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.
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.
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.
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.
All the random bits and pieces I took pictures of for being mildly interesting at the 2017 Defence and Security Equipment International – but didn’t really warrant detailed examination (at least in the context of this blog).
If you happen to be curious about any of what you see, simply write a post directly to the R-Tac facebook page and fire any questions at me you like.
-Ambi slide lock
-Flared and beveled at the base of the frame
-Finger grooves removed
-Bevels at the front of the slide
-More accurate barrel
-More resilient finish on the slide
-2 pin frame design
At the rate the ‘finish’ is wearing off the slides of Gen 4 guns we’re issuing, we’re going to have to either send a lot back to GLOCK in Austria or adopt an L131A2 GSP.
That aside I’m liking all these changes. I specifically hate finger grooves on any firearm, be it pistol or otherwise. It’s certainly interesting to see the way they’ve gone back to certain elements from the Gen 2 after all these years doing some weird things in the 3 and 4. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get a look inside one of these to see the difference in the way it’s all held together vs the Gen 4 guns I’ve carried, fired and worked on.
1. To illustrate my earlier point about subscribing to small retailer channels, they put out some quality content just like the US Elite Gear video from the other day.
2. If you’re in the US, this looks like a SERIOUS contender for your AR builds as far as BCGs. Lifetime bolt warranty that actually covers normal wear and tear. Your standard warranty on basically any other product will specifically exclude normal wear and tear through usage. That’s the reason I posted about CamelBak before and any time I find a gear company I can buy from that I hear offers that sort of customer service, I always give their product a very close look indeed.
First details I’ve seen on the prototype L85A3 (though admittedly I’ve never actually gone looking) so I thought I’d share.
Hopefully they’ll have the sense to go M-LOK in the final iteration, it’ll be a serious kick in the nuts if we get stuck with KeyMod for the next decade. But free-floating the forend definitely needed doing so that’s a plus. Same deal with the ‘safety stop’ on the selector; if those went wrong you could fire automatic without even touching the trigger (very, super, mega rare – but it happened).
Currently the people who use the Elcan LDS have to fit a 20mm adapter to the dovetail rail, which is totally pointless weight and makes your height over bore ridiculous. Current A3 bodies in circulation include a dovetail that’s extended forward to meet the handguard, but I’m yet to see any use for that as there’s no detent holes drilled in to the extended part for proper mounting.
Hopefully they’ll decide between either rail mounted BUIS or the integrated scope BUIS so we’re not carrying both around. Liking the colour change as well, flat black is useless everywhere. What the plan is for people currently using SUSATs I don’t know. Perhaps phasing in the rifles will occur at the same time as swapping SUSATs with LDS for mounting compatibility, we shall see. Right now everybody is deploying with a magnified optic, but there doesn’t appear to be any appetite to spend the money on giving LDS to folks outside of the infantry etc.
Keeping my fingers tightly crossed for a nice, new quick-adjust 2 point sling to replace the terrible old 3 point that blocks half your controls when fitted. Combine that with the EMAGs, freefloat barrel, a forend that’s lighter and slimmer than the current DD offering, a colour that actually works and a few other little bits and pieces, you’ve got something solid to tide us over until the U.S. decides which 6.Xmm cartridge they fancy using come 2030 – or whenever they figure out what rifle to use with the new round they’ll inevitably pick.
Normally I can’t actually post what I do. But today was the camp airshow/families’ day and there were a bazillion civvies with smart phones wondering around anyway snapping everything, so I presume I fall under the same rules.
Being the armourer on camp who knows more about guns than what’s necessary to do the job, I end up doing allllll of the presentations to cadets and non-military visitors. I wish I’d kept my damn mouth shut years ago and pretended I thought the 762 for the AK was the same thing as NATO 762 for the FN MAG etc.
The M134 is a toothless training aid we borrowed, everything else I deactivated in such a way it can’t fire but cocks and appears to function exactly as normal when handled. Easy on the L85 and the AKM, took a bit of scrounging, hacking and bashing with the Glock 17 and the air-role GPMG. All returned to fully working order at the end of the day with some easy part swaps (long as you have things like original Russian AK bolts lying around).
Doesn’t look like much of a display admittedly, but when you have exactly 0 budget and have to beg, borrow, steal, dust off, unearth and otherwise hunt down or fabricate every single little thing yourself it is a little bit of a challenge.