The VHS assault rifle manufactured by HS Produkt is the first multifunctional assault rifle produced in Croatia. It is a bullpup assault rifle chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO caliber. It was first introduced at the 2007 IKA exhibition. IKA is a Croatian innovation display show that takes place in the city of Karlovac.
A new and improved version of the VHS rifle, known as the VHS-2, was introduced in April 2013.
The HS Produkt is a respectable Croatian company on the world scene as a weapon manufacturer. They become known by their very successful series of HS2000 semi-automatic pistols. HS2000 is a polymer-framed and striker-fired pistol. In the United States, the pistols are sold by Springfield Armory, Inc., as the XD series, along with follow-on variants: XD-M, XD-S, and XD-E. The pistol has become a service pistol for several law enforcement agencies in the US, including the FBI.
During the war in former Yugoslavia and the Croatian War of Independence, HS Produkt (then called IM Metal) started working on various infantry weapons. In 1992, the company created a bullpup variant of the Kalashnikov assault rifle chambered in 7.62mm caliber. It was unsuccessful try because the rifle had a number of flaws, partly caused by limited technological capabilities of HS Produkt. It served a purpose with a valuable learning experience for the company. A few years later, there was another shot with Kalashnikov bullpup version, but the results were still not satisfactory, and it was superseded by a design similar to the M16 rifle. More prototypes followed in 1996, 1999 and 2004.
Years of tryouts and experience led to the first multifunctional assault rifle manufactured in Croatia. The assault rifle was born under the name VHS (Croatian: Višenamjenska Hrvatska Strojnica—”multifunctional Croatian machine gun”). The first prototype was announced in 2004, while the next production model was presented to the public in 2005. The difference between the prototype and model that followed is more than 90%. The rifle externally was quite similar to the French FAMAS.
On November 19, 2007, the first experimental batch of 50 rifles was issued to the Croatian Army supporting the ISAF in Afghanistan. The rifles were supposed to be tested on the battlefield. In the next few years, more than 3,000 rifles were issued to the Croatian Army for testing purposes.
Finally, on May 12, 2009, Croatia’s Ministry of Defence confirmed the positive conclusions of a series of torture tests and on May 15 officially signed a contract with HS Produkt for the acquisition of 1,000 rifles (both variants). As of 2015, the Croatian Army is using 7,000 rifles of this model.
Despite the VHS-2 rifle visually strongly resembles the French FAMAS rifle, they are very different. Both its functioning mechanism and disassembling mode are quite different.
The rifle is intended strictly for military and police use. It can be used against enemy infantry and light armored vehicles. It uses the Bullpup principle in which the bolt action and magazine are located behind the trigger and alongside the shooter’s face. It is because there is no need for longer butt-stock as in conventional assault rifle designs. This allows the longer barrel to be fitted while the overall length of rifle compared to the other assault rifle stays the same. The result is lower of the weapon and increased maneuver for the user, especially during transportation or in an urban environment.
In comparison to other assault rifles, VHS / VHS-2 is up to 25% shorter in length while at the same time its efficiency by muzzle velocity is 10% higher.
The rifle works as a gas-operated weapon. Its system is similar to the one on the light machine gun Ultimax 100 from Singapore. The rifle can fit VHS-BG grenade launcher under the barrel. The grenade launcher is chambered in a 40x46mm caliber.
The VHS assault rifle is available in two variants:
- VHS-D rifle
- VHS-K carbine
The VHS-2 assault rifle is also available in two variants:
- VHS-D2 rifle
- VHS-K2 rifle
The difference between VHS-D, VHS-D2, VHS-K and VHS-K2 is only in the overall length of the rifle. VHS-D has a 500mm (20 in) barrel while VHS-K Carbine has a shorter 410mm (16 in) barrel and overall length of 665 mm (26.2 in).
Technical specification of VHS-D2
|Caliber:||5.56×45 NATO / .223 Rem|
|Barrel length:||500 mm|
|The rate of fire:||850 rounds per minute|
|Magazine capacity:||30 rounds, STANAG|