Today we are going to take a look at some of the photos coming out of Ukraine and examine the rifles that have ended up in the country since the beginning of the Russian invasion. The primary tool for any infantry fighting force is the rifle. Ukraine’s primary rifle is the AK 74 series of weapons, but that doesn’t mean they don’t produce a number of interesting domestic designs. We’ll examine these weapons, as well as some of the more interesting rifles finding their way to the fight.
The world responded to the Russian aggression with immediate and almost unquestioned support for Ukraine. A lot of this support came in the form of arms and ammunition, including lots of rifles. Additionally, the Russian forces brought their own very rifles to the fight.
This has created an interesting casserole of rifles being used in Ukraine, and today we are gonna dig into that casserole and make ourselves a big plate of it.
KelTec Sub 2000
Not only did KelTec send 400 of these rifles to Ukraine for free, but a photo of the Sub 2000 popped up amongst Ukraine’s civilian forces resisting the Russians. It’s not a great photo but shows a Sub-2000 without a doubt.
The Sub 2000 is a semi-automatic, blowback-operated rifle that fires either 9mm or 40 S&W. It’s very simple but features the unique capability to fold in half. The barrel folds rearward and locks onto the stock. This cuts the length in half and makes the rifle compact and easily storable.
The little rifle isn’t the best for an infantry fighting force, but it’s considerably better than a handgun.
Desert Tech SRS-A1
Snipe rifles aren’t that uncommon at war, but the Desert Tech SRS-A1 is certainly an unusual option to pop up in Ukraine. This is a very modern precision rifle made by a rather small American company. The SRS-A1 rifles are bullpup designs, meaning the action is behind the trigger. This makes the platform very compact.
The compact design makes it easier to carry in and out of vehicles and much easier to use in urban terrain, and very easy to carry. The SRS comes in powerful calibers like 338 Lapua magnum and lets you reach out and touch a target.
It’s an extreme precision rifle that delivers impressive results. I would really hate to be a Russian facing a skilled Ukrainian sniper armed with an SRS-A1.
SIG set out to make the next great modular rifle and borrowed a bit from the AR 15 and a little from the AR 18 to create a very modern rifle platform. The MCX utilizes multiple calibers and can be configured in a variety of barrel lengths, from the super short LVAW to the standard 16-inch carbine length.
Ukrainian special operation forces have been seen more than once rocking suppressed, short-barreled SIG MCX rifles. The operator above has what appears to be the red dot and magnifier combo as well as a weapon light. The MCX rifles are a popular option with the international SOF community, with Delta Force adopting one for close quarters operations and VIP security.
It’s a thoroughly modern rifle that appears to be in good hands with Ukraine’s best.
We did an entire article on the FN FNC popping up in the hands of the Foreign Battalion in Ukraine. The FN FNC were rifles donated to arm the Ukrainian fighters. These rifles utilize a long-stroke gas piston system that’s very similar to that of an AK series rifle. This system does work exceptionally well in frigid environments, and if the war goes into the winter, it’ll be a reliable option in the famed eastern European hellscape of December.
The FNC rifles are 5.56 caliber weapons that are fairly accurate, although they aren’t designated marksman’s rifles. They are a product of the Cold War; they lack modularity and weigh close to 10 pounds loaded. Even so, they are robust and reliable service rifles, and that’s what infantrymen need most.
The Malyuk, also known as the Vulcan, is designed and produced in Ukraine. The Malyuk is essentially an AK 74 converted into a bullpup format. Interproinvest, the company which produces the rifle, produces a 5.56 and 7.62×39, but the rifle in military service is the 5.45x39mm model.
The Malyuk does more than bullpup an AK as it also modernizes the platform. Sections of Picatinny rail make it very easy to accessorize the rifle and add optics, lights, and more. A bullpup gives the user a much shorter rifle without the loss of velocity caused by trimming the barrel. The Malyuk looks to be somewhat challenging ergonomically, yet the rifle has been seen in the hands of Ukrainian special forces, territorial guard forces, and more.
The Mosin Nagant
The Mosin Nagant is an antique rifle. If I saw this rifle in the hands of Ukrainian civilian fighters, I’d assume they were making do with what they had. However, this rifle has been seen in the hands of soldiers in the mighty Russian army. This rifle first came to life in 1895 and represents a very outdated rifle design.
Sure it still goes bang, but the Mosin Nagant doesn’t even possess the benefits of modern bolt guns, i.e. a lightweight design and a precision platform. While they might have served the Tsar well in WWI, the modern Russian soldier better make his shots count. If not, some brave Ukrainian will have a nice antique.
CZ Bren 805
The international community poured arms and armaments into Ukraine, and it seems like the Czech Republic joined the train. The CZ Bren 805 assault rifle has popped up several times, including in the hands of foreign fighters. The Bren 805 is a short-stroke gas piston rifle that takes a lot of influence from the SCAR series of rifles. It’s a 5.56 caliber platform with a 14-inch barrel.
(Courtesy War Noir/Twitter)
Its stock folds and the upper receiver and handguard feature Picatinny rails that allow for enhanced customization and the attachment of accessories. The rifles appear to be fairly bare in service with the fighters. The Bren series of rifles serve the Czech republic well and are quite modern, lightweight, and reliable.
The Fort-221 is a domestically produced firearm, but not a domestic design. Fort-221 is a Tavor-licensed rifle built in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. The Ukrainian model uses the 5.45x39mm round instead of the 5.56 caliber the normal Tavor uses. This is a modern bullpup platform that’s fairly short and ultra-easy to maneuver.
The Fort-221 found its way into the hands of Ukraine’s special operation forces and has popped up here and there. It seems as if Ukrainian operators use a number of firearms that vary between troops. It might also be unlikely that the Fort-221 has been produced en masse enough for general issue.
While the Russians brought the terribly out-of-date Mosin Nagant rifle in Ukraine, they also brought the more modern and more interesting AS VAL.
The Russians designed the AS VAL from the ground up as a clandestine assault rifle in the late 1980s. It fires a heavy, naturally subsonic 9x39mm round through an integrally suppressed barrel.
This assault rifle is surprisingly quiet, and Americans would adopt a similar concept with the 300 Blackout decades later. The AS Val comes from the AK line and features a similar long-stroke gas piston, magazine design, and safety setup. In the last few years, they’ve been heavily modernized with optics, lights, lasers, and more. It’s a quiet weapon small special operations teams wreak havoc with.
I’ve been following the small arms of the war in Ukraine a lot. It’s of great interest to me to see the varied weapons finding their way into the conflict. This list will likely expand as time passes. Watch this space, and I’ll update when possible as we see new arms enter the fray.
Travis Pike | August 22, 2022