Estonian Rifle Trials: SIG, H&K & LMT Rifles In Running

    Estonian 5.56 demo

    Estonian soldier firing an LMT rifle from prone during a demo held during the Estonian military's evaluations (Siim Lõvi / ERR)

    As previously reported Estonia is in the process of selecting a new service rifle. Estonia is moving forward with further testing of rifles submitted by three manufacturers. The contract is reported to be worth €75 million (approx. $86 million) and calls for as many as 20,000 new rifles, chambered in both 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm.

    Back in December 2017, we reported that 14 submissions were entered before Estonia’s August 2017 deadline. Of these, the Estonian Centre for Defence Investment reported that 9 had been selected for testing. This included rifles from manufacturers from all over the world, including Česká zbrojovka, Israel Weapon Industries, Lewis Machine & Tool Company, Patriot Ordnance Factory Inc., SIG Sauer, Heckler & Koch, Radius (possibly Radom), and a joint submission from Beretta and Sako.

    In January the decision was made to move forward and test guns from SIG, LMT, HK, and POF. POF was reportedly excluded when the shipping of rifles for testing was delayed. Testing of the weapons continues with Major Risto Pärtel, described as the EDF’s chief weapons officer, said that “the goal of the testing was to find out how stable and dependable the weapons are in the hands of various shooters.” The weapons have been tested by the Estonian Defence Force, Police and Border Guards.

    Estonian Rifle Demo

    The rifles being tested laid out for a media demo (Siim Lõvi / ERR)

    A report from Eesti Rahvusringhääling (ERR), Estonian Public Broadcasting, suggests that rifles from three manufacturers are now being evaluated. These are believed to be Heckler & Koch with the HK416 (complete with the new Gen 3 magazines) and HK417, SIG Sauer with the MCX and SIG716G2 DMR, and Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT) with their MLCPS and CQBMWS.

    From the photographs published by ERR, it appears that the Estonian Army is seeking both a standard-issue infantry rifle (in 5.56x45mm) and a designated marksman’s rifle (in 7.62x51mm). Sources suggest that following a report into health concerns over exposure to propellant residue the Estonian defence forces are looking primarily at piston-driven rifles.

    7.62x51mm rifles tested by Estonia

    The 7.62x51mm Rifles under consideration including (old AK4) HK417, CQBMWS & SIG716G2 DMR (Siim Lõvi / ERR)

    Estonian land forces are currently equipped with two rifles. The Galil (used by the 1st Infantry Brigade) and the AK4 (a licensed G3 clone used by the 2nd Infantry Brigade), in 2008 B&T upgraded these rifles but a replacement is expected to be selected this year. ERR report that under the proposed contract approximately 11,000 rifles will be purchased between 2018 and 2021. With the additional option of procuring up to 18,000 by 2024. Regardless of which rifles are adopted, ERR reports that the Estonian military hope to receive the first of the new by the 24th February, Estonian Independence Day, 2019.


    Estonian Army Demonstrates Test Rifles, ERR, retrieved 29/03/18 from source 

    First new automatic firearms to be delivered to Estonia by early 2019, ERR, retrieved 31/03/18 from source

    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, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]