Kalashnikov Concern, the largest arms manufacturer in Russia and industrial avatar of AK-47 inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov’s genius, is branching out beyond its iconic assault rifle. The company’s been prototyping everything from autonomous tanks to high-powered sniper rifles, but the Russian weaponsmiths seem most excited about the advanced Lebedev PL-15 pistol: It could, with luck, become what The War Zone called “the AK-47 of pistols.”
The handgun, designed in conjunction with elite Russian police and sportsmen to function as an all-purpose sidearm, is in testing now and could possibly end up in the holsters of military and law enforcement agents around the world, Kalashnikov CEO Alexei Krivoruchko told Russian news agency TASS earlier this month.
“The trials are currently underway and we hope that they will be completed this year,” Krivoruchko said. “We hope that the pistol will be sought after by the Defense Ministry and other uniformed and law enforcement agencies.”
The company’s already got a reputation for manufacturing durable and reliable weapons:
So there’s a lot of appeal in the idea of a reliable pistol crafted in the same spirit of the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifle. Here are the specs, according to TASS:
According to the corporation’s press office, the pistol chambered for the 9x19mm round is very thin — 21mm at the barrel and 28mm at the grip. It has the controls on both sides, which makes it possible for both right- and left-handed people to use it. Its characteristics ensure reduced recoil and muzzle rise and quick return to the line-of-sight.
As the press office said, the PL-14 pistol has a loaded chamber indicator, which allows the serviceman to know by touch whether the weapon is chambered or not. The pistol coupled with the modified-design chamber can fire rounds with a non-standard length.
The company first trumpeted a prototype PL-14 at a military gear convention in Moscow in 2015, before unveiling an updated PL-15 iteration of the Lebedev. In the December 2015 video below, you can watch U.S. Army Delta Force veteran and firearms expert Larry Vickers testing the original PL-14:
Vickers’s assessment — “a pretty slick gun, accurate, very controllable and easy to reload” — echoes the frequent praise that’s followed the AK-47 in its ascent as the world’s most-used rifle. But as The War Zone points out, effectiveness may not be enough to catapult the completed PL-15 to similar iconic status:
Since 2014, the drop in the global price of crude oil, a major Russian export, and international sanctions on the government in Moscow have led to a significant decline in the overall Russian economy. The United States and the European Union both imposed travel and trade bans in protest over the Kremlin’s activities in Ukraine and Syria.
In October 2016, reports began to appear suggesting the Kremlin might have to reduce defense spending by as much as 30 percent in the coming year. At least one expert suggested the actual cuts would amount to less than 10 percent, but this would still be significant.
Based on what we’ve seen, the PL-15 certainly fits The War Zone’s description of an “AK-47 of handguns.” Whether the Russian military has the cash to elevate the flexible little gun into the world’s most ubiquitous sidearm is another matter entirely.
The article was written by Jared Keller and first appeared on Task & Purpose.
Introducing the CAR-15: America’s Ultimate ‘Commando’ Rifle?
During the Vietnam War, the Pentagon provided U.S. Army Green Berets and U.S. Navy SEALs commandos with a shorter, more compact version of the M16 rifle. The CAR-15 was well suited for the jungles of southeast Asia while still packing the potent 5.56-millimeter round. Although classified as a submachine gun at the time, the CAR-15 was the forerunner of modern special forces weapons and the regular Army’s M4 carbine.
In the mid-1960s, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps purchased a large number of M16 rifles for troops bound for the Vietnam War. The M16 was shorter and lighter than the M14 battle rifle that equipped U.S. ground forces based in the United States and Europe, and would eventually replace the older rifle entirely.
U.S. Army Special Forces troops were on the ground advising South Vietnamese Army units, and in that capacity, the green berets often carried older weapons such as the M-2 carbine. The M-2, dated to the Korean War, was more suited to the size and stature of Vietnamese troops than the M-14 and U.S. advisors carried them to increase commonality with the troops they advised (and sometimes led.) Although a useful weapon, the older .30-caliber cartridge lacked the power of the new, modern 5.56 cartridge.
Colt’s Manufacturing had purchased the rights to the AR-15 rifle from ArmaLite and manufactured the rifles for the Department of Defense as the M16. Colt’s solution to the short rifle problem was the CAR-15. Derived from the Colt Model 607 carbine, the CAR-15 featured a sliding buttstock that reduced overall length and the barrel was shortened from the 20 inches of the M16 to 10 inches. The new carbine also included a forward assist mechanism in the upper receiver, a push button meant to help advance fresh cartridges into battery.
The Pentagon signed a contract in June 1966 with Colt for 2,815 Colt “Commando” rifles, although officially it was known as a “Submachine Gun, 5.56-mm, CAR-15”. Colt completed the deliveries within six months. The first rifles sent to the military were unmodified Colt 607s, designated XM177 in Air Force service and XM177E1 in Army service. Right away soldiers noticed some issues with the new weapon. One major problem was that the drastic shortening of the barrel led to a large, bright fireball at the muzzle and very loud gunshot report—clearly, the flash hider designed for the rifle was not up to the task. Soldiers also noted a problem with accuracy and thought the buttstock too complicated.
Within weeks Colt was back to the drawing board and the result was the new Colt 629 Commando. The 629 featured a slightly longer barrel, at 11.5 inches, and a newly redesigned flash hider. A chrome-plated chamber helped prevent gunpowder residue from accumulating in the upper receiver, leading to stoppages. The result was what the company believed was the best compromise between a compact weapon and one that generated an obnoxious amount of noise and light on the battlefield. The 629 was rebranded the XM177E2 and the Army placed an order for 510 of the E2 rifles in early 1967; the rifles to go to the U.S. Army’s Studies and Observation Group (SOG), Vietnam. Despite the bookish name, SOG was a cover for U.S. Army special forces reconnaissance teams operating in South Vietnam, North Vietnam, Cambodia and, later, Laos. Operating deep within the enemy territory for days at a time, green berets and the local troops that fleshed out their recon teams liked the CAR-15 for its compactness and firepower.
Another special forces unit that used the CAR-15 in action were U.S. Navy SEAL teams. SEALs originally carried the Colt 607 but transitioned to the XM177E2 when available. Both SEALs and U.S. Army Special Forces continued to use the XM177 well into the 1970s, working around the lack of new production by cannibalizing some rifles to provide spare parts for others.
The concept of a shorty M16 went dormant into the 1980s, but in the 1990s the U.S. Army officially adopted the M4 carbine. Although not as short as the Colt Commando, as an offshoot of the original weapon separated by more than twenty years of research and development, the M4 is a more reliable and generally refined design. Today the M4 is the standard weapon assigned to U.S. Army and Marine Corps infantrymen worldwide. Another “shorty” M16 was the U.S. Navy’s Mk.18 Mod 0, a weapon with a ten and a half inch barrel currently issued to Navy SEAL teams. Between the two weapons, the legacy of the CAR-15 rifle lives on.
Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he co-founded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.
A New Rifle Combines AR-15 with Classic Bolt
Known as the Delta 5, this gun brings together the modularity and versatility of an AR-15, changing the game for shooters who prefer the feel and look of a classic bolt gun. The Delta 5 offers shooters a highly accurate and competition-ready gun without the need for any expensive aftermarket modification and tuning.
Based on the popular Remington Model 700 platform, the Delta 5 is anything but your run of the mill bolt-action rifle. The gun features a threaded cold hammer forged stainless steel barrel that can easily be swapped based on user preference without having to avail of a gunsmith, thanks to factory-set headspace, according to militarytimes.com.
Internally, the Delta 5 makes use of integrated pillars which maintain rigidity through the stock to the mini-chassis, making for a tighter action.
An integral recoil lug, mated to the action, further dampens recoil, making the gun highly consistent and incredibly accurate. The Picatinny scope base boasts a 20 Minute of Angle/5.8 MRAD of elevation right out of the box.
A single-stage Timney Elite Hunter trigger which can be adjusted between a 1.5 and a 4 lb trigger pull, an ambidextrous magazine release, and a swappable bolt head and knob are among the more noticeable features of the rifle.
A total of 11 M-LOK points along the forend, and one more under the stock, which itself is fully adjustable with a variable cheek riser. The Delta 5 feeds from most AICS-type detachable magazines and has plenty of rail space to mount a wide array of optics.
DD design engineers were able to keep the overall weight of the rifle down thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced polymer in the stock and the body of the gun. As such, the Delta 5 clocks in at just around 9 to 9.5 lbs. It will be available in 3 primary calibers: .308 Winchester with the 20-inch factory barrel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Remington, the latter two using a 24-inch factory barrel.
The company produces AR-style rifles and accessories used by law enforcement agencies, special operations units, and civilian shooters alike.
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