Last week I wrote about the different side arms the nations are carrying here on our little camp in beautiful Kabul, Afghanistan, so I decided a list of the rifles would be a nice follow up. Most folks know about the US M16 or M4 Carbine, and like a lot of folks I have an AR from DPMS back home. One thing I have enjoyed on my tour is comparing weapons of the coalition partners. The US of course has our M4. Most contractors carry it or a shortened version, as well as many of the coalition special ops community. Many of the Brit special ops carry the M4, and when I asked a Brit why the special ops didn’t just use their standard rifle, he commented, if we all carried the M4, they would want something different. I’ve carried the both the M16A2 and M4 between my different tours, and in my mind it is one of the best rifles in the world.
Most of the coalition has pretty much adopter NATO standard 5.56mm probably for ease of logistics across the various nations. The Germans have the H&K G36. The Spanish also use this nice rifle. As far as the difference between the two, the Germans have a top mounted red-dot sight standard on all of their rifles. The rifle seems a bit large to me, but that could be based on my M4 experiences. It also has a standard opaque 30 round plastic magazine so you can view how many rounds are remaining.
Speaking of HK, the Portuguese and Lithuanians here carry the older H&K known as the G3. Although the Lithuanian version is known as the AK4. Older, heavier, and less cool attachments, this rifle is chambered in 7.62 NATO and comes with a 20 round magazine. Still a very reliable rifle.
The French here have the FAMAS. This is one of the many rifles in the bull-pup style with the pistol grip placed in front of the magazine well. It has a built in bi-pod, which not only steadies your shot, but makes it nice for setting your rifle down on the ground and keeping it out of the mud or dust. FAMAS stands for Fusil d’Assaut de la Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne or “Assault rifle of the Saint-Étienne weapon factory. It holds a 30 round magazine that looks interchangeable with our M16 magazines, but I can’t really confirm that. It is a very light weapon and feels pretty good in your hands.
Another very similar design, the French will say they copied, is the Croatian HS VHS. Not a VCR, this rifle is very similar looking to the FAMAS, and comes from the same outfit that makes the Springfield HDs. VHS stands for Višenamjenska Hrvatska Strojnica—multifunctional Croatian machine gun. Yes, Croatia in Croatian is pronounced Hrvatska. This also has a 30 round magazine. Some of the mentors and other troops carry the older Yugoslav version of the AK, or M70, but most are coming armed with the VHS.
While staying with the bull pup theme, the Brits are still carrying the L85A2, which also has a 30 round magazine of 5.56mm. Like most of the others it gas operated with a rotating bolt. The L85A2 has the SUSAT sight mounted standard, which is an aluminum cast aim pointer, with backup iron sights. I shot one once in the UK and really enjoyed it.
Next come the Australians, with their Steyr AUG from Austria, which is probably one of the more “cool” looking rifles on the camp. This 30 round capable 5.56mm gas operated rifle also comes standard for the Australians with a fixed sight optic like the Brits. It also has a collapsible front grip for more streamlined carrying. The Aussies have it in a sand color paint scheme to match their uniform, and it looks like a nice light rifle to carry, but definitely something you wouldn’t want to butt-stroke anyone with.
Back to a more conventional design, the Belgians carry the FN FNC which means Fusil Nouveau type Carabine. Like their pistol it is made by Fabrique Nationale. This also has the NATO standard 30 round magazine, and is also gas operated. Unlike some of the other rifles who mainly have a Safe, Semi, and Burst setting – the FNC actually has Safe, Semi, Burst (3 round), and full auto. Talk about a crowd pleaser. It also has a folding stock. From a country known for its chocolate, waffles, and guns the FNC seems like another high quality product from FN.
Apart from having a great Bikini Team, the Swedes are another group that have a similar rifle to the FN FNC. The Swedes have the AK5. The AK5 is a modified version for colder climates, and AK5 stands for automatkarbin 5. Other than that, I can’t tell too much difference in the rifle.
Speaking of AK, the good old AK47 is still in use here. The Mongolians who help guard the camp, apart from being little ninjas, also carry the AK47. You can tell theirs are very old with most of the pieces of metal a being a shiny almost chrome like color. A couple of the other Eastern European countries serving here that don’t have one of the newer rifles above also have some form of AK variant. For example the Czechs have about half their force outfitted with an AK version.
Speaking of the Czechs, most of them have turned in their AKs and VZ 58s for the brand spanking new CZ 805 BREN. The other day I saw some of my Czech friends carrying in large boxes to their HQ, and I helped them grab the boxes. They happily invited me in and busted open the crates to expose their new 5.56mm rifle from CZ. If they sell this in the states, I’ll seriously think of getting one. It has a folding stock, rails all over it, flip up front and rear sights, front pistol grip, and just looks cool. Comes with the standard NATO 30 round magazine, but came in the box with what appeared to be Magpul plastic mags. Very nice rifle. Most of them had to head out to the range to qualify, and I wish they had invited me with them. It also comes in safe, semi, burst, and full auto mode.
I have probably missed a few or misrepresented a few countries, but I have tried to get as close as possible while talking to my friends on the camp. I’m thinking I will have to keep my eye out for the CZ since I already have my own AR back home. Which rifle would you want to carry?