In late 2015, Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif pays a second detailed visit to POF and acknowledged its efforts for meeting requirements for an ongoing operation against insurgents, Zarb-e-Azb. During this visit, some international weapons were also seen which drew attention towards publicized competition for a new generation and conventional rifle for the battle to replace the infantry rifle HK-G3.
This competition included a variety of international rifles including Belgian FN-SCAR (7.62x51mm), Czech Republic’s CZ-BREN (5.56x45mm), Italian Baretta ARX-200 (7.62x39mm), Russian AK-103 (7.62x39mm) series and US Zastava M-21 (5.56x45mm). The focus was not only to upgrade the already present designs but to stay updated with the modern standard ensuring autonomy for arms in the 21st century.
Sadly, Pakistan Army (PA) couldn’t select any of the 7.62x51mm rifle for standard military use. Eventually, POF was signalled green for the production of a conventional rifle. In addition to POF, other private firearm firms including Global Industries and Defense Solutions (GIDS) and Cavalier Group produced 7.62x51mm rifles.
POF surfaced its newly produced prototype BW-20 for the first time in three different variants which differ in barrel length at World Defense Show (WDS) conducted during March 6-9, 2022, at Riyadh, KSA.
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The carbine model is equipped with a 12-inch barrel, whereas a 16-inch model is a standard weapon for infantry use. A marksman version was also placed with a 20-inch barrel. Currently, POF plans to manufacture 5.56x45mm caliber models for the AR-15 magazines and 7.62x51mm caliber models for AK magazines and is also expected to produce semi-automatic versions for Civilian Market.
During 15-18 Nov. 22, 11th International Defense Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS 2022) took place at Expo Centre, Karachi, PK. In this expo, GIDS and Cavalier group also unveiled their battle weapons namely Klass-786 and Maverick-22. Both rifles cartridge 7.62x51mm and are modern generation rifles for infantry use.
Maverick-22 is a multiple caliber, gas operated assault rifle which can cartridge 7.62x51mm, 7.62x39mm and 5.56x45mm. It weighs 3.9kg without scopes and bears adjustable sights. Its barrel length is 16.14inches and its polymer mags carries 30 rounds. Its muzzle velocity is 792m/s with a firing rate of 600rds/min.
It has a telescopic buttstock which can retract into and shorten itself to make weapon more compact. It is useful in allowing the weapon to store or operate in areas where it would have trouble in maneuvering. It has ambidextrous safety selector and mag release with picatinny rails for scope/tactical lights/lasers and MLoK/MOE adapter at the fore end. Total length of weapon is 34-37 inches with an effective firing range of almost 500m.
Klass-786 is also a multi-caliber gas operated assault rifle which cartridges 7.62x51mm and 5.56x45mm with an effective firing range of 500-600m. It also weighs 3.9kg without scopes and has ambidextrous controls (mag release and safety selector).
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Its detachable mag has the capacity of 20-30rds and operates in both semi-automatic and automatic modes. It also has the picatinny rails for mounting scopes, tactical lights/lasers, grenade launchers and bayonets. A rifle that is equipped with a grenade launcher attachment has the capability to launch grenades much father than throwing it manually which provides advantage in situations.
With respect to infantry use, it is said that “The more versatile the choice of weapons in infantry, the better.” All of these rifles’ cartridges multiple calibers, mostly 7.62x51mm and 5.56x45mm. If we look upon the maneuverability, Maverick-22 has a telescopic buttstock which can easily be adjusted for different situations accordingly. Infantry rifle must be light weight and should have durable mags carrying about 30rds.
All of these rifles weigh 3.9kg without scope but only Klass-786 and Maverick-22 has the capacity for 30rds per mags. Also, the mags must be light weight so that they can easily be carried in the vest.
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Another very important point to ponder is the ammo. There has been a debate in choosing 7.62 over 5.56. 7.62x51mm is a heavier caliber as compared to 5.56x45mm which is a thinner and a long one. 7.62 has a better terminal performance at long ranges, and transfer energy much better than 5.56. As 7.62 is heavier, so it faces less wind drifts due to its weight (Law of inertia) and penetrates more in the subject as compared to 5.56x45mm. 7.62x51mm is 2.5x heavier than 5.56x45mm which makes it a much better choice for infantry.
Infantry rifles should have free floating quad rails that allows a soldier to put as many accessories as desired on it along with a select fire option. All of these rifles have picatinny rails on it which allows soldiers to add lasers, tactical lights, grenade launchers or scopes on the rifles and have semi-automatic and automatic fire modes.
Infantry rifles should be stupidly reliable as they have to operate in the vigorous environmental conditions. So far, only BW-20 has been tested this much vigorously, in mud, dust, above 50C and below 30C. No such tests are performed by other 2 rifles or may haven’t surfaced yet.
Finally, infantry rifle must be 100% ambidextrous (safety, bolt release, charging handle, magazine release, and if possible, the ejection port). There are times when it is advantageous to use left hand even if the shooter is right-handed. All of the above-mentioned rifles are ambidextrous and can be used accordingly.
Looking up all these facts, in my opinion, PA must go with POF’s BW-20 or GIDS Klass-786 in order to replace HK-G3. BW-20 is said to be addressing the issues which were faced by infantry using HK-G3. HK-G3 is said to be having more than 200 parts whereas POF’s BW-20 has 125 parts which tells that it isn’t the upgraded version, rather it is a whole different rifle. So, it already gives POF an upper hand for their rifle to be chosen and replaced over HK-G3.
Ismail Mir is a researcher and small arms expert. He tweets @cruelassassins. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Defense Insight’s editorial policy.