Director Polanec said.

  • marcellogo

    And NOW the really amusing part…Extreme texting!

    Three notations:

    At the beginning of video they say that they are proving the rifles throught shooting both semi-auto and short volleys, but probably in Croatia short volley means “anything shorter than empting the magazine”.

    6.46 of video: no need for a bayonet! LOL

    7.03 LONG STROKE PISTON period

    In conclusion, the Vhs although a troubled delopment , finally turned out to be an excellent and innovative weapon.
    It left only a question to be answered: why it seems still not available for lefties (and there need to be a precise reason for it)?

  • Spiff

    Why does the Steyr AUG not enter into competition?

  • marcellogo

    If you are referring to the usa competition, it seems that they don’t want bullpups or better that the main requisite, a basic frame that can be shifted between standard rifle,marksman, carbine, saw and pdw, yust changing barrel and some accessories excludes bullpup (that in reality can cover most of these roles, except SAW and in strict sense PDW).

    It seems now that , as quite usual in most of the american procurements project, these requisites proved to be excessively ambitious and had to be reconsidered.
    Look for an example to the SCAR: at the beginning it would have been really multicaliber: 7,62 kala, 6,8 spc and ranging from pdw to marksman.
    Now it seems it would be only on the two standard NATO caliber and if you look it is not a rifle anymore: the barrel of 7,62mm NATOlong version is shorter (406mm) than the VHS-K carbine (410mm)!
    So maybe bullpup can have a comeback!

  • I wonder when they’re going to come out with the DVD and Blu-Ray assault rifles. The VHS assault rifle is far better than the BETA assault rifle.

  • Jim

    and don’t forget that the original design for the Armalites (both 10 and 15) used a vertical charging trigger in the carry handle like the VHS had in it’s prototype..

  • marcellogo

    I’ve retrieved european patent office documentation for both model of VHS project, so I think I can reconstruct and clarify a series of misundenstanding and obscurities about rifles features and development.
    There was effectively two totally different projects, both from same bureau but with not point in common.
    Earlier patent is the Tavor looking one: this is the DGI one, with the “gas buffer”, that is in the patent called -soft opening sistem- .

    the second one, dated 31-07-2009 showed the actual FAMAS- looking model:

    Nothing in common with the first one, operating system is “tappet” like in SCAR (or also more perfected, as it has a regolating valve and a soot deposition chamber), no soft opening but a forced air cooling system (like in Pecheneg MG) and a MECHANICAL recoil buffer (it is hosted in the final part of buttstock, behind that line, and work both in opening than in bolt closing phase ).
    About this, need to remember that croats used another two weapons with such a feature in the Homeland War: Czech skorpion smg and Singaporean Ultimax 100, so they definitely are experienced in such features.

    Second version was chosen by initiative of special forces operatives, they asked specifically for a weapon with no protruding lever and buttons and with the possibility of mounting the widest array of ad-ons possible thought standard rails.
    Second Patent documentation remarks all these aspects, plus it put a special stress on every aspect related on avoid overheating, ingestion of sand, dust,mud and expecially [b] soot [/b] deposit: evidently DGI is always DGI.

    Others interesting features are the interchangeable magazine catcher (so everything goes) and the presence (as a standard feature) of integral sights for both granate launcher than for the old rifle grenades, a clear sign of how much weapon development was influenced by real operatives.

  • Some Guy

    Basically a Bull-pup AR-15, direct impingement plus 5.56mm pretty says so.

    Cool beans.

  • Legman688

    Once again, Betamax loses out to an inferior technology…

  • marcellogo

    Some Guys , please i’ve just said that is a “tappet” sistem like in SCAR with a link to the patent stating it and you still say that is a DGI?

    There is not any similarities between the two operating sistems: DGI transfer the gas from the barrel back to the bolt trought a tube.
    It is lighter system for an assault rifle but is unreliable as acting so the soot goes directly to the most delicate part of the entire mechanism.
    Modern “tappet” system (the original Wincherster carbine one was way different) use it to transfer force to a long stroke piston like the one of ak (and FAL, Minimi, PK and quite all type on post II world war LMG and GPMG).
    Its advantages? Well, Long stroke piston is the most reliable and robust of traditional system, but it doesn’t allow to change easily the lenght of the barrel or the bullet power, as the more gas hit the piston more recoil you have.
    Usually the adopted solution used for this is the “modern” short stroke piston i.e. the one specifically coinceived for adaptabile caliber/barrel lenght (it began with Dragunov, but g-36, xm-8, hk416, masada and all the other proposal for M-16 substitute use it).
    Tappet is a viable alternative as with it the bolt opening is still determined by istantaneous transfer of recoil force and not by gas directly, but in this case is the tappet that transer it to the long stroke piston and not the short stroke piston that hit the bolt itself, maintaining so all the famed resilience of AK style systems.
    Every of the two sistem has its pro and con, but both are modern up to date operating systems and not technical dead-ends like DGI was.

  • marcellogo

    It was finally published the first professional article about VHS on croatian security magazine Zaštita.
    Here is URL:

    It is in croatian obviously and , sorry, any traslator wouldn’t help as croatian like russian, german and latin work trought declinations/cases.

    In every cases the most interesting things are:

    -They have confirmed they have a version with ambidextrous case ejection ready, only waiting to tune it at perfection.

    – Ruder Boskovic institute integral sight has both magnifing than red dot options.
    -absolute novelty is about fire selector, not surprisingly considered the Hs2000/XD multiple security features, the VHS has some sort of pullout auto trigger

    Direct translation:
    Now switching to full auto. And again there is a surprise. the first shot has been taken but others are not following. the instructor explains the proper way of pulling the trigger at full auto setting and a short burst follows.

  • Dears sirs!

    I can remember bloody times of Croatian war for Independence.I lost my fours friends in that war ,a lot of others are without eye,finger ,arm(s) ,leg and other shits.Now we have prove,Croatians ,to the whole world ,that we are capable to construct and produce quality assault rifle for military and police use .Each good product must have logical developement ,and need to have one good model to copy start of constructing and after developing that product.That is rule in all cases
    in all fields ot te life.Croatian VHS assault rifle has origin obviously in french FAMAS assault rifle and it is honestly to admit.
    I had Croatian rifle in my arms and i believe it is excellent product.

    Yours sincerely,

    Goran Sablic

  • Marky

    I would like to ask anyone here with experience with this VHS rifle for your comments about it?

    It is being sold at our local gun store yet I don’t know anyone outside the people who got it from the lgs who has bought it. I’d like a fair and balanced review please. I’ve been trying to get a FAMAS for the longest time but the prices being given are too high so I guess this will have to do given the limitations. I was going to get a Chinese AK but this particular rifle is bullpup and I don’t have a bullpup.

    I would like to add this to my collection.

    To those who will ask why I have access I am from the Philippines so basically you can have any high-powered select fire rifle you want if your budget allows it.

    Thank you in advance.

    • If you want to see 18 min presentation of VHS rifle go to and click under VIDEO section. Presentation is filmed in HS Produkt factori in Karlovac, Croatia.

  • If you want to see 18 min presentation of VHS rifle go to and click under VIDEO section. Presentation is filmed in HS Produkt factory in Karlovac, Croatia.