By Jason M. Wong
Eurosatory 2008 was held at the Parc des Expositions, located outside of Paris, France on June 16 – 20, 2008. As one of the largest tradeshows in the world dedicated to the international arms trade, nearly 1.3 million square feet of exhibition space was filled by 1,180 exhibitors from 51 countries, including 127 exhibitors from the United States. Approximately 50,000 individuals from over 145 countries attended the show. Of note were several new product releases and market trends from well known and lesser known manufacturers.
Forjas Taurus S/A
Taurus S/A of Brazil (not to be confused with Taurus International, the U.S. based firearm company) introduced a new submachine gun manufactured under joint venture with FAMAE of Chile. Based upon technology from Swiss Arms AG (formerly SIG Arms AG) of Switzerland, the external profile borrows heavily from the SIG 550 series of firearms.
The model MT9 (chambered in 9mm) and the model MT40 (chambered in .40 S&W) utilizes a blowback design, and is capable of semiautomatic, burst, and fully automatic fire. The Taurus representatives indicated that the 9mm version has a cyclic rate of 1,300 rounds per minute, while the .40 S&W version fires at a claimed 1,200 rounds per minute. Both models utilize a 200 mm barrel (7.8 inches), and a 30-round magazine.
The receiver and internal components are reportedly manufactured by FAMAE of Chile, and imported into Brazil for the manufacture of barrels, magazines, and buttstocks prior to final assembly. Currently marketed to Brazilian law enforcement, the firearm appeared to be well designed and comfortable. Sales are currently limited to the South American market, and there are currently no plans to import either model into the United States. Additional information can be found at the Forjas Taurus S/A website, www.taurus.com.br.
ST Kinetics of Singapore introduced a new 9mm submachine gun called the Compact Personal Weapon. With a 7-inch barrel, the firearm utilizes delayed blowback operation, allowing a claimed cyclic rate of 900 rounds per minute. With a loaded 30-round magazine, the firearm weighs 2 kg (4.4 pounds). While not an overt copy of a Heckler and Koch MP-7, the CPW does appear to borrow heavily from the Heckler and Koch predecessor. Both utilize an outwardly similar design, with similar locations and layout of fire control mechanisms, and a similarly designed retracting stock.
Unlike the Heckler and Koch MP-7, the CPW claims caliber modularity, allowing users to change the caliber of the weapon by utilizing a different barrel and magazine. No caliber conversions were available for examination nor were specific caliber conversions specified.
ST Kinetics also introduced a single barreled, three-round 40mm grenade launcher allowing semi-automatic fire capability. The system is based upon the Metal Storm theory of operation, allowing all three rounds to be loaded within the barrel, yet allow each round to be fired individually. Adaptable to multiple applications, the launcher can be mounted under a combat rifle via M-1913 Picatinny rails, as a stand alone launcher, or grouped with multiple launchers and mounted on a heavy platform.
Reloading the 40mm grenade launcher is accomplished in two ways. According to ST Kinetics, individual rounds are loaded in a similar manner as conventional 40mm grenade launchers. Alternatively, a spent barrel can be removed and replaced with a pre-loaded barrel (loaded with three rounds per barrel) during the reloading process. ST Kinetics claims the new grenade launcher will act as a force multiplier, allowing an increased number of rounds down range in a shorter period of time, without increasing the number of weapons an individual soldier must carry. More information can be found at the Metal Storm website, at http://www.metalstorm.com.
FN Herstal of Belgium announced that the SCAR family of rifles will be available for sale on the international market. Originally designed and developed for the U.S. Special Operations Command, the two highly adaptable modular rifles, the SCAR-L (chambered in 5.56x45mm), the SCAR-H (chambered in 7.62x51mm), and the FN40GL 40mm low velocity grenade launcher will presumably be available for international sale. No information was available from FNH, USA regarding a semiautomatic-only version for domestic U.S. sales. Additional information may be found on the FN Herstal website, located at http://www.fnherstal.com.
Martin Electronics, Inc.
Martin Electronics, Inc. (MEI) announced the introduction of the Mercury, a family of medium velocity 40mm grenades. Current low-velocity 40mm grenades have a maximum range of approximately 300 meters, while longer range high velocity 40mm grenades require a heavy firing platform, and are usually limited to vehicle or tripod mounted applications. The Mercury family of 40mm grenades can be launched from current low-velocity 40mm grenade launchers with only minimal increase in recoil, while extending maximum range to 800 meters.
Milkor South Africa
Milkor, most famously known for their 40mm Mk 1 multiple grenade launchers introduced a 40mm break action, single shot pistol for use with crowd control and less-lethal 40mm rounds. Developed from an existing Milkor-designed 37mm pistol, and equipped with a 130mm (5.1 inch) smooth bore barrel, the pistol is double-action only. Given the short barrel length, the effective range of the pistol is only 100 meters, but given the intended use as a riot control weapon, an extended range is not required. In terms of safety, high explosive 40mm rounds may be fired from the pistol, however the lack of barrel rifling will result in an HE round failing to arm. Why build a 40mm pistol? Representatives from Milkor indicated that in a riot control situation, the user would have the ability to fire less-lethal ammunition and holster the pistol. In this manner, the 40mm pistol would be less cumbersome that a larger rifle sized weapon of equal caliber. It is unknown as of press time whether Milkor-USA will offer the 40mm pistol to U.S. customers. Additional information may be found at the Milkor website, www.milkor.net.
Developments in 20mm rifles
Multiple man-portable 20mm anti-material rifles were present, with two worthy of note. First, Truvelo Manufacturing of South Africa introduced a 20mm x 110 (20mm Hispano-Suiza) caliber bolt action rifle. Known most notably as the manufacturer of the Neostad shotgun, Truvelo claims its rifle is accurate to within 2.5 minutes-of-angle, allowing users to hit a 15-inch radius target at 600 yards. Reportedly weighing in at 55 pounds, the rifle has a retail price of $36,000.
Similarly, the Republic of Croatia also introduced a partially recoilless 20mm x 110 caliber bolt action rifle. Weighing 17 kg (37.5 pounds) the rifle utilizes a gas port to vent and direct propellant gases to the rear of the shooter. Overall length totals 133 cm, (52 inches) and has a claimed maximum range of 2 km (1.24 miles). Additional information on this rifle was not available as of press time.
Tsniitochmash Central Institute of Precision Machinery
Tsniitochmash of Russia displayed a modified Russian PKM machine gun, re-named the Pecheneg Light Machine Gun. Like its PKM predecessor, the Pecheneg is chambered in 7.62x54R, but boasts a re-designed barrel equipped with cooling fins. According to Tsniitochmash representatives, the newly designed cooling fins are highly efficient, greatly increasing the number of rounds that can be fired, and eliminating the need for a spare barrel. The Pecheneg weighs 17 pounds empty, and is capable of firing 600 rounds per minute, and has an effective range of 1,500 meters.
Tsniitochmash also displayed the famed Russian SPP-1M underwater pistol and APS underwater assault rifle. Representatives explained that both models were again in production, and available for worldwide sale. See Small Arms Review Vol. 12, No. 2, November 2008 for an in-depth review on the Tsniitochmash underwater guns. Additional information can be found at www.Tsniitochmash.ru
Vinghog Simrad Optronics Group
Known for their light-weight weapon mounts, Vinghog AS of Norway demonstrated the IS2000, an integrated programmable range finder, ballistic computer, and weapon sight in a single package. Intended for 40mm AGL and .50 caliber weapon platforms, the weapon sight allows users to effectively compute distance to target, while automatically adjusting the aiming point for range, elevation, and lead angle correction. The system is night-vision compatible, with either 1-power or 3.5-power magnification. At 3.5 power magnification, the system provides an eleven-degree field of view. Datum for multiple types of ammunition is provided within the system, providing accurate aiming points for nearly any type of ammunition that may be encountered.
Demonstration of the unit confirmed the robust and accurate nature of the system. Mounted on an Mk-19 40mm automatic grenade launcher, the system effectively provided the range to a steel silhouette target placed approximately 350 meters from the firing line. With point of aim automatically adjusted within the sight, the aiming point was placed center of target, resulting in a first round hit on the silhouette. Recognizing that the Mk-19 is usually intended as an area target weapon, the Vinghog sight allowed for effective use of the Mk-19 in a point target application. Additional information may be found online at www.vinghog.com.
Pakistan Ordnance Factory
Pakistan Ordnance Factory (more commonly known in the U.S. as “POF”) introduced two new rifles for international sale. Each rifle appears to utilize a Heckler and Koch Model 91 type receiver, with magazines modified for each the appropriate caliber in each application. Both rifles claim parts commonality with the Heckler and Koch MP-5 and G-3 rifles.
The PK-7, chambered in 7.62 x 39 is a near copy of an early Heckler and Koch model 52. Equipped with a 10.5-inch barrel, the weapon utilizes a thirty-round curved magazine, with outward appearances to a Kalashnikov-based magazine. Both rifle and magazine appeared to be robust, with a claimed loaded weight of 8 pounds. The PK-7 utilizes a 30-round magazine, and has a 700 – 800 round per minute claimed rate of fire.
The PK-8 rifle is chambered in 5.56×45 NATO (.223 Remington), with a 700 round per minute claimed rate of fire. Unlike the Heckler and Koch Model 93 rifle, the PK-8 presents a novel approach to converting an existing G-3 type receiver to fire the smaller 5.56 round. From outward appearances, the PK-8 is very similar to the Heckler and Koch Model 93, complete with two push pins for disassembly. Upon closer examination, the PK-8 magazine is a unique magazine to the weapon system, utilizing a hybrid design of the G-3 upper magazine contour and the HK-93 lower magazine contour. Typical HK-93 magazines will not lock into place on the PK-8, while typical G-3 magazines will not reliably feed 5.56 rounds. While novel in approach, the new design is not a quick change caliber conversion. Rather, the PK-8 appears to allow the manufacture of a 5.56 rifle while utilizing existing tooling intended for the manufacture of the G-3 rifle.
Representatives from POF expressed an interest in exporting a semiautomatic version of both rifles to the United States, however at the time of the interview no U.S. imports were scheduled or planned.
Eurosatory 2008 was a great success, and offered a glimpse into the international arms market. Hosted on a biennial basis, the next show is scheduled for June 14 – 18, 2010, in Paris, France. Additional information regarding the show can be found at www.eurosatory.com.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V12N5 (February 2009)|