The Iranian press has released news of the Islamic Republic’s newest rifle design from a recent press conference held on the Zulfiqar modular rifle in Tehran. Milmag has what appears to be an excellent overview of the rifle in Polish, gathering photographs from Alalam news agency. The Farsi name of the rifle, “Zulfiqar” (ذوالفقار) is the name of the sword carried by Imam Ali, an extremely exalted leader among Shi’a the world over. This isn’t the first time a defense article has been designated Zulfiqar, as in the early 1990s the Army came out with a Main Battle Tank of the same designation. One important point to note in this context is that the rifle appears to be intended to either serve as a substitute or entirely replace (pending field trials) currently serving G3A3s and AKMs in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a branch separate from that of the standing military. This purpose might be the reasoning of picking such a term from early Islamic history.
The Zulfiqar appears to be Iran’s answer to the FN Herstal SCAR, bearing much resemblance in appearance and design intent. It comes in 7.62x51mm but some of the articles mentioned 5.56x45mm and 7.62x39mm as well, has a polymer lower, left side charging handle (that can be switched to right), picatinny rails mounted on handguards in addition to a 12 o’clock optic rail. Interestingly there is what appears to be an imported copy of an EoTech 551 co-mounted with canted back up A2 iron sights. Possibly one of the first mass-produced infantry intended rifles to be fitted with such a setup.
The rifle appears to be piston operated with what looks to be an AR15 gas port that is exposed outside the handguards, and in addition also appears to have an adjustable gas port very similar to an M240 medium machine gun. It uses an AR15 grip, has polymer magazines, and a folding SCAR style stock that also folds to the right. However, the rifle is in a preproduction, almost prototype form, due to the poor finish on the metal and on the polymer itself. The magazine has a number of perforations in the ribs that looks very out of place, allowing dust and debris to enter. Iranian presenters openly admitted the weapon was directly inspired by the SCAR, G36, and ACR rifles as well. Overall, this is Iran’s first attempt at a modular rifle, but it appears that much more work needs to be put into the design in order to field it.