In the previous post, I talked about some of the new AK variants developed by the Vietnamese Z111 factory, but those prototypes seem to be a side project for the new facility. The main purpose of Z111 is the production of STV-380 and STV-215, new service rifles of the Vietnamese army.
Both rifles were announced a while ago, but only recently, high-quality pictures became available. The source of pictures – a TV reality show – might seem unlikely, but since the show is called “Competitive Shooters”, I think anyone interested in Vietnamese small arms can expect a lot of good information from the future episodes.
In 2014, Israeli IWI and Vietnam signed a deal for a complete transfer of technology for firearms manufacturing. Very little was known about the actual consequences of the deal, what exactly Vietnamese rifles would look like or if the production actually started. When I visited Vietnam’s defense exhibition in October last year all those questions were still up in the air. Surprisingly, it a reality show that finally answered both of those questions.
Both STV-380 and STV-215 are basically Galil ACE variants, which is, in turn, based on an older Israeli Galil, which is based on Finnish rifle RK-62, which is respectively based on so-called Type 3 AK (Polish and Soviet-made) with a milled receiver, but that is a story for another time.
But if we look closer, it is obvious that both STV-380 and STV-215 have a number of differences from the original design. First of all, the signature charging handle located on the left side of Galil ACE was switched to the right side on the Vietnamese rifles. That makes sense since the Vietnamese army is used to standard AK variants where the charging handle is also on the right.
STV-380 and STV-215 don’t have an ambidextrous safety selector. Instead, the classic AK-style selector lever is located on the right side.
The adjustable stock of Galil ACE was replaced with folding non-adjustable stock inspired by older Galil variants and FN FAL Para. The square handguard with one Picatinny rail on the bottom also looks like a modernized version of an older Galil forend from the 70s.
Overall, the rifles appear to be very well built, and the Z111 factory looks fascinating, but it’s difficult to come to a fully informed conclusion without personally inspecting the rifles and testing them.
The author would like to thank VietDefense Facebook group for pictures and quality content that offers the international audience a unique chance to learn more about the Vietnamese military-industrial complex.