One of the biggest buzzes during the show was the booth from Vietnamese Defence Industries (VDI). This was the first such appearance of the Vietnamese delegation to any major trade show outside of Vietnam with the amount of materiel that was being presented to the public. Vietnam has slowly been building up a small arms production capability for the past decade, taking on serious collaboration with IWI Defense from Israel in addition to what might be some defense collaboration with Russia over technical data packages. Examples of this can be seen in being licensed to produce the 7.62x39mm Galil Ace rifle domestically in 2014 and even the bolt action 12.7mm KSVK anti-materiel rifle as well. Although few of these designs are indigenous to Vietnam and are instead foreign variants being license produced by companies within state-owned VDI, the ability of the country to be outputting small arms is still very significant and should be paid attention to. One piece of the puzzle that we don’t know yet (and asked the booth reps), is how much of each weapon system was actually produced from raw materials in Vietnam and how much was brought in from the original manufacturer. In some cases with developing countries, the most difficult or costly components are imported while the rest of the firearm is actually made in the country. One example of this is the barrel, which can be extremely difficult to manufacture precisely on an industrial basis.
Due to the importance and rarity of these small arms (many will probably not make it to the U.S. commercial market or even the U.S.) we’ve paid particular attention to some of the key products and will spread this over a two-part post from Indo Defense.
Our first small arm of the list is a VDI production M79, designated the “SPL40”. First introduced during the Vietnam War, the M79 “Blooper” is possibly one of the most enduring small arms of the conflict, still in use to this very day in such countries as Thailand and Burma which each have manufactured their own derivatives separately.
The 7.62x51mm Lee Enfield No.4 reproduction was VDI designated “4MK4 Sniper Rifle”. These rifles would appear to be intended for a commercial civilian market, but where exactly they might be exported to wasn’t entirely clear. They don’t fit a modern Military or Law Enforcement operational requirement in most countries as well. In regards to Vietnam producing Lee Enfield variants, there is somewhat of a controversy involving Australian International Arms wherein the company (now closed) as to what was actually produced in Australia and what was being produced in Vietnam. This is probably why VDI has put the reproduction No.4 out there, simply due to the fact that they had all the tooling and machinery in place already.
-Miles V, Indo Defense 2018
Definitely one of the odder production pieces was this 9x19mm Bizon on display, VDI designated “SN9P Submachine Gun”. If VDI were able to import these into the United States as semiautomatic handguns or at least as parts kits, there could potentially be a market of Soviet surplus afficiandos that would be interested in them.
Pioneered by South African Milkor and using a revolving series of chambers to shoot 40x46mm Low-Velocity grenades, the VDI derivative is designated “SPL40L”.