Jane’s has been to an armaments exhibition in Poland (MSPO in Kielce, PL) where Polish armories have displayed new Polish small arms to the public for the first time. These arms comprise a modular family of 5.56mm small arms, the Modular Small Arms System, whose key gimmick is that the whole family interchanges to standard or bullpup lower-receivers, and a further improved UKM-2000P general purpose machine gun, which was already an improved, NATO-caliber evolution of the PKM, now with improved modularity and ergonomics.
I: The Modular Small Arms System
The Modular Small Arms System (hereafter MSAS to save typing, if you please) is a product of Fabryka Broni “Łucznik”– Radom Sp. z o.o. which looks intimidating to an English speaker, but means “Archer” Arms Factory, LLC in Polish, and is actually easy to spell and pronounce with a little coaching, because Polish is a phonetic language: Fab-REE-ka BRO-nee WOOCH-neek gets you pretty close. (You can’t fool a Pole, but he will probably appreciate you trying. The Polish language does not deserve its reputation for difficulty). Fortunately for non-Polish-speakers, FB Łucznik publishes their website in English as well as in their native language; unfortunately for us, they don’t have the MSAS information up there yet.
This month is Fabryka Broni’s 90th aniversary. Fabryka Broni has made the Beryl AK-based assault rifle for the Polish military, the Glauberyt 9mm submachine gun, and traces its history back 90 years to its forerunners in inter-war Free Poland, before Nazi and Russian occupations (the USSR occupied eastern Poland from 1939-41 and the whole country from 1944-45. Apart from the roughly half of Poland annexed to the USSR [for which some German territories, stripped entirely of movable property by the Red Army, were given Poland as compensation], unlike some other slave states such East Germany, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, that were kept under or put back under the Red Army boot, the USSR armed forces withdrew in 1956 and let Polish quislings run the country).
FB’s forerunners were the producer of Polish “Radom” Mauser 98-pattern rifles and the well-regarded 9mm VIS Radom pistol before and during the war, and later produced weapons, mostly of Soviet pattern, for the Polish Warsaw Pact forces.
The end of the Cold War required Polish forces to adapt to new tactics and interoperability challenges as part of NATO, but it also unleashed the nation’s considerable design and engineering talent and produced a variety of interesting firearms.
Here’s the MSAS in bullpup mode:
The picture is less than ideal, but visible variants include rifle, carbine, and short CQB variants. Common AR add-ons like COTS suppressor mount/flash-hiders and Surefire magazines are depicted, along with FB’s own compact grenade launcher and a sight resembling the original snap-on M203 peep sight. There’s no visible provision for a bayonet. Visible features include modular rail attachments, an adjustable gas system, and an ambidextrous selector/safety lever. Charging handle and ejection seem to be convertible to left or right. The rifle clearly uses a great deal of modern polymer structure.
Here’s the conventional-stocked MSAS modules. This picture’s a little lower-rez than the bullpip one, but the conventional rifles’ and carbines’ AR ancestry and SCAR-like folding stock are evident. The ability to accept an AK-like bayonet is an interesting feature.
In both bullpup and conventional layout, the “standard” barrel length is 16″ (406mm), not the more customary 14.3-14.5″ (~360-370mm). A shorter barrel length is available. The operating system used allows the stock to fold.
The grenade launcher is also an interesting module, and one that has export potential (as do the rifles themselves).
In the meantime, this is not a theoretical, proposed or prototypical weapons system, but is now in production for the Polish Armed Forces. Exactly which variants the Poles are buying remains to be seen.
II: The UKM-2000P Improved GPMG
First, our Polish friends need a better name for this thing. Because it really seems like the cat’s pajamas as a general-purpose machine gun, based as it is on the reliable PKM, but updated to use NATO ammunition, and accept modern attachments. This is made by another Polish arms concern, ZMT (Zaklady Mechaniczne Tarnow, or Tarnow Machine Factory).
A lot of new engineering has gone into the MG, and as a result it has fewer legacy PKM parts than it looks like. Indeed, over 2/3 of the parts are new since the first NATO MGs, the UKM-2000, went into service fifteen years ago:
According to the ZMT catalog (English version), the changes from the UKM-2000 were the direct result of combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of requests from Polish troops. The company says:
Changes include introducing a new, folding telescopic buttstock with a cheekpiece and rear support, integral Picatinny rail and a three-rail fore-end system on the gas cylinder tube to improve the weapon ergonomics and reliability. The modified UKM-2000 is equipped with a new bipod and ergonomic pistol grip and a new cocking handle and safety selector as well as an improved tactical sling and a 100-round soft ammunition bag. Additionally, shell extractor and ammunition button had been modified [sic] and the breechblock covers latch was added to keep it in the open position. The modified UKM-2000 may be equipped with a shorter 440 mm (17.3″) barrel with an effective flash hider.
According to Jane’s, it’s durable and reliable.
The modernised UKM-2000P is more reliable than the original UKM-2000P (test guns fire 37,000 and 53,000 rounds) and can fire all 7.62×51 mm rounds – both NATO and non-standard. It can be loaded by any type of link belt, including German DM60. The steel ammunition box was replaced by a 100- or 150-round soft bag. ZMT introduced a new folding and telescopic stock for both dismounted soldiers and paratroopers; an ergonomic handgrip; a front grip; and a carrying handle.
Poland placed a $6.53 million contract for the delivery of 378 modernised UKM-2000Ps (30 in 2015, 138 in 2016, 106 in 2017, and 104 in 2018) back in June, although this only came into force on 28 August after the successful trials of two prototypes.
The original 2000 version could accept NATO standard disintegrating links, but it couldn’t interoperate with the German fixed link belts (even though those are also a NATO standard). While it seems like a PKM with a NATO caliber conversion and some cosmetic changes, that’s not only not true, it’s not even bad if it were true.
A Polish trooper with a camouflaged version of the original (and much less modular) UKM-2000.
Commenter Kirk was just saying that NATO needed something like a PKM. Well, the Poles were miles ahead of him.
Along with the GPMG, ZMT makes Poland’s heavy machine guns including a .50-caliber powered Gatling, sniper rifles, light grenade launchers and mortars, and some aircraft and vehicle armament mountings and interfaces.
Fabryka Broni „Łucznik”- Radom Sp. z o.o. website. Retrieved from: http://www.fabrykabroni.pl/ (Note: the MSBS family is not on the website, yet).
Wilk, Remigiusz. MSPO 2015: Fabryka Broni unveils full MSBS-5.56 rifle family. IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, 2 September 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.janes.com/article/53990/mspo-2015-fabryka-broni-unveils-full-msbs-5-56-rifle-family
Wilk, Remigiusz. MSPO 2015: ZMT unveils modernised UKM-2000P machine gun. IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, 4 September 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.janes.com/article/54019/mspo-2015-zmt-unveils-modernised-ukm-2000p-machine-gun
Zaklady Mechaniczne Tarnow website. Products catalog (English language, also available in Polish, Portuguese and Arabic). http://www.zmt.tarnow.pl/pliki/Products%20ZMT%20SA.pdf (The “Modified UKM-2000” on p. 10 appears to be a slightly earlier version of the UKM-2000P.
Zaklady Mechaniczne Tarnow website. Main Page: http://www.zmt.tarnow.pl/
Zaklady Mechaniczne Tarnow website. UKM-2000 Page: http://www.zmt.tarnow.pl/pl/oferta/uzbrojenie-strzeleckie-pokladowe-oraz-wsparcia-ogniowego/7-62-mm-uniwersalny-karabin-maszynowy-ukm-2000.html (Note: the UKM-2000P is not posted yet).