The editor says: This article was contributed by our friend Vitaly who runs Rem870.com, a blog and forum dedicated to the Remington 870.
The war in Eastern Ukraine has brought international attention to the Ukrainian firearms/defense market and local industry. Companies from Guns & Safety exhibition was attended by many companies from around the world. Most of the exhibitors were focused on getting Army contracts involving armored vehicles, armor, clothing, and various other components and equipment, but there were also many small are exhibitors.
Most of the companies, such as Barrett, Glock, Steyr, Bushmaster, Colt and DPMS, are well known around the world and you can see them almost on any gun exhibition, but there were also local companies exhibiting interesting guns that were developed and manufactured in Ukraine: some of them looked interesting but some of them looking like a waste of our military’s budget.
Let’s start with the firearm I wasn’t able to understand. The Hopak rifle, pictured at the to of this article, is a modification of the AK-47 rifle. It has a long integrated silencer to make shots as quiet as possible. It looks very similar to the VSS Vintorez. The caliber is 7.62x39mm and its gas block was removed to accommodate the silencer and so the rifle is manually operated! The Hopak rifle is difficult to understand especially with optics installed. It is advertised as a new compact sniper rifle but it’s just a manually operated AKM with a silencer. Oh wait, it has a special feature… you can use a blank round adapter to fire a hook for climbing!
The next rifle is the SGM 12.7. This is a sniper rifle with a 12.7x108mm caliber, which is a Soviet .50 BMG caliber. It is advertised with an effective range of 1.5 km. It can penetrate armor up to 12 mm thick. The rifle is manually operated. Many parts are made of wood, so it looks very outdated. The muzzle brake is advertised to effectively reduce recoil. They say the shooter is going to feel 5 times less recoil which is a pretty unbelievable claim. The first SGM rifles are now being tested by the Ukrainian army. There are no results of the tests as of yet.
Hado, another Ukrainian company presented their own 12.7x108mm caliber rifle. It is manually loaded but the ejection of a spent shell is inertia operated. There is not much information about it because it is very new and was just released.
The only problem with all Ukrainian 12.7x108mm sniper rifles is that sniper loads for such rifles are not available. Russian rifles, like the KSVK 12.7, for example, utilize specially developed rounds. Ukrainians use Soviet rounds from machine guns, but machine gun rounds are not accurate because they are developed for absolutely different applications.
The National Guard of Ukraine already adopted a Barret M82 rifle which was a much better decision than re-inventing the wheel.
A Bullpup SVD is another prototype that was presented at this exhibition.
It is shorter and compact but there is no information about tests or military use of this rifle. The concept looks interesting but it is pretty much useless. It is a solution looking for a problem. Also, that angled grip looks very unusual for a rifle. And don’t even try to shoot it from the left shoulder! 🙂
Another rifle which was advertised can destroy a Russian Armata tank’s optical devices. This rifle is called the Stiletto.
The caliber is 300 WSM. It is manually operated and has a suppressor. The manufacturer displayed armor which was pierced with specially developed rounds from the rifle. Armor piercing rounds are advertised to penetrate the front armor of BMP armored vehicles at a distance of up to 700 meters. Bullets are patented and consist of several parts. The company says that their bullets are now being tested by major manufacturers of ammunition. We’ll see if they will be able to sign contracts with some big players in future.
There was a very interesting company which manufactures carbon and plastic furniture for AK-47, AR-15, SKS and other firearms.
Lightweight carbon handguards for AR-15:
They are designed mostly for competitive shooters which need slick design and don’t add many accessories. Handguards are sturdy and extremely light.
Prototypes of AK-47 stocks from the same company:
Accessories for SKS and Bullpup kit for AK-47:
I think the world needs to stop making more bullpups. There are so many of them and they keep making them by trying to bullpup every possible gun!
Interesting plastic and carbon handguards for the AK-47:
It is extended to make possible modern grips and also has integrated Picatinny rails to accommodate red dots and vertical grips.
Here is an interesting compact grenade launcher from the Fort Company:
There are lots of muzzle brakes, silencers and flash hiders from the Strela Company. They manufacture products for AK-47 and AR-15 rifles. A lot of military and special forces units in Ukraine use their accessories. The most popular and well known among soldiers’ products is the AK-47 flash hider. Soldiers use it so they can be less visible during night fights. I’ve seen a video where soldiers tested flash hiders using night vision and you can see a bright flash with regular muzzle brakes but flash hiders make shots almost invisible.
One of the companies in Ukraine that manufacture AR-15 rifles is Zbroyar. They make several models in different calibers. Zombies are popular there too, so the most popular Zbroyar’s rifle is the Zombie Hunter 🙂 This is not their only model and they often make shows for the Ukrainian Army while trying to replace the AK, but without any luck. Some Special Forces units test AR-15s but they still use good old fashioned AKs.
War in the east of Ukraine stimulates the development and purchasing of new firearms. Some of the new developments look interesting but some look like an attempt to try and get easy money from the military.
I hope this post was interesting for you. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments section.