The (Fake) Magpul of Myanmar

    Although rebel groups and insurgents are usually focused more on small arms themselves instead of the accessories that can be attached to them, we are continuing to see the diversification of these after-market accessories throughout the world as the firearms themselves become more modular than ever before. The fighting in Syria for example as brought us a myriad of examples of both real and counterfeit parts that adorn the handguards and stocks of numerous small arms in use by rebels and conventional forces fighting them alike. Possibly the most hilarious of these examples is where actual Iraqi soldiers were attaching Mad Bull Airsoft grenade launchers to the 6 o’clock position of their very real carbines.

    The fact that groups inside Burma are using Magpul-based products shouldn’t be a surprise as any armed contingent throughout the world is always looking to modernize and upgrade inventories if the need arises. What is different here is the proliferation of an entire market of counterfeit products, most likely coming out of China and Taiwan, originally intended for the Airsoft market but instead being used in very real combat zones. To their credit, Magpul got back to us when questioned about the presence of Magpul products inside Burma and the company gave a very affirmative answer that there is no presence from their end of genuine Magpul parts being sold or sent to Burma.

    AR15-derivatives lined up in a Karen village from a KNLA social media page. Note the Magpul UBR-patterned stock equipped on all of them.

    A Kuki fighter with a UBR-patterned AR15-derivative.

    A Shan State Army fighter with Magpul-patterned components. Source from Shan State Defense Army blog.

    Although Ethnic, this is actually a member of the Burmese Border Guard Force or BGF, a border protection entity composed of ethnic forces.

    But where do they come from? There is a presence of counterfeit Magpul components that can be bought, literally on the streets of Bangkok in the firearm shop districts. However, it doesn’t appear that the Magpul-equipped rifles being used by numerous ethnic armies are bought by sources that are filling up bags of components in Bangkok. There might be a more direct source through China that is helping to spread the parts around the rebels, or it might be even more direct. It must also be noted that there are numerous other counterfeit components that are being used such as fake Trijicon and Aimpoint optics, but Magpul parts certainly make up the majority that have come out in open sources.

    Bangkok street stall.

    Miles

    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at [email protected]


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