Weapons and firms. Although Sweden has maintained its neutrality for almost 200 years, it has made significant progress in the field of weapons technology and remains among the countries whose military capabilities are largely based on their own developments. But very often the question arises before the military, which is better: to create weapons for their army on their own or to buy a ready-made and high-quality sample from someone? And here everything turns out to be important, and the technology itself, as it turns out, is far from being in the first place. Politics, economics, and even psychology and cultural traditions of this or that nation are involved in the choice of such a model. And today we will talk about one of the least known samples of Swedish small arms, which was quite close to becoming the standard battle rifle of the Swedish armed forces, but in the end, for a number of the above reasons, it did not become one, although it was close to victory. This is an FFV-890C automatic rifle.
Its history began in the early 1970s, when Sweden began to look for a new rifle as a replacement for the outdated AK4, which was almost an exact copy of the G3 rifle of the famous German company Heckler and Koch, presented to the Swedish armed forces in 1965. The AK4 rifle proved to be reliable and easy to manufacture - which was important for the Swedish military, who in those years preferred to buy one Draken jet rather than spend money on small arms. However, the military did not like the fact that 70% of the army continues to use old Mauser rifles. Meanwhile, the USA has already adopted the M16 rifle, and in the USSR the AKM machine gun. And everyone prompted the Swedish military to look for a new, lighter model of an automatic rifle, with a caliber smaller than the 7.62mm NATO caliber. So the military put a bold cross on the AK4 and at the same time began to prepare to adopt the AK5. But then they faced the most "terrible problem" of our time - "the possibility of choice."
In addition, it was obvious that “any rifle” was not suitable for Sweden. The fact that at one time the Mauser rifle was adopted by the Swedish army, once again suggests that the Swedes are used to taking all the best. And now, let's say, “having been spoiled by this good model, we wanted … and an automatic rifle no worse than their old“good”Mauser!
The AK4 is a Swedish copy of the Heckler & Koch G3. Cartridge 7, 62x51mm NATO Produced by Carl Gustav in Sweden. (Swedish Army Museum, Stockholm)
The tests of the new rifle, which was to become the AK5 in the future, were quite unique in the sense that politics on paper did not play any role in them, although, of course, it influenced the decision. However, the neutrality of Sweden made it possible to consider a number of samples of the most varied origins, which were carried out in 1974-1975. The following rifle samples took part in the competition:
HK-33 (the main differences between the HK33 and the G3 were a smaller caliber, reduced weight and dimensions. The weapon's automatic equipment has not undergone significant changes.
FN-CAL (was taken to participate in the competition only for the sake of comparison with FN-FNC)
Stoner 63 (Stoner 63A was the main weapon of SEAL units during the Vietnam War)
Galil and SAR are its export version, which is why during the tests they were both declared as FFV-890.
Rifles were tested in winter, and, as you know, winter in Sweden, as well as here in Russia (!), Is not the best time of the year. Therefore, most rifles very soon dropped out of the competition for technical reasons. As a result, only two leaders remained: Galil and SAR, and this, we recall, was the same Galil, but only in the export version.
During 1975-1979, the Galil rifle was withdrawn from testing due to its high weight, but SAR was already lightened at a local enterprise, reduced in size, and optimized for cold climates and … reducing production costs. The changes included the following:
The gas pipe and piston have been shortened.
Increased magazine receiver, fire selector and trigger guard.
Reduced the size of the store.
Barrel length reduced to 330 mm
Changed selector markings from S-A-R to S-A-P (S-Säkrad - safe; A-Automateld - automatic fire, P-Patronvis eld - single shots).
Added a rubber pad to the back of the return spring as a buffer.
The rifle has been repainted bright green instead of black.
The upgraded FFV-890 (Galil / SAR) received the designation FFV-890C (the designation "C" in Sweden is similar to the American use of the designations "A1 / A2") and was presented as a complete ammunition kit, including, in addition to the rifle itself, a cleaning kit, a cleaning rod, rifle grenades and a carrying strap consisting of a Gali strap with metal hooks from Heckler & Hawk. The belt was also painted green.
This was followed by further changes, in particular, the bolt handle was bent along the model of the Soviet AKM assault rifle.
Further tests took place between the FFV-890C and the FN FNC rifle in 1979-1980, with the FFV-890C being the favorites of the competition jury. But then everything went wrong and in the end the FNC rifle became the leader - a Belgian machine gun from the Fabrique Nationale de Herstal arms company chambered for a low-impulse cartridge of 5, 56 mm NATO. Why this suddenly happened is not known for sure. It is believed, for example, that the Israeli government allegedly did not have … much support among the Swedish Social Democratic government and could not approve the rifle project developed in Israel. This is the first thing. Secondly, although Sweden was officially a neutral country, its leadership always believed that the Soviet Union posed a much greater threat to it than the countries of the West. And if so, then adopting a design derived from the AK47 assault rifle was psychologically impossible.
As a result, the Swedish administration of military equipment declared the Belgian machine gun the winner, and it was he who eventually became the AK5, which was adopted by the Swedish army in 1985. In the same year, production of the AK4 ceased completely.
The design rights for the FFV-890C were then sold to the Finnish company Valmet, which allegedly used some of it in their own weapons. In total, less than 1000 prototypes of the FFV-890C rifles were manufactured, and some of them are in the arsenals of the police to this day, and some of them hit the civilian market. In general, the FFV-890C rifle was like no other close to being put into service, but instead, for a number of reasons, the FN-FNC got into service. Today, both the AK5 and AK4 are still in service, with the latter in reserve units and the National Guard.
P. S. By the way, this whole story with the adoption of the FFV-890 is perhaps the best advertisement for our Kalashnikov assault rifle, isn't it?