The past year, and the beginning of the current one, has seen plenty of in-person events being canceled due to the pandemic. The organizers of IDEX and NAVDEX, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, decided instead to put in place rigorous health protocols and still welcome the biggest players of the defense industry. Here we’ll first see the products of Caracal, the local firearm manufacturer, part of the Edge Group (formerly EDIC).
The main reveals were an updated semiauto pistol and a completely new semiauto precision rifle. However, an interesting chat with the R&D engineers manning the area allowed TFB to dig into some further details on existing platforms.
Caracal F Gen II PistolThe Enhanced F model got a redesign of the slide for the generation II of the pistol. Visually, the main difference is in the deeper and wider front and back serrations. Internally, the mechanism of the striker and internal safety have been modified and optimized to reduce the number of components. The result has allowed more freedom to machine a slot for red dot sight mounting. At the moment the list of compatible sights is not fully defined, but the Aimpoint ACRO is clearly an option.
Caracal CSA338 Semi-auto AR-Style .338 LM RifleThe CSA338 is the pièce de résistance of the Caracal area. Precision rifles in .338 Lapua Magnum have become really common in the past two decades, but we’ve seen only a handful of semiautomatic ones. While this is not an exhaustive list, TFB readers will remember the American Ulfberht, a Polish model, and a German one. The latter is the closest in concept and external appearance to the CSA338.
All of the above examples have in common the fact of being manufactured by companies with relatively small output, they are therefore quite rare. A company with the resources of the Edge Group, committing to developing and distributing such a rifle can really leave a mark.
Let’s look at the rifle now.
- Caliber: .338 Lapua Magnum
- Overall Length: 1,220 / 1,295 mm (48″ / 51″)
- Barrel Length w/o Muzzle Brake: 610 / 685.5 mm (24″ / 27″)
- Twist: 1 in 10″ – 6 Grooves
- Weight w/o Magazine, Sights and Bipod: 6.45 / 6.7 kg (14.2 / 15.4 lbs)
- Magazine (empty 15/10 rounds): 0.45 / 0.35 kg (1.0 / 0.8 lbs)
The advanced prototype presented at the show is an AR-style rifle built around a piston-driven system with rotating bolt, suitably sized to handle the magnum caliber. The weapon is designed to allow reliable operation when suppressed and over the gas port, it features a two-position push selector that easily switches between normal (N) and silenced (S) modes.
In order to keep the profile of the handguard slim and contain the overall weight, the full trunnion area has been redesigned compared to common AR-derived approaches. How exactly this has been accomplished was not revealed at IDEX, as it’s being patented. Close inspection of the area between the upper receiver and handguard, however, shows what appears as steel tabs, possibly working together with other elements hidden by the bottom cover. This component, currently manufactured by SLS 3D printing, also protects an ARCA rail.
Developing a firearm in the UAE means having direct experience with heat, humidity, and very fine sand. The designers put quite some effort into reducing to the minimum the potential for sand getting inside the action. The dust cover on the ejection port is spring-loaded to stay closed shut, while the slot the non-reciprocating charging handle rides in has internal skirts covering the opening. Likely a solution similar to the one on the right side of the Galil ACE.
The magazine is proprietary, it rocks-in AK-style and locks the bolt open after the last round is fired. Stock, grip, and sights are off-the-shelf items. The muzzle brake, shared by the CSR338 bolt action, allows the installation of a QD suppressor that we’ll see below.
While developed primarily for military use, the CSA338 is also supposed to reach the civilian market. If it manages to keep its promises at an acceptable price range, it can be a winner for Caracal.
Caracal Suppressors – QD ModelsCaracal designers seem to have a certain passion for QD silencer mounting systems. The patented suppressor shown in the photos above allows any AR-15 with a standard A2-style flash hider to become a suppressor host. While the dry experience on the exhibition floor can’t say much about the performance, the lock-up seemed really sturdy and free of any play.
It would be really interesting to see how the system behaves under strenuous use and when dirty. Hopefully, Caracal will look into manufacturing it in their American branch for the civilian market. Surely here someone would love to put it to the test.
The internal design of the silencer is supposedly fairly standard with stacked baffles, either of steel or aluminum alloy depending if rated for full auto or not. The external surface with rectangular divots is patented as well, as a means to increase the cooling surface.The .338 QD suppressor employs a rather simple and straightforward mounting system. It seems to use the muzzle brake itself as a blast baffle and offers extremely fast deployment and removal. Again, something that would be very interesting to test on the field.
Caracal – Other ModelsWe’ve already seen the CSR bolt action models, but at IDEX 2021 they were sporting the newly developed, and patented, adjustable stock. The aluminum and polymer unit is designed to be fully configurable on the shooter preferences and all the fine adjustments can be carried out with a single hand while keeping the shooting position.
Despite the mostly metal stock, the CSR338 still claims the title of lightest rifle in its class at 6.35 kg (14 lbs), according to Caracal. The thick rubber padding on the buttstock helps to deal with the consequences of the low weight.Nothing new on the CMP9, unfortunately. There’s surely a good potential market for such a product, but there are still no plans to offer a civilian version.