Belarus Unveils New ‘Mystery’ Hybrid AK/AR

    Photograph of Belarus' latest rifle (tut.by)

    At an exhibition in Minsk held by the Belarusian Military-Industrial Committee, the Goskomvoenprom or GKVP, a new rifle was unveiled. The unnamed rifle appears to blend features from both the AR and AK platforms.

    According to Armyrecognition.com officials at the meeting were reluctant to give any details about the new rifle to the press, including its name and manufacturer. Some basic information was offered, however, and we know that the rifle is chambered in 7.62x39mm, has an overall length of 98.5cm or 38.8 inches, a 40.6cm or 16 inch barrel and weighs 4.56 kg or 10.05 lbs. That exceptionally heavy weight does not seem correct, nor does the suggested effective range of 1000m. The rifle feeds from 30 round AK-pattern magazines.

    Overhead view of the table showing Belarus' latest small arms offerings

    Overhead shot showing a table bursting with kit, including some of Belarus’ latest small arms offerings (Sputnik)

    From the photograph we can see that the display rifle was fitted with a keymod fore-end with a full length 12 o’clock picatinny rail. The rifle has an M16A2/M4-style flash hider and a set of folding iron sights. No AR-style charging handle is visible suggesting it is absent in the photo or the weapon has a left side charging handle. There is a case deflector near the ejection port but no forward assist.

    An article that appeared on the Belarusian news portal Tut.by, reported that the new rifle is gas operated and uses a short stroke gas piston rather than direct impingement. While the ergonomic layout of the rifle mimics the AR-platform including the hinged upper and lower receiver, pistol grip, safety/selector position and the stock the weapon has a slanted magazine well to accept AK magazines as well what appears to be a large magazine release paddle.

    Arsenal Switch AK/AR hybrid at SHOT 2017 (Defense Review)

    Arsenal AF Switch in 7.62x39mm at SHOT 2017 (Defense Review)

    I suspect that the rifle is actually an Arsenal AF Switch, introduced in April 2017, as the magazine well and release look almost identical. The Belarusian rifle does not appear to have the ambidextrous dual charging handles. Instead, it appears to be left-side charging only, this configuration of the Switch was also exhibited by Arsenal at SHOT 2017.

    The possibility this might be a rifle based on an Arsenal firearms is also supported by the presence of a pair of what appear to be Strike One (or Strizh) pistols, one fitted with a suppressor and the other mounted in a carbine stock similar to the LRC-2 Long Range Conversion Kit.

    The rifle is being promoted (and possibly assembled/manufactured, although this is unconfirmed) for the global market by Belarusian, state-owned Foreign Trade Unitary Enterprise, Belspetsvneshtekhnika (BSVT) and was displayed alongside a number of other small arms offered by the company. The table included a number of pistols, AK-pattern rifles, suppressors, optics and missiles. The other pistols present in the photo above appear to be a golden PSN-V and another larger framed pistol designed by Igor Vasilyev.

    Sources:

    ‘Belarus has developed new assault rifle 7.62x39mm caliber’, Armyrecognition.com, retrieved 10/02/18, from source

    ‘Newest Belarusian Armament on Display in Minsk’, BSVT.by, retrieved 09/02/18, from source

    ‘Exhibition Goskvoyenproma: pocket pistols, drones and generals’, Sputnik.bt, retrieved 10/02/18, from source

    ‘The new Belarusian weapon was shown in Minsk’, Tut.by, retrieved 09/02/18, from source

    H/T to Hrachya H for helping ID some of the pistols

    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs www.historicalfirearms.info, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of www.armourersbench.com, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]


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