Steyr HS 50 in Iran, Counterfeit?

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Take a look at the two photo below. The first is the original Steyr HS .50 AM, and the second is the newer M1 version.

Steyr HS 50 (European & USA model)
Steyr HS .50 M1 (European model)

This is a frame from the video I posted earlier this week showing Iranians using the Steyr HS 50.

At first glance they look the same. Looking closely, there are some significant differences. The Iran version lacks the barrel taper and barrel fluting. The Iran model has uses an unknown pistol grip, not an M16A2 pistol grip. The trigger guard on the original HS is straight, on the Iran version is not quite straight, it has a slight curve. The Iran version also lacks the Steyr markings forward of the chamber.

Has Iran been cloning the Steyr HS 50? Iran does not make repeat purchases of any weapon that can be cloned (which is everything short of the Russian S300 surface to air missile system). They even clone clones, notably their clone of the Chinese CQ, itself a clone of the M4!

A reader emailed me this photo, said to have been taken in Iraq. I initially dismissed the rifle as a counterfeit because of the number of differences to the Steyr HS.

Then I watched the Iranian video again and noticed the Iranian version did not match the original Steyr. This Iraqi version has a two buffer muzzle brake instead of the Steyr original three buffer (also present in the Iranian version), and appears to have a rusted bolt screwed into the rifle’s bolt where the bolt handle is supposed to be, it has the same pistol grip, plain barrel and trigger guard curvature as the Iranian version.

So I wonder, did Iran clone the Steyr HS 50, as they were bound to do eventually, or did Steyr sell them a customized version?


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.


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  • Graham2

    With CNC machines everywhere these days, it’s possible to clone pretty much anything and it wouldn’t surprise me if Iran has copied the Steyr. Your reference to the two buffer muzzle brake on the Iraqi is wrong though, you just can’t see the whole muzzle brake!

  • dasdfg

    beautiful weapon like WKW Wilk and KSVK

  • Julio

    IIRC I once read that the HS50 was designed by Heinrich Fortmeier and that the rifles that went to Iran were a special run from his workshop and were not built to the Steyr spec. Specifically, they had been given much heavier barrels and scope mounts with no pitch, so as to compromise their portability and range. This may be just so much BS, but it may also account for some of the differences noted here.
    P.S. Whoever owned that “cache” was a real enthusiast: he even liked his twenty-twos and pellet guns!

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Interesting, can you try figure out where you read that?

    • Julio

      I’ve been trying to find the reference since I posted the comment, and now think it may have been something I picked up from a conversation at IWA a few years back. I’d forgotten about it completely until I saw this item on your blog, and now it’s driving me mad trying to pin it down!

  • higgs

    The trigger guard looks sstraight to me. And the pistol grip could bee an aftermarket one.

  • hikerguy

    Since they clone everything from F-5 fighters to HK MP5s, then a copy of a Styer HS is a reasonable conclusion.
    They probably even clone Maytag washing macines if the truth be known.

  • Dubbs123

    I’m not positive but I believe the weapon 2-in from the right is a pellet gun?

    • J.T.

      That is a Winchester 63.

      • J.T.

        Sorry, The 63 is third from right, not second. That one between the 63 and RPK does look like a pellet gun.

  • Ripley
    • Joe Schmoe

      I think we have a winner here. Good find.

  • justin

    It even looks like they used their CQ clone for the pistol grip instead of a standard M16 style. That curved kinda revolver like grip is pretty distinctive of the CQ rifle.

  • KalashniKEV

    Iran did clone the HS 50. The captured Iraqi models are made in Iran. The receivers are marked in Farsi. I have seen them recovered from caches.

  • Ryan

    Graham2 is mostly right. It is really easy given time and money to completely duplicate any metal construct. However, the hard part can be matching the alloy and heat treatment. Also manufacturing a clone in large quantities has bigger problems with tolerance stack up, and duplication of manufacturing processes. This isn’t so bad for a simple object like a bolt action gun but it can be a killer if trying to duplicate something complex.

  • 15yroldgunman

    Yah it’s a copy they copy many things like g3 mp5 cq(m16) mg3 dshk pkm ak(type 56) dragunov even the Uzi

  • http://www.youtube.com/hot2warm Walter

    Cloning cuts down on research and development costs. W-ray diffraction of the metal can give a good account of the make up of the metallurgy necessary to create a reasonable facsimile

  • W

    Fascinating and unsurprising. The arms embargo has forced iran to copy otherwise foreign weapons that would need to be imported.

  • Nooky

    I am also leaning toward Fortmeier oder Fortmeier based clones. Some have different barrel profiles.

  • bbmg

    Doesi t really matter whether it’s been cloned or not? A single shot bolt action rifle is certainly not beyond the wit of any reasonably skilled machinist with the right tools and materials.

    They could put this together: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saegeh

    So why not a basic AMR? In terms of mechanism the Steyr is far simpler than the 14.5mm AMRs the Soviets managed to cook up more than half a century ago.

    • Mike Knox

      @bbmg
      Gunsmithing isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially if if goes as big as AM Rifles..

      • bbmg

        I certainly won’t be turning out a Steyr clone on my little Sherline any time soon, didn’t want to belittle the art of gunsmithing – but the point is that Iranian industry has turned out much more complex projects and therefore replicating an established AMR design is a small achievement by comparison.

  • Ed

    Looks like the gun second from the right is a Gamo Shadow 1000 Airgun

    • bbmg

      Going by the manufacturer’s claims, it should go through type III body armor with ease :D

      • matt

        How the hell is a 17 cal round going at 1000fps going to penetrate a rifle plate?

      • bbmg

        You’re right, sarcasm doesn’t carry over the internet after all…

  • Lance

    Wouldn’t be surprised they make there own Type 56 AK clone from technical data bought from Norinco. They can make M-16A1 clones and make G-3 clones they make alot of copies of weapons. They make there own M-60 tank clones too.

  • http://www.nitroexpress.com Mehul Kamdar

    A friend of mine in Europe who has hunted in Iran in the past, was very impressed with sporting rifles made in that country. These were originally built on the Czech Brno Mauser actions, but, from what I understand, they are built on Iranian Brno clones these days. My friend says that they are easily the equal of fine sporting Mausers made anywhere in Europe and this is not idle praise coming from him – he owns and has shot rifles by the biggest European names.

    If the Iranians did decide to clone the Fortmeier design, there is no reason why they would not be able to do it to a satisfactory quality level. That, perhaps, is reason why the West needs to fear the Iranians and their military intentions , but then, I digress from the original discussion.

  • Mike

    Mass producing an Anti-Material bolt-action rifle in any industrialized nation is not that difficult. The mass production of these rifles is still small compared to assault rifles. Iran has a nuclear program…this is not Rwanda. I am sure that they have qualified engineers and access to modern machine tools and quality steels to make whatever firearm they desire. This information should not be a surprise to any. Some of the longest shots in history have taken place recently in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and have been well publicized. The USA and Israel are not Iran’s only threat as they have their own terrorist problem with Kurds, Al-Qaeda, and other groups (SAS at 16 Princes Gate in 1980). The use of long-range sniping and Anti-Material shooting has proven itself on the battlefield.

  • Anonymoose

    It’s not actually a counterfeit if they have a license to produce it. Does anyone know if they have a licensing agreement with Steyr? I know DIO has licenses from Rheinmetal and HK to produce MG3s, G3s, and MP5s, but they also could have changed their HS .50’s design just enough that they wouldn’t have to get a license…

  • John Doe

    Iran isn’t Somalia. They’ve turned out things more complex than a bolt-action AM rifle.

  • jackson

    America people, like the dog is afraid of Iran … :D
    America always a loser and the winner of Iran … :D

  • adonis egewert

    I have seen one of Iran`s hs50 in person which was the exact first generation of the hs50 with the narrower muzzle break wich was standard at the time and hk pistol grip (don’t have any idea why they did this ) ,same as the one seen on the hk416 prototype . these rifles in the video frame are actually .460 with that same pistol grip but with the newer muzzle break ) and as i know are imported in few numbers . The hs50 in the photo from iraq is a newer rifle with the curently in production muzzle break . there were tree different standard hs50 not two .

  • L S D evil

    and now Iran is transferrin’ those Steyr .50HS to Assad forces

  • http://youtube.com/cursethee gresh

    I spotted one of these being used by the Free Syrian Army in an attack in Damascus. The building they’re attacking is a very high-value target, the Palestine Branch (intelligence agency). It’s where dissidents are often taken to be tortured.

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