Saturday, July 2, 2011

Outstanding models

The German G3 rifle is one of the small arms success stories of post-war Europe. An excellent and reliable design, the weapon has been widely exported and manufactured under licence. The American Ml6 has enjoyed even greater success, and this rifle and its derivatives are in use across most of the world. The Russian SVD's claim to fame is that it is the only semi-automatic sniper's rifle with bayonet fittings.

The Heckler & Koch G3
At the close of World War II, engineers at the German Mauser-Werke small arms factory were working on a revolutionary design for a selective-fire, magazine-fed rifle. After the war, the design was refined by CETME in Spain, and in 1959 the Bundeswehr (West German Army) adopted the rifle as the Gewehr 3 or Rifle model 3, better known simply as the G3. In 1959 Germany bought the manufacturing licence for the rifle and transferred it to Heckler & Koch at Oberndorf. The first G3s, although modified, were quite similar to the CETME rifles and until 1961 had CETME stamped on the receiver.
The 7,62mm German Heckler&Koch G3 selective fire rifle has been adopted throughout the world. It is a rugged and reliable weapon that has been made under licence in five countries.

The G3 is cheaper to produce than the FAL or M14 since it uses as many stamped parts as possible. To speed production and reduce costs, the rifle uses sheet steel stampings for the receiver, trigger unit and pistol-grip frame. The pistol grip is hinged to the receiver with a cross-pin behind the magazine housing and in front of the trigger unit. The weapons have distinctive drum-type rear diopter sights, marked from 100-400m/109-438yd.

Since its adoption by the Bundeswehr, the G3 in various modifications has gone global. Foreign users include Greece, Iran, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey. In the past forty years more than fifty countries have issued the G3 to their armed forces. The G3 has been manufactured in Greece, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Portugal.

The Armalite and M16
The Colt AR-15 Armalite, which became the M16 when it was adopted by the US Army in Vietnam in 1966, was an innovative weapon when it was first introduced. It was made from alloys and plastic and fired an Ml93 5.56mm round with a 55-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 975m/s/3,198ft/s. This made the M16 much lighter than big 7.62mm rifles such as the M14 and a more practical weapon for the jungle.
Gurkha soldiers board a truck in Borneo in the 1960s. They are armed with the Colt Armalite rifle - at the time it was a unique weapon in the unusual calibre of 5.56mm - it would later become the M16.

The weapon that is currently in service is the M16A1/2, which is 99cm/39in long, weighs 3.2kg/7lb and fires a 20- or 30-round magazine. On automatic it has a cyclic rate of 700-950 rpm. The M16A1 has a manual bolt-closing device on the right side of the receiver, which allows extra pressure to be applied if there is dirt in the chamber or a cartridge case jams. The M16A2, which fires the NATO SSI09 round -a 62-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 823 m/s /2,700ft/s - has a heavier barrel and a case deflector. This allows left-handed soldiers to handle the weapon. The M16A3 is an A2 with a removable carrying handle, which, when removed, allows a telescopic sight to be fitted.

The Dragunov SVD
The gas-operated, short-stroke, rotating-bolt, semi¬automatic SVD (Snaiperskaya Vintovka Dragunova, or Dragunov Sniper Rifle) was adopted by the Soviet military in 1963. It can use any kind of standard 7.62 x 54R ammunition, but a primary round specially developed for the SVD sniper-grade cartridge has a steel-core bullet. The SVD is extremely reliable in all conditions, and has seen action in Afghanistan and Chechnya. In the mid-2000s, insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan used it against US and Coalition forces. If the PSO-1 optical sight with illuminated reticle is damaged, the soldier has back-up adjustable iron sights. Unusually for a sniper weapon, it takes the standard AK-47 bayonet. The rifle has a ten-round detachable box magazine that gives a maximum rate of fire of 30 rpm or aimed fire of three to five rounds.
The latest SVD Dragunov rifles have a rugged polymer stock. Aversion for mounted and airborne troops has a folding butt stock and shortened barrel.

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