CZ had their line of military long arms as well as a wide selection of pistols on display. From the uber fancy all steel competition gun going through the line up to the extremely practical and utalitarian P-10C.
The first thing I had to check out was the Scorpion EVO. For those of you who (like me) own the Team ASG replica, they weren’t kidding when they said you used a plastic for the body just like the original firearm. The Scorpion might not yet be ‘classy’ or iconic in the sub gun world with the efficient polymer construction, but in 10 or 15 years I’d bet it will be. The locations of all the controls and addition of a bolt catch vs some older SMG designs make it as ergonomic to run as any gun pretty much could ever be. The use of plastics make it incredibly light and handy and being chambered in 9mm it can get away with that.
The 556 NATO and 762×39 variants of the Bren 2 were on the tables and the 762 version was new to me. Rather than simply fitting an AK pattern magazines, CZ have their own transparent mags that use a modern NATO style catch, no rock to lock. It’s a weird felling just straight pressing in a mag of that geometry but I think it absolutely makes sense. The actual housing is fairly short so I don’t forsee feeding issues in the straight portion being any significant concern. Both versions of the rifle share uppers, stocks, bolt carriers etc. Change the barrel, bolt and lower for the mag well and you’ve changed cartridge entirely.
Last but not least – A good friend of mine who’s a true pistol connoisseur owns a Shadow 2 and the anodised blue grips obviously draw the eye. I’m not personally a fan of the internal slide when it comes to performing any manipulation thereof, but every aspect of the construction of the thing felt truly top notch. The polymer frame makes the most sense in the modern world but combination of the metal frame and precise fit of every fit really combine to a fantastic package.
Truvelo were in the South African pavilion along with, as expected for SA weaponry, lots of other seriously heavy duty and impressive pieces of equipment.
They manufacture some extremely high quality firearms that most definitely fit in to the military extreme range sniper rifle category. Very impressive numbers on the accuracy side of the house and a truly outstanding selection of calibres available. I had to feature these shots of a short barrelled 20mm mag fed (repeating) bolt-action.
I was very fortunate to get a detailed run through of the MAWL by one of the staff at the B.E. Meyers stand. As background, the unit was designed specifically to address handling and ergonomic issues for SOF troops employing PEQ type boxes on short carbines in CQB. If you’ve ever tried to setup a rifle’s rail with a laser, light, switches for both and potentially other accessories and you’ve had limited real estate to do so, you’ll definitely understand the side mounted form factor of the MAWL.
Of course on the inside the diodes are all the latest tech, using assemblies of very small emitters grouped together to give greater power while also delivering increased battery efficiency. The construction is of the quality you’d expect and is entirely modular (head, body, tail cap) ready for future upgrades and adaptions.
I personally was mostly interested in functions and ergonomics however. The clever part of the system to mind is the switching. Going from visible green laser to IR outputs is going to be the less frequent function for most personnel, so that’s done via the bezel up front. On the linear switch you have short, medium and long range selection, with a simple lock-out for the high power consumption long rage option to prevent accidental activation in doors or anything along those lines. Then the A and B momentary pressure switches have generally different options; each button at any setting always presents the laser pointer while A is generally low power consumption at close ranges, B for more power and greater range of illumination.
If you take a moment to familiarise yourself with the chart here you’ll probably gain a clearer understanding:
Fortunately I was lucky enough to be able to chat to one of the head honchos at FNH UK (formerly Manroy) who send spares to my bay when we need to fix GPMGs.
First thing I went to was the MAG since I pretty much know it inside out now. FN have built one to a new ‘combined’ spec, you can’t really see anything from the outside but since FN own the designs to so many variants used around the world they’ve brought them all in together.
Also on display were the FN M2 Browning .50, M3 .50 cal (which is almost as old as the M2 with the main difference being a much higher rate of fire – used a lot on late-WW2 fighters), the 40mm EGLM with aim assist module, the SCAR line-up, P90, 5-7, laser training system, internal round counting system and some seriously heavy grade mag fed paintball markers for police and SWAT type applications (anyone else play SWAT 4?).
The Sig line of firearms was fairly static for a long time with the flagship 22X pistols and old school 55X rifles, but around the introduction of the MPX/MCX I seem to have seen new Sig guns popping up at a pretty constant rate in the last few years, especially as they’ve really gotten in to the US commercial market with AR type designs.
First off, of course, the M17 and M18 variants of the P320; as now selected by the US Army to replace the M9 Berettas. M17 being the full service sized and 18 being the compact akin to a Glock 19. As far as I’m aware the 2-hole plugs on the frame and back of the slide are there to prevent easy disassembly of certain parts without a specific 2 pin tool, whether that’s the exact configuration for the Army I’m not 100% but it may well be from things I’ve read before. The ambi safety is positive in action, feels reminiscent of a 1911, shame the US couldn’t get with the times as we have with the Glock 17 and just not have that on there but some progress is always better than no progress. Overall I liked the feel of the grip of the frame and the texturing, the inclusion of optic mount plates/cut as standard is great as is the ambi slide lock/release and while the sights are nothing exactly exceptional they appear well made and certainly work just fine. The 2 pistols on display seemed to like sitting just out of battery, though I could only speculate as to why. Show guns are always factory fresh and completely devoid of oil, so any small amount of break in and lubrication would help no doubt.
Handling the Single-Action Only Legion 226 variant is an odd feeling but the quality of the Legion pistols is evident. The 716s on display are Sig’s 762 NATO rifles, they had the Gen 2s on hand which to my surprise aren’t quite MCX style guns. They require the buffer tube to operate with standard AR buffer units and springs in there, however they do have MCX family type short stroke gas pistons and the accuracy claims are impressive. The Gen 1s for reference had a really heavy duty quad pic rail without any cuts to get direct access to the adjustable gas block. Magpul Industries Corp. furniture, obviously.
Many MPX and MCX variants present of course, and they are no doubt reliable and efficient weapons. While they don’t need a buffer tube and they’re piston driven with various other little improvements, the drive amongst manufacturers to make everything handle exactly like an AR means everything handles just like an AR. It’s good, I just can’t really say anything new about it. If you want a sub-machine gun these days there’s no denying the safety improvements of a rotating, locking bolt and a piston over roller-delayed blowback. The older systems may be iconic, but you can’t live in the past forever – not if we’re talking about serious business rather than just fun hobbies.
The M400 line is a straight up AR-15, DI gas, nothing outside of the usual. I had to put a picture of this particular model in however because of the ergonomics of that ALG Defense M-LOK tube. I have a shorter ALG forend here which is really amazing, especially for the money, but that long forearm with the rail mostly deleted from the top is truly fantastic from an ergonomic stand point. Having the M-LOK slots at the 7 and 11 vs just the 9 o/clock seems to bring the profile closer to a true circle and it just feels excellent.
For me, any opportunity to fit some gear viewing in to my schedule is welcome. Now I’ve armed myself with a bit more knowledge I’m not as bad as I used to be, but I’ve lost count the number of times over the years I’ve spent a load of money getting something from overseas only for it to turn out the manufacturer’s website or the gear store’s description was somewhat lacking. A small few companies like Tyr and Crye provide tech spec sheets on their sites, but they are very much the exception. Yet another reason to always look at lots of reviews before making a purchase; even contact the manufacturer if needs be.
Tyr have been around for some time now and while they’re not perhaps the largest name in the industry, I have tried out a few pieces of their equipment and their materials and construction quality is absolutely right up there with anyone else you’d care to mention. They’ve definitely put some innovative products out there over the years and their commercially offered line has expanded greatly in the past 12-18 months.
First thing I’ve shown is their hot weather uniform. They offer conventional NYCO uniforms for temperate climes as well as a softshell/cold weather system, but the arid/jungle offering from the Huron line caught my attention with it’s materials and pricing. A few other high-end manufacturers of uniforms have recently come out with their own lines that are specifically designed around jungle/high humidity environments and they’ve changed out the standard 50/50 NYCO for various new fabrics that haven’t really been seen in the field before and offer increased performance in the relevant environments, but the prices have jumped significantly. The long sleeve Huron hot weather shirt has stayed at basically the same price point as the standard Crye G3 CS despite using a multicam fabric that is far more expensive than NYCO. The short sleeve variant is actually even cheaper than the G3 and I’d imagine Tyr will have a discount option available for service members. The torso fabric is from Polartec, all polyester with a specific construction to transport moisture as fast as is physically possible. You lose the no-melt no-drip, however most of these jungle uniforms do and for those of you looking for high quality gear for any sporting application in warm climates I’d certainly give it a look. Unfortunately the combat shirt is currently only available in Multicam, whereas the standard shirt is in MC and OD, but after checking it out in person I’m very much hovering over that checkout button regardless of already owning quite a few combat shirts in the same pattern.
I don’t have names on the new chest rig/placard offerings, but check out Soldier Systems Daily for an article on these if you need nomenclature. Last I checked the Tyr website wasn’t listing them, but as you can see you’ve got some heavy built options for plate carrier mounting, especially in the double-triple mag placard with the typical bungee adaptability for various sizes of magazine. Also being supplied with loop-mounted spacer mesh backers it’ll be easy to go from PC mount to clipping in an H Harness and running a light chest rig. I’m gradually transitioning all my gear over to this new system.
In the last image you can see just 2 of the many, many armour carriage system that Tyr offer. I specifically wanted to detail one of their female oriented offerings (left side in the image) since Tyr are very much at the forefront in building armour carriers to fit female personnel. They clearly put a lot of manufacturing time in to altering the shape of the nylon gear and the way in which the plates are carried, as well as the shaping of the plates themselves. Putting any politics aside, females in dismounted close combat roles are here in 2017 and their numbers will only increase, so their need for comfortable, fitting armour is more crucial than ever before. Most standard issue equipment I’ve seen is very lacking in this area so I can’t imagine the discomfort a lot of female personnel have had to endure wearing ill-fitting armour when deployed in hot, arid theatres of operation; it’s good to see a company putting the R&D in to this field.
The new M5 was on display in conjunction with the T1 and 2, their larger models like the PRO, 3x and 6x magnifiers and the CEU (Concealed Engagement Unit).
The new M5 is powered by common AAAs rather than the harder to find (especially in war torn nations) lithium button cells of the T1 and 2. I made sure to move a T-2 in to shot for size comparison, it’s basically just the battery housing that’s longer, though they’ve added some sacrificial lenses and with the screw cap on the AAA housing now being much smaller the o-rings are smaller and you have waterproof guarantee to a greater depth. I have to say even if I was looking at it as a commercial user, the tiny amount of peripheral vision you lose with the M5 would be worth it just to never have to worry about buying a specific battery to only use in one piece of kit.
The medium and heavy support weapon MPS3 red dot is something I’ve looked at but never in detail. The large silver lever allows the user to quickly switch between 3 different range/elevation zero settings by moving the entire mount base (like a SUSAT) rather than having to move the dot within the FOV through the optic. Far more rugged system suitable for substantially recoiling weapons. Also compatible with all the QD/Flip-to-Side mounted magnifiers to get the most out of those heavy, long range cartridges.
I’m going to be focusing on rifles in this post, the stand had a wide range of H&K pistol calibre weapons on display as well as the MG4 and MG5, however my in-depth knowledge of those weapons is frankly lacking whereas the rifles and carbines I do know a little bit about.
The 556 variant that was new to me on the stand was the 416 F-S, as has now been adopted by the French military. Scheduled for phased delivery spread out over the next decade. It’s a fully featured A5 variant of the rifle with the complete ambi controls package. The front of the barrel, as I was told, is altered to fit the French bayonet. I asked in speculation if the fitment was for rifle grenades, since the French notoriously love them and it looks like that sort type of fitting (wiki agrees) but the rep said negative on that one, supposedly they will have the HK UGL. I’ve not unearthed any further info digging around. Of all the NATO nations using 556 rifles, most have not updated in some time with lack of serious leaps forward in small arms tech, combined with new anticipation of a 6.Xmm calibre potentially coming along in the next few years, I think there’s potential for this to be a move that’s somewhat jumping the gun for the French. Could really bite them if the US adopts a new standard cartridge in a few years time, but we shall see.
The 417A2 and updated G28E3 ‘Patrol’ (shorter, lighter) were new to me and the 417 features the full A5 ambi control setup. The HKey forends, slimmer stock and colouration pictured are also new from what I can gather, but the quad rails and the extended partial pic/slick type rail from the previous G28 are accessories being made available for both rifles. Apparently there has been some optimisation of the internals but I don’t have any details.
And yes, finally I got hands on with the L85A3. I don’t know anything with regards to whether the MoD has actually decided that the fleet will go through this improvement cycle or if this is just a concept H&K are putting forward. The key demonstration here of course other than the colour improvement is the semi-monolithic top rail with the ELCAN Optical Technologies LDS and a clip-on Night and/or Thermal optic in front. Surprisingly while that enormous bulk of optics does inevitably throw the balance, you’re getting a whole load more functionality (day or night) than you are with the old CWS in a slightly smaller and lighter package. Markings were on the right side adjacent to the toe of the butt with the usual NSN and A3 writing you’d expect. My fear is the sling swivel inclusion means a continuation of the awful and ancient issued 3-point sling, but even as an atheist I’ll pray to somebody for that thing to get gone. The Grip Pod makes more sense now the barrel is freefloat, though personally I prefer to just cut the weight and use the mag as a monopod when prone, however if you’re in one place for a while that bi-pod is undeniably a nice accessory to have.
I’ll be honest right off with this one, when C2R first hit the lime light a few years back I thought the kit looked decent, but it didn’t blow my mind with innovation in the early stages. A lot of people were blogging “omg they’re based in hereford” and that sentence itself has a tendency to switch me off because that sort of sentiment is often a precursor to something totally uninteresting and lacking in real ‘meat’. Hence why I’ve not purchased anything from them so far and why they’ve been somewhat off my radar the past couple of years.
I’m certainly glad to have come across their stand in the ExCel however and have had the opportunity to spend a good while chatting with their Director.
Far as I can gather, they’ve gone through 3 primary iterations on their PCs. Starting with very standard 500d and 1″ webbing PALS, then on to cordura/hypalon laminate laser cut. The multicam rig you see however is the latest iteration of their Ultralite and only came in to existence in the past couple of months, based on an entirely different material that apparently nobody else uses. It’s similar to the black stuff on the back of the most recent HSGI TACO LT models but I don’t think it’s the same. Since hypalon is a sort of silicone rubber it doesn’t melt, whereas cordura does, so they can and will eventually delaminate from each other. This new fabric (the black stuff) laser cuts and melts super cleanly and really bonds with the camo fabric on the exterior. Then if the combination does happen to come apart, you do the same you do (or should do) with any other tac gear when you start to get frays and you take a lighter to it.
It’s meant to be half the weight of an equivalent hypalon with the same strength. It’s a seriously slim rig, the top entry for plates removes some bulk and the way they clamp in from the top should prevent them ever flying up in a blast event. Something I’m conditioned to worry about any time I see something going downwards from the top in an armour rig. The built-in hydro pouch holds 1.5L, which I feel is just about perfect and there’s zip-on back panel compatibility. Spacer mesh inside of course and from what I saw in my initial overview excellent stand of sewing throughout.
They have a surprisingly wide range of pouch options, I checked out a few for standard 556 mags. You have the choice between either no lids, standard lids or shingle style bungee cord retention either of which simply mount via the PALS attachment straps that are already there. Crye SPS pouches are similar in modularity but the C2R system is at least just as light, slimmer and should more resilient since it’s not just based on velcro holding the retention. There are long and short models as well as kydex inserts, which are of course all the rage and I highly recommend a polymer insert for mag pouches if you want reliable grip with very fast access – minimal compromise on either unlike most legacy designs.
You can see some progression of C2R designs in the wide shot, including their original design in the bottom left and something nice in grey for those nice policemen who show up in London when the brown stuff hits the spinning thing. The other MC rig actually beat out FirstSpear for a Royal Marine issued rig to be used in VBSO. Plenty of stuff I still like about FS but you should never limit your options or create boundaries.
The C2Rmor website itself seems fairly out of date so check out AM Tactical – AMTAC. to see what’s available right now on the commercial (though again those offerings are slightly lagging behind the latest iterations from C2R).
It’s hard to make a rifle in a general AR-style format that’s at all interesting at this point, but these DRD guns had a combination of features that was a little less common in the market place. These aren’t new exactly but I’ve not seen them in person before myself.
The larger of the 2 is a .338 LM semi auto, which certainly puts it right up there in terms of sheer muzzle energy when it comes to self loading AR-15 derivatives and certainly not just another AR-10 with some slightly different bits. At least as far as a gun that’s not designed purely to get YouTube clicks. From what I saw the barrel is quick (ish) detachable without any tools at all. It’s also a DI system which in a calibre this large I’d personally say makes more sense than it does in 556. Side charging, ambi selectors, ambi bolt catch and release, a weight that I’d say makes sense in 338LM and could be fired in positions other than the prone even with the heavy 24″ barrel, but the PRS stock is definitely not the most conducive to fast manipulations in the way we’re used to. The best part for me was the rep saying that the met have apparently already picked these things up. Presumably in a more drab colour because this is DRD’s ‘battle worn’ finish, but keep those eyes peeled next time johnny-ISIS has a go and gets beats down again.
The shorter rifles is a 762 NATO, again DI, freefloat of course as above and also sharing the lack of need for a buffer tube. The back end of the lowers must be pretty adaptable because DRD buy in ACR stocks to fit to their 308s. Definitely tilting the scales more to the side of a precision long range rifle vs a more all-around battle rifle. Great triggers in both and 45 degree selectors, I think the 308 is an earlier model of forend since it’s proprietary whereas the 338 is M-LOK. I’ll be looking up some 3rd party accuracy and reliability reports on these things for sure.