On this last day of the SHOT Show, I took a detour downstairs to see our friends at Fabryka Broni of the Bumar Group. I covered their MSBS (Polish for “Modular Weapon System” – alternately called “Radon” according to the Polish element naming scheme and not to be confused with Radom, the home of Fabryka Broni) rifle on Industry Day, but Krzysztof told me then to come to their booth at the show for more information.
I’m glad I did. I got to spend a little more quality time with the rifles, as well as talk further with Krzysztof and the other representatives about the rifle and its potential US release. Fabryka Broni is intent on a US release (“are you allowed to own 40mm grenade launchers in America?” I was asked; “we have one we could sell with the rifle”); they are confident of the Polish military’s adoption of the MSBS*, but are awaiting orders before bringing the rifle across the Atlantic. “The rifle is done; these are not prototypes. When we get orders, the rifle will come to the US.”
[*It was mentioned that the MSBS has already been adopted, but when I asked them if they have any competition, they said yes they did, so I think the rifle has passed state acceptance trials, and is awaiting standardization.]
I asked the representatives what the plan for importation is. According to them, Fabryka Broni is currently setting up a factory in Texas where they will make receivers, and many of the parts will be imported from Poland to be assembled in the United States. “We have to gather the tooling at the factory*, then we can begin production”. They mentioned that they are currently seeking ATF approval, and expect the first MSBS rifles to be offered as pistols; the importation regulations on these are easier, they said.
[*It was unclear whether he meant the factory in Texas or Radom, or both.]
Two years ago, when I last visited their booth at the 2013 SHOT Show, they had on display developmental models and rapid prototyped mockups only; this year, encouraged by the very polished looking firearms they had on display, as well as their optimism about bringing the rifle to the US market, I decided to ask them the tough questions: “How much do you think it will cost?”, “when will it come to the US?” and “will you be offering conversion kits for different calibers and configurations?”
Their answers were nothing short of exciting: “The rifle will be manufactured as a system; we make the barrels on our forging machines and will offer many configurations.” When asked about the bullpup rifle, they answered “we will offer one rifle, the standard layout MSBS; accessories, barrels, and the bullpup frame will be offered alongside that as kits.”
On price: “It does not cost so much to make something in Poland as in the US; importation adds cost, but we think we can make a much lower price than the [Bushmaster] ACR.”
When can we expect the MSBS to hit the US market? I was surprised at their response: “We will begin making Beryl rifles (their AK variant) and PM-06 pistols (based on the PM-84/98/06 submachine gun family) in the US later this year. The MSBS is finished; it might come possibly as early as December.”
All the firearms on display did not look like prototypes; according to Krzysztof, over a hundred of these have been made for trials. With the short (akin to “carbine-length”) handguard and medium-weight unfluted barrel (by my guess roughly equivalent in weight to an M4 profile barrel) and polymer lower receiver, I estimate the MSBS weighs at or under 7 pounds empty. While this is not as light as an AR-15 in a comparable configuration, it is much better than other rifles in the same generation as the MSBS. Further, the short handguard was made of aluminum; with a polymer handguard weight could be reduced even further. The balance point of all MSBS rifles displayed was right inside the magwell.
I think the folks in Radom has done a lot of hard work over the past two years; from a design perspective I am confident in saying he MSBS has gone well beyond where the ACR (to which it is related) is now, and it has really caught my attention as one of the promising new rifle designs of this century. I don’t think the gun represents a great leap forward over the AR-15 that currently saturates the US market, but it is solidly engineered, well built, and quite light.