By Terry J. Gander
There seems to be a general consensus among the small arms fraternity that the day of the sub-machine gun is over. Shorty assault rifles are now just as handy and can fire more powerful ammunition so why bother with pistol calibre weapons? This is no doubt a telling argument in favour of the Shortys but the trouble is that nobody seems to have told the old Eastern Bloc nations.
Russian designers continue to churn out sub-machine gun designs and so do other nations that once made up the Soviet Union. One of these nations is Georgia, not to be confused with the US State for Georgia is way down in the Caucasus. A novel sub-machine gun by the name of the 9 mm Gorda SCH-21 was recently unveiled there. As yet one does not appear to have been seen in the West so the following details are the best we can publish.
The Gorda is unusual in several respects, not the least being that it is built around the receiver of a Kalashnikov AKM. It may well emerge that the AKM receiver was the best that the designers had to work with, probably as an exercise in utilising old worn-out bits from their Kalashnikov stockpile. Having said that, the rest of the weapon is still a bit of a construction kit project.
It has to be assumed that the Gorda uses straightforward blowback principle of operation – there is no reason to consider otherwise for it is simple, requires no special manufacturing techniques or calculations, and it works. The ammunition fired is 9 mm, not 9 mm Makarov but 9 x 19 mm Parabellum, widely known as 9 mm Luger. More and more former Eastern Bloc pistol calibre weapons are now available for this round, some with an eye to possible sales to Europe and other places where the Makarov cartridge is still a collectors item. There is also the point that the Parabellum round is more powerful than its Eastern counterpart, while with NATO still expanding to include former rivals, the Georgian designers may have simply decided to prepare for a future where NATO standards prevail.
The rounds are fed into the Gorda from a 30-round straight box magazine via the existing (adapted) AKM magazine housing, with the usual magazine catch being retained. Cyclic rate of fire on automatic is 700 rds/min, or 40 to 50 rds/min on single shot. The barrel is short (no length available yet) and appears to screw onto an interface collar on the AKM receiver. This is no doubt because, when required, a suppressed barrel within a long suppressor jacket can replace the standard barrel.
When the suppressed barrel is in place the usual wooden forward grip and forestock are removed. To some, the short forestock may look familiar as it resembles that supplied as part of the OTs-14 Groza special weapon system. The pistol grip, trigger group and fire selection switch are all standard AKM.
To round off the bits and pieces impressions, the Gorda has a rudimentary butt stock that folds forward along the right-hand side of the receiver to reduce transport and carrying length. The steel butt stock has the same overall form and shape as some Romanian AKMs, such as the Model 90. With the butt folded there is still firing access to the trigger area.
New sights have been provided for the Gorda, seemingly with flip-up aperture leaves. A rather optimistic brochure, otherwise sparse in detail, states that the maximum sighting range is 150 metres, together with the data that the maximum killing range is 500 metres. We beg leave to query these figures but until a Gorda can be provided, handled and fired the claim will have to stand. A red dot sight is an option, as are optical sights, a laser target designator and a combat light.
The Gorda SCH-21 is a product of the State Military Scientific and Technical Center ‘Delta’ based at Tbilisi. It has been offered for export sale but details relating to prices, or possible users, have yet to emerge.
Calibre: 9 x 19 mm Parabellum
Feed: 30-round box magazine
Weight with empty magazine: 3.1 kg
Length, butt stock folded: 380 mm
Length, butt stock extended: 580 mm
Cyclic rate of fire: 700 rds/min
Sighting range: 150 m
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V6N2 (November 2002)|