Denel GI-30: Drum Cam operated, Dual Feed Closed Breech Accuracy at 4000 meters!

Photo Credit: ADR/JOHN STUPART via

When it comes to IFV’s (Infantry Fighting Vehicles), South Africa certainly gained a wealth of experience during their “Bush Wars”, including the largest armored engagement in the Southern Hemisphere in history during the Battle of Cuito Canevale in 1987.  South African Ratel 90’s, though outnumbered and outgunned, held the line against masses of soviet tanks.  Denel Dynamics, whose ZT3 indigenous antitank rocket system was prototype-tested during that battle, designed a great weapons system to mount on South Africa’s newest IFV, the Badger.  The Badger is SA’s variant of the Patria AMV designed in Finland.  Denel Dynamics has designed a modular combat turret to be fitted with ATGM’s, mortars, a C&C variant with .50cal, or the mighty GI-30.

The GI-30 has two main features.  The first being its dual hopper feed mechanism, and the second being its innovative method of operation.  The dual-feed allows the gunner to select which round to fire on the fly.  There are two hoppers (linkless feeders) which are hand-replenished, but hold 15 and 25 rounds respectively.  This feature allows a gunner to engage complex targets rather quickly.  For example: A BMP whose infantry has already dismounted. The gunner can hit the BMP with a semi-armor piercing high explosive incendiary round and then quickly switch to a high explosive round to engage the infantry dismounts with a 3 round burst at 115rpm.  The total ammunition load which can be carried in the vehicle is 150 rounds.

Though the GI-30 is externally operated much like more common bushmaster type chain guns, the GI-30 operates via a drum cam instead of a chain.  Though it must be more precisely made, there are less points for failure in the system (no chain).  There is also no need for tensioning as with a chain system.  The GI-30 can fire from a closed breech in single-shot mode, vs the Bushmaster series of auto cannons which fire from an open bolt.  Denel also has asserted that the ability to fire from a closed bolt contributes to greater accuracy out to 4000 meters (roughly 2.5 miles).  This, to my knowledge, is the only drum-cam operated firearm.  If our readers know otherwise, please let us know!

Indigenous ammunition made by Denel’s Pretoria Metal Pressings division includes sabot (effective to 3000 meters), APIT, SAPHEI, HE, and PRAC-T.  The system has had commercial success so far, with the Malaysian Royal Armor Corps as the first customer.  Though the Badger has yet to prove itself in combat, with the GI-30, it should prove to be a potent component of South Africa and Malaysia’s IFV formations.  With twice the range of the Ratel 90 and the ability to fire on the move, it makes for a great replacement alongside the Rooikat 105.

Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. He is fortunate enough to have access to class 3 weaponry as well.


  • Gus Butts

    The M242 25mm Bushmasters that have been in service for decades with US and Canadian troops have been using the dual feed method since its inception, there’s nothing innovative about another one…

    • Rusty S.

      Good point, I will clarify in an edit.

    • Major Tom

      The 2A42 Shiponuv (spelling?) cannon has used dual feed for decades since the 1970s. It predates the Bushmaster 242 by a short time.

      • Gus Butts

        Probably, I don’t know that gun. I wasn’t specifically talking about which cannon came first.

    • Peter Nissen

      But feeding from a hopper, or drum/barrel/bucket – whatever you want to call it -is….. different! No belt, no links to feed, just hand load into the hopper (please do not this whist in operation or I can imagine a mangled hand) and continues fire while ammo can be loose loaded into the hopper!!!!

    • iksnilol

      Not about dual feed, but there is innovative about the drum cam operation over chain.

  • Brett baker

    Is there an importable semi-auto version?

    • JSmath

      Anything’s possible when you have enough money, but since it’s a 30mm cannon, it’s a destructive device and will have all the problems and annoyances that come with that.

      • PK

        …such as not being legal to own except as a dealer sample. No NFA imports for open civilian sale after 1968, sort of like no new manufacture MGs since 1986.

        Annoying, but I ran into that trying to have a few things brought in over the years.

    • PK

      In a nutshell, no.

      Longer answer… not really, because:

      1) They aren’t made in that configuration, although copious application of cash could probably get an example produced… good luck getting the Firearms Branch to rule it not easily-converted to an MG, though

      2) If they were both produced as a semi-auto only, and determined to not be easily converted to full-auto, they’re still DD with a bore over 1/2″

      3) With all of the above, it basically means they’re also not able to be imported (no importation of NFA items after the 1968 GCA) as transferable/for civilian sales, so you’d need to have an 01 SOT and type 11 FFL to import NFA/DD, along with an FEL for the explosive rounds

      4) With all of that out of the way, you’d not personally own it – it would belong to the business entity that has the FFL/SOT.

      Aren’t laws fun?

      • Brett baker

        Actually, I was sure that was the answer. Hopefully the rest of you can avoid my tragedy. A group I’m in started a shoot day. It started out shooting clays,added a .22 and handgun range, then rifles. 2 years after we started shooting ar’s, I brought my sing in. 1 in firepower! Fast forward a couple years, we have 3 other msgs, a 1919a4, 2 semi .50 belt-feds, and a civil war cannon replica😊. How can I regain the firepower title when I have the money?

        • PK

          Depending on where you live, NFA items may be the answer. Everyone likes to play with silenced firearms, everyone enjoys short barreled rifles and shotguns, and who can’t have fun with a 40mm grenade launcher? The chalk-filled practice grenades are great fun, and real-deal M203 launchers can be had for under $2,000.

          • Brett baker

            Autocorrect strikes again! I do have NFA items, a Sten and a can. I’ve been thinking about an M203 with practice ammo, but paintmark vs. 4″ hole (from the CW cannon) makes me wonder about anti-tank guns. Probably an M203 or 79 though due to cost.

    • TomG

      For the money that would cost, it would be cheaper to bribe an SADF officer and buy a couple thousand acres there to shoot it on.

  • PK

    “This, to my knowledge, is the only drum-cam operated firearm.”

    You mean a drum with a cam track? Every Gatling gun is like that, although with multiple barrels. It’s far from a unique system.

    • Rusty S.

      Good point, but I didn’t mean to relate to the rotation of the barrels. This cannon’s bolt moves back and forth via the drum cam.

      • PK

        Regardless of the rotating barrels, how do you think Gatling guns lock the bolts and fire? It’s a cylindrical cam with a track controlling the bolts, which move back and forth.

  • Greg Kelemen

    I’ll take 3.

  • 22winmag

    Firearms not Politics and Autocannons.

  • Tassiebush

    For some reason this makes me really want a tripod mounted hand cranked version in a smaller round. Something really flat shooting.

  • Tim

    “The total ammunition load which can be carried in the vehicle is 150 rounds.”

    Really? Am I reading that right? The vehicle holds a grand total of 150 rounds of 30mm ammo?

    • Gus Butts

      Shooting 3-round bursts of highly destructive 30mm at 115rpm, that ammo lasts a long time.

    • SPQR9

      Seems low. BMP3 and BMD4 vehicles carries 500+ for their autocannons if memory serves.

  • adverse4

    I want that truck and gun to drive in and around Houston.

  • Marzuq

    Malaysian Army’s AV8 Gempita AFV30, operated by the 1st Regiment of the Royal Armoured Corps firing its Denel GI-30 30mm autocannon.